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life to life building group
In their own words, the Life to Life Building Group, Inc. (LTLBG) is “in the business of providing for people.” The company has been in this business since 2004, when founders Tim Mooney and Eric Brookhart developed, coordinated and ran a program in which high school students traveled to Uganda.

During the day, Mooney is a high school teacher and Brookheart is a firefighter and builder, so it is no surprise that together, the pair believes LTLBG has a dual effect that mirrors its profession. On a concrete level, the company builds schools and housing in poorer African countries. It also seeks to diversify the experience of American high school students.

While the construction of buildings speak for progress, the students must also prove they are ready to go abroad. Volunteers are required to complete an application that includes an essay portion. They must also launch their own fundraising campaign and are expected to pay for the entirety of their journey.

The program began organically, so it was small. It is also tightly run, so efficiency is quick to increase. In summer 2007, the founders led two groups that saw 50 total students build first a secondary school and then housing units. The company has their eyes on partnering with local businesses in Africa in an attempt to give back even more.

Like so many organizations and services that elect to operate and work in Africa, LTLBG is often asked “Why? Why go to Uganda?” One cheeky response is as follows: “How would our local school district react when, full of excitement, we attend a board meeting and announce we have worked to raise $25,000 to build a school? Perhaps we can add more mulch to the playground.” Wit aside, the founders have plenty of reasons to go.

The truth is that rarely do projects come around as organically as this. Subsequent to earning his degree, Mooney worked in Uganda as a missionary for three years, forming long bonds with educators, doctors and leaders of NGOs in the country. After returning home, an individual reached out to Mooney who brought Brookhart on a home building trip.

After several summers of working in Uganda, a class of Mooney’s students came to him and suggested that they be included on the next trip. The next summer they traveled together under the company name.

Even with all this, LTLBG should not feel the need to answer the question as judgment. The Sub Sahara is home to the most disadvantaged individuals in the world and it is one of the most important places in which to build.

– Andrew Rywak

Sources: Global Building Group, TeleSoft Partners
Photo: Global Building Group

how to help poor people
Helping the poor seems like a huge task, but nonprofits around the world do it every day, and it is less expensive than you think.

Countless commercials and advertisements on how to help the poor tell people that many of the impoverished people world-wide can live on less than $1 a day. That’s all it would take to help someone in need – $1 a day, $7 a week or roughly $30 a month. For that little, you could save someone’s life.

Now, the impoverished people world-wide have a bit more problems than just trying to live day to day, but there are countless charities that help tackle those problems for the same amount of money.  $1 a day helps to run many of the nonprofits who know specific ways in how to help the poor.

There are nonprofits dedicated to providing vaccinations to children to prevent disease, like [email protected]  There are charities dedicated to advocacy and monetary gifts, like The Borgen Project. There are even nonprofits dedicated to providing mosquito nets to prevent the spread of malaria in impoverished nations, such as Nothing But Net.

It doesn’t cost much to help someone who needs it, and it doesn’t have to “waste” any time.  It takes a few seconds to click a button and donate $1 to any one of the nonprofits listed above.  They do the work with the help of monetary gifts and donations of any amount.

If you want to do more, learning how to help the poor is simple.  There are volunteer positions at any nonprofit where you can spread the word, raise awareness, petition your representatives, and even go to impoverished nations in order to help people.

But in the modern age, you don’t have to.  Helping the poor is as simple as clicking a button and donating some money to someone who needs it.  It doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking or a big task to saddle yourself with.  It can be as easy as giving $1 a day.

– Cara Morgan

Sources: The Borgen Project, Feeding America, Global Issues, Nothing But Nets, [email protected]
Photo: Madadgar India

Ways to volunteer abroad
There are many different ways to make an impact in the fight against global poverty. Volunteering abroad is one option that offers numerous ways to help.
Volunteer abroad programs offer a variety of opportunities to help global communities. Whether you are interested in teaching children, building schools or helping communities establish cleaner water supplies, there is most likely a program to fit your needs.

Cross-Cultural Solutions

“Cross-Cultural Solutions is a nonprofit working to address critical global issues by providing meaningful volunteer service to communities abroad, and contributing responsibly to local economies.” Cross-Cultural Solutions is a volunteer abroad organization that seeks to do just what its name implies: find cross-cultural ways to combat poverty.

The organization only sends volunteers to locations with established relationships between themselves and local organizations and communities, so when you arrive to volunteer, you’re working with people who are invested in improving their community. In each Cross-Cultural Solutions location, volunteers are housed at a home base that provides them with three meals a day, which is what the majority of the program fee goes to.

Volunteer programs can range from a week to three months, so volunteers have a lot of options even if they’re in school or have a full-time job. Additionally, volunteers have the option to take excursions on the weekends during longer trips, or volunteer in multiple destinations in a row, making travel a part of the program as well!

Global Volunteers

Known as the origin of “the volunteer vacation,” Global Volunteers focuses on short-term volunteer abroad programs, making them a perfect fit for students or anyone who cannot commit to a long period abroad.

Global Volunteers works to “engage short-term volunteers on long-term projects” in countries in Asia, Europe, Africa, North and South America. As volunteers only stay for a short period of time, they are working with existing projects, or projects that will continue long after they leave.

An additional focus of the program is that volunteers “work at the invitation and under the direction of local community partners, and one-on-one with local people.” They only do what they are asked to do and work with and under the direction of local people to find out what’s best from the community from the people who understand it best.

WorldTeach

As its name suggests, WorldTeach focuses on sending teachers to foreign countries as they “partner with governments and other organizations in developing countries to provide volunteer teachers to meet local needs and promote responsible citizenship.”

Because the program sends volunteers out to teach, its programs tend to run longer than Cross-Cultural Solutions or Global Volunteers. Full-year programs are available in a wealth of countries around the globe such as Chile, Colombia, Guyana, the Marshall Islands and Thailand, just to name a few.

Similarly, shorter summer programs exist where volunteers can travel to countries like Poland, Nepal and South Africa. For volunteers who prefer to spend a semester teaching abroad, there are programs in Ecuador and Namibia. Before applying, WorldTeach requires applicants choose their country and departure date, unlike some other programs.

Volunteers receive support throughout the duration of their work, and have an alumni network that they can access at the conclusion of their program.
Additionally, volunteers have the opportunity to receive his or her teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) certification through professional development and a $350 fee.

The funds for WorldTeach programs come directly from the organization, the volunteer and the chosen country’s host institution. As such, costs for different programs vary, with some requiring a higher monetary commitment, and a few countries paying in full for volunteer teachers.

No matter which program you choose, there are a few things to keep in mind when seeking to volunteer abroad.

Volunteers are working with a community. That means helping local organizations and communities while being humble about your place there and working to understand the new culture in which you’ve immersed yourself.

Volunteering is about helping people, and even though you will find fulfillment and gain valuable experience, the focus is always on working with your chosen community.

Once you find a program that you are passionate about and that works responsibly with organizations within the community, you’re all set to start your volunteer abroad experience!

– Cameron Barney

Sources: WorldTeach, Global VolunteersCross-Cultural Solutions
Photo: The Interpreter

volunteer_appreciation
National Volunteer Week, April 6-12, celebrates ordinary people doing extraordinary things to improve communities around the world. National Volunteer Week was established as a program of Points of Light in 1974 and has grown exponentially since then. This week marks the 40th anniversary of National Volunteer Week. Here are 40 things you can do this week to help your community.

1. Say “thank you” to a volunteer
2. Play with animals: volunteer at the Humane Society
3. Spend time at a nursing or assisted living home
4. Care for the environment by recycling, composting and planting trees
5. Volunteer with Autism Speaks by participating in a walk
6. Give blood
7. Host a bake sale for No Kid Hungry
8. Collect and donate DVDs, stuffed animals or books to hospitals and shelters
9. Write cards to soldiers, kids in hospitals and volunteer firefighters
10. Host an appreciation dinner for volunteers
11. Join Big Brothers Big Sisters in your community
12. Set up a web-page for a local non-profit agency
13. Make birthday cards for the elderly
14. Volunteer to clean up trash at a community event
15. Plant a community garden
16. Conduct an Easter egg hunt for needy children
17. Volunteer at a Special Olympics event
18. Read to a visually impaired person
19. Volunteer with the International Humanity Foundation
20. Organize a neighborhood drive for furniture, clothes and food to give to shelters
21. Offer to babysit a sibling, relative or friend
22. Collect unused makeup and cosmetics for women’s shelters
23. Make bird feeders for public places
24. Sponsor a child at Save the Children
25. Assist at an after-school little league or sports program
26. Be a friend to a senior citizen
27. Plant a tree for Arbor Day, the last Friday in April
28. Help cook and serve a meal at a homeless shelter
29. Have a Read-A-Thon for needy children
30. Use your cooking skills to volunteer with Culinary Corps
31. Volunteer at your local hospital
32. Volunteer at a food bank
33. Advocate for the arts
34. Teach yoga or gardening to young adults
35. Build a house with Habitat for Humanity
36. Volunteer at a local museum
37. Offer to mow the lawn for an elderly neighbor
38. Volunteer virtually with Zidisha
39. Make a gift basket for a volunteer
40. Visit Volunteer Match to find more ideas in your area

Volunteering is just as important as recognizing today’s volunteers. This year’s National Volunteer Week is about inspiring, recognizing and encouraging people to seek out imaginative ways to engage their communities. It is about taking action and making a difference.

– Haley Sklut

Sources: Points of Light, Global Youth Service Day, University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Photo: Walkin

reasons_to_volunteer
Volunteers are a major part of many different organizations. In some cases, they are what keep an organizations running. Volunteering can be a very rewarding way to use your spare time or it can be used to strengthen your resume. If you are on the fence about volunteering, here are five reasons to get out and help make a difference.

1. Volunteers help save resources – Those who donate their time allow organizations to use the resources they save and apply them elsewhere. Volunteering can be a great way to help out an organization you support.

2. Connect with the community– Volunteering allows you to meet other people who share the same interests and passions as you. Volunteering can also help you help your community. Volunteering with mentoring, tutoring or elderly care programs allows you the opportunity to give back and can improve the overall quality of resources and facilities where you live.

3. An opportunity to gain professional experience– If you are looking to gain relevant work experience, volunteering is a good way to improve your resume. Volunteering is also a way to help you decide where you want to take your career. Volunteering in different places in high school and college can help you narrow down your interests while gaining valuable life skills and work experience.

4. You will be surprised by what you learn– You may go in with expectations when you start volunteering, but often times you will be surprised about what you will learn about where you work and even yourself. Depending on where you volunteer, you can learn a lot about how that particular place works. Maybe you work as a receptionist answering phones at a nonprofit, but by the end, you will have an inside look at how nonprofits generally work.

5. You can make a difference– Volunteering is one of the best ways to make a difference in an area you are passionate about. One of the most important things to know is that every person counts, so get up, donate your time, and help change the world.

– Colleen Eckvahl

Sources: UCSD, The Lean Green Been, Volunteer Match
Photo: Wallpaperseek

peace corps
Since it was established by J.F.K in 1961, the Peace Corps has been fighting first-hand the systematic effects of global poverty. Beginning as a small handful of good samaritans in only six participating countries, it has since then extended its humanitarian influence to 139 countries with the help of more than 210,000 volunteers. If you’ve ever been curious about joining the Peace Corps yourself, here is some information you must read.

How to Apply for the Peace Corps:

The process of becoming an advocate against global poverty is not as daunting as it might seem. The first step is the online application, which asks for basic information and some statements regarding one’s motivation to volunteer abroad. This is then followed by a personal interview with a local recruiter, to see if the Peace Corps seems like a good fit. If all goes well, this could lead to a formal invitation, complete with destination, departure date and project assignment information.

Then comes the fun part – preparing for departure. In the weeks prior to leaving, the Peace Corps will request the volunteer receive comprehensive dental and medical exams, as well as an array of immunizations, to make sure they are good to go. On the day of departure, volunteers head to training at an orientation site within the United States. The training continues in the volunteer’s assigned country, where they will train for three months while also living with a host family to establish skills for their cultural and linguistic adaption.

What the Peace Corps Looks for:

It is true that the demands of being a Peace Corps volunteer require a specific type of person, and thus the application process is very selective. Living and working in another region of the world, often in extremely dire situations, is a job for those with an abundance of determination, adaptability, independence, social sensitivity and emotional maturity. Those who already have some experience with volunteer work usually make the best candidates, as they have probably developed the previously mentioned qualities within themselves. The Peace Corps, furthermore, has many partner organizations such as City Year and the Special Olympics which interested volunteers can explore.

There are also some logistical pre-requisites, concerning the volunteer’s education, skills and ability to deliver aid to a community. While it is still possible to join without one, 90% of Peace Corps jobs require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Many jobs require pre-existing skills, such as special education, engineering and urban planning as well as agroforestry. Others can be developed on site, such as a teaching English, youth development and health education. The Peace Corps looks comprehensively at every applicant, however, and there are opportunities for non-degree volunteers who have experience working in construction, agriculture and with other non-profit organizations. By and large, the most promising candidates are those with some understanding of another language.

The Life of a Volunteer:

There is not one, quintessential Peace Corps experience, as the regions and types of work are all so diverse. The Peace Corps works in many countries and continents worldwide, in both rural and urban areas, and volunteers are expected to immerse themselves entirely so as to best serve their assigned communities. Although it is possible to have a preference for a location, flexibility helps during the application process. Regional availability also varies quickly based on need. For example, the Philippines are asking for significantly more volunteers than usual, due to the effects of typhoon Haiyan. Once there, a volunteer will be assigned to one of six main areas of specialized aid, which are: education, youth in development, health, agriculture, environment and community economic development. The commitment is 24 months, plus three months of training, thus totaling 27 months. Living accommodations are provided by the Peace Corps, and also vary greatly depending on the norm for that region.

Why Volunteer:

Helping a community build a more sustainable future for itself is an incredibly rewarding experience, as many veteran volunteers can attest to. All countries where the Peace Corps works have requested the presence of volunteers and aid programs, thus proving that the need is strong.

The benefits of joining the Peace Corps extends after service, as well. Upon return, volunteers receive $7,425 as an “adjustment” allowance, to help re-establish their lives in the United States after over two years abroad. Eligibility for student loan deferral is also provided, as well as a number of scholarships and financial aid packages to graduate degree programs. Over 70 graduate schools are partnered with the Peace Corps, and seek out returning volunteers who wish to incorporate their development experiences into their course work, such as the Paul D. Coverdell Fellow Program. For those wishing to enter directly into a career at home, the Peace Corps is invaluable for its professional connections in fields like federal employment and other non-profit organizations.

– Stefanie Doucette

Sources: Peace Corps, Time, National Archives
Photo: Salon

London_Offers_Homeless_Shelters
London’s only free homeless shelter, appropriately named Shelter from the Storm, operates on donations alone with a team of volunteers and no money from the government. They provide access to rehab and detox programs as well as dinner and breakfast to 36 people every night of the year. Homelessness affects hundreds of thousands of people all over the world, for many reasons. Some are drug addicts, alcoholics, mentally ill or simply fell on hard times.

Some are running from bad family situations, human trafficking, or government oppression. Regardless of their circumstances, Shelter from the Storm accepts everyone and anyone in need. The shelter partners with Kids Company, New Horizon, The Red Cross, and The Metropolitan Police Trafficking Division.  These groups help the homeless find work and medical treatment so people can get back on their feet and become productive in society.

Many negative perceptions of homeless people exist in the minds of the general population, not just in London but everywhere. Descriptions like lazy, unintelligent, weak, and incapable are often used to describe the homeless without ever actually knowing anything about their lives or their histories.  Rosie Holtum is trying to change this perception.

A volunteer at Shelter from the Storm, Rosie Holtum is a young British photographer who was inspired to change the way people view the homeless. Her project involved taking striking black and white photos of homeless people she met at the shelter. The idea was to photograph them in the way they wanted others to perceive them and shatter all of the negative stereotypes surrounding people in their situation.

Creative and bold, the photos bring to life images of who these people want to become and can become with a little help from places like Shelter from the Storm. The images will resonate with a lot of people because they contrast so starkly with the ‘normal’ image of homeless people that most viewers have in their minds.

Reducing homelessness by helping those in need is something every nation should be focusing on and developing policies for. Breaking through stereotypes and shedding light on the truth of the ordeals that people live with every day is the first step to finding and implementing a solution.

The healthier the people of a nation are, the healthier that nation is as a whole. No group of people should be left behind or worse, left unsheltered and forgotten. Shelter for the Storm and Rosie Holtum’s photos bring that idea to life with her photo project, and everyone can open their eyes to see her point. Citizens can learn to help others in their own way, it does not matter how much money they have, artistic talent, or influence.

Kaitlin Sutherby

Sources: Huffington Post: Black and White Photos, Shelter from the Storm, Mungos
Photo: Wikimedia

volunteer
‘Tis the season of giving, and as the saying goes, “It is better to give than to receive.” Yet, what is the actual reasoning behind this? Is it truly better to give, and if so, what should be given?

Studies show that volunteering time is one of the most positive, influential acts that a single individual can do. Not only are there immediate benefits for the recipients, but those who volunteer also experience positive effects.

Below is a list of the top reasons to volunteer.

1. “Be The Change”

As Mahatma Ghandi once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” What better way to do so than by personally volunteering your time towards a cause of your choice? Not only will you make a difference in the lives of those you are helping, but providing variety in your daily routine will also be beneficial. The difference made in your own community, personal life, or even the world is unknown until you tap into its potential.

2. Acquire Career Related Skills

Volunteering in a field of your interest has been proven to be an effective way to gain hands-on experience for a future job. Aside from expanding your network, volunteering in your community or on a grander scale is a great attribute to your personal resume. Whether you intend on being a teacher or an individual who fights global poverty, volunteering with individuals locally or worldwide will give you experience on working in that field and with people around you. Employers are always seeking outgoing employees that display strong leadership skills. What better way to portray this than through volunteering for others?

3. Sometimes It Is Who You Know

Generally, throughout the course of a day, you meet at least one new person. It is also said that majority of your lifelong friends will be acquired during your time spent in college. However, while volunteering, not only do you meet an abundance of new people, but many of them have the same common interests as you. Despite cultural differences, backgrounds or personalities, the Good Samaritan-like deeds will bring you all together. These individuals could also provide for vital connections in future business or volunteering endeavors.

4. Expand Your Horizons

Often times during our lives, we find ourselves in a mundane routine, allowing life to pass us by. Volunteering is a great way to spice up and re-energize your daily life. By volunteering, you may discover new hobbies or interests that you would not have considered prior. Volunteering with the Boys & Girls Club, Habitat for Humanity, or a senior home may open up other career pursuits.

5. Enhance Your Education

Valuable life lessons are often obtained from experience, rather than solely through a textbook. Education goes well beyond sitting inside of a classroom, retaining information taught by a standard curriculum. By volunteering, it shows employers that you went beyond what was required. Hands-on experience is a great way to optimize the amount of opportunities that could become available. Showing that you were able to maintain a good GPA as well as balancing volunteer time paints a better picture of who you are as an individual.

– Samaria Garrett

Sources: Help Guide, Huffington Post
Photo: Working Abroad

Volunteer in the UAE

Are you ready to volunteer in the UAE?

The Borgen Project offers volunteer opportunities throughout the UAE. These positions allow flexibility and are telecommuting, so they can be done from home. These volunteer openings are a great way to be part of a global community and connect to an international network of volunteers who are want to make change for the world’s poor.
Do you like to write about international affairs? Perhaps a writer or journalist position is right for you. Want to make changes at the policy level? Become an advocate! Whether you live in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or anywhere in the United Arab Emirates, anyone can apply for the openings. Internship opportunities also exists. Click the links below to see available openings.

 

What is The Borgen Project?

The Borgen Project is an innovative organization that is working to engage the public in efforts to reduce global poverty. We train even the smallest voice to make a difference and to take pride in being part of the political process. Voters don’t call Congress anymore, even though our political system is built on our representatives acting on the will of the people. Make a difference in your lifetime!

Volunteer UAE

Top 3 Reasons to Volunteer in the United Arab Emirates

  1. Shape the Culture: Living in the UAE, you’ve seen what wealth can buy and build, now let’s see what wealth can accomplish for the greater good. Like everywhere else, creating a culture that cares starts with a handful of committed people who can engage those around them. What makes the UAE unique is its small size and incredibly influential resources, so it’s much easier to connect with the local and expat community.
  2. Have Fun: Through The Borgen Project you can connect with an international community of accomplished, do-gooders and build a network of global support.
  3. Improve the World: There are few things more rewarding than helping others. Raise awareness, educate, interact, meet with Congressmen, learn from others: all ways to increase the interconnectedness of the world. Research also shows that doing something good makes you happier and healthier.

uae
Photo: Digital Media in UAE

bilaal_rajan_advocate

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the many challenges facing our modern world or to think that change is hard, if not impossible, to achieve. However, young people around the world are challenging these beliefs, becoming advocates for everything from peace to education to disaster relief. Below are five young men and women who have committed themselves to making a difference around the world:

1. Emmanuel Jal

A former child soldier, Emmaneul Jal grew up during the Second Sudanese Civil War, entering the ranks of 10,000 other child soldiers at age seven. Jal eventually escaped from the soldier’s camp and began a new life as a refugee. Today, Jal is a well-known rap artist, who uses his music to spread messages about peace.  Along with music, Jal has participated in a number of peace campaigns, becoming an advocate for justice in his home country and around the world.

2. Malala Yousafzai

A local advocate for women’s education, Malala Yousafzai was on he way home from school at the age of 15 when she was shot in the head by the Taliban. Following her recovery, Malala became an international figure, highly influential in the fight for women’s rights, both in Pakistan and around the globe.  This year, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize; her book “I am Malala” is a bestseller.

3. Ana Dodsen

At the age of three, Ana Dodsen was adopted from a Peruvian orphanage by an American couple, who brought Dodsen back to the U.S. Seven years later, Dodsen visited her home country. Moved by the poverty she saw there, Dodsen decided to become an advocate for Pervuian orphans. Today, the 20 year old women oversees the Peruvian Hearts Organization, which works to provide supplies and support to children in Peru.

4. Ashley Shuyler

At 16 years old, Ashely Shuyler founded an organization called AfricAid. AfricAid’s mission is to improve education for girls in Africa. Since the organization’s founding in 2001, Shuyler and team have raised over $700,000 to support their goal of improved education in Africa.

5. Bilaal Rajan

Now 16, Bilaal Rajan has helped raised a significant amount of money for a number of global issues. He’s advocated for disaster relief, HIV/AIDS orphans and poorly funded schools. At age eight, Rajan was made an official UNICEF ambassador.

– Chante Owens

Sources: Fusion, Huffington Post, Emmanuel Jal
Photo: TZ-Online