Poverty drives people to look for better conditions in different countries. These impoverished populations face a certain level of desperation that makes them determined for an escape from conditions associated with poverty: oppression, conflict and lack of opportunity.

Driven to migration, people in poverty can fall into the hands of human traffickers, and instead of reaching the better conditions for which they were searching, people are exploited by traffickers and become victims of forced labor or modern slavery. These people become one of the more than 20 million victims of human trafficking.

This problem is prevalent in countries in East Asia and in the Pacific such as Cambodia, China, Malaysia and Thailand. The United States Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs held a congressional hearing on this issue.

The subcommittee heard testimony from Scot Marciel, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Luis CdeBaca, ambassador for the Office to Moniter and Combat Trafficking Persons, Neha Misra, a specialist in migration and human trafficking from the Solidarity Center, and Jesse Eaves, a policy advisor for child protection at World Vision.

In his testimony, CdeBaca highlighted the reason for focusing on East Asia. He noted, “forced labor occurs in fishing, agriculture, mining, textile, and domestic service sectors, and in factors that produce other goods.” In some cases, state governments also support modern slavery.

Marciel noted that in many of these countries, the infrastructure is in place to effectively combat human trafficking and forced labor. However he claims, “the limited progress we have seen on anti-trafficking efforts is linked to a broader set of challenges facing the government.” These set of challenges include mistrust between the people and law enforcement officials. This leads people to avoid reporting human rights violations.

He and CdeBaca detailed current efforts by the U.S. government, which included the East Asian and Pacific Affair bureau and the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. These agencies help individual countries prevent and respond to human trafficking through advice and the provision of additional resources.

In Cambodia, EAP and TIP have created a response system that includes legal aid and psychological support for victims. They have helped nearly 800 victims in the past year.

Neha Misra and Jesse Eaves provided testimony on the role of NGOs in reducing human trafficking.

Misra detailed the efforts of the Solidarity Center, a non-profit that works to improve worker rights in over 60 countries. He noted there are similar patterns in human trafficking on a global scale. In particular, Thailand, Malaysia and Cambodia share three similar traits: vulnerable migrant workers, lack of punishment for forced labor and lack of political and financial action to end migrant labor.

Misra recommended that the U.S. use trade agreements to enforce labor laws, push for an increase in enforcement and rule of law and boycott countries who use forced labor in production of goods and services.

In the final testimony, Eaves detailed the work of World Vision, which works to reduce “poverty and injustice.” Eaves highlighted the need to interact on a local level with communities and to educate them on safe migration practices and human trafficking. Like the other testimonies, Eaves noted the necessity of government accountability in order to truly reduce human trafficking and forced labor, yet this effort needs to be international and comprehensive.

Poverty causes certain people to be extremely vulnerable to trafficking. While poverty is an ongoing problem, action from governments, nonprofit organizations and the U.S. can significantly reduce this problem associated with poverty.

– Tara Wilson

Sources: Foreign Senate, UNODC
Photo: Flickr

global impact
Global Impact is a group dedicated to forming partnerships and aiding both nonprofits and private sector organizations. By providing both secretariat and advisory resources, Global Impact has helped over 100 international charities, 100 private sector entities and 300 public sector entities flourish.

Global Impact was established in 1956. Since its inception, over $1.6 billion has been raised in order to help the world’s most impoverished people. Global Impact helps charities like Save the Children, Doctors Without Borders, the U.S. Fund for UNICEF and World Vision.

The organization seeks to develop effective strategies for giving, from the donors to the charities they want to support. More recently, Global Impact decided to team up with CollaborateUP. Global impact explains the CollaborateUP as “a boutique consulting firm advising businesses and nonprofits on how to work together to solve big problems.” According to Global Impact, CollaborateUP will “co-host an executive education program for creating shared value and maximizing strategic philanthropy.”

The program will take place between August 20 and August 22 and will act as a three-day training session for leaders of major companies dedicated to supporting nonprofits, as well as the leaders of the nonprofits themselves.

Global Impact has also been responsible for providing aid to the mass number of children who are coming to the U.S. from Central America in order to escape the poverty and violence of their homelands. The organization has been consistently working with World Vision to address the problem. Global Impact has helped World Vision organize and execute their plan to provide clothing, school supplies and shelter for these incoming children.

Global Impact has also been working with the Seattle International Fund to help alleviate issues that cause children to flee in the first place. According to Global Impact, the fund plans to invest over $1 million in the next five years to “support young adult leaders in Central America and help them to implement innovative projects within their organizations that are designed to demonstrate measureable impacts on girls’ equality and/or adolescent sexual and reproductive health rights.”

Global Impact’s primary mission is to help these nonprofit organizations effectively accomplish their goals in order to provide support to people facing extreme poverty and oppression.

– Jordyn Horowitz

Sources: CollaborateUP, 1, 2

displaced syrian refugees
The violent blitzkriegs currently commanding Syria and Iraq are causing unfathomably grave circumstances-so many that it is impossible to convey their consequent terror and devastation. Among countless other results, is the widespread population displacement occurring throughout the region.

It is estimated that 2.8 million displaced Syrian refugees are currently residing in neighboring areas, such as northern Iraq, having been forced out of their native country due to the infamous civil war. This number significantly increases daily, as the violence continues to grow in breadth and magnitude. Over 9.3 million Syrian refugees have been displaced as a result of the conflict. Many refugees are living in camps and in host communities in the Kurdish, northern region of Iraq. In last August, alone, over 60,000 Syrian refugees arrived at these designated camps. In one record day that month, a whopping 10,000 refugees arrived. Initially, the Iraqi government accepted the refugees and accommodated their medical needs, in addition to providing shelter and work permits. However, the massive influx stretched the Iraqi accommodations, dramatically.

This is a growing humanitarian crisis that demands attention. An average of 100,000 Syrians are registering as official refugees, every month. The refugees often suffer from dehydration and diarrheal diseases as a result of scarce resources, poor nutrition, and unhygienic conditions. Among the millions are a considerable amount of children; the United Nations reported that, of the displaced, over 1.4 million are child refugees. These circumstances are inherently devastating and disorienting; for children it is particularly disrupting, as they are forced to pick up and leave, ending their educations in the process. The crowded conditions have been conducive to child outbreaks of polio and measles, threatening the children’s lives, as well as their safety and well-being.

Humanitarian group Mercy Corps has intervened on behalf of all the refugees, as well as the child refugees. They have been distributing necessary items, such as shelter materials and mattresses. They additionally built a playground for children and brought toys to an Arbat refugee camp, to ease the children’s traumatic transitions. World Vision is also helping to alleviate refugee strife; the group has been distributing personal sanitation supplies and clean water. They are providing education services for children in addition to creating Child-Friendly Spaces, which are designated areas in which children can play and unwind.

As the conflict continually unfolds in geographical conjunction with the current crises resulting from the ISIS presence, the amount of displaced refugees increases daily.

– Arielle Swett

Sources: MercyCorps, World Vision
Photo: UNHCR

Contrary to popular belief, congressional leaders are only part of the key influence in making poverty a focus of U.S. foreign policy. Even though the 535 members of Congress in Washington D.C. representing voters are directly responsible for supporting or rejecting an issue or bill based on the voters’ opinions, all citizens are just as important in this process. Not only can they make their opinions known to the three members of Congress who represent them, but everyone, regardless of age, can make a difference by raising awareness in their community of a specific issue in order to bring about change.

This is exactly what a group of seven teenagers proved when they fasted for 30 hours to raise money that would benefit the fight against world poverty. These members of the Allin Church Youth Group in Dedham, Mass. participated in the World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine from 12 p.m. on April 26 to 6 p.m. on April 27. It was during those 30 hours that these teenagers not only fasted, but also learned more about world hunger as they felt the hunger that millions experience every day.

Participating members of the Dedham community donated at least $1 to this youth group for every hour that they fasted, and all contributions were used to benefit the lives of children in the Philippines in association with World Vision. World Vision is a Christian organization working in nearly 100 countries to address the issues of poverty and injustice. According to 30 Hour Famine, hundreds of thousands of people participate in this event every year in the U.S. alone, and thousands more across the globe do the same to help feed poor children and their families in developing countries.

World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine provides people with the opportunity to understand the hunger that millions experience every day of their lives. According to World Vision, 870 million people are hungry worldwide, revealing that this injustice needs to be resolved. But the 30 Hour Famine is not the only thing World Vision does to address this issue. This organization also provides individuals the opportunity to sponsor a child to not only fight poverty, but to create a better world for that child.

This experience for the Allin Church Youth Group did not end after the 30 hours were up. These seven teenagers, along with the entire Allin Congregational Church, will have the opportunity to travel to the Philippines and personally assist the children there who benefited from their 30-hour fast. This inspirational group of teenagers proves that anyone, regardless of age or political standing, can join in the fight against poverty and hunger.

— Meghan Orner

Sources: 30 Hour Famine, World Vision, The Dedham Transcript
Photo: Delphi United Church

Before deciding to sponsor a child through World Vision, 23-year-old Charlotte Bleeker bought a latte everyday on her way to work, ate out three to four times a week, and had her nails done on a regular basis.

“It’s not that they’re bad things, they’re just unnecessary. I have a coffee pot at home, food in my pantry, and am fully capable of painting my own nails,” Bleeeker said.

In 2013, Bleeker attended a local Christmas concert in which representatives from an organization called World Vision were there with pictures of children from around the world who needed to be sponsored. Bleeker saw the picture that is now on her fridge of four-year-old Eva from Zambia, and could not resist becoming her sponsor. Sponsorship entailed a monthly payment of $40 to allow Eva to go to school and buy necessities.

Bleeker’s mom immediately questioned her decision, urging her to save money to pay off loans and invest in her future. “You need to be more stable financially before you start sponsoring a child,” her mom would say.

What Bleeker’s mom was unable to foresee was that sponsoring a child was the best possible decision for Bleeker in making wise financial decisions.

“All of a sudden I was questioning the things that I used to instinctively spend money on,” Bleeker stated. Eva, halfway across the globe, was teaching Bleeker to appreciate and save her money for the first time.

“My parents always stressed the importance of saving my money, but because I had never experienced a lack of money I didn’t necessarily value it,” Bleeker admitted. Now when contemplating whether or not to stop at Starbucks in the morning, Bleeker thinks of Eva and how much additional money beyond the $40 will help her and easily resists the latte.

Bleeker is also able to write letters to Eva on the World Vision website as often as she likes.

“Sometimes I won’t hear back from her for months, it’s a process for them to get the letters to her but they always do and she always replies, thanking me numerous times in every letter. I feel like I should be thanking her for opening my eyes,” Bleeker expressed.

In addition to letters from Eva, Bleeker also receives reports courtesy of World Vision describing Eva’s progress as well as development in her community. In these reports, sponsors also receive an updated photo of their sponsored child.

Along with Eva, World Vision assists 100 million people in 100 countries today. For Bleeker it was not a matter of not having enough money to sponsor Eva but rather whether or not she was willing to give certain things up. For Bleeker, it means less dining out and more cooking.

“Eva has inspired me to be a better cook!” Bleeker proclaimed. Sponsoring Eva has enriched Bleeker’s life and given her a greater sense of purpose.

Americans hear countless stories of how sponsored children progress and thrive because of organizations like World Vision, but must also acknowledge the progress and growth that occurs when we put others before ourselves.

-Heather Klosterman

Sources: World Vision
Photo: World Vision

world vision
In Sudan, many parents are finding incentive to send their children to school because of the meals that the children will receive during the day. School related fees such as uniforms, books and writing utensils can be expensive for Sudanese parents; education often takes a backseat when money is tight.

World Vision’s Otash Girls and Boys Schools have helped children stay in school, eat at least one meal per day and have even raised the number of enrolled children .

The United States cost equivalent of feeding a child during the school year is a mere $34. That amount is incredibly small when you take a look at the big picture. Extreme hunger in Sudan can cause severe damage to a young child’s ability to properly think and remain physically healthy during future years. Poor nutrition will leave a child stunted because of the lack of necessary nutrients needed in order to function and develop.

Dr. Joseph Cahalan stated, “…a stunted child can lose as much as 10% of her lifetime earnings as an adult. Countries with high levels of malnutrition can lose as much as 8% of their gross domestic product because of stunting.”

The physical limitations of children due to severe hunger in Sudan not only affect them personally, but can also impact the country as a whole. Sudan is already struggling financially because of wars and displacement; now those wars have placed 3.7 million adults and children in a state of emergency food insecurity.

Without a basic education, the fear is that children and future generations will be caught in a cyclical lifestyle of severe hunger in Sudan. Now that dry ration food is served during the day at Otash schools, children are able to stay concentrated during the day. So far, 32,798 students located throughout Sudan are able to benefit from World Vision.

– Rebecca Felcon  

Sources: World Food Programme, Huffington Post, World Vision Sudan
Photo: World Vision

As the holiday seasons quickly approaches everyone is starting to brows stores and write shopping lists for their friends and families. This year take a few moments to consider an alternative gift list for your loved ones.  There are some innovative organizations that make donation gifts a lot more fun. Instead of giving classic material gifts like scarves or chocolates to your family you can help families struggling with hunger and poverty around the globe.

Heifer International Heifer International’s mission is to work with communities to end hunger and poverty. When American Dan Heifer worked as an aid worker during the Spanish Civil War he realized that distributing cups of milk to the hungry was only a temporary solution.  He thought to himself “why not give them a cow?” This is the philosophy that drives Heifer International.

Their holiday gift catalog titled “The Most Important Gift Catalog in the World” allows individuals the chance to give a very meaningful gift to those on their list. In the catalog you can chose from a variety of options including donating an animal, providing women with empowerment, supporting sustainable farming, or providing families with basic necessities. Here are some of the great gifts you can give:

1.     Heifer – $500 (full) or $50 (share)

2.     Sheep – $120 (full) or $10 (share)

3.     Bountiful Harvest Basket – $72

4.     Gift of Irrigation Pumps – $150

5.     Launch a Small Business – $365

World Vision World Vision has a similar program called the “World Vision Gift Catalog” that allows people to give gifts that aid people living in poverty both in the United States and globally. They have a large assortment of gifts ranging from emergency aid to care for orphans and widows. Some of their most popular gifts are:

1.     Goat and Two Chickens – $100

2.     $350 Worth of Medicine – $35

3.     Hope for Sexually exploited Girls – $35

4.     $250 worth of necessities in the USA – $25

5.     Share of a Deep Well – $100

Charity Choice If you would like to let your loved one chose a charity that will be particularly meaningful to them consider Charity Choice Gift Cards.  Founded in 2004 by Mark Finkel, Charity Choice allows buyers to make a donation and receive either a paper card or eCard. This gift card entitles the recipient to select a charity for their gift to be donated to from an online list of over 250 charities.

Lisa Toole

Sources: Heifer International, World Vision, Charity Choice

On October 17, International Day for the Eradication of Poverty was celebrated in honor of the goal to end world poverty by 2030. Declared by the UN General Assembly, this annual day serves as a reminder to promote the need to end poverty and destitution in all countries, specifically the developing nations.

In celebration of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, Interaction, the NGO alliance, highlighted global programs that are already making an impact. One of these programs, A World Vision program in Zambia, has made health care, education, and psycho-social support accessible for more than a quarter million children. The program has also trained nearly 40,000 volunteers to assist people living with HIV across the country. It is programs like these, indeed, that are helping us reach our goal.

In hope to get to zero percent by our lifetime, NGOs, like Interaction, are essential parts of the solution. “We cannot let over a billion people suffer in extreme poverty when we have the tools and the research to change their lives for the better. … We can do better. We have to do better,” said World Bank president Jim Yong Kim.

So far, the world has made significant progress in working toward this goal. While it is bold, it is undoubtedly achievable. Already, extreme poverty rates are half of what they were two decades ago. In 1990, nearly one in two people in the developing world lived in “extreme poverty” or on less than $1.25 a day. Today, this number is about one in five. Because of the help of many institutions, government and nongovernment organizations alike, we have been able to make immense developments. Still, it is not enough. The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty recognizes these groups that have made all the difference through these years and even further, motivates people to help take those next few steps forward.

– Sonia Aviv

Sources: UN, Global Dimension, Devex
Photo: Times Square

World Vision 101
World Vision is Evangelical Christian advocacy, development, and relief organization. The organization is committed to working with families, children and communities to fight poverty and global injustice. Inspired by Christian values, and disregarding race, ethnicity or religious background, the organization seeks to reach out to the most vulnerable people.

World Vision has offices in approximately 100 countries. Each division exists under the umbrella of the Covenant of Partnership, which is a biblically based agreement that unites offices and allows them to serve together. Thus, the staff is made up of people from all different fields. Workers have skills that range from the technological fields such as hydrology, to business with a focus on microfinance and development. World Vision currently employs about 40,000 staff members with 97% of those workers working in their home nations.

Since the organization was founded by Bob Pierce in 1950, it has grown into one of the largest development and humanitarian aid organizations in the world. It has total revenue of around $2.79 billion that comes from grants, products and donations. In its earliest days, the organization cared for children of the Korean War through developing a child sponsorship program. As the children involved in the program began to improve and flourish, Pierce expanded his relief agency into other Asian countries, and then across the globe.

World Vision International was founded later in 1977. By then, the organization was focused on training families to build small farms through teaching agricultural skills. In doing so, World Vision began to construct long-term benefits in communities by promoting self-reliance.

Since the beginning of the decade, the organization has established food programs for 1 million Afghanis, waged a war against sex tourism in various countries, and helped stop the flow of conflict diamonds that fuel civil wars in Africa. In 2004, following the massive Tsunami that struck the Indian Ocean, World Vision and 3700 local staff responded with life-saving aid from donors all around the world. The aid enabled the construction of new homes, schools, and access to clean water, economic opportunities, and healthcare.

Today World Vision has turned its focus to the HIV/AIDS epidemic with the launch of the Hope Initiative in 2000. By sponsoring orphans and children in aids affected areas, the organization has been able to care for thousands of vulnerable individuals. Monthly contributions from various sponsors enable this organization to keep doing its work.

World Vision offers people 4 opportunities to get involved in the work they do. The first is to sponsor a child. The second is to give a meaningful gift. The organization provides dollar values for donating items such livestock, clothes and medicine. The third way would be to simply make a dollar donation. And the fourth method of helping World Vision is to make a micro-loan in order to sponsor new entrepreneurs.

– Grace Zhao

Sources: World Vision, Charity Navigator


In Haiti, many poor and vulnerable families, most of which live in rural communities, lack access to social services, hospitals, and the necessary medical attention. However, the Kore Fanmi project, launched last year, has been successful in providing 15,000 families with increased access to basic services in the Center department.

In partnership with the World Bank, the Haitian Ministry of Finance’s Fund for Economic & Social Justice, and World Vision, the project trains local members of the community as Household Development Agents (HDAs), who then work towards connecting families with the social services they need the most. The project is helping families gain access to fundamental services such as education, vaccines, and latrines.

By training members of communities to be social workers, these individuals also benefit from the program; Dr. Germanite Phanord, the project manager at of the Economic and Social Assistance Fund, said, “This is a social protection program where a model is tested to determine if sectors workers can be transformed into social workers”.  After HDAs are trained, they become responsible for 100 families, for which they must prepare a plan, which is based on 28 life goals, such as, “the family must use latrines.” By providing these services, Kore Fanmi is focusing on helping families restore and fulfill their human rights.

In addition, the Kore Fanmi project aims to connect with international agencies and nongovernmental organizations so that they can create a common operational strategy for coordinated and decentralized delivery of basic services. By improving this aspect of public administration, an inter-organizational coordination will allow a HDA to refer a vulnerable family to another organization in their commune, who can provide the relevant medical, food or social program required.

The structure and training program of the Kore Fanmi project are both realistic and sustainable; the grass roots, community approach is aiding rural communities to change attitudes towards family planning, treated water and education.

– Chloe Isacke
Source: World Bank, Partners in Health
Photo: Washington Post