Dear Girl Champs,Exciting news! The girl effect received the Swarovski Crystal of Hope Award for 2013 from AIDS LIFE. Three of the organizations receiving funds from the Girl Effect Fund via GlobalGiving were presented the award at Life Ball, the largest charity event for AIDS in Europe, for their work with adolescent girls in communities affected by HIV and AIDS. The award was presented by Hilary Swank and took place on May 25th in Vienna, Austria. Since 2005, AIDS LIFE has honored an organization for its outstanding projects fighting HIV/AIDS with the “Life Ball Crystal of Hope Award” endowed with EUR 100,000 and sponsored by the Tyrolean Company Swarovski. The three organizations in attendance to receive the award on behalf of the girl effect, which will each benefit from the EUR 100,000 endowment, are:Mariposa DR Foundation’s project, “Mariposa Center for Girls.”Senhoa Foundation’s project, “Empower Girls Rescued from Slavery in Cambodia.” The Shanti Uganda Society’s project, “Teen Girls Health & Empowerment in Uganda.”Congratulations to these organizations for their incredible work addressing the potential girls have to prevent problems related to HIV/AIDS and end the cycle of poverty. We’re thrilled to be able to share this honor with our Girl Effect Challenge 2012 winners. Pictured from left to right: Sadie St. Denis (Shanti Uganda), Patricia Suriel (Mariposa), Thi Nguyen (Senhoa), Lisa Nguyen (Senhoa), Ruth Craven (Senhoa) and Jessica Lawson (Mariposa).
Happy summer! Or, for those of you on the other side of the equator, happy winter! Whichever season you may be in, we hope that you are safe and well. You may not have heard much about the Horn of Africa since many other disasters have occurred since then. Yet we at GlobalGiving would like to update you and remind you of just how important your support is.
Often times, focus is only placed on the large picture of natural disasters i.e. the amount of damage that has been done, extremely high death tolls, how much aid is being given, etc. While these numbers are very important, they can make us forget those people that have lived through the horrors. Those people whose strength and resilience inspires the rest of us in our daily lives. For this update, we have profiled a few stories of individuals who have proved that despite one of the worst famines our world has seen, live still goes on and can be fulfilling and joyful.
Zainaby Kamato, 45, is a member of a group of female farmers supported by Action Aid International USA. She is also Chairlady of the Relief Committee in Garba Tulla, Kenya. With your support, ActionAid has been supplying mobile phones to help communities in north eastern Kenya communicate with each other and ActionAid. This has been extremely important in the drought response.
“I am married and have six children. My husband is Abdualla, but he is sick. He has been suffering from a mental problem. Heading the relief committee means that I am the main voice of the community when we make assessments to find out how much relief food each household needs. Most of us in the committee are women.”
In her leadership position, Zainabu helps manage the Food for Assets program which is where members of her community work on water harvesting and farming structures in exchange for relief food. This exchange is aimed at building up resilience against future droughts.
“We are building structures that hold the water, so we can farm with very little water. We have had one harvest where we harvested many vegetables. That eased the situation. The better we build these structures, the less rain we need. The phones are a big help when organizing workers for building the structures. The phones also assist me in my communication with the entire community. I can now get updates from everybody with phones and also when relief food arrives.”
Zainabu is proud that she is able to provide for her family, despite everything that they have been through. She strives to be able to pay the school fees for her children and to put food on the table for them. She is truly a role model for her family and community.
“I really want my children to be able to finish school and get jobs so they can travel out of this place – I don’t feel that there are any prospects for them here. When we lost all of our animals I really felt that I had lost the power to control my life. We had to accept food from the government and I didn’t like just living in this way – it made me feel dependent and bad. But now I work for the food, I feel I have taken some control back into my life. Before I started working with this program, children would often go hungry and not eat for a few days, but things are better now. I also like being able to work with other people in the field and feel that we are making our situation better.”
Anab is an 18-year old-girl living in the Ethiopian village of Dudmaygag. In order to get to a source of water, she would have to walk more than two days in simple sandals just to fill a couple of jerry cans. Her entire family depended on these jerry cans to supply their everyday needs for drinking, cooking and washing.
Thanks to people like you, Mercy Corps was able to build a water reservoir near her village. Now, Anab is able to fetch water several times a week and sometimes even daily. She continues to care for her family, but the burden is no longer quite as heavy. Anab, her family and her community are now able to focus on rebuilding after the drought and other aspects of life.
Anab has become an advocate to get more water reservoirs to her village and surrounding areas because she has realized just how critical they are. As the reservoir’s use has increased as more people find out about it, her advocacy becomes that much more crucial. Anab has been empowered to make a difference because of your donations and support.
23-year-old mother and refugee, Bonkay, fled her village in central Somalia’s Bay region with her husband and 2 children because of general insecurity and the worst drought in more than 60 years. The family walked for 9 days before reaching Dollo Ado in south-east Ethiopia. Dollo Ado now has the world’s second largest refugee complex after Dadaab in Kenya. There are 5 camps in Dollo Ado including Kobe which is where Bonkay resides. These camps host more than 170,000 refugees, most of which are from Somalia.
We used to farm and keep livestock, but they all died because of the drought and we were also in danger of losing our two children,” explains Bonkay.
Bonkay’s husband failed to find work after arriving in the camp, and the family became dependent upon aid and assistance from United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Bonkay is illiterate and has never studied before, but that did not dissuade her. She had heard about a program called Youth Education Pack (YEP) that is only run in Kobe. Through this, she enrolled in a basic literally course and mathematics. Following this two, she will participate in vocational skills training where she will learn culinary skills.
“I want to become a cook and open my own restaurant.”
YEP is a UNHCR-backed program implemented by the Norwegian Refugee Council and is funded by the IKEA Foundation. It focuses on local Ethiopians and Somali refugees aged 15-24 who have had little to no formal education or training. YEP aims to teach both locals and refugees new skills and help them become self-sufficient. Bonkay was a perfect fit for this program.
There are approximately 400 students taking part in the program, half of them are women. About 280 of the students are refugees while the rest are from the host community, with teachers recruited locally. YEP courses are all free and run for one year. Students are encouraged to use the knowledge they have learned in the program to set up their own businesses.
All infrastructures built under this program are handed over to the local population and host community. This helps to reduce dependency on aid and promote self-sufficiency. It also helps create resilience amongst the people so that they can be more prepared for future droughts in this arid region. If it were not for your donations and support, UNHCR and its partner organizations would not be able to turn their focus from aid to programs and opportunities that the refugees can take home with them. YEP and other programs are drastically improving the lives of refugees in ways that have never been done before.
As for Bonkay, she is feeling hopeful and happy. As she played with her 2-year old son during a break from a YEP class, she summed it up best:
Nobody can take my skills away from me, they will not disappear like my farm and livestock did.”
Thank you GlobalGivers! Your continued support has touched so many lives across the world. Even one donation can make a difference in someone’s life. You are truly helping make the world a better place.
Sometimes it seems as though the natural disasters in Haiti will not stop. From the horrendous earthquake that struck more than 3 years ago to the massive flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy and most recently, regional droughts that have hindered planting and harvesting efforts. Yet there is hope. With your support, organizations such as the Lambi Fund and Partners in Health have been able to continue their work in capacity building.
Farming is difficult in Haiti as a result of the unpredictable weather leaving much of the land either flooded or barren. The Lambi Fund works with local organizations so that farmers are no longer at the mercy of the land. Resources such as irrigation canals and water pumps help the people cope with current weather situations while relief grants provide the people with seed and fertilizer. Not only does this help them get back on their feet, but they can also store food and grain for when future storms or droughts hit.
A member of the local organization AFDL explained that, “Before relief funding from Lambi Fund came, people weren’t sure when they could plant and harvest again. This was a major concern for everyone. The Lambi Fund of Haiti helped us till the land again…we have gardens again. The emergency relief was an opportunity for us. Hurricane Sandy came during planting season and we weren’t sure how we were going to repair the land. With Lambi Fund’s support, we re-tilled the land and planted again. Now we have corn, nuts, and black beans and harvesting has begun.”
Partners in Health is also helping to provide critically needed resources, one of the most important being electricity. Having recently finished the construction of a national teaching hospital, Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais (HUM), they’re now working on sustainable solutions to keep it up and running. Across the roof of the 200,000 square foot hospital are 1,800 solar panels meticulously arranged in order to produce more energy than HUM will consume. To put this into perspective, before the hospital was even open to the public, these solar panels produced 139 megawatt hours of electricity. This is enough energy to charge 22 MILLION smartphones, and offset 72 tons of coal and more than 140,000 pounds of carbon emissions. Using solar energy is expected to cut $379,000 from HUM’s projected annual operating costs. The environmental and financial benefits that these solar panels provide for Haiti are countless!
While you may only see heart wrenching stories about the people in Haiti on the news, there are so many more stories of hope and joy. This is why we provide you with these reports so that you can read about the inspiring things our partner organizations are doing on the ground. It is because of the support from donors like you that these organizations can continue their groundbreaking and catalyzing work.
One such story of hope comes from a Haitian doctor working with International Medical Corps. Raised in Port-au-Prince and the second child of four, Virginia was a witness to Haiti’s extreme poverty. The lack of health care and large inequalities struck a chord in her which solidified her decision to earn her medical degree. The earthquake hit when Virginia was still in her residency in the southern part of Haiti. She rushed back to Port-au-Prince to find her family who thankfully were unharmed. Yet being a doctor could not have prepared her for what she saw. Patients “without hands and legs; with broken eyes” and the crumbled streets “smelled dead.”
Life circled around survival. There was a constant flow of patients coming to her, begging and pleading for help. Her mind was “without energy.” She returned south to treat victims, yet everyone was always on high alert. Explains Virginia, “you just keep wondering when something will happen.” This psychological impact ran deep in the Haitian people’s minds. The survivors constantly wondered why they were alive when their family and country was in ruins. But Virginia refused to give up. “You have to fight – with everything you have. Otherwise, you will lose your mind.”
After finishing her residency, she applied for many jobs in Port-au-Prince, but found nothing. She expanded her search to areas outside the capitol and was flooded with responses from several NGOs including International Medical Corps. The match between IMC and Virginia was perfect. After one month, she became the supervisor of one IMC site, and then another, until finally her work took her back to Port-au-Prince. She constantly moved up in the organization where today, she is a capacity building manager. She says she sometimes does miss patient contact, but she knows that she is “helping lay the groundwork for more.”
Virginia describes her work: “If you work in a clinic, you may deliver a beautiful baby girl. But I get to fight for something else: to have more health facilities where women can give birth safely and hygienically, more trained OB/GYNs; places where a mother can take her child if it has disabilities.”
Today, Virginia believes that the earthquake literally shook Haiti to move forward, to rebuild in a more equal and sustainable way. “I think the earthquake brought something to us. We started to realize that the way we used to live was not correct, and that we have to integrate into the world. If every Haitian can think like this, I think that everything that happened to us will serve to progress us; to bring something different for the next generation. There is a lesson. We have to push to enter into life; to not be separate.”
Without your help, these inspiring stories from our partner organizations would be far and few. Every donation makes a difference and helps tell a story. From us at GlobalGiving to Haitian nationals like Virginia, we thank you for your support from the bottom of our hearts.