BRAC USA

Our mission is to empower people and communities in situations of poverty, illiteracy, disease and social injustice. Our interventions aim to achieve large scale, positive changes through economic and social programs that enable men and women to realize their potential.
Aug 26, 2015

Letter from the field

Women cleaning debris
Women cleaning debris

Thanks to GlobalGiving supporters, BRAC was able to provide emergency support and assist partners on the ground. The BRAC team is working closely with the Nepalese government to decide the scale and scope of its long-term projects. In the meantime, BRAC has sent a fellow out to visit some of the more remote areas of the country to assess what local people need the most and how we can best reach them.

Sheetal is a Nepal native, but has been getting her graduate degree in the US for the last several years. She returned to Nepal to work as a fellow for BRAC, but hadn't been home in years. Below is her letter from the field.

Dear all,
Today, with my brother, I visited a village called Lubhu in Lalitpur district, with a total population of about 10,000 about 7 km north of Kathmandu. This part of Lubhu has a settlement of ethnic "Newar" people who speak Newari, also known as Nepal bhasa. Their houses are built with brick and mud, which you will see is evident in the rubble. 
I'm sharing pictures, and a brief conversation with a local family, and some thoughts. 
From the main road, it looked like only a few houses were damaged. But upon parking our motorcycle and walking inside a courtyard, we saw that many more had been reduced to rubble. With the monsoon rains, the rubble has flattened on the roads. Locals have put pieces of bricks together to make a makeshift path for pedestrians as no vehicle can pass through. 
As we were walking, I saw this young woman, about my age, with a shovel in her hand, shoveling debris of a completely ruined house, and an older woman, probably her mother looking on. I was getting ready to take a picture, when her relatives from the shop on the opposite side, called out in Newari, "daughter, look over here, someone is taking a picture of you! Smile!". At this cheerful gesture, I struck a conversation with the family. I asked them how they were doing. They said they were all alive and safe, but their houses were gone. Right next to the shop was a tin dome temporary shelter, similar to the one that the Chaudhary Group was distributing. I tried to see if the dome had any logos of NGOs, INGOs, but didn't see any. The family had built the dome on their own, with their own money. Relief has not reached them, at least not yet, even after three months of the earthquake. They told me that they heard that the neighboring villages had received relief materials and shelters, but they didn't get any. 
Finally they asked, "will you provide us some relief? Anything would help." Embarrassed by their innocent and hopeful question, we had to answer that we did not have anything to give at the moment, but these pictures we've would help us know what they need. They agreed that if their story was shared, their families would receive some attention, some care. 
A few steps over, we saw men and women scraping mud from bricks and rebuilding on what is left of their house (See picture building on what is left"). They were merely stacking fallen bricks on leftover walls, aware of the questionable sustainability in case of another aftershock or earthquake.
People have taken it upon themselves to clean, pick up and get back up on their feet. And why not, they can't hope for help forever. But any help would be of great help. 
Warmly,
Sheetal
Rubble lines the streets
Rubble lines the streets
Jul 29, 2015

Ebola survivors face the future

Kulako, an Ebola survivor in Sierra Leone
Kulako, an Ebola survivor in Sierra Leone

This week, the last remaining Ebola survivors in Liberia were released from the hospital. Prior to this most recent outbreak in late June – six cases with two fatalities – Liberia had not seen a case of Ebola since March. While some may see the recent resurgence as a setback, Liberia's rapid and effective response demonstrates the success of measures implemented by the national government, the international community, and NGOs operating in Liberia. It also shows how community mobilization and trust-building can reshape the course of an epidemic.

Liberia cannot officially be declared Ebola-free until next month (42 days from the last identified case), and it – along with its neighbors Sierra Leone and Guinea – has a long road ahead to rebuild its health system and economy. But Liberia's progress serves as an inspiring illustration of what collaboration and determination can accomplish in the face of human suffering.

With your support, BRAC has been working in both Liberia and Sierra Leone to rebuild health systems, empower disenfranchised teenage girls, provide counseling to survivors, and fuel economic growth through small loans and business development.

Since the outbreak in May 2014, Ebola has claimed 11,276 lives. Ebola leaves in its wake orphaned children, families torn apart, and stigmatized survivors. BRAC, along with other partners, are training mental health clinicians, community leaders, and staff to offer necessary psychosocial support to survivors and victims’ families. Group counseling sessions and individual meetings create open discussions to help families cope. To date, BRAC has counseled 702 orphans and has held 226 group sessions over three months and will grow to reach 68,582 people.

In some cases, patients in quarantine come home to find their families safe and Ebola-free. Unfortunately, many others return to devastating circumstances. Kulako, a woman from the town of Kumala, Sierra Leone, describes her experience:

“I had four children, and I caught Ebola from one of them. All of my children died.” Kulako survived the Ebola virus, but she is still recovering. With BRAC’s support, survivors like Kulako will begin to rebuild their lives.

Thank you for helping to stop the spread of Ebola and alleviate the physical and emotional pain suffered by the thousands affected. To view more survivor stories from the areas BRAC works in visit the link below.

Links:

Jul 28, 2015

Empowering farmers in Tanzania

Mgeni a livestock promotor in Tanzania
Mgeni a livestock promotor in Tanzania

The agriculture and livestock sectors in sub-Saharan Africa have remarkable potential to foster economic growth – especially in rural areas. But in order to take advantage of regional resources, countries like Tanzania need to equip local farmers with the skills and tools they need to be successful.

With your support, the Livelihoods Enhancement through Agriculture Development (LEAD) program, conducted in Tanzania, has increased farmers’ incomes by teaching them skills such as effective bargaining and confidence in their product through marketing. LEAD also trains the farmers in business tactics: they learn competitive negotiating skills and cost reduction strategies.  By organizing groups through which farmers can cultivate markets and contacts, as well as offering easier access to supplies and modern agriculture technology, many more families have become food secure. In just two years of operation LEAD has formed 5,027 farmers’ organizations for both maize and poultry.

The majority of the farmers participating in LEAD are women. Mgeni is an excellent example of one woman who benefited from a BRAC agriculture program. To start her poultry business, Mgeni took out 250,000 Tanzanian shillings (120 USD) from a BRAC microfinance program. Now, she makes between two and three million shillings monthly (960-1,440 USD) by supplying local shops with eggs; Mgeni is considering buying a car to expand her market even further. Her first small loan has allowed Mgeni to expand her business and apply for a BRAC Small Enterprise Loan (up to 30 million shillings or 14,400USD). Mgeni success story is one of many that will continue to inspire farmers like her to get involved with LEAD and start their own competitive business.

Thank you for donating to this project. As it receives more funding and support, BRAC looks to expand its agriculture programs in Tanzania and continue to train farmers to plant their crops efficiently and maximize outputs.

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