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May 14, 2019

Hello from Nanyuki, Kenya!

I am thrilled to provide you with my first update from the field.

I just completed a successful two weeks in Kisumu, Kenya, where I was able to connect with five of our partners in the western part of the country. Below is a picture I took of Lake Victoria at sunset. I’ve found that the “simple things” in life here are actually quite extraordinary!

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Thanks to your support I’ve been able to visit with 23 Kenyan nonprofit partners so far, located in Nairobi, Machakos, Bungoma, Muhuru Bay, Kisumu, and Kitale.

These partners work to address a variety of local challenges including poverty, gender inequality, teen pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, malnourishment, insanitation, disabilities, etc.

It has been interesting to observe commonalities between many of our partners, but also unique approaches to building sustainable solutions to address these challenges. I’ve seen some remarkable empowerment and capacity-building programs across the country. Here are some of my favourites:

Poverty Eradication Network (Machakos, Kenya) - This organization is really making waves for the community located in the arid region of Makueni. They've supplied a local school with clean water tanks and built a borehole for the greater community to tap into. They've also trained the locals on how to build sand dams - a low cost technology that retains rainwater.

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Nyanza Initiative for Girls Empowerment & Education (Kisumu, Kenya) - This organization is on a mission to return high potential girls to school, who've dropped out due to early pregnancy. They tap into community resources to support girls' education and training as a foundation for self-reliance.

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Transforming Young Stars of Africa (Kitale, Kenya) - This organization hosts an annual Children's Voices Festival which brings together hundreds of children living in challenging contexts to engage in activities with meaninful life lessons attached to them. They are mobilizing the power and leadershop potential of local youth and providing them with a platform to lead the transformation of their communities.

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Rahul Kotak Foundation (Kisumu, Kenya) - This organization is empowering local communities to lead their own development by implementing literacy and technology programs in local schools which are in part funded by children's parents.

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Throughout my journey I’ve been particularly inspired by the youth beneficiaries I’ve had the privilege of connecting with in the country’s slums. Many of them have faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles, but have chosen to take the initiative to rise above their circumstances to achieve their dreams.

I thought it important to amplify their voices and give them a more global platform to share and celebrate their inspiring success stories. You can learn more about two of these superstars here:

Meet Malemba, Kayole Mtaa Safi
Meet Maxvine, Polycom Development Project

Since entering the field, I’ve also had the opportunity to host two Online Fundraising Workshops to educate prospective nonprofit partners and two GlobalGiving Partner Meet-ups to bring together our existing partners to network, share success strategies, and learn from one another. 

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I have 12 site visits left to complete! I am currently visiting with our partner, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, whose focused on using solar energy to support Rhino conservation. Next stop is Expand Opportunities in Nakuru.

You’ve helped me to provide consultations to very remote partners of ours, and based on feedback received, they have been significant, important and transformative visits. Many thanks for your support! 

I look forwarding to sharing another update next month!

Best,

Isabelle

May 13, 2019

Stories of challenges and progress from Bangladesh

Photo by World Concern
Photo by World Concern

Monsoon season is quickly approaching in Bangladesh—lasting from June to October, it is expected to account for roughly 80% of the country’s yearly rainfall. The monsoon season will include powerful winds, torrential rainfall, and the potential for cyclones. Taken together, these risks will serve only to exacerbate the extreme challenges and poor living conditions facing the more than 900,000 Rohingya that continue to live in refugee camps and informal settlements in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

Slow progress has been made in stabilizing the basic needs of the Rohingya living in the camps and settlements, but, even beyond the threats of the upcoming monsoon season, Rohingya refugees still find themselves in a very precarious environment and situation. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs explains that the “root causes of their plight in Myanmar have not been addressed and their future is yet uncertain.” For a more detailed overview of the enormous obstacles that continue to face Rohingya communities, you can read the latest situation report released in April by the Inter Sector Coordination Group, the overarching body that is responsible for organizing the international response to the Rohingya refugee crisis.

GlobalGiving’s partner organizations continue to work day in and day out to deliver lifesaving services and support to the Rohingya. Here are recent updates from several of our partners:

  • JAAGO Foundation is expanding its Safe Haven Project that provides trauma counseling services to Rohingya children through the use, for example, of color therapy. To date, the organization has worked with 500 children.

  • Friendship remains committed to providing a wide variety of services to Rohingya living within the Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh. As of May 2019, the organization has, among other accomplishments, installed more than 40 solar panels, built two maternity centers, distributed more than 12,000 hygiene kits, and installed nearly 200 hand-washing stations.

  • World Concern is continuing to provide relief and safe spaces for Rohingya families in the Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh. You can read more about the recent story of Sajeda, a woman supported by the organization.

  • BRAC USA is working around the clock to prepare and protect Rohingya families from the impacts of the upcoming monsoon season. The organization has trained and deployed a team of 1,000 Rohingya community mobilization volunteers to conduct nearly 10,000 awareness meetings to prepare their community for the monsoon.

You and thousands of other GlobalGivers have raised more than $350,000 for our Rohingya Refugee Relief Fund and have helped make these stories of progress possible. Thank you for your generosity, and for choosing to support community-led organizations responding to this ongoing crisis.

Photo by BRAC USA
Photo by BRAC USA
May 10, 2019

Restoring ecosystems to withstand future storms

A family picks up trees to plant at their farm
A family picks up trees to plant at their farm

Thanks to your generous support, the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands are able to invest in the sustainability of their natural environment. Island Spirit Fund partner Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands (CFVI) has been busy funding environmental restoration with two local organizations, the University of the Virgin Islands and St. Croix Environmental Association. Your donations are improving coastal ecosystems with the introduction of can and bottle recycling and the planting of native trees.

The University of the Virgin Islands was able to secure additional funding to expand their recycling pilot project, allowing the initiative to be rolled out to both the St. Thomas and St. Croix campuses. Before the recycling bins and materials are placed around the campuses, the project leaders have been hosting awareness events. When the bins are installed, the work won’t quite be over, as the leaders of the project see a significant need for education around recycling—both on the importance of recycling and about the proper way to recycle various items.

St. Croix Environmental Association (SEA) is planting native trees on their home island. The trees play an important role in hurricane recovery and in restoring an ecosystem that can better withstand future storms:

  • Native trees are adapted to withstand the impacts of and recover from hurricanes.
  • The root systems of native trees are adapted to holding soil in place, keeping it on land rather than washing into the ocean and hurting coastal ecosystems.
  • These trees also host native pollinators, such as bees, hummingbirds, and bats—all of which are essential to forest recovery and the production of fruits, an important food source for the island’s humans and wildlife alike.

Thanks to generous discounts provided by the sellers, 310 trees were able to be purchased, exceeding the initial goal of 250. Of these trees, about half were given away at community events and the other half were planted by volunteers. Nearly 50 volunteers of all ages helped the relief effort by planting trees at a coastal reserve near an old tower that is home to several hundred cave bats.

Learn more about both these programs in the Community Foundation for the Virgin Islands’ project reports.

We love being able to share these stories from the field. Check your inbox in the coming months for updates on the progress of Island Spirit Fund partner organizations!

Tree planting at the coastal reserve
Tree planting at the coastal reserve
 
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