Friday, October 28, 2011

Differences Ignored In Wake Of Humanitarian Call

SOMETIMES it takes a tragedy. The earthquake that struck Turkey’s mainly Kurdish province of Van on October 23rd, killing at least 481 people, triggered an outpouring of solidarity. Millions of Turks donated to relief campaigns. Convoys of volunteers drove thousands of miles from Istanbul to help dig for survivors in Van, an impoverished and mountainous province that borders Iran. Mustafa Sarigul, the mayor of a posh borough in Istanbul, offered free housing and education to 1,000 children left homeless by the quake.

From Globes

This afternoon, the first Israeli assistance airlift was due to fly out to the disaster area in Eastern Turkey with portable homes and buildings. Ankara has requested help from Israel and 30 other countries to repair damage from the strong earthquake that has caused the death of more than 400 people so far.

Turkey is mainly interested in receiving portable homes and buildings to house refugees whose homes were destroyed in the earthquake, as well as equipment for rescuing people trapped under the rubble. The office of Minister of Defense Ehud Barak said that, "After receiving a request from the Turkish government in Ankara, it instructed the defense establishment to fly out special aid to Turkey following the earthquake."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Better World Due to " Better Angels"

When caught in the clutch of 24/7 cable news, it can look as though the world is collapsing on itself.  But not so, says a recent report by Seth Borenstein for Associate Press

Borenstein writes, "...historically, we've never had it this peaceful.

That's the thesis of three new books, including one by prominent Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker. Statistics reveal dramatic reductions in war deaths, family violence, racism, rape, murder and all sorts of mayhem.

In his book, Pinker writes: "The decline of violence may be the most significant and least appreciated development in the history of our species."

In a Greater Good report it says,
 Steven Pinker’s new book, The Better Angles of Our Nature, starts with a modest claim: “This book is about what may be the most important thing that has ever happened in human history.”
“Believe it or not,” he continues, “violence has declined over long stretches of time, and today we may be living in the most peaceable era in our species’ existence.”

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"Trick Or Treat So Others Can Eat"

Following the lead on a recent post about hunger in America, American youth have taken to the streets in a campaign to collect food for their local food banks.

"We're the next generation. ... We can make a big difference," said Ellie Morrison, 15, of Ventura, according to a recent Ventura County News report.

The national campaign began Oct. 17 and runs through Nov. 7.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Feeding the Hungry

A network of food banks "supply food to more than 37 million Americans each year, including 14 million children and 3 million seniors," in a time when 1 in 6 Americans struggle with hunger. 

" These are often hard-working adults, children and seniors who simply cannot make ends meet and are forced to go without food for several meals, or even days," says the nonprofit website Feeding America.

200 member food banks are located across the United States.

Take the Hunger In America Quiz

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Act of Giving Blesses

After seeing American castoffs at the curb with free signs on them, a Nigerian man collected the goods with thoughts of sending them to his native Nigeria, where people have so little.  He'd often collect the free goods while riding his bicycle.

“A lot of people had sympathy when they saw me on the bicycle and offered to help convey the things to my house," he explained to a local reporter.

He then collected goods from garage sales and stored them in a rented shed--spending an average of $200-$300 per week. The assorted household items are now filling a container for shipment to Nigeria. 

“... The level of generosity and lightness of heart (is) America, which gives more than any other country in the world. America is seen as the grandfather of the world. America is always there to provide solutions," he told the reporter.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Honoring Cultural and Biological Diversity

"Amazon Watch is a nonprofit organization founded in 1996 to protect the rainforest and advance the rights of indigenous peoples in the Amazon Basin...(Amazon Watch) envisions a world that honors and values cultural and biological diversity and the critical contribution of tropical rainforests to our planet's life support system," notes the group's website.

Amazon Watch also:
  • Believes that indigenous self-determination is paramount,
  • Indigenous knowledge, cultures and traditional practices contribute greatly to sustainable and equitable stewardship of the Earth.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Another Bar Mitzvah Benefits Local Food Bank

Today's local paper reports that a local young man who recently celebrated his bar mitzvah, "...used his monetary gifts to help fight hunger...(and) donated $1,000 to the Food Bank Coalition..."

Source: The Tribune, San Luis Obispo, October 20, 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Saving Poland's Primeval Forests

Poland's  Bialowieza Primeval Forest is a treasured forest that is more than 8,000 years old.  Preserving and protecting the forest has become the focused project by a group called Workshop for All Beings.

 "Workshop for All Beings-— seeks to protect the environment of Poland by helping local communities become knowledgeable about their local environment and enabling them to better articulate the conservation issue they need to pursue. It is building a broad citizen-based environmental movement and equipping citizens to form and sustain a commitment to Poland’s primeval forests and wildlife and to the ecology of its many human communities, as development takes place in the recent political and economic contexts. They prepare maps of "Wild Poland" and of existing and possible problems and conflicts. To help provide a social background for these efforts, they find and gather local people to participate in training programs. The seminars and workshops inform them about Poland's environmental laws, ways of social, political and scientific cooperation and participation, and ways of creating groups of lobbyist. They publish a monthly illustrated magazine "Wild Nature," which is widely quoted in the national media." explains Solutions Site.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Standing For Women's Rights in Armenia

Following the death of an Armenian woman by domestic violence, volunteers worked to bring the case to public view in a conservative environment.  For the first time, the accused batterer was sentenced to a lengthy prison stay, according to a recent Armenian Weekly report.

Seven organizations gathered together for the first time and built the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Women -- bringing this case to the public.  Last January, over 200 people marched in Los Angeles, demanding justice.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Bank For The Poor

The Grameen Bank (Grameen meaning "village") was formed for the poor with the following objectives:
* extend banking facilities to poor men and women;
* eliminate the exploitation of the poor by money lenders;
* create opportunities for self-employment for the vast multitude of unemployed people in rural Bangladesh;
* bring the disadvantaged, mostly the women from the poorest households, within the fold of an organizational format which they can understand and manage by themselves; and
* reverse the age-old vicious circle of "low income, low saving & low investment", into virtuous circle of "low income, injection of credit, investment, more income, more savings, more investment, more income.
From Wikipedia:

Grameen believes that charity is not an answer to poverty. It only helps poverty to continue as it creates dependency and takes away individual's initiative to break through the cycle of poverty, whereas loans offer people the opportunity to take initiatives in business or agriculture, providing earnings and enabling them to pay off the debt.

Grameen regards all human beings, including the poorest, as endowed with endless potential, and that unleashing the creativity in each individual should be the answer to poverty.[15] Grameen has offered credit to many poor, women, illiterate and unemployed people. It created access to credit on reasonable terms such as the group lending system and weekly-installment payment with reasonably long term of loans, enabling the poor to build on their existing skill to earn a better income in each cycle of loans.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Compassion Drives Mobile Loaves & Fishes

14,000 volunteers in seven US cities  participate is a program called Mobile Loaves and Fishes, a nonprofit ministry with the mission of  "Going out onto city streets every night with our catering trucks, MLF serves food, basic clothing, hygiene products, etc. to our brothers and sisters living on or near the streets.  MLF currently owns 19 catering trucks located in seven cities, six states all serving with compassion and love. We help meet the needs of our brothers and sisters through a powerful, innovative process of mobilizing communities of volunteers to serve the homeless and working poor. While our fundamental mission is to feed the hungry, our broader mission is to empower individuals to serve their communities, thus inspiring a lifestyle of volunteering to serve."

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Garden for the Righteous

Dedicated to honoring those who have stood up against genocide and persecution,  gardens in locales such as Armenia, are planted by the Committee For The Gardens of The Righteous Worldwide.

From the website:

The Righteous Gardens are remembrance places dedicated to those who opposed human rights violations in our most recent history, which has been marked by increasingly widespread genocidal practices.

After Yad Vashem Garden within the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, other gardens have been created worldwide such as in Yerevan besides the Museum of Armenian Genocide, as well as in Milan, in Sarajevo and in Poland.

Trees symbolize life and call for its defence against the haralds of death; the example of the Righteous becomes a cry to our conscience and shows that even in the direst straights it is possible to choose not to remain indifferent.

This is why the Righteous Gardens play a role in terms of remembrance as an educational tool for the new generations, the protagonists of tomorrow's history, to whom they propose a feasible alternative, a warning and a message of hope.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Healing Children's Hearts

"On September 28, an eight-member (volunteer) team of doctors and nurses from Auckland, New Zealand completed a two-week mission to Makassed Hospital on the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem in which 31 babies, most from the besieged Gaza Strip, had life-saving open-heart surgery...This team worked  long hours and provided expert care for many sick babies who otherwise would not have gotten the surgery that they needed in Palestine," reports the non profit Palistine Children's Relief Fund

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Help For Girls' With Mothers In Jail

Not every Girl Scout has a law-abiding mother.  And for those Girl Scouts with a mother behind bars, there's an app (program) for that,  Girl Scouts Beyond Bars.

From the website: The Girl Scouts Beyond Bars (GSBB) Initiative was established in 1992 in partnership with the National Institute of Justice. The goals of GSBB are to lessen the impact of parental separation due to incarceration, to foster the personal and social development of girls and their mothers, and to provide girls with the opportunity to participate with their parents in the Girl Scout Leadership Experience.

Parents and their daughters take an active leadership role in the planning and implementation of Girl Scout program activities and also participate in facilitated discussions about family life, conflict resolution, and the prevention of violence and drug abuse. After release, parents and daughters can continue to participate in troop meetings in their communities, making Girl Scouting a consistent presence in their lives.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Better To See You With

Swiss designer, Yves BĂ©har, "... partnered with nonprofit Verbien, Mexican company Augen, and the Mexican government on the eyewear project (See Better to Learn Better) which launched in 2010. Due to the high price and social stigma of wearing glasses, many Mexican students were not receiving the eye care they needed, causing them to fall behind at school. With the See Better to Learn Better program, students are given an eye exam, then those who need glasses are encouraged to build their own frames from a library of unique colors, shapes, and sizes, which are manufactured locally. According to Augen, more than 500,000 kids have received optometric care and more than 358,000 kids received donated frames and lenses. In the next school year, they estimate more than 240,000 kids and 20,000 adults will receive glasses."

Source:  FastCoDesign

Monday, October 10, 2011

83-Year-Old Shuns Spotlight for Humanitarian Work

The Los Angeles Times recently published a story about an 83-year-old Pakistani who devotes his life to the "poorest of the poor," and declines any spotlight for his work.

" He owns a single set of clothing and often sleeps in a storage room — even though millions of dollars pass through his hands annually. At 83, creature comforts don't matter much to Abdul Sattar Edhi. He is far too busy caring for the sick, feeding the hungry, burying the dead," writes the report's author. 

"Known to some as Pakistan's Mother Teresa, Edhi is a humanitarian light in a violent and troubled land...He counters that his true religion is human rights."

The Edhi Foundation was established in 1951.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

More Anonymous Donors For Earthquake Victims

"I am all alone and have no use for the money," explained an anonymous donor of 10m yen or $131,000, to victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

The BBC News reports: "...the earthquake and tsunami that devastated north-eastern coastal areas in March has brought out striking examples of generosity and honesty." 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Women Committed to Peace, Nonviolence, Honored

CAIRO — Three women from Africa and the Middle East who symbolized nonviolent struggles to improve their nations and to advance the role of women's rights were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.

Sharing the award were Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa's first democratically elected female president; her countrywoman Leymah Gbowee, a peace activist who challenged warlords; and Tawakkul Karman, a Yemeni human-rights leader seeking to overthrow an autocratic regime as part of the regionwide Arab Spring movement.

Read more: 3 women win Nobel Peace Prize - The Denver Post

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Million Youth Work To "Free The Children"

A 10-year-old Pakistani child escaped the slavery he was sold into when he was 4-years-old. He spent the next two years working to end childhood slavery, until he was assinated at age 12.  This inspired another 12-year-old boy, this one living in Canada, to form an organization called Free The Children.

Since its 1995 founding, Free The Children  is the "’s largest network of children helping children through education, with more than one million youth involved in our innovative education and development programs in 45 countries," notes their website.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Volunteers Clean Elkhorn Slough

"The Bear Clan of the Ohlone Tribe recently purchased land near Elkhorn Slough. They will hold ceremonies and have vision quests on the land. They intend to clean it up and plant natives plants there. It has been used as a dumping grounds for years. A lot of debris has been removed, but a lot of broken pieces of drip irrigation remain in the field. that overlooks Elkhorn Slough," notes a Facebook page encouraging volunteers. 
 Last Saturday, October 1, seven voluneers gathered to clean up the plastic debris, keeping it from the waters of Monterey Bay in California.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Thailand's Volunteer Health Corps Slay Disease

"...the spirit of community service and self-reliance in a society with a strong tradition of caring for family and neighbors...has helped curb a slew of infectious diseases, including H.I.V., dengue and malaria," in remote Thailand villages, according to a recent New York Times report.

"Thailand’s Village Health Volunteers, as they are known, have been a source of reliable caretakers in a country perpetually beset by military coups and changing governments. Health care has marched forward in Thailand even as its politics have been mired in conflict," notes the report.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Standing For Their Neighbors

After a fire destroyed their family home, looters came by to see what they could scavenge.  So the fire victims' neighbors banded together to not only watch the home 24/7 but to take up donations to help the family that lost everything.

Source: KTNV News

Monday, October 3, 2011

Recycled Soap For South Sudan

Three weeks ago 2.5 tons of soap, reprocessed from waste soap salvaged from hotels, was shipped to the new country of Republic of South Sudan--a country with some of the worst health conditions in the world.

The Global Soap Project partnered with several other humanitarian focused operations to accomplish this project, reports Humanitarian News.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Woman Devoted to Helping Sex Trafficking Victims

"Trafficking & Prostitution Services (TAPS)  is a network of sex trafficking and sex work survivors who banded  together to help others escape from being forced into sex work - no matter what their race, religion, background or geographical location. 

TAPS is not connected with any government, law enforcement, religious, or political entity..." is the simple statement from the nonprofit's website.

The group's founder, for the most part, funds the operation from her own bank account.  From the book Heroes Among Us, the author writes, "So far she's helped thousands of people.  She's bought plane tickets, rented apartments, paid huge phone bills, and stayed up countless nights helping others escape live of degradation and exploitation, disease and self-hatred.  She estimates spending well over $300,000 of her own money in her efforts."