alison Posts

Girl in a Whirl

This spring, we were sad to say goodbye to our intern, Julia.  But like most GG staff, goodbye isn’t forever.  Julia has kept us up-to-date on her adventures, including some GG related.  Recently, she returned from a trip through Central America with her boyfriend to celebrate their graduate school graduations.  Check out what she had to say, and visit her blog to find out more!

In May, my boyfriend, Marcus, and I took a trip to Central America in honor of our graduate school graduations. For him, it was a chance to explore and unwind, but for me, it was so much more. You see, I’ve spent the last eight years griping about world poverty and the last four studying it. But, until May, I had never been to a developing nation in my life, and I had never seen with my own eyes the problems or the solutions in action.

Just outside of Antigua, Guatemala, about a 45-minute drive through the mountains, there is a small town called Santiago, which is home to AFEDES, the Women’s Association for the Development of the Sacatepéquez Region. Here, 11 indigenous women run an organization with roughly 34 chapters and 1,000 members. A true grassroots organization, AFEDES was founded by women who believed that they could improve the quality of life in their region by working together. And so they have.

AFEDES runs programs that empower women academically, economically, politically, psychologically, and socially. The women of AFEDES provide loans to help families send young girls to school and loans to help local women with their small businesses. They run workshops to educate women on women’s rights, sexual health, civic engagement, and financial management; they provide a forum for women to discuss issues of gender, self-esteem, and community. In May, I visited the organization to learn more about one specific program-a program that I helped fund through GlobalGiving.

When Marcus and I decided to travel to Central America, we also decided that we wanted to do it responsibly-we wanted to give something back to the people and the places that would give us new experiences and lifelong memories. So, we each made donations to a grassroots program in every country that we would visit. AFEDES’s Foot Loom Training Program was my Guatemalan pick, and they, together with GlobalGiving, invited me to visit the Santiago office in person, so that I could finally see with my own eyes a solution in action.

Read the rest of her story here.

A World Without Torture

Karen Tse, a GlobalGiving Project Leader and CEO and founder of International Bridges to Justice (IBJ) asked us to help get the word out about JusticeMakers – an online competition for innovations that end torture, arbitrary detainment and abuse. This initiative was inspired by people such as IBJ Fellow Ouk Vandeth of Cambodia – a former policeman turned criminal defender – and many other passionate individuals who deliver due process rights to the accused.”Ending torture isn’t an unattainable goal,” said Ouk. “It is just about guaranteeing people the legal protections afforded to them by law.”

The competition will award $5,000 to the 8 best proposals for concrete, achievable action, and is open to anyone with an idea and a familiarity with his or her country’s criminal justice system. JusticeMakers launched on June 26, and the goal is to get 300 entries by
August 14. (Check out their video to learn more).

So be creative – submit your idea online, and you could walk away with $5,000 to make the concept a reality. Even if you don’t want to compete, you can engage with criminal legal experts from around the world or provide feedback to competitors. If you know passionate, entrepreneurial advocates for criminal justice, spread the word!

And help move the world one step closer to ending torture in the 21st century.

For Sale: 1 House; Food for 30 Villages

Saw this story on CNN:

The Salwen family is no stranger to service.  Kevin is on the board of Atlanta Habitat for Humanity; Joan works as a teacher; 15-year-old Hannah volunteers at the Atlanta Community Food Bank and has been working at Cafe 458, a restaurant that serves homeless people, since she was in the 5th grade; and 13-year-old Joseph has worked at the Food Bank since he was 8.

Still, they felt like there was more to do, so they started “Hannah’s Lunchbox“.  The idea started wtih a brainstorm of what things they could do without, how could they make a difference.  And they settled on their 6,500 square-foot house – complete with 5 bedrooms, 8 fireplaces and even an elevator.  They decided to sell the house, move into one half its size and give half of the proceeds – roughly $800,000 – away to charity.

Ultimately, the Salwens chose The Hunger Project to receive the money from their house.  Over a 6-year period, it will end up in Ghana, helping 30 villages grow food and build clinics and schools.

Their house is the American dream, but the Salwens are hoping to redefine what that means.  How much do we really need?  And how committed are we to paying more than lip-service to makinga  difference?  “We as Americans have so much,” said Kevin, a former Wall Street Journal writer. “We love the concept of half. We are going from a house that’s 6,000 square feet to a house that’s half the size, and we’re giving away half the money.”

The Salwen family is a great example and unequivocally answer the question of “What are you willing to give up to make a difference?”

Listening is the New Giving

I came across this article on the New York Times and thought it was an interesting approach to giving – along the same line as knowing your donors and getting involved with things about which they are already passionate.

Product (RED) is developing a digital music sservice, which is scheduled to launch in the fall.  For $5/week, customers will receive three new pieces of exclusive music or audio content from some of industry’s biggest acts: U2, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Elton John, Emmylou Harris and Deathcab for Cutie.

While (RED) remains controversial for some, I applaud their approach because while I opened this post with an air of scholarliness – I was just perusing the New York Times and stumbled across this article – in truth, I found it on @U2 while I was looking for more information on rumored track called “The Cedars of Lebanon” on U2’s upcoming new album.

I’m a perfect example: find out what people are already excited about and get involved.

Kicking It Homestyle, Yo.


Just a reminder, if you’re looking for some fun this weekend, Landmark’s E Street Cinema in Washington, DC is showing Kicking It, the documentary about the Homeless World Cup.  There are also showtimes in Los Angeles and New York, according to the website.

As Donna and Ted  mentioned earlier this week, this weekend Kastles Stadium will host a free street soccer tournament where 100 players from around the country will compete to represent the United States in the Homeless World Cup in Melbourne, Australia in December.  Bring some sunscreen and we’ll see you there!

Looking to cool off after the game?  E Street Cinema  is only 3 blocks away – check out the movie too!

View Larger Map