Projects Posts

The Safer World Fund Nears $1 Million Milestone to Educate and Empower Women in Afghanistan and Pakistan

The Safer World Fund

After the attacks of September 11, 2001, families and friends who lost loved ones created the Safer World Fund (formerly the philanthropic arm of Our Voices Together). Since 2008, the Safer World Fund has matched donations for projects providing youth and community development in the poorest areas of the world. The total amount raised from individuals, including the matching funds, has almost reached $1 million!

The Safer World Fund recognizes that educating women is one of the best ways to make lasting change in a community, especially one at risk. UNICEF’s Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys report that educated women are more likely to educate and vaccinate their children, increase their incomes, and lift their families out of extreme poverty. Young people, especially young men, who battle with poverty, lack of education, and unemployment are most vulnerable to recruitment by terrorist groups. By educating girls and women, their families become more stable and thus decrease the risk of terrorist activity in their communities.

Read on to learn more about how Safer World Fund projects have been working in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

An AIL teacher and student

An AIL teacher and student

The Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) operates accelerated learning centers all throughout Afghanistan, where women can take classes in many subjects, such as reading, writing, English, math, science, sewing, and even computers. Because of AIL’s widely available learning centers, women like Fariba, whose husband is working abroad, can seek help and education. Fariba’s husband mailed her a letter, but because she was illiterate, she could not read it. She took it to one of AIL’s learning centers, where many women were able to read the letter to her and assure her that her husband was safe and healthy. Fariba then decided to take her own literary classes, so she could correspond with her husband on her own. “This is such a big step for me,” she says, “and he was very happy to have a letter written by me.” AIL also supports medical clinics, mobile units, and community health workers in Afghanistan.

Sahar students picking paint for new school

Sahar students picking paint for new school

Sahar Education supports 12 schools in the northern Balkh province in Afghanistan, serving more than 28,000 girls. Before Sahar stepped in, the schools were in disrepair and teachers were undertrained. Now, curriculum is improving and computer literacy is a top priority. Recently, to celebrate the opening of a 13th school in Mazar-i-Sharif, students submitted artwork to decorate the new school. Fahima, a student at Gohar Kharton School, submitted her art because she wanted to make the new school “beautiful. War has torn our city apart and now we are rebuilding the Gohar Kharton Girls School.” “Sahar” means “dawn” in Dari, the most widely spoken language in Balkh province, and symbolizes that now is a new day for Afghan girls.

AAE student Anissa, left, and her daughter

AAE student Anissa, left, and her daughter

Aid Afghanistan for Education (AAE) runs 13 schools in 9 provinces across Afghanistan and can issue state-certified diplomas (allowing students to go on to university) because of an agreement with the government. After the age of 10, one is not allowed to re-enter the public school system, so older girls and women, who may have left school because of war or early marriage, have few options besides AAE. During the most recent graduation in Kabul, AAE celebrated Anissa, a 45-year-old mother of 9 children who have all grown up and gone on to law and medical schools. Once her children were old enough, Anissa decided she wanted to return to school herself and graduated from AAE in December. Now, she’s attending a private law university near Kabul. Anissa’s proud family attended her graduation. Her daughter said, “I am very emotional to see my mother continue her education. She has always been the center of our lives, helping us to move forward and achieve what we all have. I am very happy today.”

Marshall Direct Fund students

Marshall Direct Fund students

The Safer World Fund also supports projects in Pakistan, just a little to the east of Afghanistan. The Marshall Direct Fund provides vocational training to nearly 1,000 women in Pakistan and has helped them develop tools necessary to launch businesses, generate income, send their children to school, and lift themselves out of poverty. Education in Pakistan is crucial, not only for increasing human development but also because uneducated, impoverished youth are among the most vulnerable to be recruited by the Taliban, still semi-active in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

DIL student Areej receiving an award

DIL student Areej receiving an award

Developments in Literacy (DIL) also works in Pakistan, in the north, to empower young girls with education. 1,500 students, including a young girl named Areej, attend DIL’s schools. Areej dreams of becoming a fashion designer, a goal supported by her parents and teachers at DIL. Before DIL, Areej attended overcrowded public schools, but now she has the opportunity to learn more quickly and follow her own path. “In that school, I didn’t have the opportunity or a chance to do something. Now, I feel confident and can present in front of my whole class.”

The Safer World Fund needs your support to reach $1 million in funding to provide alternatives to terrorism. Give today and get your donation matched for projects that support youth and community development. Pick the impact closest to your heart and provide alternatives to a lifetime of poverty and despair: http://www.globalgiving.org/leaderboards/safer-world-fund-2014/

Landmine Clearance in Cambodia: A Tour of The HALO Trust’s Work

Gearing up for the field

This is a guest post by Jacqueline Lee, an InTheField Traveler with GlobalGiving. Jacqueline is currently making her way across Southeast Asia. Jacqueline has lived all around the U.S., Central America, backpacked along Australia’s eastern coast while volunteering for the National Park Service, western Europe, and traveled around the world. You can also follow her via Twitter.

Today, across the world, governments, organizations, and individuals are commemorating International Mine Awareness Day. It is an important opportunity for victims of landmines to speak out, and for all of us to build awareness about the effects of landmines long after conflicts have ended. Here at GlobalGiving, we are proud to work with numerous organizations that are clearing minefields around the world, including The HALO Trust, an organization working to clear landmines in 13 countries around the world.

There are still hundreds of thousands of landmines in Cambodia; not only were they laid by the Khmer Rouge, a brutal regime that ruled Cambodia in the late 1970s, but also the Vietnamese army, in its efforts to contain Khmer Rouge forces, and later, the new Cambodian army. Since 1979, there have been more than 63,000 landmine casualties in the country.

My Visit to The HALO Trust

"Lifesticks"

Recently, my colleague, Alexis Nadin, and I had the chance to receive a real-life tour of a minefield being cleared by The HALO Trust’s field team in Cambodia. We visited a minefield that is part of the infamous K5, a large swath of densely-mined land stretching across 21 northern border districts in Cambodia.

On our way out to the field, Alexis and I were surprised by the number of yellow sticks we passed on the sides of the road. Stanislav Damjanovic, HALO’s Deputy Programme Manager in Cambodia, explained that each stick represents a destroyed landmine. I deemed them “life sticks,” what could have been tombstones are now indicators of lives that have been spared.

Cambodian Deminer

By the time we arrived at the site, HALO’s field team had already found 6 landmines that day. As we walked towards the makeshift field office, the local field officer signaled for us to wait for a blast. We were taken aback by the loud BOOM of a landmine being exploded by HALO’s expert field team in the distance. It was at that moment that Alexis and I looked at one another, thinking about what we had gotten ourselves into.

Alexis and I geared up, having received in-depth security and safety briefings, and then were off to experience a day in the life of a de-miner. We followed HALO’s staff as they navigated the field, weaving between yellow sticks, and being careful not to cross any red sticks, which signaled uncleared land.

Destroying a landmine...

Well-trained deminers, hired from local communities, were carefully scanning grids with specially-designed metal detectors. And as the afternoon sun beat down on us in our Kevlar vests and massive helmets, we began to truly appreciate the dedication and resilience of HALO’s team.

Stanislav asked Alexis and I if we would like to destroy one of the mines – so we had the opportunity of a lifetime to press the button that would prevent a future tragedy.  It was an intense thirty seconds waiting for the explosion… then BOOM, a loud jolt went off that shook even my camera while I was filming. This was a small mine – I could not imagine standing next to it when it accidentally goes off or even when coming across a larger tank mine.

Later in the day, we traveled to one of the many fields that The HALO Trust has not been able to clear due to funding limitations. We stood in the backyard of a small family home and looked out into a minefield. It was here that the true implications of HALO’s work sunk in. Although The HALO Trust has cleared over 17,350 acres and destroyed more than 245,700 landmines, the risk is still high in rural Cambodia.

Standing in the backyard of a family home looking out into a minefield...

Children still play and walk to school on paths that wind through uncleared minefields. Parents and grandparents still take daily risks, farming on land that has never been cleared.

Our day with HALO was incredible. The work they are doing on the ground in Cambodia is crucial to the continued development of the country. Having witnessed for myself the harmful impact of minefields first hand, I would like to invite you to help clear another landmine in Cambodia this Mine Awareness Day. Consider making a donation to HALO Trust’s project in Cambodia.

Check out GlobalGiving’s other mine clearance projects:

Announcing GlobalGiving’s Video Contest Winners!

We’re excited to announce the five winners of GlobalGiving’s first-ever video contest! We received 93 submissions from project leaders around the globe. Our judge at Green Living Project, Laura Knudson, was very impressed by all of the submissions; here’s what she had to say:

Judging the Global Giving video contest has truly been an honor.  There were so many great videos telling amazing and compelling stories with great vision and creativity.  Picking just 5 of the dozens of superb submissions was very hard to do, but in the end the top videos were chosen based on their quality, creativity, and the ability to engage and inspire.  Thank you to every one of you involved in these wonderful programs.  You inspire with your storytelling, and the important work you do. Congratulations to the winners, and to all of you for giving your hearts for a better world!

While making the decision was incredibly difficult, below are the five winners that she chose (they are listed in no particular order).  Click on any of the videos to watch – and enjoy!

Waste Ventures:

Waste Ventures aims to permanently raise 100 waste picker families out of poverty in the next year by providing them with a blueprint for environmentally processing garbage to increase incomes 3x and allow their children to go to school. Visit the Take 100 Waste Pickers in India out of Poverty project. 

Waves for Water:

Surfers travel. They chase waves and travel to interesting places. But, many of these places have little access to clean water. The Waves for Water Karma Kit provides a traveler an opportunity to help. It’s a simple kit containing a filtration system, canteen, fin key, surf wax and other needed items. The idea is simple…you help fund another person to give the gift of water next time he/she travels. Visit the Karma Kit: W4W & Clean Water Courier Missions project. 

More Than Me:

More Than Me Foundation helps get girls off the street and into school in one of the world’s most notorious slums in Liberia, West Africa. We work with community leaders to identify the girls who are at the highest risk of being sexually exploited to ensure that education and opportunity, not exploitation and poverty, shape their lives. We pay tuition and provide them school lunch. We work with the school and community to make it impossible for them to fail. Visit the 500 Girls Off The Street & Into School In Liberia projet.

Trees, Water and People:

Trees, Water & People (TWP) is driving development in Haiti through social enterprise. Over the past 16 months, TWP has been working to build a sustainable market for clean cookstoves in Port-au-Prince, creating much needed employment & allowing families to safely prepare food, purify water, and save money. The Zanmi Pye Bwa cookstove is designed to be built, repaired, and refurbished with locally available skills and resources, and is currently being distributed by vendors throughout the city. Visit the 1,500 Clean Cookstoves for Haitian Families project.

Meet Kate: 

The Meet Kate Foundation is building a primary school with sport and playground facilities in Ekwamkrom Ghana, providing quality education for 200 children in this small community. This school will have small classrooms and provide the children with computer classes. 20% of these children will be on a full scholarship. We have put several things in place to make this project sustainable, like a 6 acre cacao plantation and a poultry farm. This school will be self-reliant within 3-5 years. Visit the Primary Education For 200 Village Children – Ghana  project. 

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Each of the winners will have the opportunity be featured in the GlobalGiving and Green Living Project social media! There were some incredible videos submitted during this contest, and they’re all  featured on their respective project pages. If you’re a GlobalGiving project leader, get your camera ready for our third annual photo contest this July!

Listening to Community Feedback

By Emily Bell, GlobalGiving’s Unmarketing Intern

The number of rapes and sexual assaults reported around the world each year is rarely indicative of the size and severity of the problem. In Africa especially, rape is underreported and perpetrators are seldom convicted. In his recent article In This Rape Center, the Patient Was 3, Nicholas Kristof wrote that “women and girls ages 15 to 44 are more likely to be maimed or killed by men than by malaria, cancer, war or traffic accidents combined.” I’m not quite sure how anyone can take in that statistic.

Mrembo project leaders talk straight with girls in a Nairobi slum

At GlobalGiving we work with many nonprofits around the world that are addressing rape and gender-based violence. But beyond that, we’re also helping nonprofit organizations find out what their communities are saying about these issues, whether or not their core programming directly addresses the problem of rape.

For example, a group of Kenyan girls involved in the Mrembo project, an after-school program that promotes honest, issue-based discussions for over 200 girls in the slums of Nairobi, had the opportunity to tell their stories as part of our Storytelling Project. When asked about issues they most often faced, these 8-13 year-old girls brought up the issue of rape themselves.

The project leaders behind Mrembo read those stories and decided to take action. They made changes to their programming to address the prevalence of rape in the girls’ community. For example, this December will mark the first Miss Mrembo pageant where the project leaders will address the relationship between self-esteem and rape. Take a look at what these Mrembo girls are saying now about the project. (Search for “Mrembo” – these are their personal stories!)

 

Learning from one another – curating dialogue on Facebook

Do you remember asking a classmate to help you with your homework? Perhaps they owed you a favor because you’d helped them with something else? There are many intellectual, cultural and social reasons for asking friends and colleagues for help, but what is quite fascinating to me is the manner in which we respond to one another. When we engage with others’ success and failures, we learn. Development experts have a buzzword for this type of peer learning; they call it “collaboration.”

At GlobalGiving we crowdsource new partnerships with non-profit organizations that have expressed interest in working with us. Typically we work actively with 500-600 organizations over 2-4 months, through group trainings and individual consultations to help organizations map and grow their networks and building an online fundraising plan. We then invite them to post a project on the site and implement their online fundraising strategy raise funds for their projects. If an organization meets a threshold of raising $4000, from at least 50 donors they are invited to join the GlobalGiving platform. We call this an Open Challenge.

In addition to the trainings and individual consultations for Challenge participants who we call Project Leaders (PLs), we host sessions with fundraising experts and other social entrepreneurs who have successfully leveraged our tools (aha! The peers!).  Several years ago it suddenly struck us – what would happen if we made it easier for organizations to talk to one another?

Facebook turned out to be the lowest common social media denominator amongst Challenge participants, so we created a private Facebook group, first time in December 2010.At first we used it primarily to share fundraising resources, and encouraged people to ask questions about the design and other details of the Challenge.  It was gratifying to watch the conversation start to emerge – people asked and answered questions, others made suggestions  and shared fundraising ideas.

But it wasn’t quite vibrant. We tried something different for the next group we set up for the last Open Challenge we hosted. Here’s what we did differently:

  • Every day during the Challenge we posted relevant content– fundraising tips, links to resources and suggestions for raising funds
  • Regularly asked a variety of questions of the participants
  • Engaged participants that had shown interest by inviting them to share their opinions on a particular question
  • Responded to every single post by a member, with a relevant response
  • Celebrated accomplishments big and small

These tactics were driven by some of our core philosophies:

  • Intention: curating the conversation, and facilitating interaction
  • Relevance: sharing irrelevant information is a waste of time
  • Celebration: fundraising is hard work. 4 out of 10 participants had never raised funds online before, so we celebrated all types of victories
  • Recognition: by acknowledging contributions to the group we encouraged more participation. The emerging dialogue seemed to draw more comments.

Take a look at what happened. In comparison to a Facebook group organized for the previous Challenge in April, relevant posts (i.e. posts that were not just links to their projects, and websites) increased from 8% to 33%. The number of Facebook posts from participants increased from 6% to 24%.

In addition, the content of the conversation changed. The posts and comments covered a range of subjects from ideas for fundraising, potential solutions for questions posed, and reactions to fundraising resources that had been posted. Three out of four posts entered by the organizations resulted in two or more comments.

Wow.  People were talking with each other, and they seemed to find the conversation useful! It was exciting to watch people begin to collaborate instead of just compete. It is heartwarming to see the group celebrate milestones – projects submitted, funds raised, thresholds met.

We will continue to experiment with the way we facilitate these conversations by  making it fun and interesting for members to talk to each other with the upcoming Winter Global Open Challenge. This idea of creating a space for interaction to happen is central to GlobalGiving’s core philosophies. We believe that expertise should be decentralized, and that the possibility of learning from each other is immense.

If you have any experience in facilitating content-driven dialogue online, please do share your thoughts with us. We’re going to keep experimenting, and keep learning.