NGO Spotlight: Empower and Care Organization

Empower and Care Organization (EACO) is a Community Based Organization run by Ugandans to address the limited educational and economic opportunities that exist for vulnerable groups of women and children in Mukono County, Uganda.  EACO’s vision to implement activities that provide opportunities to the reduce poverty and HIV/AIDS in the Mukono community.

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EACO interventions focus on poverty reduction and address the effects of HIV/AIDS for a majority of vulnerable women, particularly widows and those living with HIV/AIDS, as well as vulnerable children, youth, and the elderly.

The Need: EACO seeks to help children attend school in Uganda. Education and poverty go hand in hand, and many of young people don’t have the opportunity or fees to go to school, let alone afford other basic necessities of life. Under this project, ACO provides school fees and materials, medication, and food for needy families.

EACO also leads WASH Projects to deliver trainings on hygiene promotion, construction of latrines for the schools, and repairing the 69 damaged boreholes in the Mukono communities. Additionally, they provide education on the links between water, sanitation and health, and the nature of and threats posed by environmental diseases,

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthe importance and main elements of hygiene-promotion and the complexities of delivering safe water and sanitation in an emergency.

EACO wants to make clean water accessible within 1 kilometer for 100% of the people in rural Mukono. By constructing and repairing fresh water wells throughout rural areas, EACO will bring relief to thousands of residents, including those in surrounding communities, significantly improving the health and wellbeing of the residents.

The vision and philosophy of EACO is based on the belief that every human being is a unique individual and that we all have a right to good health and basic needs and should access means to a comfortable life in one way or another.

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EACO believes that the first priority is that people should have a sustainable life.

However, almost equally important is that an individual’s life should have meaning and that they should develop independence. This is being achieved through care, then empowerment and support. This begins with infrastructure to give the Mukono communities clean water and latrines and stop the spread of disease. It is only then that communities can benefit from education. With improved health comes the ability to be employable, to generate income and escape from poverty.

To learn more about opportunities to donate to or volunteer with with EACO, which is a vetted NGO partner of UniversalGiving, check out their website!

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Addressing Global Fuel Poverty and Access Issues

This is a guest blog by Sally James; a mother and a world traveler!

One third of the world’s population lacks electricity and does not have access to either a gas or electricity supply that is sufficient to power their home.  Particularly, Africa is experiencing a significant energy crisis that seldom makes the headlines in the mainstream media, but has devastating consequences for individuals that are living with these issues.

Exploring Power Shortages

621m Africans, equivalent to two-thirds of the continent’s entire population, live their daily lives without access to electricity.  93 million Nigerians currently depend on firewood and charcoal for heat and light, despite the fact that Nigeria is one of the world’s biggest oil exporters, instead of turning domestic oil into a usable energy source for their own population.

Human rights violations from a lack of electricity are obvious, but less obvious consequences are significant economic burdens, continuing to keep much of the continent in financial poverty.  As a result, investment opportunities are undermined by unreliable electricity access and economic growth is stifled without access to basis equipment and tools they need.

To add insult to injury, education levels of children across the continent are falling without adequate light to study, and health clinics are unable to keep live vaccination cooled and refrigerated.

Therefore, lack of electricity also means a lack of health. The toxic fumes that are released by burning firewood and dung (the only affordable source of warmth for many Africans) kills approximately 600,000 people a year – half of whom are children.

The problem doesn’t end in Africa

A lack of access to gas, electricity, or another affordable source of fuel is not just a problem that affects developing countries. Large proportions of the Indian population also struggle to access a reliable fuel supply, while the UK reports more than 2.3 million households experiencing some form of fuel poverty.

According to the UK’s Warm Home and Energy Conservation Act, ‘Fuel Poverty’ is defined as when: “a person is living on a lower income in a home which cannot be kept warm at reasonable cost.”  In other words, individuals might have access to a source of energy, but the tariff they are offered is so prohibitively expensive they cannot afford it. As a result, their power source is shut off and rendered useless.

Conditions don’t improve significantly in the US, despite the World Bank reporting that the States have “100% access to electricity.”  The financial prohibitions to electricity access are similar in America as they are in much of Europe, and ‘fuel poverty’ is a significant issue that makes access difficult for many.

Modest Steps to Change

Many countries have signed up to a targeted goal of global electricity for all by 2030, but upon looking at current rates of access growth, it seems very unlikely that that target will be met. The sheer scale of the global energy deficit, particularly in Africa, means that it can be difficult for authorities to know where to start to tackle the issue.  As a result, widespread confusion on national power issues has allowed some African government officials to take advantage of ignorance by committing internal theft.  The US’ $120m went missing from the Tanzanian state power utility last year, without answers.

While the undetected theft was transferred through a complex web of off shore companies, millions were denied power access.

In conclusion, electricity access can and should be available to all.  Sub-Saharan Africa has some of the world’s most abundant and least exploited renewable energy sources, (especially solar power), but the government lacks the desire and incentives to uncover renewable energy benefits to increase public access.

 

NGO Spotlight: Nepal Orphans Home

Nepal Orphans Home (NOH) is many things to many people, but it is one thing to all: a lifeline extended by a warm smile, without politics, without judgment, simply with compassion.

With help from a widespread and deeply committed donor base comprised of everyday people working hard for a living and giving what they can, and sometimes really cannot, afford, NOH attends to the welfare of children in Nepal who are orphaned, abandoned, or not supported by their parents.

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NOH is the face an abandoned baby sees smiling down at them, the person that baby feels holding and feeding them. They are a child’s extended family during a medical crisis they would otherwise have to face without cash in a country operating on a pay-for-cure basis without insurance. They are the extension of a remote village where droughthas claimed the last of the food, where runners enter the village saying there is a truckload of rice and other staples where the road ends, waiting for them to come and get it.

NOH is the provider of education for 260 women in their community, free of cost but paid handsomely in return by the smiles, confidence, laughter, and the overall wellbeing of the community.

NOH is the buyer of chemotherapy and pain medication for terminally ill children whose families cannot afford it; they are the smiling presence in the ward, celebrating birthdays and granting last wishes.

NOH is the daily hot and nutritious lunch given to children in an “untouchables” village, who are attending the school built by NOH, taught by teachers whose salaries NOH supports.

NOH was the first face that many remote Nepalese children saw coming to their rescue days after the earthquake in 2015.

NOH provided shelter to hundreds of Kamlari (indentured servants) following their rescue and brought back those who wished to return to their Kathmandu homes to regain their childhood in a loving and secure environment.unnamed

NOH is a family welcoming in children, that for one reason or another have found themselves without anyone, with a loving embrace, good cheer, and daily reminders that they are supported to achieve their dreams. It is a family where every member supports each others’ goals and where everyone comes together to achieve them.

NOH is this and so much more, administered by a Board of professionals, dedicated to helping those in need with their expertise, compassion, and resources.

To learn more about opportunities to become involved with Nepal Orphans Home by supporting a child’s education or volunteering in Nepal, search for them on the UniversalGiving website.

Addressing Global Fuel Poverty and Access Issues

This is a guest blog by Sally James; a mother and a world traveler!

One third of the world’s population lacks electricity and does not have access to either a gas or electricity supply that is sufficient to power their home.  Particularly, Africa is experiencing a significant energy crisis that seldom makes the headlines in the mainstream media, but has devastating consequences for individuals that are living with these issues.

Exploring Power Shortages

621m Africans, equivalent to two-thirds of the continent’s entire population, live their daily lives without access to electricity.  93 million Nigerians currently depend on firewood and charcoal for heat and light, despite the fact that Nigeria is one of the world’s biggest oil exporters, instead of turning domestic oil into a usable energy source for their own population.

Human rights violations from a lack of electricity are obvious, but less obvious consequences are significant economic burdens, continuing to keep much of the continent in financial poverty.  As a result, investment opportunities are undermined by unreliable electricity access and economic growth is stifled without access to basis equipment and tools they need.

To add insult to injury, education levels of children across the continent are falling without adequate light to study, and health clinics are unable to keep live vaccination cooled and refrigerated.

Therefore, lack of electricity also means a lack of health. The toxic fumes that are released by burning firewood and dung (the only affordable source of warmth for many Africans) kills approximately 600,000 people a year – half of whom are children.

The problem doesn’t end in Africa

A lack of access to gas, electricity, or another affordable source of fuel is not just a problem that affects developing countries. Large proportions of the Indian population also struggle to access a reliable fuel supply, while the UK reports more than 2.3 million households experiencing some form of fuel poverty.

According to the UK’s Warm Home and Energy Conservation Act, ‘Fuel Poverty’ is defined as when: “a person is living on a lower income in a home which cannot be kept warm at reasonable cost.”  In other words, individuals might have access to a source of energy, but the tariff they are offered is so prohibitively expensive they cannot afford it. As a result, their power source is shut off and rendered useless.

Conditions don’t improve significantly in the US, despite the World Bank reporting that the States have “100% access to electricity.”  The financial prohibitions to electricity access are similar in America as they are in much of Europe, and ‘fuel poverty’ is a significant issue that makes access difficult for many.

Modest Steps to Change

Many countries have signed up to a targeted goal of global electricity for all by 2030, but upon looking at current rates of access growth, it seems very unlikely that that target will be met. The sheer scale of the global energy deficit, particularly in Africa, means that it can be difficult for authorities to know where to start to tackle the issue.  As a result, widespread confusion on national power issues has allowed some African government officials to take advantage of ignorance by committing internal theft.  The US’ $120m went missing from the Tanzanian state power utility last year, without answers.

While the undetected theft was transferred through a complex web of off shore companies, millions were denied power access.

In conclusion, electricity access can and should be available to all.  Sub-Saharan Africa has some of the world’s most abundant and least exploited renewable energy sources, (especially solar power), but the government lacks the desire and incentives to uncover renewable energy benefits to increase public access.

 

NGO Spotlight: Develop Africa Small Business

In many parts of Africa people are living on around a dollar a day. Living at this type of poverty level makes it difficult to survive.  For a small business to stay afloat, they often need some sort of financial aid. However, for people living in Africa it can be extremely difficult to secure a loan because they often lack collateral.

Microfinance can help these individuals who cannot secure a loan. Microfinance is providing loans to impoverished and disadvantaged individuals. A typical microfinance loan is less than 200 dollars. These loans are often used to purchase supplies or ingredients needed to make a finished product to sell to the customer. It turns out that millions of people worldwide are positively affected by microfinance.

Develop Africa is giving out interest-free loans with the help of your donation. They call these loans booster shots because they will help a small business expand. In addition, the NGO will provide business training to these individuals. Develop Africa’s goal is to make individuals self-sufficient. They aim to specifically help talented youth and women entrepreneurs.

Develop Africa is, in turn, helping to not only alleviate poverty but to help stop the poverty cycle. This program empowers entrepreneurs to provide for themselves in the best way they see fit. If you want to give back, visit UniversalGiving!

Could the Americorps Be the Answer to Escaping College Loans?

Today’s post is from guest blogger Maria Rainier.

This is the story of how one of my best friends found a way to make college more affordable by enrolling in the Americorps. I’m taking this opportunity to say I have no affiliation with the Americorps whatsoever; I’m solely sharing his story to demonstrate how volunteering can be the gateway to earning a higher education. To learn how you can pursue your diploma with help from the Americorps or another nationally recognized volunteering organization such as the PeaceCorps, continue reading below.

As early as 6-years-old, Matthew Daniels knew that earning a college education was something that he needed to pursue. He never worried about finances that much—that is until he got older and began to realize that his single working mother barely made enough to make ends meet. Scholarships and grants would be the route he knew he was going to have to take—loans were not an option. As a freshman in high school, Matthew made sure he enrolled in advanced classes and all of the extracurricular activities he could so that he would impress not only college admission officers, but scholarship and grant awarders too. In 2004, Matthew won a full academic scholarship to the University of Texas in Austin.

Two weeks before graduation, Matthew began to question what he was going to do with the rest of his life. Sure, he would earn a bachelor’s degree in finance, but he just wasn’t sure if that was his true passion. He needed some time to “think” perhaps even travel before he went off into the real world. Because Matthew was always a philanthropist, he decided that until he really knew what he wanted to do career-wise, he’d volunteer his time and labor to the Americorps.

Because Matthew minored in Spanish and spoke the language fluently, and because he wanted to help families in need of financial assistance (something he could easily relate to), he was immediately accepted into the Americorps VISTA program, a domestic version of the PeaceCorps. For two years, Matthew traveled the U.S. restoring and building homes, helped the homeless get back on their feet, and mentored impoverished children.

While his daily tasks were rewarding emotionally, the job didn’t pay much. In fact, he barely had enough money to live on—Matthew and his team members would pool their stipends together just to be able to afford groceries. It was by no means a “glitzy job.”  But in the end, Matthew was given an education credit valued at $5,500. His experience as a volunteer made him see that he was destined for a career greater than finance and so he decided to put his education credit towards earning a master’ degree in public policy just a few short years later. He wanted to be able to influence policy making so that he didn’t have to see as many people suffering in poverty as he did during his two years with the program.

The education credit may not be enough to help you pay for your entire education, but at a time where students are facing the highest loan debt in history, anything will help.  For more information how you or your child can benefit from volunteering, make sure to check out Americorps.gov.

Maria Rainier makes her living as a freelance blogger. An avid follower of the latest trends in technology and education, Maria believes that online degrees and online universities are the future of higher learning. Please share your comments with her.

NGO Spotlight: Achungo Community Center

A special guest Monte Fisher, the executive director of Achungo Community Center tells the inspiring story of Michael and how Achungo began.

I initially became involved with the U.S. non-profit, Achungo Community Center, out of my love for Africa and for children. I had no idea what my first steps should be, so the first thing I did was to go to Kenya to visit with the Kenyan founder and director, Michael Nyangi. As soon as I got to know him and he began to tell me his story in his quiet, unassuming way, I felt that he had more integrity and compassion than almost anyone I’d ever encountered. And I wanted to work with him any way I could.

kibera2Let me tell you a little bit of his story. Michael grew up in very rural Southwest Kenya in extreme poverty. His mother was one of three wives of his father who died when he was seven, so there was no household income.  They survived from whatever they could manage to grow on the land around their hut. 

With help from friends and family paying his expenses, Michael made it through high school and moved to the slums of Nairobi to find work.  One of his early employers saw his potential and began to help him set aside money for college. In 2003 at the age of 22, Michael Nyangi graduated from college with a CPA for Kenya. As he began his dream job in a bank, he would walk through the slums of Kibera where he was living.  One day he saw a woman with a baby by the train tracks and, afraid she was given up on life, he gave her what money he had — about six dollars. That scene repeated itself some days later with another woman and her baby. By the end of the week, he saw those two women sitting together. They had made a fire and had used that money to purchase corn. They were roasting it to sell — they had a business going! A light bulb went off for Michael Nyangi in this discovery that a little help went a long way toward changing their lives.

He quit his job and focused full-time on helping the women of the slums of Nairobi with microfinancing and micro-enterprise development. Over several years that work became a 15-person office of microfinance known as Lomoro. Along the way he attracted the attention of an NGO and in 2008, at the age of 27, they brought him to New York to speak before the UN General Assembly on poverty eradication. The following year, Amnesty International had him speak at their conference on poverty in Italy. The Amnesty International site still has information about Lomoro’s work in Kibera.   p1040432

Meanwhile, he was going back to his village (over 250 miles from Nairobi) on holidays and noticed small children living on the street. He took them into his home and began to take care of them. By 2005 with a few dozen kids he decided that they needed a decent education, found a few widows interested in helping, rented a shed and the first school of Achungo was born.

Watch a video about Michaels Story.

I began working with Michael in late 2010 and we have built 2 primary schools with about 400 students (the second school is still filling out) in addition to 50 graduates that we support in nearby high schools. I never cease to be amazed at how he hires staff with the same love and respect for these children that he demonstrates. Their school experience is such that these orphans and destitute children are delighted to be in school and feel loved and cared for.

And I am thrilled at the results.  We are one of the top primary schools in the county and have some of the top performing high school students in the county. Kenya administers an exit exam at the end of 8th grade that determines if and where a student can attend high school. Our three years of eighth-grade graduates have had a 100% passing rate where the national rate is well under 50%.

michaelWe found Clements on the street scrounging wood to survive and within the year he became the top math student in the county. He is now in one of the top high schools in the county (Orero Boys) and has been the top student in his class both years so far.  Erick Otieno has been with us since first grade.  His father had died and the household was left without income, so we took on Erick. He graduated in 2015 and last year was the top student at Orero Boys high school, with scores of close to 100% across the board.  The headmaster and some teachers from Orero have visited Achungo both years to find out where these exceptional boys had been taught.

I visit Achungo now twice a year, typically with a team from the U.S., and all of us fall in love with these children. They seem the happiest children on Earth. And it is a constant delight to me that we can help them progress from lives lost in a survival struggle to a place of real excellence, achievement, and hope.

Provide food for Achungo’s orphans here. Or view the eight other opportunities to give to Achungo here.

Click to read why people in poverty must be part of the solution.

Watch the full story of Achungo.