NGO Spotlight: Nepal Youth Foundation

In Nepal, massive flooding and landslides have devastated the country and displaced thousands of families. The number of deaths and casualties are mounting, as rescue efforts continue. Southwestern Nepal, the hardest hit region, is home to thousands of freed Kamlari women and girls.

a;lkdgj.jpgThese women have had the life-transforming opportunity to build businesses, homes, and freedom with the Nepal Youth Foundation (NYF). NYF was founded by Olga Murray, a lawyer at the California Supreme Court, in 1990 after she visited Nepal and was profoundly affected by the natural beauty and extreme poverty of children.

NYF strives to bring healthcare, education and a safe environment to Nepal’s most impoverished children. The interventions they provide are personalized, work to develop personal and social responsibility and are adherent to Nepalese customs and traditions. 

Now, the Kamlari women and children that NYF has worked so hard to help are at risk of ;lkj.jpglosing everything. At least 150 girls have lost their homes and 250 are badly affected. They were running thriving businesses (food carts, cafes, grocery shops, seamstress, goat and pig farming) with training from NYF. With their communities devastated and their businesses wiped out, their futures look bleak without our help.

Despite severe disruptions to the local electricity, transportation, and communication systems, the NYF team in Nepal is assessing the extent of damage and planning their response. Eleven of NYF’s Nutritional Rehabilitation Homes are located in the region and are ready to help the thousands that have gone days without food and fallen sick due to polluted water. 

To learn more about ways to get involved with NYF and help victims of flooding and landslides, visit their website or search for opportunities on UniversalGiving.

 

 

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NGO Spotlight: Mayan Families

This is a guest blog by Livvy Runyon, a videographer at Mayan Families. The original blog post can be found on Mayan Families’ blog.

Rosa’s Legacy: Marisela Advocates for Mayan Women through Education

_MG_8728.JPG(Photo by Livvy Runyon)

“Ever since I graduated high school, I had this longing to keep going, but with the resources I had, I couldn’t do it. I always had that in mind, though, to continue. That one day, I have to go. I have to go.”

Marisela speaks of higher education with fervor in her voice. Sitting outside of her home in El Barranco, Guatemala, her words strike a contrast with the dusty corn fields of the surrounding rural community. Marisela, the oldest child in her family of six, studies social sciences in the nearby town of Sololá. She dreams of becoming a teacher.

“To be able to talk about stories, to talk about productivity within the community, teaching children about politics and the history of our country – I love this. Nowadays there are teachers that have this opportunity to work but many of them don’t take it seriously, and so I want to be the difference.”

_MG_8794.JPG(Photo by Livvy Runyon)

Like most indigenous Guatemalans, Marisela has struggled to find the resources to continue studying. Only 53% of indigenous Mayans in Guatemala complete primary school, and by the age of 16, only 25% of indigenous girls are enrolled. With a lack of schools in rural communities like El Barranco, students must find a way to travel to larger towns, adding the cost of transportation to other expenses like tuition, shoes, and school supplies. With the average household income well below the poverty line, the majority of indigenous families cannot cover the cost of sending their child to school. If the resources are available, families with multiple children often must choose which one will receive an education. In the end it is almost always the son.

_MG_8746.JPGMarisela has found support from her family and now, from many others. She was recently chosen as one of the 2017 recipients of the Rosa Scholarship, an award specifically to cover the school costs for high-achieving, young indigenous women who are pursuing higher education. Now in her last year of university, Marisela describes this scholarship as a great fortune, “because now I am fulfilling my dreams.”

As a young, indigenous woman, Marisela’s opportunity to receive a degree is one that her mother’s generation never saw. For decades, Mayan women have faced discrimination by society and government alike; lacking even the most basic rights to work and participate in their communities. Even today, these obstacles persist in the daily lives of indigenous women across the country, and it is something Marisela aims to change.

“Many times they see us as Mayan women who aren’t capable of doing productive things. We have few opportunities and we hope that in the coming years this changes, that the opportunities change for us as women. Thankfully, the peace accords were signed* and this opened up the field, but we are hit once again with this situation of a lack of opportunities. Discrimination against indigenous women still exists.”

At 27, Marisela is on the brink of completing a university degree and beginning her career, traversing the difficult landscape of a poor economy, unsteady work opportunities, and a lack of educational and health resources that plague Guatemala. Where most might shy away from the progress still needed, Marisela’s eyes shine bright when she speaks of the future of her country.

“We have to make the changes. We have to think of what we can do. To have a different vision so that those who come after me have that access. We should see that the government is looking forward to the future of indigenous communities and guarantee the same rights not only for us, but also for the Garífunas, Xinca, ladinas, and mestizos. That we all have the same rights without discrimination against anyone.”

_MG_8772.JPGPhoto by Livvy Runyon

For Marisela, the chance to attend university unlocks the door to her future and the future of many others. It is overwhelmingly evident that she holds a strong spirit and a burning fire to begin the work to change things, starting with her own education.

“If there isn’t education, there are no opportunities. But I believe, for me, it is the foundation and the best inheritance we have been given,” she says softly and powerfully.

To read the full interview with Marisela, click here.

The Rosa Scholarship was established in 2015 in partnership with Living on One. Inspired by Rosa Coj, a young indigenous woman featured in the Living on One Dollar documentary who was able to return to school to become a nurse, the scholarship helps other indigenous young women who are pursuing their dreams through higher education. To learn more about the scholarship, and support this year’s Rosa Scholarship recipients, visit their page.

To learn about more ways you can give, volunteer and help women like Marisela, check out the UniversalGiving website.

How Far Do People Walk for Water?

This is a guest blog from Drop in the Bucket! This video is a relatable representation of the time it takes for many Africans to collect their daily water. The average jug full of water can weigh about 40 lbs when full. The burden of fetching water is more commonly placed on women because in about two-thirds or 64% of households women collect water for the family. There is a strong need for clean and safe drinking water since nearly 300 of the 800 million people in sub-Saharan Africa live in a water-scarce environment. While this video highlights collecting water as an “African” problem, we must remember not to generalize because most African’s  communities do have access to water.

We must do all we can to assist those who have to walk hours to collect water. We can help is through supporting the construction of water pipelines for indigenous groups in Tanzania here.

“The video is titled “How long do people in Africa walk to get water?”. The video attempts to frame the water crisis in a different way by setting the long walk for water, that many people in Africa do every day, in an American location.

The video one was directed by Nathan Karma Cox and shot on location in Studio City, CA at Black Market Liquor who generously allowed us to shoot during the day before they opened. The video was produced by Cory Reeder and features music by Stone Sour drummer Roy Mayorga who played all of the instruments on the track including kazoo. Vocals were provided by Stone Sour guitarist Christian Martucci and the graphics were created by Rodrigo Gava from Gava Productions.” –Drop in the Bucket

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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“Double Marginalized” The Story of Maanda Ngoitiko and the Pastoral Women’s Council

UniversalGiving wants to honor mothers this week. Maanda Ngoutiko was not a biological mother, but she was a mother figure to many Maasai women.

Global Partners for Development shared this news story by Amy Holter about a very strong Maassai woman.

*Disclaimer – this post contains some disturbing content.

Maanda Ngoitiko, the founder and executive director of the Pastoral Women’s Council (PWC) in Loliondo, Tanzania, is a Maasai woman. In her culture, she says that being born a girl means being treated like the property that you will never own. She says it means that you will become a bride to be used as a pawn to support your father’s local relationships. She says it means a life of being viewed as a child far into adulthood.

In the school that PWC built, Maanda’s colorful, plentiful Maasai beads clinked as she settled in. The weight of them would become more and more meaningful as she guided me through her story.

Maanda was born in Olorsiwa, a subvillage in the Loliondo District. There, she walked approximately eight kilometers to primary school every day with her best friend. When she was in Standard 6 (the equivalent of sixth grade in the U.S.), her best friend went through female genital mutilation and was told that her father had chosen a husband for her. When she refused to marry him, the men in her family took her to a public space, removed her clothes, and beat her. Maanda watched as her friend’s father held up her clothes as a warning that other girls should not resist marriage in the same shameful way.

“I was very lonely in my heart when she dropped out of school,” said Maanda. “I could not help her. I felt really desperate.”

Soon, it was Maanda’s turn to resist marriage. Her father found her a husband when she was still 12 years old. She refused to marry him as well as the second man her father found for her. After she finished primary school, she cared for cows with her father and uncles for three years.

Her actions were “discussed widely” in the district, and Maanda’s disobedience and disrespect to her family quickly became a subject of local news briefings held at political meetings. A Member of Parliament heard about Maanda and offered to send her to school. Though her father ignored the offer, her uncle told her that she should run away to the bush, and he would arrange for the Member of Parliament to find her.

“I waited for a long time in the bush. Then, I saw a light from a car coming towards me. A light to take me away.”

Maanda was admitted into the Training Center for Development in Arusha. On her first day, Maanda met Alais Morindat, another current partner of Global Partners and leader of Arkaria Village, who gave her tutorials in English and math for two years. One of her teachers linked her to the Irish Embassy, and she received a scholarship to study in Dublin where she earned her bachelor’s degree in development studies.

After returning to Loliondo and reuniting with her family, Maanda started meeting with other women in Loliondo Division by creating “a forum for women to discuss their own issues,” which eventually became PWC. The women met without any funding for four years with the goal of improving women’s solidarity and increasing interest in girls’ education. Many in the community opposed them from the beginning, claiming that women should not meet alone without men.

“[Maasai women] are double marginalized,” said Maanda. “We are marginalized by the larger society for being Maasai, and we are marginalized by the Maasai for being women.”

When asked why she came back to a culture that often treats women with disregard and sometimes violence, Maanda wasn’t sure where to start. “There are some Maasai girls, even those saved by PWC, that as soon as they get their way, they run away forever. They see this culture as a serious threat to their freedom.” But, she went on:

“I wanted to come back because I wanted to see a generational change. I wanted to see more Maasai girls enjoy their freedom. I wanted a new generation of Maasai women who are being treated with dignity and respect. I wanted to change the perception of men.”

She also said that the Maasai have many wonderful aspects of their culture. “If you are very poor in a Maasai community, you will never die of hunger when your neighbor has food – there is a culture of sharing what you have. The Maasai have also been the guardians of the environment for centuries, but they are not recognized by the government and are subjected to land alienation. I wanted to teach this community to be a bridge between the Maasai and the government. Without land, there is no Maasai.”

PWC has now established 260 active women’s groups across three districts and engages thousands of women. Though it’s work is still opposed by some, PWC is growing and is embraced by more and more members of the community, both male and female. Through PWC and other organizations, a locally driven women’s rights movement is underway in Maasai communities across Tanzania.

One of the goals of PWC is to rescue girls who are escaping forced marriage and other forms of violence. Last year, PWC rescued 17 girls, many through police intervention, and all of them lived at Maanda’s home.

I met one of the girls who was rescued by PWC in 2014. She was in school and went home to visit her parents. When she arrived home, they locked her in a room and told her that her future husband would soon come to get her. A woman who did not realize she was there unlocked the room to retrieve something. When she saw the girl, she called Maanda, and the police came to take the girl away.

“She cried the whole night,” recalls Maanda. “This is just one case, but we have a lot of cases like that.”

This girl is now continuing her studies through a scholarship from Global Partners. With funding from Global Partners and mentorship from women in PWC, she will finish her studies and hopefully reunite with her family to help them understand her unconventional path.

In March 2016, Global Partners supported PWC in purchasing a large house near the PWC office that will serve as a rescue center for Maasai girls. Maanda anticipates that at least 100 girls will be supported through this center each year while they transition into dormitories at secondary schools. The gated home has a 24-hour security guard and matron. With bunk beds, blankets, pillows, computers, and solar electricity, the girls will be welcomed into a space where they can work through their emotional trauma with girls who had similar experiences and alongside women who embody the strength and perseverance they will need to pursue their individual and collective ambitions.

Through local initiatives and international partnerships like this, Maanda and women like her are helping to shape the future of human rights among the Maasai. As I stood in what I will call the “rescue home,” I could feel the possibility. I could almost hear the tears and laughter of the girls that would fill it in the coming months. I ached to tell them that help was on the way.

“Oh, we really have to keep moving,” said Maanda as she looked at the time – we were late to a Maasai fundraiser for women’s businesses and girls’ scholarships.

Yes, Maanda, yes we do.

This article is from Global Partners for Development. Read the full news article here!

NGO Spotlight: Plan International USA

Here is a guest blog from Plan International sharing the story of Christina from Sierra Leone.

“The schools of Sierra Leone reopened in May after a nine-month closure due to the Ebola epidemic. Currently, schools are on break and only the students who have not passed their exams are attending.

One student is Christiana, 18, a member of Plan International’s Youth Advisory Panel. She is engaged in Plan’s project to stop child marriage, teenage pregnancies, and sexual violence against girls.

The Ebola epidemic, which hit Sierra Leone in the past year, has led to a dramatic increase of all these issues. Schools were closed for a whole academic year and used as holding centers, quarantines, treatment centers, and camps.

“Many of my friends have had to leave school because of Ebola,” said Christina. “Some are pregnant, others have been forced into marriage. I feel very sad that they are not here with me in school anymore.”

Christiana described how poverty in Sierra Leone contributes to the vulnerability of many children, who get abused by teachers and other staff at the school.

“Children are forced to work for free after school hours at the teachers’ farms or are sometimes forced to perform sexual acts,” she said. “Those who refuse are threatened with violence or receive failing marks in school and cannot proceed to the next level.”

Christiana has personally experienced this kind of treatment.

“When I was younger, my teacher forced me to work at his farm until late at night,” she said. “I was so tired when I got home that I could not do my homework.”

As she got older, Christiana was exposed to sexual extortion from the principal at her school. He used the fact that Christiana had been disowned by her family and did not have anyone who could pay for her school fees.

“I am from a village far from here,” she said. “My parents are poor. They were given money from an older man in Freetown who I was forced to marry when I was 16 years old. He forced me to have sex and when I refused, he and his family assaulted me severely. I managed to escape back to my village after four months.”

Christiana’s goal was to move back home and start school again. But her family would not accept her because she had broken the marriage and they would have to repay the man in Freetown. Christiana was disowned and forced to stay with friends. She started school again and the principal offered to pay for her tuition at first.

“I was happy that he would help me, but then he started to ask for sex,” she said. “I refused and then he started harassing me. He insulted me and said horrible things about me in front of my classmates. He threatened me that I would not get my marks.”

She did not know what to do and there was no one at school to talk to. When she reported the incident to one of the teachers, nothing happened.

“All the male teachers protect each other,” she said. “I was so frustrated! This headmaster abuses a lot of girls in the village, and makes many of them pregnant.”

Christiana decided to try to stop the abuse of girls at school. She got in contact with Plan‘s project for girls’ rights and started to inform the other girls and told them to say no to the teachers’ suggestions.

“But I was getting increasingly harassed by the principal, who didn’t like what I was doing,” she said. “In the end, he threatened to assault me, so I had to move from the village and change schools.”

Plan supported her move and now Christiana lives with a female teacher in a new town, where she has started school again. She is still an ambassador for girls’ rights and wants to contribute to changing the lives of girls in Sierra Leone.

“I have chosen to advocate and be a spokesperson because I have experienced the problems that affect girls in this country,” she said. “I advocate for my friends because I do not want anyone to experience the same difficulties that I went through. I pray to our government that they stop sexual violence in schools, child marriage, and teenage pregnancies. We have laws against this. Make sure they are put into practice.”

*Christiana’s name has been changed to protect her identity. “
Plan International USA

Plan International USA is part of the Plan International Federation which works side-by-side with communities in 50 developing countries to end the cycle of poverty for children. Plan develops solutions community by community to ensure long-term sustainability. Our solutions are designed up-front to be owned by the community for generations to come and range from clean water and healthcare programs to education projects and child protection initiatives.

Help protect a girl from sexual exploitation here.

How Far Do People Walk for Water?

This is a guest blog from Drop in the Bucket! This video is a relatable representation of the time it takes for many Africans to collect their daily water. The average jug full of water can weigh about 40 lbs when full. The burden of fetching water is more commonly placed on women because in about two-thirds or 64% of households women collect water for the family. There is a strong need for clean and safe drinking water since nearly 300 of the 800 million people in sub-Saharan Africa live in a water-scarce environment. While this video highlights collecting water as an “African” problem, we must remember not to generalize because most African’s  communities do have access to water.

We must do all we can to assist those who have to walk hours to collect water. We can help is through supporting the construction of water pipelines for indigenous groups in Tanzania here.

“The video is titled “How long do people in Africa walk to get water?”. The video attempts to frame the water crisis in a different way by setting the long walk for water, that many people in Africa do every day, in an American location.

The video one was directed by Nathan Karma Cox and shot on location in Studio City, CA at Black Market Liquor who generously allowed us to shoot during the day before they opened. The video was produced by Cory Reeder and features music by Stone Sour drummer Roy Mayorga who played all of the instruments on the track including kazoo. Vocals were provided by Stone Sour guitarist Christian Martucci and the graphics were created by Rodrigo Gava from Gava Productions.” –Drop in the Bucket