Category Archives: News

Inspire Girls Around the World to Continue Their Education with CARE #SimplySaid

Growing up, any time I wanted to know the answer to something, my grandmother told me to look it up. Who invented something; the roots of a tradition; the motivation behind a movement. Whatever it was, she would send me upstairs to the bookcase that stood in her hallway to find the encyclopedia (yes, the encyclopedia!) that contained the information that I sought. She didn’t send me to look up an answer because she didn’t want to help me, but rather, because she did.

As she would tend to a project or chore, I read aloud from the thick books and we would discuss whatever the topic happened to be. If it was more sensitive subject matter, which came up more frequently as I developed an interest in politics and social justice, she would encourage me to share my opinion and how I came to it. Sometimes she shared a different point of view and challenged me. More often than not, one teachable moment would lend itself to another. Before we knew it, we had spent the day (or wee hours of the night, being classic night owls) in deep discussion.

My grandmother always made learning exciting, and she still does. Because of this, it should not come as a surprise that I actually enjoyed school. Well, for the most part anyway. There were some years during high school when I was not so enthusiastic about school, but hey, that’s being a teenager for you. Even so, I know how fortunate I was to have had the opportunity to attend school. To learn about the history of the world; develop and hone skills that would serve me into adulthood; do well so that I could do well in the future.

But not all girls have the opportunity to attend school and receive the education they deserve. For more than 100 million girls around the world, hunger, early marriage, extreme poverty, and threats to safety are all barriers that keep them from attending school.

CARE Simply Said Bridget
© CARE

CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty with a commitment to empowering women and girls. They have worked tirelessly to eliminate barriers to education for girls in developing countries. They know that when you invest in education, children will pay it forward. Equipped with knowledge and confidence, educated children grow up to lead healthier, more productive lives.

Bridget, pictured above, is inspired to work hard so that she may become a doctor. There is no health clinic in her community and patients in need of care must walk over six miles to get medical attention. She hopes that access to education could help her make a difference.

CARE Simply Said: Inspiring Girls’ Education

© CARE
© CARE

The CARE Simply Said campaign inspires girls around the world to continue their education and follow their dreams, regardless of adversity. Moni is an 11-year-old fourth grader whose education inspires her to someday be able to take care of her family. She wants to be successful in life, and in order to do so, she says she will study accordingly. Having watched her parents suffer since her early years of school, she is inspired to get an education and then a job so that she can one day take care of them.

Click here to join the CARE Simply Said mission and write a letter of encouragement supporting students in developing countries who are working to achieve their dreams.

Hurricane Preparedness Week: Red Cross Issues Safety Steps for Hurricane Season

It’s National Hurricane Preparedness Week and the American Red Cross has put together some crucial steps people should take now to get ready for hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30.

Hurricanes are thought to typically cause the most problems for those living in coastal areas, but it’s important to know that these storms can also cause damage hundreds of miles inland. In 2011, tropical storms caused devastating flooding in Pennsylvania and New Jersey hundreds of miles from the coast. In 1972, Hurricane Agnes ravaged the mid-Atlantic region from central Virginia through Pennsylvania to New York.

“A hurricane is a serious threat to residents in coastal areas as well as hundreds of miles inland,” said Brad Kieserman, vice president of Disaster Services Operations and Logistics for the Red Cross. “We’re ready, and we want people to know it’s important for them to get prepared, too.”

Thousands of trained Red Cross disaster workers all over the country are prepared to respond if and when needed. The organization stocks items like food, cots, blankets, and other relief supplies in warehouses across the country — enough to support thousands of people who might need shelter. Through a variety of methods and partnerships, the Red Cross has the ability to serve one million meals a day, if needed. Thousands of shelter locations are already identified and Red Cross emergency vehicles are ready to move into action.

Getting ready for hurricane season now is the best way to be prepared for these dangerous storms. Hurricane preparedness should include:

  • Build an emergency kit containing one gallon of water per person, per day, non-perishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered radio, first aid kit, any necessary medications, supplies for an infant or child if applicable, a multi-purpose tool, personal hygiene items, copies of important documents, cell phone chargers, extra cash, blankets, maps of the area, and emergency contact information. Many of these items are available through the Red Cross Store.
  • Talk with household members and create an evacuation plan. Practicing the plan will minimize confusion and fear during a necessary evacuation.
  • Be informed. Learn about the community’s hurricane response plan. Plan routes to local shelters, register family members with special medical needs as required, and make plans for pets.
  • People should also download the free Red Cross Emergency App to select up to 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts on their mobile device. The content includes expert guidance on what to do before, during, and after different emergencies or disasters from home fires to hurricanes. All Red Cross apps can be found in smartphone app stores by searching for American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/apps.

If someone already has a disaster kit, now is the time to make sure the food and water is still okay to consume and that copies of important documents are up to date. If a household emergency plan is already in place, begin talking about it with family members so that everyone knows what to do if an emergency should occur.

Hurricane Preparedness for Businesses, Schools & Organizations

The Red Cross Ready Rating™ program helps businesses, schools, and other organizations prepare for emergencies that can disrupt daily operations by offering specific steps that can be taken to be better prepared. It includes a planning tool to help their employees or members know what their roles are in the early hours of an emergency, what their next steps are, and a resource center with tools that help businesses, employees, and students develop and practice preparedness plans.

Red Cross

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds, and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarianism aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. To find out more about the American Red Cross, visit redcross.org, cruzrojaamericana.org, or follow them on Twitter at @RedCross.

Projects Abroad Offers Accessible Gap Year Volunteering Options for Anyone

Taking a gap year before embarking onto the next stage of their academic careers is an increasingly popular trend for North American high school graduates. Some, like Malia Obama, are even deferring their college enrollment to do so. With volunteer organization Projects Abroad, a global leader in short-term international volunteer programs, bridging high school and college with a gap year is an option that can still help make a difference around the world for anyone eager to experience it.

Typically, a gap year can take place over a full year, a semester, or even just a month or two spent fulfilling an inner calling before heading back to the classroom. Volunteering abroad is just one meaningful way to spend a gap year, and it’s an option that offers several benefits, says Elizabeth Cauchois, a Program Advisor for Projects Abroad USA.

“Students taking their gap years in developing countries find that their experience as volunteers impacts them significantly. They devote their time, energy, and skills to helping others, learning about cultural exchange firsthand by living and working in local communities, and exploring the world. This gives them a measure of independence and maturity that few other experiences can, and many students feel more confident and prepared for their impending studies. A well-planned gap year can make all the difference.”

Projects Abroad has more than one option for gap year students. Global Gap is a pre-designed gap year volunteering program for a group of students to volunteer together throughout the course of an academic year (eight months). The group travels together to five countries — Ghana, South Africa, Peru, Nepal, and Thailand — to participate in a wide variety of volunteer projects and internships, such as helping local teachers improve their English and learning new classroom management techniques.

Students can also customize their gap year by participating on standard projects of their choice. They can choose exactly what they want to do, where they want to go, how long they want to go for, and when they want to start. This gives gap year students enormous freedom when planning their gap year and their travels can take them across the globe.

“A gap year is accessible to everyone,” Cauchois emphasizes. “We have a number of projects that are available on a budget, but that still offer safety and are well-coordinated. Volunteering abroad is possible on any budget and we are always happy to speak to and advise students who are looking to make their trip a reality.”

A gap year is an experience for anyone, and there are various ways to go about planning a year focused on traveling and volunteering. Learn more about gap year volunteering with Projects Abroad.

5 Reasons to Intern on a Public Health Project

In many of the countries that international volunteer organization Projects Abroad works in, basic primary healthcare infrastructure cannot support the demands of the population. To ease the pressure on these services, it is vital to prevent disease at a community level by providing basic treatments and diagnoses. This, along with improving the overall health of local communities, is a priority of each Public Health Project run by the organization.

Here are the top five reasons to get involved at a Public Health Project.

1. Provide Primary Medical Care Where it is Needed

Accessing medical care and treatment can be difficult for underprivileged communities and at-risk groups. Public Health interns take on an important role in these communities by working with local medical professionals to provide basic care. This can include cleaning and bandaging minor wounds, testing blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and testing for illnesses like malaria. This has an immediate effect on communities — not only do doctors, nurses, and interns treat any immediate symptoms as best they can, they can help people get further medical care at a hospital or clinic if needed.

2. Contribute to Long Term Impact

While local medical staff and interns can provide immediate treatment, Public Health Projects also focus on prevention and causes of illnesses. By educating communities on how to prevent illnesses and non-communicable diseases (NCDs), interns ensure that they have the knowledge to pass on to others and future generations. This is especially important considering the increasing prevalence of conditions like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Public Health interns regularly contribute to health campaigns, such as the larviciding campaign held last year to help prevent the spread of Dengue fever in the Philippines.

3. Enhance Personal Medical Knowledge

Public Health interns learn various practical skills for their resumes during their placements and working alongside local medical professionals also gives interns the opportunity to improve their medical knowledge. Projects Abroad encourages interns to ask questions and take notes every day, particularly when observing illnesses and conditions not usually seen in North America.

4. Experience Cross-Cultural Exchange

One of the main motivations for volunteering and interning abroad is to immerse yourself in the culture where you will be working. Interning on a Public Health Project is a fantastic way to do this. Not only do interns work directly in the community every day, they also live with local host families. Having an understanding and respect for different cultures and mindsets is an extremely valuable skill to have, especially in the healthcare field.

5. Stand Out From the Crowd

Medical school admissions are tough! Participating on a Public Health Project shows that you are prepared to challenge yourself, you are passionate about healthcare, and are committed to helping those in need. Internships also give applicants relevant experience to talk about during interviews.

Projects Abroad offers Public Health Projects in five destinations in the developing world. These programs typically run from one to four weeks or more at any time of the year. Start dates are flexible and participants can choose when they depart and return. The organization also offers Public Health placements for university students over spring break and for high school students during the summer.

About Projects Abroad

Projects Abroad was founded in 1992 by Dr. Peter Slowe, a geography professor, as a program for students to travel and work while on break from full-time study. The program had its genesis in post-USSR Romania, where students were given the chance to teach conversational English. After a few years just sending volunteers to Eastern Europe for teaching, the company expanded to sending volunteers of all ages around the world on a wide range of projects.

Projects Abroad is a global leader in short-term international volunteer programs with projects in 30 countries and recruitment offices in the UK, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Holland, Hong Kong, Norway, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, and the United States.

For details on volunteering abroad, visit Project Abroad’s website.

Raising Awareness of Human Trafficking in Today’s World

An estimated 2.5 million people across the globe — many of them children — are victims of modern day slavery in the form of human trafficking. Some are forced into brutal manual labor, while others become captive to the sex trade. Still others are forced to act as soldiers and, in some cases, participate in war crimes. Unbound believes we have a special role to play in combating this epidemic.

Solving a problem begins with understanding its scope. With human trafficking, that is a particularly unique challenge. Some worldwide estimates make no distinction between trafficking and other forms of modern slavery, while others separate the two. The difference is that, while both acts involve coerced and prolonged exploitation, human trafficking also includes the element of displacement. Victims of trafficking are, either by force or deceit, taken from their homes and, often, across borders.

For obvious reasons, criminal exploiters work hard to keep their activities hidden, making it extremely difficult to track traffic between countries. Compounding that challenge is the varying degrees to which nations are willing to cooperate in both providing reliable trafficking data and prosecuting traffickers. But there is another factor that sometimes makes trafficking difficult to identify. Exploitation comes in many forms and is not always easy to recognize. For example, many who work in the sex trade appear to do so freely, but surveys consistently show that a majority of adult prostitutes were sexually abused as minors, which demonstrates that the psychological trauma — and the consequences — of such abuse can endure long after abusers have moved on. The fact that some victims seem to willingly participate in their own ongoing exploitation makes them no less exploited.

Exploitation also often comes in the guise of friendship. To illustrate, in Kenya there are nearly 3,000 agencies that purportedly help impoverished young people find work outside the country. Two-thirds of those are estimated by the Kenyan government to be fronts for human trafficking.

Amos Kihoro is the coordinator of the Unbound youth program in Nairobi, Kenya. An estimated 65,000 of his fellow Kenyans, most of them young people, are now being victimized by traffickers. Kihoro knows what he and others who care about these youth are up against.

“Kenya is not only [a] source but it is also used as a transit, particularly by our polarized neighboring countries,” Kihoro said. “Many have been apprehended while in houses that are poorly ventilated, as they await the “proper time” to be ferried out of the country, hence risking their lives from diseases, dehydration, and hunger.”

Kihoro understands the special threat that traffickers pose for youth who live in poverty.

“There have been many cases of young people being promised well-paying jobs in Asia,” he said. “Some have succeeded in heading out for “greener pastures” only to find themselves doing menial jobs contrary to their expectations, some receiving little payment or nothing at all.”

Once in that predicament, it becomes next to impossible to escape.

Unbound

Unbound counters these forces by empowering young people with the tools they need — education, hope, and self-esteem — to make them less vulnerable to traffickers. When they are able to rely on their own abilities and skills, and with the encouragement of their Unbound sponsors, these youth are much less prone to the kind of desperation that human traffickers feed upon.

Kihoro explained how sponsorship helps protect young people from victimization:

“Unbound sponsorship prioritizes education, hence ensuring that they do not drop out of school due to school fees. This reduces their vulnerability. In addition, youth mentorship programs, counseling, and empowerment programs help in dealing [with] and resolving other personal struggles that may lead our Unbound teenagers to drop out under the pressure of the promised big job opportunities in Nairobi, along the coast, or in other big towns or countries.”

Big problems can seem overwhelming, and human trafficking is a big problem that must be fought on many fronts. Unbound is working to do our part by bringing light — in the form of empowered and hope-filled young people — into some of the many dark corners around the world where those who would use others for profit lie in wait.

Thank a Veteran in Your Life with a Great Clips Haircut

Now that Halloween has passed, there’s almost no time to catch our collective breath as we gear up for the string of holidays that will soon be upon us. In addition to giving thanks, as well as the birthday festivities that open and close this month in my family for myself and my grandmother, November also gives us the prime opportunity to acknowledge, appreciate, and celebrate the veterans in our lives and communities with Veterans Day on November 11.

I have written about my family’s history of military service here before, and about the tremendous impact my aunt’s 26 years of service had on me as I grew up.

Aunt Jenn military awards

Witnessing my aunt’s accomplishments in the military over the years taught me to be strong and determined, to never back down from what I know is right, but also to remember to take care of myself.

If anyone has given me a thorough lesson on the importance of pampering in a woman’s life, it is my aunt. Every year for my birthday and Christmas, she packs up a great, big basket full of bath and body products, no doubt delightfully enabling my shameless addiction for all things smelly. It is because of these baskets that I cannot remember the last time when I didn’t have my pick of bubble bath, body wash, and bath fizzes when all I wanted in the world was to relax in a hot bath.

Another great way to pamper yourself is with a haircut. Whether you get your hair cut regularly to maintain a certain length or style, or let your hair grow for years and then go in to get several inches cut off at once, a great haircut can significantly improve how you feel about yourself, no matter who you are. So why not pass on that feeling of new-found confidence to a veteran or military serviceperson in your life?

For the third year in a row, Great Clips is thanking veterans and active military members for their service with the gift of a free haircut — and you can help!

Thank a Veteran with Great Clips

Active or retired military members get free haircuts or a free haircut card on November 11, and any customer who gets a haircut at Great Clips on November 11 receives a free haircut card to give to a veteran.

*Only veterans and active members of the military are eligible to redeem the free haircut card. Family members of said military members do not qualify.

Great Clips is the only major salon brand that offers customers a way to thank veterans in their lives. With more than 3,800 salons throughout the United States and Canada, they are the world’s largest salon brand and employ nearly 35,000 stylists. Great Clips is dedicated to improving the communities in which they operate, with a focus on philanthropic and volunteer activities.

Find your local Great Clips and make a haircut appointment for Veterans Day, November 11.

Do you have a veteran or active military member in your life whom you would give the free Great Clips haircut card to?

3 Reasons Why Giving Back to Your Community is Important

Business owners who want to ensure that their companies become increasingly productive and powerful should access strategies that help them realize this professional vision. Although there are many business-building techniques you could access to accomplish your objective, giving back to your community can be particularly effective in facilitating profound, ongoing growth. Here are three reasons why:

1. Personal Growth

Giving back to your community is a simple and effective way to help those in need. Once you experience the reality of positively contributing contributing to the life of another individual, you will likely find yourself growing in important areas, such as your capacity to empathize and use emotional intelligence to recognize the needs of others. All of these areas of personal growth will make you a more effective business person as you become more capable of interacting with people from all walks of life.

One great example of philanthropic work that likely engendered personal growth transpired when the companies Palmco and Columbia Utilities teamed up. Together, these organizations are donating a portion of their proceeds to the American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO). The proceeds will help children fight cancer and reclaim their lives.

2. Giving Back Promotes Team Unity

In addition to facilitating personal growth, giving back to your community can help build your business by promoting team unity. When you decide to undertake a philanthropic project, many, if not everyone in your company, will need to work together to make the event as successful as possible. Through this process, your employees will likely get to know one another on a more personal level. Also, philanthropic projects tend to be fun and put people in a good mood as they recognize that they have the power to improve the quality of another individual’s life. The feeling of team unity and positive memories created through volunteer work oftentimes results in your employees working together in more effective, amicable ways that optimize your daily operations.

3. Philanthropic Work Helps Build Your Business

One final reason why giving back to your community is important pertains to the fact that philanthropic work helps build your business. This process can transpire in numerous ways. For example, local citizens who hear that your business has done a can drive or has given a scholarship to someone in need will likely formulate a positive opinion of your organization. This type of positive brand recognition will oftentimes translate into people becoming lifelong, loyal customers. Additionally, doing philanthropic work enables you to meet prospective business owners who will likely help push your company forward in powerful, productive ways.

Conclusion

If you’re ready to take your business to a new level of efficacy and excellence, know that giving back to your community is a great way to make it happen. Philanthropic work is important because it engenders personal growth, builds team unity, and provides you with networking opportunities. With these realities in mind, be sure to start planning a company-wide volunteer project as soon as possible!

Top photo: zenlight/Flickr

Fix the World, Girls: Nonprofits Founded by Women

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with MODE.

All around the world, there is hardship and suffering. There are moments of injustice and discrimination; countries at war are being ripped apart from the inside-out by greed and corruption; more and more families are trying to make ends meet under the poverty line. When you think about the human condition today, it is far too easy to get discouraged or for your outlook on the future to turn bleak. Sometimes we need a reminder of all the good that is being done here and around the world.

In times of change, conflict, and crisis, the women who founded the nonprofits we’ve rounded up below didn’t just wish for things to be different — they worked to create lasting change that is actively enriching and saving lives. Check out the slideshow below to learn how black and brown dolls are revolutionizing the way young girls of color see themselves, how survivors of human rights abuses are earning a living wage and uplifting their communities, what is being done to inspire more women to run for political office, and more.

Note: If you are running an ad blocker, you will need to disable it to see the slideshow.

Check out Fix the World, Girls: Nonprofits Founded by Women

by Woman Tribune at Mode

The Privilege of Back to School Season and Girls’ Education

All this week and last, kids have been steadily making their way back to school for another year of learning and growing as individuals. In our neck of the woods, the last of the summer stragglers will return to the classroom after Labor Day, thus completing this year’s transition from the lazy days of summer to early mornings, books, and homework.

When I was a kid, I anticipated going back to school. First day of school pictures captured my gap-toothed grin that couldn’t possibly get any wider as my hands clutched onto a brand new backpack and lunchbox. I liked going to school, and I liked learning new things. As I got older, my love for the school establishment diminished, but my hunger for knowledge stayed very much the same.

Whether I anticipated or dreaded heading back to school, one thing is abundantly clear as I look back on my school career now — I was lucky. I was lucky to have the opportunity to experience back to school season every year; to attend a school within walking distance of my home; to learn from wise teachers who took the responsibility of my impressionable brain seriously.

Many girls around the world are not as lucky as I have been. Today, there are an estimated 31 million primary-school-age girls who face daunting barriers that keep them from attending school and receiving an education. Though hungry to learn, these young girls face gender discrimination, the burden of being responsible for household chores, lack of access to transportation to get to the nearest school, or are forced to marry way too soon.

The state of girls’ education in the developing world is both shocking and humbling:

  • Keeping girls out of school sentences them to a life of poverty and poor health
  • Women earn 10-20% more for every year of school completed
  • Children of educated mothers are 2x as likely to go to school
  • Children born to literate moms are 50% more likely to survive past the age of 5
Laxmi Udaan Girls School
Josh Estey/CARE

CARE, a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty with a commitment to empowering women and girls, is working to remove the barriers to education that are keeping millions of girls who are hungry to learn away from school. One of the ways in which they are succeeding is at the CARE-supported Udaan residential school in Hardoi, India, where girls like Laxmi Pal aren’t only creating art, but also history.

12-year-old Laxmi grew up believing that she did not belong in school. Instead, her days were filled with housework and looking after her younger siblings while her mother was away cleaning houses and her father struggled to find seasonal work on farms. In her rural farming village, girls typically marry and move out of their family’s home at 14. Laxmi became the only member of her immediate family to ever go to school when she began attending Udaan. Their program is giving adolescent girls who had either never been enrolled in school or were forced to drop out a second chance to learn through an accelerated bridge course. After, Laxmi and girls like her can be mainstreamed into a government school to continue their education.

Invest in a Girl’s Future

Education is an investment that pays off now and for generations to come. You can help CARE’s mission to eliminate barriers to education for millions of girls by purchasing a Gift of Lasting Change. Browse CARE’s catalog of back to school gifts to support their work in promoting girls’ education.

Some of the gifts you can give are:

  • $10 cash donation
  • School uniforms for 2 girls ($38)
  • 2 pairs of school shoes ($30)
  • Backpack and school starter kit ($26.10)
  • 3 feminine hygiene kits for teen girls ($30)
CARE girls education
CARE

This back to school season, help make a difference in the lives of girls around the world with CARE.

Top photo: Josh Estey/CARE

5 Fun Flower-Worthy Occasions in September

We all know the holidays in which flowers are the only acceptable form of gift. While these days are special and we can feel good about greeting our loved ones with a bouquet of beautiful flowers as a small token of our appreciation for everything they do, there are other unique occasions that hardly anyone thinks to celebrate the same way. Here are five out-of-the-box flower-worthy occasions coming up next month where a bouquet of flowers would certainly brighten up a family member or friend’s day.

National Courtesy Month

September is National Courtesy Month! It’s OK, we had no idea, either, but we can all use September as a way to help convince the pessimists of the world that common courtesy is indeed alive and well. We’re sure we can all agree that giving one of your favorite people a beautiful bouquet of flowers would certainly be seen as a courteous act.

Self Improvement Month

yellow rosesSeptember is also Self Improvement Month. If a friend or family member has been wanting to make a positive change in their lives, or mentioned trying something new that they haven’t gotten around to doing yet, give them a little token of encouragement to get started.

Grandparent’s Day

Grandparent’s Day falls on the first Sunday after Labor Day, making this year’s Grandparent’s Day September 13. If you don’t visit your grandparents often enough, pick up a bouquet of flowers and drop by for a visit on this day — they’ve earned it.

National Women’s Friendship Day

Our female friends play such important roles in our lives, hopefully throughout the course of years. Do something special for your closest friends on September 20 to celebrate National Women’s Friendship Day. Maybe host an intimate dinner at home or go out to your favorite meeting spot — whatever you do, choosing a small bouquet for each of your girlfriends to show them how much you appreciate them being a rock for you when you’ve needed them will definitely be appreciated.

World Gratitude Day

September 21 is World Gratitude Day. Originated in Hawaii and celebrated since 1966, this is a day where flowers from Sydney could have a positive impact on someone day. World Gratitude Day centers around the notion that we are happier people when we take the time reflect on the amazing things we are privileged enough to have in our lives. Share your appreciation for all that is good in your life on World Gratitude Day with a bouquet for someone who has consistently made your life better.