Charity is often a deeply personal issue and only becomes dear to us when we are personally affected or emotionally moved by an issue.
I was a giver, over a long period of time – little bits, to a lot of places. I love the Guide Dogs, Fred Hollows Foundation and the RACQ Care Flight Chopper – they’re all personal favourites.
But choosing to partner with The Hunger Project and commit to raising over $10,000 was the first time I’d ever embarked on anything of this size or nature.
Here’s a few reasons why The Hunger Project got my vote and why I’ll be heading to Ethiopia next May:
The Three Fundamental Pillars of The Hunger Project.
Top-down, aid-driven charity models often fail to reach the people who need the most help. To be sustainable, we have discovered three critical elements that, when combined, empower people to make rapid progress in overcoming hunger and poverty:
- Mobilisation for self-reliance
- Empowering women as key change-agents for development
- Making local government work
- Mobilisation for self-reliance
A. People in under-developed countries, particularly in rural areas, often live or work in isolation. Whether this is because they are physically isolated such as in the jungles of Africa, or socially isolated by caste or because they are women who are not allowed to leave their homes without a male escort, or villages that are divided by tribal rivalries, any kind of division weakens their potential collective power.
- Often aid money has come and gone, but the people are still hungry, and they come to believe that it will always be this way. This can lead to hopelessness and cynicism.
Our Work: When people are united for a purpose and act together to improve their own conditions, there is a multiplier effect and much more can be accomplished.
One of our first steps is to reduce the resignation that chronic hunger and poverty creates in a community. We work to bring people together to unleash their creativity and productivity through education and skill building. Through a process of enquiry, we ask the villagers what is missing then help develop a social structure that allows local, productive action, self-confidence and strong advocacy in each region. 395,000 trained volunteers around the world are mobilising millions of others to take self-reliant actions.
In Africa, through our Epicentre Strategy, more than 121 clusters of villages have launched village-level projects to generate their own income and build classrooms, food storage facilities and health clinics.
In India more than 83,000 elected women representatives in India are speaking out and bringing water, health and education to their villages.
In Bangladesh 272,000 trained Animators and volunteer youth leaders are initiating projects such as campaigns against early marriage, dowry and violence against women; education programs for safe drinking water, nutrition and sanitation; birth registration for rural communities; and income-generating activities.
- Empowering women as key change-agents for development.
The Challenges: In most of the areas where we work there is severe gender discrimination which perpetuates a cycle of poverty and malnutrition.
Our Work: Studies show that women are the best change agents. We work with grassroots women to help them gain a voice in local decision-making, shifting local priorities towards nutrition, sanitation, clean water, health and education. We coalesce women who work together to end corruption, stop early child-marriage, and ensure punishment for rape and domestic violence. Our model emphasises important roles for women, working as equals to men, to determine community priorities and build the required skills to transform their lives for generations to come. Many studies have proven that when women are supported and empowered, all of society benefits. Their families are healthier, more children go to school, agricultural productivity improves and incomes increase.
In Africa, Our Microfinance Programs provide women food farmers easy access to credit, adequate training regarding the importance of saving and income generation.
1.3 million people have taken the HIV/AIDS and Gender Inequality Workshop.
In India, our Women’s Leadership Workshop has empowered over 83,000 women elected to local councils to be effective change agents in their villages.
In Bangladesh, we catalysed the formation of a 300-organisation alliance that organises more than 800 events across the country each September in honour of National Girl Child Day, a day to focus on eradicating all forms of discrimination against girls.
- Making local government work.
The Challenges: Weak, corrupt, or unresponsive local government. Need we say more?
Our Work: In working with the local people we find and train leaders who learn to reform laws by transforming the mindsets of local officials. They focus on the issues of primary education and health care, family income, nutrition, water and sanitation. These can only be solved at the local level, and will only be solved when people are able to communicate their needs to leaders and hold them to account.
In Africa, Local government officials are included at every stage of our Epicentre Strategy. When the villagers build the epicentre building, local government provides nurses, teachers and supplies for the preschool and health clinic. Some African governments, having seen our success, are building The Hunger Project model into their national plans.
In India, we work in 3418 local village-level government units (gram panchayats), in 90 districts. There are 175 block-level Federations in 8 States where locally elected rural women come together to voice concerns and change laws as a collective unit. Currently, the priority issues include increased transparency at all levels of government. We also partner with 48 local organisations to jointly accomplish improved education, nutrition and health.
In Bangladesh, we work with 508 local government bodies (Union Parishads) ensuring 100 percent sanitary latrine coverage, 100 percent birth and death registration, and open budget meetings to provide transparency and accountability.
If any of this also strikes a chord with you and you’d like to donate to this great cause, please support my efforts at: http://tinyurl.com/pd5c8y6