Europe and Russia
Doctors of the World/Médecins du Monde
“Doctors of the World is an international humanitarian organization providing medical care to vulnerable populations affected by war, natural disasters, disease, famine, poverty, or exclusion” (doctorsoftheworld.org). The organization’s backbone consists of an army of volunteer doctors and medical professionals who work to bring medical relief where it is needed.
Donate now in support of Doctors of the World. Their website also encourages interested parties to apply for an international job or volunteer role with Doctors of the World. The site also lists a few other ways to get involved.
On their “At a Glance” informational page, Doctors of the World provides the following impact statistic: “In 2010, Doctors of the World’s global network used $152 million to run 365 programs that provided medical care for more than 1.6 million individuals in 78 countries.” The organization has an international presence, growing from its original base in France to its current 15 operational locations throughout the world. The organization focuses its work and resources in four major areas: Conflict & Crisis, conducting emergency medical response, and often staying after the immediate danger has dissipated; Affected Populations, supporting refugees abroad and in their country of origin; HIV/AIDS & Infectious Diseases, fighting deadly diseases around the world; and Women & Children’s Health, providing pre-natal and pediatric care among other related services.
Doctors of the World in Europe
“GBCHealth serves as a hub for private sector engagement on the world’s most pressing global health issues” (GBCHealth.org). GBCHealth is a coalition of many different companies and organizations, all working towards creating a healthier world by bringing their own special skills, resources, and assets to the table. While GBCHealth does not appear to be a non-profit organization, nor does it work with NPO’s, it does make its annual financial reports available. GBCHealth works to facilitate the corporate world’s impact in making the world healthier.
GBCHealth focuses on the world’s major health problems, including HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and under its expanded scope of last year, diabetes. Read about some of the many ways that GBCHealth is able to bring together organizations in pursuit of common health goals. Some programs include HIV-Free Generation/Kenya and the Healthy Women, Healthy Economies initiative.
GBCHealth in Europe and Russia
GBCHealth works in Russia from its Moscow location.
Globe Aware is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization that facilitates international short-term volunteer programs. These programs operate under the “volunteer vacation” or “voluntourism” approach: volunteers pay a fee for accommodations, meals, and logistical support. This makes some projects more accessible to the average person. Globe Aware projects are specifically focused on exchanging cultural awareness and developing sustainability.
Although potentially an expensive endeavor, the Globe Aware experience can be a great way to combine travel abroad with working to make a difference. Register now for an opportunity to take a one-week volunteer vacation. Consider donating to Globe Aware.
Globe Aware trips are highly focused short-term experiences (one week). There is time for both some leisure and sight seeing while working on one of many projects in a developing country. Programs include educational support, community outreach, and other projects that focus on basic necessities.
Globe Aware in Europe
Globe Aware hosts projects in working against poverty in Romania.
International Rescue Committee
The IRC is a four-star rated 501(c)(3) non-profit that responds to humanitarian crises and refugee needs. The organization responds to emergencies all over the world and works to create deep solutions to a multitude of problems.
In times of emergency, the IRC is committed to arriving within 72 hours, bringing necessary support and supplies. The IRC follows through on its work, by providing post-crisis support, helping refugees adapt to their new lives. 92% of IRC’s funding goes directly to program expenses. The IRC has provided 1.7 million people with access to clean drinking water and vaccinated over 500,000 children. Read more statistics about the impact that the IRC is making.
International Rescue Committee in Europe and Russia
Islamic Relief Worldwide
Islamic Relief Worldwide is a “relief and development charity” focusing on poor communities all over the world. Islamic Relief USA is a registered 501(c) 3 non-profit organization, while other local partners are registered in their respective countries. Islamic Relief USA is rated four stars on charity navigator. IRW operates development, disaster response, environmental impact, health, education, and child welfare programs.
Consider donating to Islamic Relief Worldwide or one of its local partners. If you wish to get involved with an international NGO at a more in depth level, consider applying for one of the many open job positions at Islamic Relief Worldwide. The IR USA donation page allows you to select where you would like to direct your donated funds. Options include “where it is needed most,” orphan support, emergencies, food for Ramadan, or humanitarian assistance. Also, consider looking through IRW’s plethora of research and analysis resources.
Islamic Relief Worldwide’s comprehensive work includes programs focusing on sustainable livelihoods, including micro credit programs, vocational and agricultural training, among other opportunities; education, including early childhood education, literacy training, technology exposure, and other services; Health and Nutrition, including eyesight, food security, clinics, and other health services programs; orphans and child welfare, including orphan sponsorship, education opportunities for orphans, and other programs; water and sanitation, including well digging initiatives and other water security-related programs; and emergency relief & disaster preparedness programs. Currently, Islamic Relief USA is focusing on the East and West African food crises, as well as humanitarian relief for those affected by conflict in Syria.
Islamic Relief Worldwide in Europe and Russia
Mary’s Meals is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing a daily meal to disadvantaged and poor children all over the world, often through already established schools and education programs. This school-based approach to fighting hunger is very similar to the approach used by Deworm the World and other school-based programs. Aid workers recognize the powerful draw of education, and the incalculable good a daily meal can do to support a child’s education.
The Mary’s Meals website offers various ways to get involved with helping to feed, and in indirectly to help educate, children around the world. Consider fundraising for Mary’s Meals, volunteering with the organization, sponsoring a school, or making a donation.
According to the website, there are “… 300 million chronically hungry children in the world” with millions dying every year (marysmealsusa.org). The website also hosts a breakdown of who they are feeding where. According to this information page, Mary’s Meals is currently supplying around 654,961 children in 16 countries around the world with a daily meal. The approach of providing a school-based meal is really about time allocation. Many, many children in the world must allocate their time towards survival activities, such as working for, or gathering food. There is a recognized correlation between food security and school attendance, particularly if available food is one more draw bringing children in each day. A daily meal ensures that school children are able to concentrate on their studies, dedicating themselves to activities beyond mere survival. In addition to Mary’s Meals focus on school-based meal programs, the organization has also provided emergency relief around the world.
Mary’s Meals in Europe
Mary’s Meals provides food for children at schools in Albania, feeds children and young adults at a special needs residential facility in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and feeds street children through programs in Ukraine. Mary’s Meals also operates the Iona House, a home for abandoned HIV positive children in Romania.
The NFP program is a non-profit serving low-income, first time mothers. Women with newborns or children up to two years old can rely on home visits from knowledgeable and competent registered nurses. Nurses are available to ensure that women experience a healthy pregnancy, and have the proper knowledge and support needed to care for their child. Independent agents implement the NFP program on a community basis. The Nurse-Family Partnership National Service Office works with the Invest in Kids organization to support these community-based NFP programs. Outside of the US, NFP programs are supported by the Nurse-Family Partnership International Program. The NFP is rated four-stars on Charity Navigator.
Read the Fixes article to get a sense of the program’s operations and success, as well as important political news regarding the future of similar programs. Donate to the Nurse-Family partnership to support the trusting relationship between Nurse practitioners and vulnerable mothers.
The NFP has been consistently studied and evaluated during its operational period. A post on the blog Fixes talks about some of the evaluated success of the program. According to the article, which cites a variety of studies, the program has been studied for decades and has assisted 151,000 families.
Nurse-Family Partnership in Europe
Oxfam International is comprised of a group of 15 smaller organizations in 98 countries working together towards the common goal of ending poverty. The organization is often involved in bringing aid to emergency situations and disasters. The organization is rated four stars on charity navigator. Dedicated to a message of equality and voice for all, Oxfam outlines its mission and approach in it statement of Purposes and Beliefs
Mission Statement: Oxfam International has a comprehensive list of Purposes and Beliefs, among them its statement of Vision: “Oxfam’s vision is a just world without poverty. We envision a world in which people can influence decisions which affect their lives, enjoy their rights, and assume their responsibilities as full citizens of a world in which all human beings are valued and treated equally.”
Oxfam offers a fantastic summary of current global emergencies on its website. This page acts a hub from which Storm Warriors can hone in on a specific issue that Oxfam is addressing.
The Oxfam website has a page dedicated to assisting you in getting involved with Oxfam. Look for current job openings with Oxfam, learn how you can be an Oxfam volunteer, explore Oxfam on social networks and share with your friends, help fundraise through the Unwrapped and Trailwalker programs, or share your own ideas with Oxfam.
The number of people without adequate food in this world has started increasing dramatically. To combat this, Oxfam International launched the GROW campaign, which will address and review the world’s current food infrastructure. Oxfam will strive to ensure that small agricultural producers are supported in an effort to feed the projected population of 9 billion people by 2050. Please look into this important program which is seeking to address some of the most difficult problems surrounding food production for a growing population.
For a detailed look at Oxfam’s yearly activity, please refer to their annual reports.
Oxfam International in Europe
Vital Voices Global Partnership
Vital Voices is a 501(c)(3) non-governmental organization with a four star rating on charity navigator. They have supplied some financial information for further confirmation. Vital Voices is built on a wide network of individuals, bringing together a multitude of professionals, leaders, and corporate executives who wish to nurture the potential of women worldwide. This partnership seeks to tease out and amplify those voices with the greatest leadership potential, and provide them with the tools they need to facilitate progress in their communities.
Besides donating to Vital Voices, you can register to join the Global Leadership Network directory and take a look at the Vital Voices Collection. The directory offers many social networking features, and allows you to connect with the powerful and energized women behind this Global Partnership. The collection is one way to support the Entrepreneurs in Handcrafts program (some of the money from which is reinvested into the program), where handcrafted goods are available through Bridge for Africa or Umoja Women’s Shop. Those interested in volunteer opportunities should contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Internships and career paths are also available.
According to the Vital Voices website, they have “…trained and mentored more than 10,000 emerging women leaders from 127 countries…” who have proceeded to make a difference in their respective communities. Vital Voices is one of twelve organization members of the Alliance To End Slavery & Trafficking. They have also presented information gathered through their Cameroon Initiative to Combat Human Trafficking as a part of an INTERPOL Specialists Group meeting.
Vital Voices in Europe and Russia
Vittana is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, as confirmed on the IRS Exempt Organizations Select Check. Vittana seeks to bring education, and thus prosperity, within the means of students from all over the developing world. The organization works to achieve this goal by offering a networking service to connect lenders of all giving abilities from all over the world with students currently working towards a vocational career. It has been consistently compared to Kiva.
“Our mission is to empower young people around the world with the education and training they need to build a life of prosperity and opportunity.”
Why it’s important
Vittana differs from Kiva in that it looks to prepare an upcoming generation of workers, rather than giving to people who are already establishing a business. Vittana provides a way to invest in students, aspiring to catalyze prosperity in developing countries. After completing their education, Vittana students benefit from an estimated income increase of up to 291%.
The majority of the developing world has limited access to financial resources, and virtually no access to student financial aid. Vittana fills this resource gap, providing a vital service that the developing world desperately needs, acting as a road to greater earning potential for those currently living on very low, or no income. The goal of this type of service is to provide an avenue out of the cycle of poverty created by the imposition of conventional or limiting borrowing requirements on a population that cannot meet those requirements in the first place.
Without any sort of financial aid to help pay for education, career options (and thus potential daily income) are very limited in the developing world. A very low income, the majority of which is meted out to pay for essentials, then obviously limits the ability to increase future earning potential by going to school or otherwise preparing for a career. Thus, the lack of financial aid continues the cycle of poverty. There is no way out of the cycle because daily income is not enough to pay for school, and there is no way to increase daily income without some specialized training through education. In the developed world, this cycle is broken with the helping hand of financial assistance. Opening up the financial aid market to students who have very little means to begin with breaks this particular hold of poverty.
Important to remember that these students are not looking for someone to simply give them everything, but rather for assistance in developing a way to help themselves – the same sort of assistance that is automatically extended to most students in the developed world. When you donate to Vittana, you’re providing someone with the opportunity to develop financial independence in exploring their potential vocational and earning abilities. The Vittana website FAQ says it best: “…our students don’t want a handout, they want a hand up.”
How it Works
Lending through Vittana is a very simple process, similar to that of Kiva. Potential lenders like you can sift through Vittana’s database of student borrowers to pick a student or vocation they most identify with. Vittana offers personal profiles in order to acquaint potential borrowers with the student and better match their spirit of generosity to a student’s ambitions. These profiles often list their education and career goals: choices that are largely practical vocations, helping to ensure that they will be able to find work and support themselves upon graduation.
Once the lender has selected a student to assist, they can provide a loan of any amount in order to help the student complete school. Many of the students on Vittana only require a few hundred dollars more in order to complete their studies. 100% of the money lent this way will go to the student. Once they have completed their chosen program, the student will begin repaying their loan. Loan repayments will arrive in the lender’s account as a Vittana credit, as they are repaid. From there, the Vittana credit is ready for reinvestment into another student’s vocational future.
Learn more about Vittana directly at their FAQ.
As with Kiva, potential borrowers can be filtered by a variety of characteristics. Potential lenders can filter student profiles by country (limited at the moment to Bolivia, Georgia, Ghana, Honduras, Indonesia, Jordan, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and the Philippines), loan status (close to funded, newest, and expiring soon), gender (Men and Women), and by a wide variety of professions, allowing Storm Warriors to encourage students in a particular field.
So far, Vittana has helped over 2,300 students work towards a prosperous career. Vittana loans have had a 99.8% repayment rate on funds provided through the service.
To make the greatest impact, consider lending to a student in need today. If you enjoy the service Vittana provides, believe that students everywhere should have the opportunity to complete their studies, and that money shouldn’t get between a student and an education you can donate to Vittana. You can also give a Vittana loan as a gift.
If you would like to become more directly involved with Vittana, the organization is currently seeking volunteers, interns, and offers a fellowship program. There is also a separate application for the fellowship program.
Just like our Kiva lending team, I have set up a Storm Warriors International lending community in order to pool our resources on Vittana. Community statistics include total number of donations, total amount donated, and number of students supported. Let’s get more Storm Warriors involved; working together we can improve the lives of more students than any one Storm Warrior could alone.
One possible solution to the widespread problem of worldwide poverty that is being explored by many in both non-profit and for-profit sectors is the concept of microfinance. Usually, those living in poverty or in the developing world do not have enough assets to qualify for a loan or other forms of financial assistance through conventional financial institutions. They are considered too large of a financial risk. For many institutions, the disbursement of “micro-loans,” loans under a certain threshold (usually under $1000), is actually cost-prohibitive. It costs more money to disburse the small loan, and to maintain the account with the borrower, than the institution would make upon repayment.
Organizations like Vittana work to pool resources by harnessing the power and accessibility of the Internet and offering a way to provide smaller loans to those with fewer or no assets. Some humanitarians actually believe that microfinance and support for local entrepreneurship are more effective means of combating poverty than traditional forms of aid. Scott Gilmore, of The Globe and Mail argues that encouraging local entrepreneurship is the key to helping people rise out of poverty, rather than providing one-time aid donations.
This methodology is similar to the World Food Programme’s goal of working towards making themselves obsolete. The idea is that setting up systems and infrastructure to empower local resources is far more effective at providing a long-term solution to poverty than simple donations are. The World Food Programme’s fifth of five published objectives is to “Strengthen the capacity of countries to reduce hunger.” Kiva and Vittana work in a similar vein to help small business and individuals help themselves.
A September 9, 2010 article in The Economist highlights two specific problems that arise in the cultivation of student microfinance. One is the issue of reliability on the part of the student. Students from regions that may not have developed a strong tradition of financial lending may not feel the same pressure to repay their loan. The other issue is the length of the loan: traditional microfinance loans are usually made for a much shorter term than educational loans. Students who need to spend most of their time studying would not have the resources to repay a traditional microfinance loan on a short-term schedule.
As the article explains, Vittana approaches these issues by focusing on lendees who meet specific criteria. The Economist says that Vitanna tends to lend to students who are in at least their second year, aiming for these further characteristics: children of existing microfinance clients, students in their final year, and students at vocational school. These guiding criteria give at least some insurance that loans made through the service are made to reliable individuals, and thus have a higher likelihood of being repaid.
Like Kiva, the beauty of Vittana lies in both its potential ability to deliver sustainable solutions to poverty while also maintaining a relative accessibility and low risk option for lenders. Vittana loans, at 99.8%, maintain the same reliable repayment rate as Kiva loans, at 98.88%. The fact that these two rates match up as well as they do would appear to indicate both good oversight on the part of Kiva and Vittana and their affiliates, as well the eagerness of students and businesspeople in the developing world to be a part of a greater global system of prosperity, and to work hard to embrace the generosity of those who have entrusted them with a loan.
For the most part, Vittana is an incredibly low risk way to lend. Your money will help an individual, and then you will be repaid, allowing you to either reinvest or withdraw your money. To be clear, there is a risk associated with your loan. To better understand the risk associated with a Vittana loan, please see the Vittana FAQ.
Here is also a full list of the organizations that Vittana works with to disperse the loans.
Vittana maintains active working relationships with many different organizations. Most importantly, they have developed a significant network of established microfinance organizations all over the world.
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