Contributed by Hillary Omala, the Executive Director of CFK Africa
Fifteen years ago, more than 1,100 people lost their lives in the violence following Kenya’s 2007 elections. Every five years since then, the Kenya General Elections have occupied international headlines, and tensions have risen across the country as painful memories come flooding back.
But the truth is, things have gotten better.
While tensions rose during the recent election period, so did calls for peace. And even though this year’s results were contested, the arguments were resolved in our courtrooms rather than in our streets.
“Helping families lift themselves out of poverty means helping them build income and wealth, but it is a social phenomenon as well,” wrote Steve Werlin, the author of To Fool the Rain: Haiti’s Poor and Their Pathway to a Better Life. “And one of the social change we try to effect involves working on the way members look at themselves.”
It is quite impressive how someone’s mind and attitude can alter and reset the course of one’s life. However, in order to eventually arrive at that mind reset some people require a substantive hand out, constant observation and follow-up; not simply a prescriptive hand up. When looking at the lowest income countries in the world like Haiti a vast array of NGOs work to alleviate some of its inherent problems with programs that address the root of poverty. Some provide work programs, educational programs, health care, or even microloan programs. But some of Haiti’s families are so extremely poor they cannot dream of qualifying for many of these programs because they have virtually nothing. In fact, they live in such cyclical poverty they cannot feed themselves on a daily basis, or even every other day. In Haiti’s deepest far reaches and unfathomable rural areas are families who live in abject poverty far away from roads and towns. They require the most cumulative social programs designed by worldwide NGOs that specialize in the nuances of poverty reduction and eradication.
In Haiti, for example, one of those social programs is called “Chemen lavi miyo (CLM)” in Creole or a Pathway to a Better Life that is run by Fonkoze, Haiti’s largest microfinance organization. Even as a microfinance enterprise Fonkoze realized that to reach the poorest Haitian families means to provide overarching programs that teach rural women who qualify for their CLM program financial and entrepreneurial skills as well as life and relationship skills.
The world of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) is vast and growing if you live in Nepal. Some experts estimate there is a whopping 50,000 registered NGOs (PDF) in the country, a steep increase since an NGO registration change in 1992. With that change, groups of individuals joined together in droves to create organizations to fight the languishing poverty in Nepal, a country that has been classified by the United Nations as one of the world’s least developed countries since 1971. Experts also attribute the increase of Nepalese NGOs to the country’s small private enterprise sector. Most Nepalis believe the only way they can make money is through civil society where tens of millions of dollars flow through Nepal’s civil sector every year.
While many organizations follow the safe blueprint of how NGOs should operate, there are some that are devising innovative ways in which to help communities at their most basic level, especially after the earthquakes that rocked the landlocked country caused nearly 9,000 fatalities nationwide last year. The earthquakes shocked the country and exposed immense disaster relief vulnerabilities of the government as well as the throngs of NGOs that were not prepared to handle a major natural disaster.
The first Social Good Village launched last week at Cannes with film screenings, interviews and live performances. Global Cause Days are also a part of the Social Good Village festivities providing a deep dive into five topics: nature and environment, education, women’s empowerment, climate and innovation for good.
Today takes a look at Women’s Empowerment with a panel including Alexandre Lecouillard, Carla Ortiz, actress and producer of the film Olvidados, Virginie Cicco from Tous contre le cancer, Joanne Reay, Director Terra Mater, Rula Nassar, producer and founder of Imaginarium and Aya Al Balushi , the Founder and Managing Partner of SEAT 26.
At Horyou Village, there is an exhibition area for NGOs to present their causes and how attendees can become involved in their global projects.
“The non-profit world and its initiatives will resonate in Cannes this year, ” said Horyou founder and CEO Yonathan Parienti. “We are very happy to have non-profit organizations from our social network showcasing their contributions at Horyou Village.”