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TRADE AND INVESTMENT Meet the homeless man who went from building baskets to building children’s futures


25 November 2016 2:53PM UTC  | By: GUEST BLOGGER
JOIN Join the fight against Extreme Poverty

“We bring them in, enable them to earn sufficient wealth, then graduate them out.”

That’s Blessing Basket founder and CEO Theresa Carrington talking about her organisation, which allows artisans to earn significantly higher than fair trade wages for their products during the time they are in the program. Their model creates a cycle of entrepreneur-driven growth that results in financial independence for the artisan.


Some of the handmade crafts at Blessing Basket. (Photo credit: Blessing Basket)

Blessing Basket finds entrepreneurial-minded artisans and gives them market access and financial assistance in starting a small business. Through that model, the artisan will be independent and ready to graduate from the Blessing Basket program in three years.

This model makes conducting business more difficult for Blessing Basket because they have to continually find and train new artisans—but the organisation believes helping each individual eventually stand on their own two feet and lift themselves out of poverty is worth it.

Just ask Azoko.

At 23, Azoko was homeless, out of school, and weaving baskets on the streets of Accra, Ghana. After a representative from Blessing Basket found him and enrolled him into the program, Azoko was able to sell his wares, return to his village, and put himself through school.


Azoko used his wages to put himself through school. (Photo credit: Blessing Basket)

“I felt I had a fruitless life because I missed a lot of opportunities in school,” says Azoko. “Blessing Basket made it possible for me to return home.”

“We created the opportunity,” Theresa says, “but he had to do the work.”

Each year, Blessing Basket puts on a graduation ceremony for the artisans who are ready to leave the program and become independent business owners. During the ceremony, each graduate is given a badge and certificate—these items can be used as a means of proving business acumen and potential to local banks and lending programs so that they can continue to grow their businesses.

“I felt happy and excited when I graduated. My friends and family were all jubilating and congratulating me,” says Azoko.

Earlier this year, Blessing Basket was honored by the United Nations for its innovative Artisan&You program. When you purchase a Blessing Basket product, you’ll find a unique ID number that allows you to connect and exchange letters with the artisan who created your handicraft. This allows customers to understand how their purchase is helping in the fight against poverty, and enables an intercultural connection between individuals who may be oceans apart.


Azoko is now a teacher in the village where he grew up. (Photo credit: Blessing Basket)

Today, Azoko is a teacher in the very village where he once had to drop out of school. He teaches seven different subjects at a local girls’ school—his best and favorite subject is mathematics.

“His is a story that should inspire others never, ever, to give up,” says Theresa.

“I will come into contact with pupils who may have similar problems I faced,” Azoko says. “I am using my past experience to motivate pupils never to give up, no matter the situation they go through, because perseverance brings success.”

Learn more about Blessing Basket here, and join ONE today to be part of the fight against extreme poverty.



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FINANCE & INNOVATION 8 Men Own as Much as the Poorest 3.6 Billion People on the Planet

By Joe McCarthy|

 Jan. 17, 2017

Income inequality doesn’t happen by accident and it’s certainly not inevitable. It happens when economies and governments are structured to benefit a few people over everyone else.

Today, income inequality is soaring all around the world. Multinational industries are consolidating, tax havens are teeming, and corruption seems to be everywhere.

In perhaps the most jarring illustration of this imbalance yet, Oxfam recently showed that the world’s eight richest men own more wealth than the poorest half of humanity.

Together these men have a combined wealth of $426.2 billion, with an average wealth of $53.275 billion. The 3.6 billion poorest, meanwhile, have an average wealth of around $118.  

Read More: Are Tax Havens Economically Justifiable? Not According to 300 Leading Economists

This comparison draws on data from Credit Suisse’s study of the world’s poor and Forbes’ annual list of the world’s wealthiest, both of which are based on publicly available information. But it’s likely that a lot of data concerning global wealth is either hidden or unobtainable, so the problem could be much more dire. As money flows around the world, financial manipulation and concealment are common. And, on the flip side, much of the world’s poor live outside of officially monitored areas.

Six of the richest men are US citizens — Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Lawrence Ellison, and Michael Bloomberg. Carlos Slim is from Mexico and Amancio Ortega Gaona is from Spain.

Read More: What The Panama Papers Have to Say About Inequality and Poverty

The US has the most billionaires in the world, followed by China, Germany, Russia, and the UK.  

Meanwhile, the US has a poverty rate of 14.3%, which is more than 43 million people. China has a poverty rate of around 30%, or 400 million people.

The World Economic Forum recently found that average incomes are falling in the world’s richest nations, and income growth has stalled in developing nations. That doesn’t mean economies are shrinking, it just means wealth is being distributed unevenly.

Between 2009 and 2013 in the US, for example, more than 95% of newly generated wealth accrued to the top 1% of earners.

Read More: 1.1B People Have Risen From Extreme Poverty Since 1990, World Bank Says

As a result, the WEF calls for a rejection of the Growth Domestic Product as the universal measurement of an economy’s welfare, because it gives a skewed portrait of economic health. Instead, they call for using the Inclusive Development Index to better reflect how economies are working for the majority of people.


In the US, over the last 30 years the bottom 50% has seen zero income growth. Zero. Meanwhile, incomes of the top 1% have grown by 300%.

Since 2015, the richest top 1% has owned more wealth than the bottom 99% of the world's population.



This growing split between has caused unrest in the US, arguably leading to the populist insurgencies of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. But in a dark irony of that rage against the status quo, Donald Trump recently assembled the wealthiest cabinet in US history, and has essentially promised to deregulate Wall Street, which is a chief driver of inequality.

Looking beyond the US, 700 million people live on less than $1.90 a day. People everywhere are being displaced by economic, geopolitical, and environmental shifts. As automation rises around the world, wealth could concentrate even further.

Read More: 11 Times President Obama Spoke to Global Citizens in His Farewell Address

Oftentimes, wealth inequality is treated as a harsh but unavoidable reality of capitalism or “market forces.” But this is false. Extreme wealth inequality is both detrimental to an economy as a whole because it suppresses the economic potential of the vast majority of citizens and morally wrong as it unnecessarily subjects people to suffering.

In sketching a global picture of inequality, the World Economic Forum recommended a few commonsense reforms that would make economies work for more people.

These include (1) a progressive tax system and robust social safety net; (2) fair wages and job security; (3) supporting small business; (4) improving access to financial systems for regular people; (5) enforcing rules against corruption; (6) improving public infrastructure both physical and digital; (7) and investing in education and skills-training programs.  

In their idealism, these goals will obviously butt up against the status quo of many countries, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be pursued. When a handful of men have as much wealth — and power — as the bottom half of the world, change has to be insisted upon everywhere.  

After all, the wealth of these men is not a sign of extreme talent; it’s a sign of profound political failure.


Written by Joe McCarthy


Joe McCarthy is a Content Creator at Global Citizen. He believes apathy is the biggest threat to creating a more just world and tries his hardest to stay open-minded and curious. Living in New York keeps him aware of how interconnected our world is, how every action has ripples.

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TECHNOLOGY Mark Zuckerberg urges world leaders to respond to ONE and Facebook’s connectivity campaign


January 4 2017  | By: SAMANTHA URBAN
JOIN Join the fight against Extreme Poverty

Today, more than half of the world is still unconnected to the internet—and where someone lives makes a huge difference. Almost 75% of Africa’s population is offline compared with 19% of people in developed countries.


Photo credit: Megan Iacobini de Fazio

Hit harder by this lack of connectivity are women and girls. Women living in the poorest countries are a third less likely than their male counterparts to be connected and the gap is increasing; if trends continue, in 2020 over 75% will be unconnected. Without connecting these women and girls to the internet, barriers for women to access education, lifesaving health information, and job opportunities will continue to perpetuate dire gender inequalities in these regions.

In the Making the Connection report, ONE calls for an action plan to connect 350 million women and girls in the poorest countries by 2020, resulting in spin-off benefits for everyone.

At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Lima, Peru, on November 19, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg used our report as the basis for his policy recommendations.


In his address, Zuckerberg talked about the role that internet access can play in helping communities lift themselves out of poverty, as well as improving global health and education. He also pushed for more world leaders to sign the Connectivity Declaration, a joint petition started by ONE and Facebook to promote universal internet access. (Add your name at connecttheworld.one.org.)

After the summit, the official APEC leaders’ communique reflected these amazing efforts, stating that they “believe that the development of ICT (information and communications technology) plays a vitally important role in human development and we reaffirm our willingness to achieve next-generation broadband by 2020… We will collaborate to unleash the potential of the digital economy and strongly support an accessible, open, interoperable, reliable and secure ICT environment as an essential foundation for economic growth and prosperity.”


We offer our thanks to Mark Zuckerberg and our partners at Facebook for helping share this message. We hope that more and more world leaders realize that internet access is essential for achieving humanity’s potential.

Access to the internet isn’t a luxury… it’s life-changing: Take action now for a connected world.



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We have built strong links with schools throughout Ireland who undertake various fundraising activities for CCI. If you know a school that would like to get involved in organising a fundraiser to raise money for one of our vital programmes this year, contact us on 021-4558774 or visit our website




Via Chernobyl Children International

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EDUCATION Author and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg stands up for girls’ education


January 13 2017  | By: SAMANTHA URBAN
IF YOU CARE, ACT. ADD YOUR NAME TODAY International Womens Day 2017

Right now, 130 million girls are out of school. You wouldn’t be where you are today without an education — and it’s in your power RIGHT NOW to help these girls get access to an education.

That’s why ONE is organizing people around the world to take action and urge world leaders to prioritize girls’ education. And author, activist, and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is standing with us!


Photo credit: Drew Altizer/Wikimedia Commons

On Thursday, Jan. 12, she wrote:

“Education is everything — but in the poorest countries girls are denied it far more often than boys. If the number of girls who are out of school formed a country, it would be the tenth largest on the planet.

When girls receive an education, it opens up a life full of choice and opportunity. We must not squander the potential of 130 million girls to cure diseases, end wars, invent brilliant technology or revolutionize an industry — or to bring us closer to an equal world. Girls can’t afford to miss out on the opportunities that come with an education, and the world can’t afford to miss out on their great ideas.

As Malala has said, “One child, one book, and one pen can change the world.” We can all come together to ensure that every girl has a chance to go to school and receives a quality education once she’s there. That’s why I’ve signed my name to ONE’s campaign letter which will be delivered to world leaders on International Women’s Day this spring.”


Sheryl: Thanks for standing with ONE and with girls around the world!

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EDUCATION With Pick of Betsy DeVos, Does Donald Trump Want to Kill Public Schools?

By Phineas Rueckert|

 Dec. 2, 2016
trump-devos-education-ap_1.jpg__1500x670AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Betsy DeVos never attended public school. She has no teaching or education policy experience. She sent all four of her kids to private school. And now she is slated to become the next Secretary of Education of the United States of America. 

An advocate of “school choice,” private school vouchers for low-income students, and funneling public money into privately-run charter schools, DeVos has the potential to turn the US public education system on its head. She’s a fitting choice for president-elect Donald Trump, who has said he wants to allocate $20 billion toward school choice by “reprioritizing federal dollars” away from public schools.

Trump has also said he wants to “establish the national goal of providing school choice to every one of the 11 million school aged children living in poverty.”

Currently 50 million students attend US public elementary and secondary schools, in comparison with just 5 million who are at private schools. About 2.5 million students attend public charter schools, up from 800,000 just ten years ago. A recent study by the Southern Education Foundation found that one in two public school students qualify for free- and reduced-price lunches, which according to the Washington Post, is a “rough proxy for poverty.” 

Read more: As Trump Becomes President, Republicans Win Total Control of Congress, Too

What might a Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos-led Department of Education mean for students living in poverty in the US? 

Global Citizen spoke with four education policy experts to get the scoop on Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education. 


Who is Betsy DeVos? 

DeVos is the chairperson of the Windquest Group, an investment management firm in Michigan, and formerly the head of the American Federation for Children, a national pro-school-choice organization. 

She’s married to Dick DeVos, son of Amway co-founder Richard DeVos. The DeVos family, much like the Koch family, has funneled large amounts of money into the Republican establishment and toward conservative causes — at least $200 million, according to Mother Jones.

This includes a 2004 donation of $200,000 toward a Michigan effort to ban same sex marriage in that state. 

As head of the American Federation for Children, DeVos was in charge of the nation’s most powerful pro-school-choice organization. She has also supported school choice in her home state of Michigan, and lobbied for legislation to bring more charter schools to the state. 

Eighty percent of Michigan charter schools are run by private companies, according to Chalkbeat, and “the DeVos influence is one reason that Michigan’s charter sector is among the least regulated in the country.” 

According to her website, DeVos’ education policy will give parents more educational choices for their kids and “fix America’s broken education system.” 

Read more: U.S. House of Representatives Just Voted to Provide Education for All!

This would be done mostly through school vouchers that give money to low-income students to enroll in private schools. Along with supporting school choice initiatives, which are popular among some centrist Democrats and many Republicans, DeVos has previously supported for-profit private schools and vouchers for online classes. 

DeVos does not support the Common Core program — a set of federally defined college- and career-readiness standards — but had to clarify that stance in a tweet after receiving criticism from the right, including Breitbart News, which believed she had not been outspoken enough on this matter. 

Many of you are asking about Common Core. To clarify, I am not a supporter—period. Read my full stance, here: http://betsydevos.com/qa/ 


She has also donated tens of thousands of dollars to the Clinton Foundation and was critical of Trump’s campaign early on, the Root reports

What is “school choice”? What would it mean for the poorest students? 

Broadly speaking, school choice is the idea that parents should be able to decide whether they want to send their children to private or public schools. But for low-income parents who can’t afford private school education, this would mean federal- or state-funded vouchers toward a private school education. 

Private school vouchers do not typically account for transportation costs or free and reduced lunches. Furthermore, the value of these vouchers varies from state to state. They are a controversial tool that many on the left fear disfranchise the low-income students they are supposed to protect. 

“It’s very threatening, especially for low-income kids who rely on public education to a very high degree,” Catherine Brown, the vice president of education policy at the Center for American Progress, told Global Citizen. 

“This type of program only works in highly concentrated areas where there are a lot of schools to choose from,” she said. 

Read more: 7 myths about private and public education unlocked

Lindsay Wagner, an education specialist at the AJ Fletcher Foundation, a non-profit education foundation, has studied the effect of voucher programs on North Carolina students. 

“Voucher schools are held to very little in the lay of transparency and accountability,” she said. 

Private schools in North Carolina, she said, are not generally required to report academic achievement — as public schools must. They are overwhelmingly religious, and are “free to discriminate,” meaning that students who identify as LGBTQ or do not identify as Christian may be put at risk. 

Furthermore, the vouchers given to low-income students in North Carolina are often not enough to afford a high-quality, private school education.

“You have a scenario where currently vouchers are $3,200 annually, but the price of high quality private school education can be anywhere from $4,000 to $40,000,” she said. 

What about charter schools? 

Along with championing school choice and vouchers, DeVos has advocated strongly for an increase in charter schools. Her state, Michigan, has been on the front lines of the charter school movement — and has benefited from funding and advocacy from the DeVos family. 

Unlike school choice, which tends to break along ideological lines, charter schools have drawn mixed reviews from conservatives and liberals alike. 

“Not all charter systems are created the same,” David Kirkland, director of the Metro Center at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, told Global Citizen. 

Kirkland grew up in Detroit, and is intimately familiar with the education system that DeVos has worked so hard to influence.

Detroit has pushed charter schools for more than 20 years as a solution to its struggling public school system. The New York Times has reported that Michigan “has nearly 220,000 fewer students than it did in 2003, but more than 100 new charter schools.”

vacant-school-detroit.jpg__3000x2000_q85Image: AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

But despite having more school choice, the results have been largely disappointing. As the Times reports: “A federal review of a grant application for Michigan charter schools found an ‘unreasonably high’ number of charters among the worst-performing 5 percent of public schools statewide.”

For Max Eden, a Senior Fellow at the center-right Manhattan Institute, the backlash to school choice and the negative coverage of Detroit’s charter schools has not been warranted. 

Read more: Lots of US Schools Are Broken. These Educators Are Trying to Fix Them

One widely cited study on Detroit schools, Eden said, which has been used by people on the left to criticize charter school performance, “actually shows that half of charters are as good [as public schools] and half are significantly better.” 

“To me, that’s a huge step up,” he said.

Wagner, from the AJ Fletcher Foundation, argued that charter schools are regulated better than private schools, but perhaps still suffer from a lack of oversight. 

“The charters schools in North Carolina are held to a much higher standard [than private schools] but still not as high as regular public schools,” Wagner said. “It’s easy for them to hide how they spend their tax dollars.” 

Are LGBT, non-gender conforming, non-Christian, and undocumented students at risk? 

A major concern from education policy experts on the left when it comes to the potential nomination of Betsy DeVos is her family’s history of donating to groups that promote conversion therapy and anti-LGBT legislation. 

She could use her position as Secretary of Education to roll back protections — such as Title IX and anti-bullying initiatives — for student populations that are already marginalized.  

“I’m extremely concerned about that piece of her past and the whole religious ideology that surrounds that wing of education,” NYU’s David Kirkland said.  

“It’s a problem and it’s a question in an administration that doesn’t necessarily represent the diversity of US classrooms.”

Brown, from Center for American Progress, echoed this sentiment: “We’re going to have one of the major organizations that was responsible for protecting [LGBT students] likely to become extremely weak.” 

So, what will Trump’s education policy look like under DeVos? 

DeVos still has to be confirmed by Congress, but with Republicans in control of the House and the Senate, this is almost ensured. 

The selection of DeVos, Eden said, “shows that [Trump] is more serious about the campaign promises that he made than I think many people would assume he would be.” 

But he noted that there are more questions than answers. 

“When Trump says, ‘I want to use $20 billion [in federal funds] to spur school-choice across the country, and [at the same time] abolish the department of education and ensure the sanctity of local control,’ there’s a pretty clear tension between those two promises, and it will be interesting to see what happens,” Eden said.  

Under Trump, who just last week settled a lawsuit on Trump University for $25 million, the public education system will most definitely see an increase in privatization. 

“Schools will be modeled after businesses,” Kirkland said. 

With that in mind, it will not be a cakewalk for the Trump administration to do this. In order for Trump to enact an education policy that prioritizes vouchers and charter schools, Slate reports, he will have to reopen the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This could present a major political challenge, as ESSA was passed with bipartisan congressional support. 

“The administration might have to recognize that education in the United States is a very, complex concept,” Kirkland said. “We have systems of education for a reason. We have a diverse population of students, we have a diverse population of abilities.” 

“I’m rooting for this administration to do right by Americans because if they do right by all Americans we all win,” he said.  


Written by Phineas Rueckert


Phineas Rueckert is a writer at Global Citizen. He graduated from Macalester College with a degree in Political Science and International Studies, and spent the past year teaching English in Toulouse, France. He is originally from Brooklyn, New York.

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GIRLS & WOMEN Pakistani Mother Sentenced to Death for Burning Daughter Alive in 'Honor Killing'


Jan. 17, 2017

Brought to you by: Thomson Reuters Foundation



Pakistan's parliament passed legislation against "honor killings" after the murder of outspoken social media star Qandeel Baloch.

By Waqar Mustafa

LAHORE, Pakistan, Jan 16 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A court in Pakistan sentenced a mother to death on Monday for burning her daughter alive as punishment for marrying without the family's consent.

Parveen Bibi confessed before a special court in the city of Lahore to killing her daughter in June for what she said was "bringing shame to the family."

Police said 18-year-old Zeenat Rafiq married Hassan Khan and eloped to live with his family a week before she was killed.

The court sentenced Rafiq's brother Anees to life in prison after the evidence showed her mother and brother had first beaten her, before her mother threw kerosene on her and set her on fire.

After Rafiq's murder in a poor district of Lahore, none of her relatives sought to claim her body, police said, leaving her husband's family to bury her charred remains after dark in a graveyard near the city.

Violence against women is rampant in Pakistan, according to the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Citing media reports, it said there were more than 1,100 "honor killings" in 2015.

Pakistan's parliament passed legislation against "honor killings" in October, three months after the murder of outspoken social media star Qandeel Baloch. Her brother was arrested in relation to her strangling death in July.

Perceived damage to a family's "honor" can involve eloping, fraternizing with men or other breaches of conservative values.

In most cases, the victim is a woman and the killer is a relative who escapes punishment by seeking forgiveness for the crime from family members.

Under the new law, relatives can forgive convicts in the case of a death sentence, but they would still have to face a mandatory life sentence.

(Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org.)


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GIRLS & WOMEN With Goal to Reduce Poverty, 6 Million Filipino Women to Receive Free Contraceptives

By Marnie Cunningham|

 Jan. 17, 2017
marvin_abrinica.jpg__1500x670_q85_crop_sFlickr - Marvin Abrinica

Family planning has an important role to play in reducing poverty. It allows women and women to avoid unplanned pregnancies, decide when and how many children to have. Having the ability to control the size of ones family usually means a couple will have the resources to better support their children.

In the Philippines there are around 6 million women with what's called an "unmet need" for family planning — they are fertile, sexually active, want to delay the next child or do not want any more children, and are not using any form of contraception.

Read More: Planned Parenthood: What Will Happen if Congress Slashes Its Funding

Without the ability to control their desired family size, there is a high rate of unintended pregnancies among Filipino women. Abortion is illegal, meaning women who seek them face unsafe procedures. Around 1,000 women die from complications every year, and many of them are poor, young and rural women.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has announced a radical new plan to achieve "zero unmet need for family planning." He is ordering government agencies to give free contraceptives to all women who are unable to obtain it. 

Out of the 6 million women, the 2 million women who have been identified as being poor will be given priority and should receive contraception by 2018.


National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director General Ernesto Pernia said without the new plan the Philippines would be "unable to meet our poverty reduction target."

The government is aiming to reduce poverty in the country from 21.6% in 2015 to 14% or 13% by 2022.

Read More: The Number of Women Worldwide Using Contraception Is on the Rise

By enabling women to have the number of children they want, population (now at 104 million) growth will also be reduced to 1.4% by 2022.

As part of the new modern family plan, sexual education classes will also be introduced into schools.

In the Asia-Pacific, the Philippines has the highest rate of teen pregnancy with 10% of 15-year-old to 19-year-old Filipino women either pregnant or already a mother. Teen mothers are at a disadvantage as they are more likely to drop out of school which impacts on their future opportunities and their financial status. There is also more health risks to the babies and children.

How the Philippines became the country in Asia with the highest rates of teen pregnancy: we follow one 15 year old on her 3rd pregnancy.


With this new program, free contraceptives will be available to couples who were previously unable to access it, they will be given the power to decide the amount of children they want and live happy healthy lives.


Written by Marnie Cunningham


Marnie Cunningham is a content creator for Global Citizen. With a background in media, photography and international development she has worked in Tanzania, Vanuatu and her hometown of Melbourne, Australia. Marnie is passionate about the environment and runs a sustainable business of her own - seasonal floral and botanical design for weddings and events.

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FOOD & HUNGER Food & Hunger: 7 Ways the Obamas Worked to Keep People Fed

By Meghan Werft |

 Jan. 17, 2017

"No society can flourish, children can’t flourish if they’re going hungry. We can’t ask a child to feed her mind when she can barely feed her stomach.”

President Obama said these words at the White House Summit on Global Development in July earlier this year.  

The above message from the outgoing president perfectly captures the firm stance on fighting global hunger the Obamas held over the past eight years. When it comes to ending global food insecurity Barack and Michelle understood the value and necessity of creating sustainable measures to feed the world’s hungry. 

Here is a reflection on the initiatives, progressive lunches, and landmark laws passed that the Obamas’ leave the world with as we bid farewell to their time in the White House. 

2009: Feed the Future


In 2009, a youthful 47-year-old Barack Obama became president of the United States. That same year, Obama launched an initiative to end global hunger known as Feed the Future

In the past seven years, Feed the Future has helped more than 9 million farmers, and 17.6 million children, mostly under age 5, gained access to improved nutrition across 19 countries. 

Most impressively, Feed the Future has decreased rates of poverty by 26% in regions where the program is active. 


2009: The White House Kitchen Garden 

25658698353_c8fc204103_z.jpg__640x569_q8Image: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani/Flickr

The White House Kitchen Garden, started by Michelle Obama in 2009, was inspired by planted upon the same grounds as Eleanor Roosevelt’s Victory Garden post-WWII. With its fresh produce, the garden has served up state dinners prepared by White House Chef Sam Kass for guests from Beyoncé to the Prime Minister of Italy

Since 2009, the garden expanded from Michelle’s modest hope of “a few sad little tomatoes” to more than 2,800 square feet. It’s enough for the Obama family to regularly dine on vegetables and fruits from the kitchen garden, and donate the extra to Miriam’s Kitchen — a local homeless shelter and soup kitchen in Washington. 

And the garden is here to stay, even after Michelle and Barack depart the White House. 

Read More: Watch Michelle Obama’s Powerful Message to Kids in America


2010: Let’s Move! and the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act 

14222032010_5eeec1fbe3_z.jpg__640x427_q8Students who helped plant the White House Kitchen Garden, enjoy the fruits of their labor at a lunch held at the White House in 2014.
Image: USDA/Flickr

A year after the White House Kitchen Garden began to flourish, Michelle Obama launched Let’s Move! — an initiative that aims to solve the growing obesity epidemic for the next generation. 

Let’s Move! focused on healthy eating and nutrition for school lunches in the US, and helped launch the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act 2010

For the first time in 30 years school breakfast and lunch programs now have the power to change nutritional standards and policies through the Act. 

Both initiatives received some scrutiny (#ThanksMichelleObama) however childhood obesity rates declined nearly 5% between 2003-2014 according to the Center for Disease Control. 


2015: US Declares First Goal on Cutting Food Waste

8248703542_9e5e87b7ee_z.jpg__640x427_q85Image: The White House, Pete Souza/Flickr

On the eve of the United Nations adopting new development goals to eliminate poverty, the Obama administration played its part when it comes to “No Hunger.” Under Obama’s leadership, the US, for the first time ever, set a goal to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030. 

“Today is a historic day for anyone who eats. Wasted food is wasted money, wasted water, wasted land and wasted energy. America is taking solid action to keep more food on our plates,” said Dana Gunders, Staff Scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. 

Forty percent of food in the US ends up as waste, more than any other country in the world. 

Food waste is the single largest solid waste in US landfills. 

Recognizing and setting goals to combat this startling fact was a major accomplishment for the future of food security. 

Read More: World Leaders Enjoyed Eating Food Waste Thanks to These Chefs


2015: Obama Creates Task Force to Combat Illegal Fishing

4673137154_f1bef62515_z.jpg__640x426_q85Image: The White House, Pete Souza/Flickr

Overfishing is a literal drain on food security. Illegal fishing constitutes a black market estimated at $18 billion globally each year. Boats dabbling in illegal fishing ventures with unplanned can be responsible for arms, human, and drug trafficking.  

Obama created a task force especially for preserving ocean health and global fisheries supplies. The Presidential Task Force on Combating Illegal Unreported Unregulated Fishing and Seafood Fraud (Task Force), headed by the Departments of Commerce and State was set into motion on March 15, 2015

The task forces also helped create safer measures for seafood in the US. Because apparently it’s really hard to track what ocean creatures we’re actually eating. Yikes.

  2015: Obama Bans Antibiotics in Meat Served in Government Cafeterias 

8735951246_dd77efa8d1_z.jpg__640x427_q85Image: The White House, Chuck Kennedy/Flickr

Obama banned the use of antibiotics in meat served in government-run cafeterias. Under his leadership, the FDA also began requiring sign-off from veterinarians by animal producer to use antibiotics for treating disease in animal agriculture. 

Overall, this was a win for the health, environment, and food safety. Next up, Impossible burgers for everyone. 

Read More: 44 Times President Obama Showed He's a Normal Dude


2016: Obama Signs Global Food Security Act 

6316478936_c33a908d1f_z.jpg__640x427_q85Image: The White House, Pete Souza/Jakarta Embassy, Flickr

“Development isn’t charity. It’s one of the smartest investments we can make in our shared future, in our security, in our prosperity,” said Obama upon signing the Global Food Security Act (GFSA) earlier this year.  

The GFSA is a bill that Global Citizen campaigned to pass for years, and thanks to a signature from President Obama the bill became a law in July. The landmark law creates smarter investments and systems for global food security, response, and nutrition. This will improve the way the U.S. responds to natural disasters, and is a catalyst in shifting from dependency on emergency food assistance to empowering at-risk regions to become more food secure by investing in their own resilience when it comes to food insecurity. 

GFSA also aims to better coordinate communication between government departments across global food policies so less food is wasted, and collaboration leads to more efficient methods of combating global hunger. 


President-elect Donald Trump will inherit the strategy and path to move the GFSA forward as he assumes office Friday. Though he has the tools, it will be up to Global Citizens to hold Trump and the changing government responsible for continuing progress on ending hunger in the most effective and efficient way. 

TAKE ACTION Send petitions, emails, or tweets to world leaders. Call governments or join rallies. We offer a variety of ways to make your voice heardGet Involved

Written by Meghan Werft 


Meghan is an Editorial Coordinator at Global Citizen. After studying International Political Economy at the University of Puget Sound she hopped coasts to New York. She is a firm believer that education and awareness on global issues has the power to create a more sustainable, equal world where poverty does not exist.

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One Glaring Inaccuracy in Michael Gove’s Interview with Donald Trump

By Yosola Olorunshola| Jan. 17, 2017



Michael Gove, the British MP and former journalist, notorious for being “tired of experts”, secured a British newspaper’s first interview with president-elect Donald Trump. 

Conducted in parallel with a journalist from the German newspaper, Bild, the Times interview spanned themes ranging from Trump’s relationship with Russia, the UK and the EU, to his love of the Queen and the Scottish countryside. 

While the world struggles to make sense of his statements on the EU, NATO, or the size of his pennies, there’s another inaccuracy that’s slipped between the threads of his answers. In summary: Brexit happened because “they” were “forced to take all of the refugees.” 

Read More: 10 Illuminating Quotes From Donald Trump's First Press Conference in 6 Months

Here’s a breakdown of why this makes no sense. 

In the full transcript of the interview, Trump shares  his impressions of German Chancellor Angela Merkel: 

Gove: When Obama came for his last visit to Berlin, he said that if he could vote in the upcoming election he would vote for Angela Merkel. Would you?


Trump: Well, I don’t know who she’s running against, number one, I’m just saying, I don’t know her, I’ve never met her. As I said, I’ve had great respect for her. I felt she was a great, great leader. I think she made one very catastrophic mistake and that was taking all of these illegals, you know taking all of the people from wherever they come from. And nobody even knows where they come from. You’ll find out, you got a big dose of it a week ago. So I think she made a catastrophic mistake, very bad mistake. Now, with that being said, I respect her, I like her, but I don’t know her. So I can’t talk about who I’m gonna be backing — if anyone.

First of all, refugees are not “illegals” — as the Times noted in a later version of the headline. Refugees are defined and protected in international law as people fleeing armed conflict or persecution. By law, refugees cannot be sent back to countries where their lives would be put in danger.  They have a specific legal status. “Illegals” is a disparaging term used to describe immigrants who enter the US illegally.


Image: Ilias Bartolini

Read More: 8 Surprising Facts About Migration the Tabolids Don't Want You To Know

And Trump’s response to a question on the future of the EU betrays a deeper misunderstanding of the situation.

What is your view on the future of the European Union? Do you expect more countries to leave the European Union?


I think it’s tough. I spoke to the head of the European Union, very fine gentleman called me up.


Mr Juncker?


Yes, ah, to congratulate me on what happened with respect to the election. Uh, I think it’s very tough. I think it’s tough. People, countries want their own identity and the UK wanted its own identity but, I do believe this, if they hadn’t been forced to take in all of the refugees, so many, with all the problems that it, you know, entails, I think that you wouldn’t have a Brexit. It probably could have worked out but, this was the final straw, this was the final straw that broke the camel’s back.


I think people want, people want their own identity, so if you ask me, others, I believe others will leave.

In reality, the UK was never forced to take in "all of the refugees." 

Of course, Trump does not mean literally “all”, but the idea that these refugees were destined for the UK is misleading. At the height of the refugee crisis, while Germany accepted up to 1 million refugees in one year, the UK voluntarily agreed to take in 20,000 over a five-year period. That equates to 4,000 a year, or only 6 per parliamentary constituency.

Significantly, the UK refused to accept any refugees that had already made it to Europe, except an unspecified number of unaccompanied child refugees. Eventually, approximately 300 child refugees were transferred from Calais, after delays from the Home Office left children uncertain of their fate until the camp was at the point of closure. 

Read More: These Gorgeous Photos Show the Abundant Humanity in Refugee Camps

Yet, Gove did not clarify any of this in his interview with Trump, or in his write-up of the conversation later. Perhaps Trump was too reliant on Nigel Farage, who he refers to as “our Nigel” in the interview, for his understanding of the refugee situation in Europe. But in a world where there are currently 65 million displaced people in need of a home, Britain has barely taken any. 

Perhaps this is not what Trump meant, but if his answers were muddled, surely it is the job of a journalist to seek clarity — hard as it may be? 

Refugees crossing Mediterranean.jpg

Image: Massimo Sestini for the Italian Navy

As politicians and journalists continue to peddle myths about the perceived threat from “outsiders”, people are dying. 2016 was the deadliest year on record for refugees crossing the Mediterranean, and the tragedy has persisted. Less than a week ago, at least 100 refugees drowned as their boat sank trying to reach Europe. By refusing to create legal routes for those seeking refuge, Britain and EU governments are continuing to ignore the mounting death toll on the continent’s shores. 

Sadly, Michael Gove might not be be expected to welcome refugees as warmly as he welcomes Trump’s enthusiasm for Brexit, but that’s besides the point.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter


 Julian Druker ✔ @Julian5News

British journalist/German journalist photo opps with Donald Trump

9:17 AM - 16 Jan 2017

  1,040 1,040 Retweets   1,181 1,181 likes

Whilst Trump’s comments on the future of the EU and NATO are causing a stir, so should the inaccuracies revealed by the interview. Resigning ourselves to the “post-truth” era is a dangerous game, allowing people to choose fear over compassion, exaggeration over empathy, in a world that urgently needs voices who will speak to truth to power. 

Read More: 7 Factors to Consider Now That We Live in a Post-Truth World


Send petitions, emails, or tweets to world leaders. Call governments or join rallies. We offer a variety of ways to make your voice heard

Get Involved

TOPICSBrexit, Donald Trump, President-elect Donald Trump, Refugees, Michael Gove, Angela Merkel

Yosola Olorunshola

Written by Yosola Olorunshola

Yosola Olorunshola is a Communications Officer for Global Citizen. She studied History and French at Oxford University before completing a Masters in Creative Writing. Now based in London, you’re likely to find her raving about her favourite writers, listening to a podcast, or people-watching in a cafe


Via Global Citizen

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Sasha Charnanoh was airlifted from Belarus to Ireland in 1995 to receive life-saving heart surgery in the Mercy Hospital in Cork and Crumlin Hospital in Dublin. He was flown to New York in November 2015 to present our voluntary CEO and founder Adi Roche with the Alumni Award from World of Children Awards. Sasha told the story of how Adi and CCI saved his life and the lives of three other children who were evacuated with him in 1995.

“I was young, only six or seven, I was seriously ill…I remember being in the hospital with my friend Vitaly and we ran after Adi and asked her to take us to Ireland that if she didn’t we would die. We watched her leave, we didn’t know she would come back for us, we didn’t know she was the woman who would save our lives”, Sasha said.
Adi organised a plane funded for by Icelandic donors to fly into Belarus in 1995 and fly four critical ill children to Ireland for life saving cardiac surgery, Sasha was one of those children.

“I remember wearing an oxygen mask on the plane for the entire flight because I was so weak. I had no mamma and papa with me, I was terrified and alone but I eventually took refuge in the arms of Adi and slept on her lap for the rest of the journey taking comfort in the fact I was no longer alone, she has saved so many of us”, he added. “Even though I was a child, I knew it was a desperate effort to save my life and the lives of the other three children”.
As we approach the 31st Anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster and the inaugural "International Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day" as designated by the United Nations on 26th April we reaffirm our commitment to the children of Chernobyl. Children are every nation’s treasure; they are our investment in the future.



Via Chernobyl Children International


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AGRICULTURE Surviving on Sand


9 January 2017 1:01PM UTC  | By: GUEST BLOGGER
JOIN Join the fight against Extreme Poverty

In partnership with One Acre Fund, ONE will follow a small community called Luucho in Western Kenya through the agricultural season.

A sense of anxiety looms large in Luucho village. A months-long drought wiped out more than half of the village’s crops, leaving many homes in desperate need of food.

DSC0337-1024x680.jpgLike most villages in western Kenya, Luucho plants two times a year. Farmers who lost their crops during the first season, when rains failed to arrive between May and June, banked their hopes on the second harvest. But another wave of drought has struck again since last October, dashing all their expectations. Now, withering plants covered in brown dust dance lazily in the light wind, thirsting for the return of rain. There is not much hope to save them – farmers normally harvest their second-season crops in December, and the damage has already been done.

“This has been the strangest year of my life,” says Mary Nekesa, a 55-year-old mother of five. “I depend on farming, but now how am I going to feed my family?”DSC0411-1024x743.jpgAt the start of the season, Mary had huge expectations. She planted a half-acre plot of maize, and like in the past, she hoped to harvest at least 12 bags of grain. Thinking she’d have plenty of food for her family, she had even planned to sell a few extra bags of maize to buy a dairy cow, which she had been longing after for years. But because of the drought, she only harvested two bags—hardly enough to feed her children for two months, let alone buy a cow.

On this morning, Mary is standing in the shallows of Khalaba River, half a mile away from her home. The Khalaba flows between two deeply eroded banks covered in thick vegetation. It’s a tributary to the River Nzoia, which pours its waters into Lake Victoria. The river is Mary’s last lifeline. She swings a small bucket in and out of the water, spewing a blast of wet sand on the river bank with each wave.

“I couldn’t sit and watch my children starve,” Mary says. “The only other way I could provide food for them is by harvesting sand.”


Sand is used for all kinds of things in Kenya’s construction industry, including making bricks and concrete to build houses, bridges, and roads. Drawing sand from the river is backbreaking work for Mary, who needs to fill up a whole truck in order to find customers. She usually sells each load to a middleman for a throw-away price of $10. It’s a lucrative business, but not for Mary. Those middlemen can resell what she has collected for $40 to $50 per truckload.


Harvesting sand is a difficult job, especially in drought. During the rainy season, the waters usually swell up and sweep sand down the river, so that it only takes about a day to draw enough out to fill a truck. With this year’s dry weather, it now takes Mary three days, working from morning until evening.


“I’m not able to sleep much nowadays,” says Mary, who rises as early as 3 a.m. each day, because the thought of her hungry children disturbs her sleep. “Every evening at dinner, I sit and watch as my children eat. The thought that if I don’t work harder the following day my children might sleep hungry fills me with fear. I will do anything to make sure my children have food.”

Sand harvesting is an activity mostly carried out by men, and as the only female sand harvester in Luucho, Mary has raised mixed reactions in the village. While some men respect her courage and strength, others feel she is competing for a man’s job, or that her body will soon fail from exertion. However, most women in Luucho are motivated by Mary’s willingness to take up this kind of work.


“We were all shocked when we saw Mary harvesting sand. She is like a man!” says Felistus Nanjala, Mary’s friend and neighbour. “I feel very encouraged by her commitment to take up this work in order to take care of her family.”

Mary says she won’t stop her work, even when the rains return. With her children in school, she is in need of money all year round, and she hopes her new job will provide enough to supplement her income from farming.


After a full day at the river, Mary walks along a narrow dirt path to her home. She picks up a hoe and starts clearing weeds from her farm. Although it is still some time before her next planting season, Mary wants to be ready when the next drop of rain lands in Luucho.

One Acre Fund supplies smallholder farmers with the financing and training they need to grow their way out of hunger and poverty. Instead of giving handouts, they invest in farmers to generate a permanent gain in farm income. One Acre Fund provides a complete service bundle of seeds and fertiliser, financing, training, and market facilitation—and delivers these services within walking distance of the 400,000 rural farmers they serve. They measure success in their ability to make farmers more prosperous and they always put Farmers First.



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For anyone interested in reading some of the fantastic papers given at the ISME 32nd World Conference in Glasgow last July, the full transcripts can be found through this link. Definitely well worth a look!




Via Music Generation

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Via Global Citizen

CITIZENSHIP This is your brain on poverty: 5 facts

By Kathleen Ebbitt|

 June 16, 2015
computed.jpg__1500x670_q85_crop_subsamplPhoto: Wiki commons

I just graduated with my masters degree, lots of aspirations, and my fair share of debt. I live in New York City, and I am trying to do what many think is the impossible - make a living as a writer. I mention this personal anecdote not to claim poverty (I am incredibly fortunate not to face that problem currently), but rather because I have new financial stresses that weren’t present a month ago - and it’s frying my mental bandwidth (as someone who generally NEVER forgets things like her cell-phone, keys, etc… I have been a total space cadet).

It’s a no brainer (ha) that stress makes us get a bit loopy - but a recent study has proven that poverty is a causal factor (as opposed to being merely correlational) in debilitating medical conditions that make people unable to think, de-stress, and sparking issues with mood instability (all behavioral consequences that exacerbate poverty - leaving the poor trapped in a vicious cycle).

So, what preciously are poverty’s effects on the brain? Allow me to break it down.

1. Lack of money affects our cognition


Photo: Wiki Commons | Money, money, money

This finding, based on data from Princeton psychologists Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir, makes sense. When we are stressing about our money, time, our love lives, whatever - we are less able to make wise decisions (I certainly know this from personal experience!). This affects wealthier and poorer people alike; but the difference is that poorer individuals face financial scarcity more often - and have a much smaller margin of error in navigating tricky financial situations.

Think about it - if you have money, making sure that your bills are paid isn’t fun, but it doesn’t impact your cognition or dramatically increase your stress level.

A study conducted by Mullainathan and Shafir illustrated how financial stress can impact cognitive function. In a New Jersey mall, the two researchers tested IQ - but before the test was administered, all the respondents were given a prompt that included a couple of questions involving finances, for instance: “Imagine you’ve got car trouble and repairs cost $300. Your auto insurance will cover half the cost. You need to decide whether to go ahead and get the car fixed, or take a chance and hope that it lasts for a while longer. How would you make this decision? Financially, would it be easy or hard?

While both wealthier and poorer participants (defined by self-reported income) did equally well on the IQ test, when the researchers bumped up the cost of the repair of the car to $3000 dollars, suddenly poor participants’ IQ performance dropped by a dramatic 14 points - while the wealthier participants scores stayed at the same level.

2.) Everyday hardships have a substantially bigger effect on the poor than the wealthy - which causes neurobiological changes


Photo:  Michael HuniWeitz/Flickr | Children in Delhi

Rich or poor - sometimes life can be plain annoying. Regardless of who we are, most people deal with being overscheduled, or needing to get something expensive fixed, or having a ridiculous amount of work or schoolwork. But if an individual has financial resources - there is more flexibility. For instance, wealthier individuals can afford to be late to a meeting without facing being fired, or can hire someone as a tutor if a school subject becomes overwhelming. But for poorer individuals, cognitive bandwidth is often impacted by the stress of scarcity - meaning that the small annoyances the we all face have a substantially larger impact. For the poor, lack of resources mean that the margin of error for making mistakes is much smaller than those who have more financial security.

3.) It’s not just adults… poverty affects lower-income children in larger ways, too


Photo: Wiki Commons | A young girl playing with colored circles during neurotesting

This finding made me pause... But upon reading further reading into the the journal Nature Neuroscience report, I began to understand. Wealthier children have more social help, better nutrition and access to education, and thus, fare far better than peers who lack similar resources. Further, the study conducted by University of Southern California indicates the distinction between wealthier and poorer children were seen most significantly in the areas of the brain that supports language and reading, and executive functions like memory, spatial skills, and decision-making. Says the study’s co-author Elizabeth Sowell, “We found that the relationship between brain (structure) and family income impacted kids’ cognitive functioning.”

4.) The brain surface area of wealthier and poorer children look different


Photo: Wiki Commons | Mmmm.. peanut butter. It's tasty and good for you!

The University of Southern California compared the brain surface area of children from wealthier and poorer families - studying difference both through brain scans and cognitive tests. Large variations were observed in the brain surface area of children from the lowest and highest income levels measures - with striking disparities between income groups at the lower end of the scale. For example, there was considerably more difference in results between kids from families earning either $30,000 or $50,000 per year, than those earning between $90,000 to $110,000 yearly.

5.) Alright - so poverty affects the brain, but what can be done?


Photo: Wiki Commons | The human brain

Despite how alarming the results of the tests conducted by both the University of Southern California and Mullainathan and Shafir, both of the researcher teams stressed that solutions lay within reach - and that increasing the kind of school lunches kids are getting from an earlier age, practicing teaching, and addressing the systematic entrenchment of poverty can help to wire the brain in a way that it is not being overly taxed by stress.

At the end of the day - what we, global citizens, really need to internalize and communicate to others is this: individuals live in poverty not out of personal failing, but rather systemic social and institutional issues that keep people poor. And those systems have impact not just on external structures, but can impact us internally. As a society and a world we need to look at scarcity of resources - and figure out how to fix poverty. No one should be so stressed out about getting food, paying rent, and having basic necessities that their cognitive functioning is impacted!

Share your thoughts on these findings in the comments below. I am curious to hear your commentary, critique, and opinions on the neurobiological consequences of poverty!


Written by Kathleen Ebbitt


Kathleen Ebbitt is a freelance writer with Global Citizen. Living in NYC, she is an activist, MSW, and is angst-ridden, despite being an eternal optimist.

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