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1058 EDUCATION How soccer is changing the lives of girls in Kenya February 23 2017 | By: MEGAN IACOBINI DE FAZIO GIRLS COUNT Every gi

238 WATER AND SANITATION How the Ebola outbreak spurred improved access to running water in Liberia 16 November 2018 1:35PM UTC | By: WOMEN'S ADVANCEMENT DEEPLY

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FOOD AND NUTRITION 6 organizations working to fight famine


April 20 2017  | By: RACHEL TILLMAN
TAKE ACTION The President's proposed budget cuts would drastically cut food aid in the middle of a famine.

Now more than ever, every senator and representative should hear from constituents like YOU about the importance of funding life-saving programs.


A famine has been declared in South Sudan for two months now — the first time such an event has been announced anywhere in the world in the past six years. Nearly 100,000 people face starvation. Meanwhile, the people of Somalia, Nigeria, and Yemen are on the brink of famine as well, with nearly 20 million people total lacking access to enough food and water to survive.

This is a humanitarian crisis of catastrophic proportions. But there are many organizations working to help the people affected by famine receive the nutrients they deserve. Here are a few of the organizations working to fight this crisis:

United Nations World Food Programme

World Food Programme (WFP) is the leading global organization fighting hunger and organizing logistics in humanitarian emergencies. Many organizations working on the ground in hunger emergencies actually work for WFP.  They deliver food assistance and work with communities to improve nutrition. Already in 2017, World Food Programme has provided food distributions and digital cash cards to nearly a million people in Somalia, and is in the process of raising $1.5 billion to combat food insecurity in Nigeria.

On April 12, WFP announced its plans for emergency operations in Yemen: To provide food assistance to nearly seven million people classified as severely food insecure; secure nutrition support to prevent or treat malnutrition among 2.2 million children; and assist breastfeeding and pregnant mothers with specialized nutritious foods. You can click here to see and share their appeal for food access, and here to read their joint statement with the United Nations Childrens’ Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization on famine in South Sudan.


UNICEF operates across 190 countries and territories, advocating specifically with and for children through fundraising, advocacy, and education. UNICEF has outlined a three-pronged approach responding to the food crises in Africa: to aid 13.1 million children suffering from famine conditions in these four countries, to treat 1 million children under the age of 5 for serious acute malnutrition, and to raise $712 million in 2017 to fund these projects. UNICEF has been a leader in bringing direct and innovative solutions to food crises in the region, like their ready-to-use therapeutic food initiative in South Sudan.

Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps is an organization that aims to “alleviate suffering, poverty, and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities.” Their mission is to increase accountability and participation within their partner countries by providing not only aid and supplies but on-the-ground assistance as well. They’re all about working from within to create change! Right now, Mercy Corps has members on the ground in Africa to help families get the food, water, and supplies they need in order to survive. Click here to find out more.

Action Against Hunger

Action Against Hunger is a global humanitarian organization that targets both the causes and effects of hunger. Their primary target areas are Nutrition & Health, Water & Sanitation, and Food Security & Livelihoods. They also have an Emergency Response branch, which evaluates crises in order to best serve the affected communities. Currently, they have a program focused specifically on the impending famine in Somalia, as well as a broader campaign targeting famine in South Sudan, Yemen, and Nigeria.


CARE works across multiple platforms around the world to defeat poverty and empower communities. They have projects in 94 countries and reach over 80 million people through their work! This past March, CARE denounced the proposed budget cuts to foreign aid, as it would directly affect more than 20 million people already facing famine conditions in Africa. Find out more about their message and their efforts to end global hunger here.


For more than 70 years, Oxfam has been working to end poverty by tackling issues that keep people poor: inequality, discrimination, and unequal access to resources. They work with local and national organizations to help communities facilitate the change they want to see. Oxfam is launching a huge effort to reach people facing hunger crises in Ethiopia, Yemen, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Kenya through food vouchers, direct access to clean water, and sanitation services. Oxfam has opportunities for you to take action through letters, volunteering, hosting an event, responding to emergencies, and more! Click here to find out about how Oxfam is working to end hunger and famine.

The President's proposed budget cuts would drastically cut food aid in the middle of a famine.

Now more than ever, every senator and representative should hear from constituents like YOU about the importance of funding life-saving programs.

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These journalists are making a difference in the world

May 3 2017 | By: RACHEL TILLMAN


Join the fight against extreme poverty


Many journalists educate and inform the public, but some go above and beyond the call of duty. Some amazing journalists from around the world have helped the fight against poverty along with their powerful words and inspiring stories. Below is a list of journalists — many of whom have worked in or written about Africa — whose words and work are making a big difference:

Chika Oduah

Nigerian journalist Chika Oduah

Photo credit: Silvia Varela ES / Wikimedia Commons

Chika Oduah is a Nigerian-American journalist who works as a television news producer, writer, photographer and correspondent for Al Jazeera. She’s known for stories that focus on human subjects. Oduah is best known for her coverage of the 2014 kidnapping of 276 Chibok schoolgirls by Boko Haram, when she was one of the first international journalists to arrive at the scene. Her intensely personal stories of the affected families helped her to win the 2014 Trust Women “Journalist of the Year” award. Since then, Oduah has focused on the influence of Boko Haram in Northeastern Nigeria. Her compelling stories focus mainly on the plight of women, children, and orphans.

Sam Loewenberg

Journalist Sam Loewenberg

Photo credit: @samloewenberg/Twitter

Sam Loewenberg has had one of the longest global health beats in the world. His work has appeared in a variety of sources, including The Economist, The New York Times, The Guardian, Time, Newsweek, Forbes, The Washington Post, Slate, Salon, and more. Loewenberg was one of the first journalists to cover the catastrophic levels of arsenic on the Bangladeshi-Indian border, and continued to cover the story by examining groups who proposed innovative solutions to the problem. Loewenberg was a lead reporter in Somalia during the 2011 famine, and his personal stories highlighted the global injustice of how famines are labeled and why they are not prevented.

Lauren Wolfe

Lauren Wolfe is currently a columnist at Foreign Policy magazine, and her work has appeared in publications from The Atlantic to the New York Times. She’s also on the advisory committee of the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict. Additionally, she’s the director for Women Under Siege, a program founded by Gloria Steinem to investigate gender-based violence. Wolfe has been reporting on women’s issues for the majority of her career, and her journalism has had profound effects on the communities she writes about. In one case, Wolfe reported on a war crime in Eastern Congo. Hours later, the perpetrators were arrested.

Hamza Mohamed

Journalist Hamza Mohamed

Photo credit: @Hamza_Africa/Twitter

A former BBC correspondent, Hamza Mohamed is a British journalist who works for Al Jazeera Britain, with a special focus on sub-Saharan Africa. In 2016, Mohamed was captured by Somali security agents while on assignment in Mogadishu and released after being questioned. His stories for Al Jazeera often focus on human rights issues, and he has been vocal about crises in places like South Sudan. Perhaps Mohamed’s most unique storytelling asset is his Twitter account, where he recently celebrated a couple in Somalia who, instead of throwing a wedding party, donated their funds to Somali drought victims.

Nicholas Kristof

NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof

Photo credit: Monika Flueckiger/World Economic Forum

Kristof’s main work is as a journalist, author, op-ed columnist, photographer, and CNN contributor. A long time correspondent for the New York Times, he won two Pulitzer Prizes for his coverage of Tiananmen Square and the genocide in Darfur. He was a finalist for the Pulitzer in both 2004 and 2005. Through his writing, Kristof often attempts to give voice to people who otherwise would not be heard, and to ensure honesty and accuracy in all of his work. Archbishop Desmond Tutu has commended Kristof for work that shines the spotlight on neglected conflicts in Africa.



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43 senators are speaking out against President Trump’s proposed cuts to aid

April 27 2017 | By: SAMANTHA URBAN


Stop President Trump’s proposed cuts to foreign aid


We’ve told you about the military leaders, faith leaders, and politicians who have been speaking out against President Trump’s proposed cuts to foreign aid. But now there’s an even bigger group of political names on the list: 43 senators, in fact!

That’s right — 43 senators have signed a bipartisan letter that urges against those proposed cuts. The senators, led by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) and Sen. Todd Young (R-Indiana), addressed the letter to budget and appropriations committee leaders.


Senators Young (left) and Durbin.

“At a time when we face multiple national security challenges around the world, deep cuts in this area would be shortsighted, counterproductive and even dangerous,” the group of both Republicans and Democrats wrote.

The letter mentions retired general and former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s emphasis on the importance of a funded International Affairs Budget to effective diplomacy. The letter also quotes Secretary of Defense James Mattis: “If you don’t fully fund the State Department, then I need to buy more ammunition.”

“Deep cuts to the International Affairs Budget would undermine our country’s economic and national security interests, as well as the humanitarian and democratic principles we support.”

Stop President Trump’s proposed cuts to foreign aid

Dear Congress, Please oppose President Trump’s proposed cuts - nearly ⅓ - to life-saving programs in the International Affairs Budget.



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How soccer is changing the lives of girls in Kenya

February 23 2017 | By: MEGAN IACOBINI DE FAZIO


Every girl counts.

130 million girls don’t have access to an education. So we’re asking the world to count them, one by one.


“Discovering football is the best thing that ever happened to me,” says Claris Akinyi, sitting behind her tidy desk in the principal’s office in Kibera Girls Soccer Academy (KGSA).

When she was 11, Claris spent her days looking after her sick mother and helping run her family’s boiled maize stand. When she became a member of the Kibera Girls soccer team, her life changed overnight.


“I used to stay indoors all the time, but the soccer team gave me the opportunity to go out and meet people,” she says. “We also got to watch videos about sex education, so I became very aware of issues like early pregnancies and gender-based violence, which are common here. Soccer helped me stay focused.”

Set up by Abdul Kassim in 2002, KGSA occupies a small plot of land in the heart of Kibera, one of the biggest slums in Kenya. It has since grown from a soccer academy into a successful tuition-free secondary school.

Abdul, who was born in Kibera and brought up by a single mother, started the academy to address the gender disparities he had observed growing up.

“I noticed that the girls were finishing primary school and then doing nothing,” he says. “They were being married off at very young ages and pregnancies were rampant. So I used soccer to engage them, and to send a message about gender equality to the Kibera community.”


But early on in the program, as the girls finished primary school, they began dropping out of the club.

“I wanted to know why, so I went to their houses to talk to them,” says Abdul. “Most could not afford high school, and many had left their homes because of family problems or were married off.”

Spurred on by what he saw — and encouraged by many of the girls in the soccer club — Abdul decided to turn the soccer program into a free high school for girls, so that they could finish their education and fulfill their potential.

“When the school started, some of the girls who were in the original football club decided to go back and finish their studies, even though they were already in their 20s,” says Claris, who had already gone on to graduate high school. Claris also returned to KSGA, but as a teacher.


Claris, sitting at her desk at KGSA.

“When I finished school, I knew I wanted to give back to the community, so I became a volunteer teacher,” she says. “It was a great feeling to be teaching some of my old teammates.”

After three years of volunteering at the school, KGSA supported Claris through university, where she studied education and counselling. Now, as a fully-registered educator and KGSA’s head teacher, she continues to support the girls in her community. She’s also been able to buy land and build a house for her mother.

“I feel like giving back is very important,” she says. “That’s why I am still here.”


It is with the determination and goodwill of Claris, Abdul, and other dedicated staff members that the school continues to grow, and has earned international recognition for its creative approach to education.

“We wanted to provide a mechanism for girls to explore their interests and develop skills for their adult life,” says Abdul, talking about the various life-skills classes and extracurricular activities offered by the school, which include journalism, business, and computer classes.

And, of course, soccer – and sports, generally – is still a main focus at KGSA.

In addition to being a member of several of KGSA’s after-school vcubs, 18-year-old Khadija Ishikara plays on the soccer team that won a league trophy last year.


“Soccer is my favorite hobby, because it keeps me active and fit,” she says.

Khadija’s mother still thinks it’s strange for girls to play football, but she is growing increasingly supportive of her daughter’s choice of sport. As for Khadija, it’s hard to imagine her giving up soccer anytime soon: “Anyway,” she says with a wry smile, “anything boys do, girls can do better.”



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NairoBits: Empowering young women to succeed in Africa’s Silicon Savannah

19 April 2017 10:59AM UTC | By: GUEST BLOGGER


All girls count.


Story and photos by Katie G. Nelson

For the tech-savvy team at NairoBits, empowering young women in Kenya’s poorest slums isn’t just about teaching new skills. It’s about using technology to help women and girls achieve success in Africa’s Silicon Savannah.

The East African country of Kenya contains some of the most densely populated and poorest informal settlements—or slums—in the world. For the last 17 years, the Kenya-based nonprofit NairoBits has equipped young people living in informal settlements with cutting-edge computer skills and individualized mentorships, successfully connecting hundreds of graduates to careers in information technology and small business development.


A classroom at NairoBits.

At the forefront of their mission to improve the social and economic capital of young Kenyans is a new, gender-specific mission focused on women and girls.

“A lot of people think such problems are only found in rural areas, but there are these people who have been forgotten—people who really struggle to make ends meet,” says Rukia Sebit, Program Manager at NairoBits. “When you look at poverty, you see that women are the most affected—that they bear the biggest burden.”

And she would know. Both Sebit and NairoBits Project Coordinator Miriam Wambui grew up in informal settlements, experiences they say help guide NairoBits’ information and communications technology (ICT) programs.


Participants pose in front of an informal settlement for a #PledgeForParity photo.

“I think we are in a better place to implement the program because we understand what it’s like to live today and not know what you will wake up to tomorrow,” says Sebit.

“We really understand these challenges,” Wambui adds. “It molded us into who we are today.”

Now in their second year, NairoBits girls’ centers provide three levels of coding, web design, and development classes to girls ages 14 to 24—many of whom have been left out of traditional educational or employment opportunities, according to Sebit.

By learning high-level marketable computer technology skills, students will be able to join higher paying job markets and thus bring them out of poverty.


“ICT is an enabler—a stepping stone to get employed,” Sebit says. “We’re using it as a tool for change and growth in the community.”

Sebit and Wambui say NairoBits launched gender-specific tech hubs in Kibera and Korogocho after noticing that girls were dropping out of classes earlier—and more often—than their male counterparts.

“When training both boys and girls in a tech environment, you find that women will drop first,” Sebit says. “There’s this concept that boys are better and that girls are supposed to be submissive and boys, dominant. (Girls) feel belittled and they tend to give up because they think ICT is a boy thing.”

Wambui says the added burden of unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases also puts girls more at risk.

“One of the challenges is getting pregnant at an early age. We have girls that come to the centers and they’re young mothers and not always 100 percent committed,” says Wambui. “So we have girls who drop out of the training.”

Instead of overlooking the needs of vulnerable girls, NairoBits chose to address them head-on by adding reproductive health education to their computer-centered curriculum.

“It was a decision (to teach reproductive health education) because if you want to train someone for the job you have to look at them wholly—not just the job skills, but how they retain their jobs,” says Sebit.

“We want to make sure that a girl is getting support from different places, not just the system,” adds Wambui.

NairoBits also links female patients to reputable—and affordable—health facilities in the area, and provides complimentary female hygiene products to girls who are unable to afford them.

But while teaching tangible work skills and entrepreneurship is important, Sebit and Miriam Wambui say true success is achieved by helping students develop mindsets to dream bigger and broader in the face of adversity.


Rukia Sebit and Miriam Wambui of NairoBits.

“At the end of the day, the training is more of a mindset. (A mindset) of not feeling sorry for themselves or where they come from, but to make themselves better,” says Wambui.

“Changing the lives of the persons we’re working with and seeing their faces … it’s priceless,” she adds.



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My Music Generation Story – Cliona Mahon

My Music Generation Story – Cliona Mahon

Name: Cliona Mahon
Age: 13
From: Co. Laois

What instrument do you play?
I play the harp. It's a beautiful instrument and I've been playing for five years now, which is something that I'm really proud of.

How did you get involved with Music Generation?
Music Generation Laois introduced harp lessons to our school when I was 3rd class in primary school. I was one of many students interested in learning the harp, and luckily for me I was one of the people who got a place in a group for lessons. Every Thursday each group would go down to the 'Harp Room', where we would learn a new song and revise the previous weeks song with our teacher Claire O'Donnell for half an hour. After our first year of learning harp, we were introduced to our new teacher, Siobhan Buckley. We all still get on great with Siobhan!

What do you like most about Music Generation?
I like the fact that we all get a chance to ask for help with a particular piece we may be struggling with, and I also like how we get the opportunity to go on lovely trips, to attend concerts and sometimes perform at them.

Can you tell us a little more about the concerts/events you’ve performed at? What was that like?
I have performed at many concerts and events in the past five years; too many to mention! I love performing both alone and with my fellow harpists. For the past number of years we have attended the Turlough O'Carolan Harp Festival in Nobber, Co. Meath. Another highlight was having Scottish harpist Catriona McKay over to teach us a composition she wrote for the Senior Harp Ensemble called, Rising of the Harps. We performed this piece for the first time last year, after learning it over a few weeks. We know this piece so well that we still perform it at nearly every concert we play in.

This year, for the first time ever, we flew to Scotland to take part in the week long Edinburgh Harp Festival. We left for Scotland on Friday the 31st of March and returned to Ireland on Wednesday the 5th of April. During our week over in Scotland, we enjoyed a packed schedule of harp workshops every day, and we attended two concerts and a ceilidh on campus. Each day, once the final workshop was finished, we carried our harps back to our accommodation and had the rest of the evening to ourselves. While we were in the city we did a tour of the Edinburgh Dungeons and went to the cinema to see the new Disney film 'Beauty and the Beast'.

All in all it was great experience not just for me, but for everyone who went. We had a great time with our friends, and of course with Rosa, Sinead and Siobhan, who were the best craic.

What does music mean to you?
Not only has playing the harp become such a big part in my life over the past five years, but music in general means something to me. I think that humans need music to express how we feel, to speak our minds, to prove a point. Music isn't just a word, it's a feeling. Music is beautiful, it's crazy, it's heartbreaking, it's joyful, and it makes you feel emotions. “Where words fail music speaks" - Hans Christian Andersen.

What music are you listening to at the moment?
At the moment I am listening to mainly pop music. Some of my favourites include:

Love Like This – Kodaline
Symphony – Clean Bandit & Zara Larsson
Superficial Love – Ruth B
Barcelona – Ed Sheeran
Hearts Don't Break Around Here – Ed Sheeran
Changeling – The Riptide Movement

My favourite musicians include; Ed Sheeran, Beyoncé, Ruth B, Gavin James, Kodaline and Emeli Sande.


Would you like to be involved in music in the future?
Yes I would absolutely love to be involved in music in the future and for the rest of my life! In the future I would love to able to teach people harp, or perhaps a different instrument, who knows! 

I would love to become even better at the harp, complete all grade exams and maybe even start learning a new instrument! But, for the time being, I'm okay with just harping it out ☺

What advice would you give to someone thinking about getting involved with Music Generation?
Like the way the Nike slogan goes, JUST DO IT!!!! If you're really interested in learning an instrument or getting singing lessons or something along those lines, definitely go for it. Before I got involved with Music Generation, never in a million years would I ever have even thought about starting to learn the harp. Now I couldn't imagine what my life would be like if I hadn't started those harp lessons in 3rd class.

If it wasn't for Music Generation I wouldn't be playing harp, I wouldn't have met the people I now call friends, and I wouldn't love music as much as I do. Look at it this way, it's a choice. It's your choice. And in my opinion it is one of the most brilliant choices I've ever made.

For more information about the harp programme and other initiatives at Music Generation Laois, contact:

Music Generation Laois, Laois County Council, Áras an Chontae, Portlaoise, County Laois    
t: +353 57 8664176
e: musicgenerationlaois@laoiscoco.ie
w: musicgenerationlaois.ie

About Music Generation Laois
Music Generation Laois is a performance music education programme which provides access to high quality performance music education at subsidised costs to children and young people in their own area. It is part of Music Generation, Ireland’s national music education programme, and is co-funded by U2, The Ireland Funds, the Department of Education and Skills, Laois County Council (lead partner), Laois-Offaly ETB and Laois Partnership Company.

Via Music Generation

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How Motherhood Changed Zoe Saldana

Global Citizen  ⋅  Today

Every time you ‘like’ and share this post, Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 (per social action), up to $500,000, via the Global Moms Relay to help improve the health and well-being of families worldwide in support of Shot@Life, UNFPA, Girl Up, UNICEF USA and Nothing But Nets.

A Q&A with Zoe Saldana

What do you wish were true for every family, everywhere?

My wish for every child and every global citizen is that they have medical aid accessible to them. That's what I wish for children and people all over the world.

Why did you become a global advocate for Shot@Life?

To be public figures, not only do we have the ability to entertain our audience and our followers, but we also have the ability to inform them on causes and organizations that need attention, encouragement and support. This is especially true when these organizations are providing aid and care for women and children around the world who don't have it accessible to them.

How has becoming a mother changed your outlook on life?

Now that I'm a mother, the fear of one of my children being afflicted by a vaccine preventable disease is daunting. To know that so many parents and families don't have that kind of ability to provide good healthcare for their children keeps me up at night. Because I don't just want my children to benefit from all the things that I can provide for them, I would like to help other families do so for their children as well.

You share, they give: Each time you ‘like’ or share this post via the social media icons on this post, or comment below, Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 (per social action), up to $500,000 divided equally between Shot@Life, UNFPA, Girl Up, UNICEF USA and Nothing But Nets. The Global Moms Relay was created by the United Nations Foundation and Johnson & Johnson with support from BabyCenter, Fatherly, Global Citizen and Charity Miles to help improve the lives of families around the globe. Share this post with the hashtags #GlobalMoms and #JNJ, and visit GlobalMomsRelay.org to learn more.

You can also use the Donate A Photo* app and Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 up to $40,000 per cause when you upload a photo for Shot@Life, UNFPA, Girl Up, UNICEF USA or Nothing But Nets, to a maximum total of $200,000. You can help make a difference in seconds with the click of your mouse or snap of your smart phone.

* via the Donate A Photo app for iOS and Android. Johnson & Johnson has curated a list of trusted causes, and you can donate a photo to one cause, once a day. Each cause will appear in the app until it reaches its goal, or the donation period ends. If the goal isn’t reached, the cause will still get a minimum donation.





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