Posts Tagged ‘JEWISH WORLD WATCH’

THE NEW SOCIAL JUSTICE GAME CHANGERS

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

 

 

 

 

THE NEW SOCIAL JUSTICE GAME-CHANGERS:


TWELVE SMALL ORGANIZATIONS AND FOUR INDIVIDUALS 


WHO ARE CHANGING THE WORLD


 


What a difference four years makes!

 Back in February of 2008 when I first conceived Action Now Network, the geopolitical forces of the world seemed wildly out of control, and I as a responsible global citizen, felt a serious weight on my shoulders.  I had already become an active supporter and Board member of Jewish World Watch a leading voice in the fight against genocides that occur in our lifetime.  But most of the world seemed either apathetic or bewildered, uncertain as to what impact they could have, if any, in the grand scheme – and far more interested in the goings-on of their own lives than in making the world right. 

Don’t get me wrong –It’s not that there weren’t plenty of venerable organizations out there that were doing great work – there were.    But the public consciousness had not truly awakened to social justice issues as national –or personal priorities.  Woody Allen brilliantly described our state of mind in this famous clip from Annie Hall:
 
 




When I finally launched in 2010, (hoping to move readers beyond a Woody Allen frame of mind), I wrote the following statement as the lead-in to the website’s raison d’etre, which was (and is) to inspire readers to take action in defense of a planet that seemed about to implode:
 
 “…. our planet is in trouble: perilous geopolitical tensions, global warming and the destruction of our environment, flagrant and egregious acts of cruelty inflicted by humans upon fellow humans and animals alike, hunger, poverty and homelessness, absent or woefully inadequate health care– the list goes on and on. For most of us, it is mind-numbing to think of what needs to be done to make even a small impact, let alone to solve the overwhelming problems of the world.”

The bad news is that four years later, the paragraph above still rings true.  But the good news is that there is an important difference now.   The internet and social media have changed our perception of what is possible – they have empowered us to believe that we can make a difference.    Our personal worlds, to borrow Woody's image, have expanded, but in a good way.  Organizations, new and old have a visibility and reach that has never before been possible.  Not only are we more aware and more willing to become engaged, but we are more optimistic about our ability to make an impact.  There is a peak energy in knowing that we are in this together and that we are working toward a reachable goal.

And it's not only the large, well funded organizations and foundations that have found new and far-reaching audiences.  In the last few years, dozens of smaller groups and individuals, as well, have entered the "social good" radar.   These are the real game changers:  In most cases, on shoestring budgets, these smart, committed visionaries are making a quantum difference in the lives of people, animals and the environment, AND they are educating us at the same time.  (With apologies to Woody's screen mother), they have made it very much our business, to get excited and involved.  
 
So, with these thoughts in mind, I have spotlighted 12 small organizations and 4 individuals who have broken the "impact barrier": they are making an immeasurable change in the lives of people, the environment and the future of our planet.  To be sure, this is not an exhaustive list, but an Action Now+Network inaugural group representing some of the best and the brightest out there, who with great determination and humanity are changing the world.  –ED 



 ORGANIZATIONS BY CATEGORY
(CLICK ON ORGANIZATION TO GO DIRECTLY TO DETAIL)
 
 
ACCESS TO EDUCATION
 
DREAM A WORLD EDUCATION, INC.  Opening the world of possibility for our youngest school children.
 
INCENTIVE MENTORING PROGRAMCreating a revolutionary family-style support system to usher at-risk youth through high school and college

SAVONG FOUNDATION (THE)Bringing education and community health services to the people of rural Cambodia.

 

FEEDING THE HUNGRY

TAGUM CITY FOOD BANK, Feeding the malnourished children of Mindanao, Philippines.
 

 

HUMAN RIGHTS 
 
BEYOND DIFFERENCESCreating a movement in which teen social isolation becomes a thing of the past.
 
DARFUR UNITED, Bringing hope to survivors of the Darfur genocide.
 
SOLAR COOKER PROJECT (THE), Protecting and empowering the women and girls of Darfur

 
CLIMATE CHANGE AND GLOBAL WARMING
 
MIT CLIMATE COLAB, An ingenious crowdsource system to elicit innovative solutions to climate change.
 
SANERGY  Two MIT MBA students turn human waste into a sustainable energy resource.
 
TRANSITION U.S.A., Preparing communities for the impact of climate change.
 
 

PEACE BUILDING
 
HAND IN HAND CENTER FOR JEWISH-ARAB EDUCATIONNurturing the next generation of peacemakers in the middle east.
 
NEWGROUND: A MUSLIM-JEWISH PARTNERSHIP FOR CHANGEA bold and brilliant strategy to build working relationships between young professional Muslims and Jews.
 

SOCIAL JUSTICE MEDIA

American University School of Communication, Department of Environmental Filmmaking (see Chris Palmer, below)

 
 

FOUR EXTRAORDINARY INDIVIDUALS
 
 
ANALEE BRODIE, Godsend for homeless animals and for the Los Angeles homeless and low income community who need veterinary care for their companion animals
 
ELLIOT KATZ, DVM, Founder of In Defense of Animals and The Guardian Campaign: creating a seismic shift in the way we view and treat animals — with a goal of eradicating animal cruelty around the globe.

LAURA LEIGHA formidable warrior for our nation's last wild horses
 
CHRIS PALMER, Pulling back the curtain on ethics in wildlife filmmaking
 

 
ALPHABETICAL INDEX: ORGANIZATIONS
 

CREATING A MOVEMENT IN WHICH TEEN SOCIAL ISOLATION

BECOMES A THING OF THE PAST

 

 

Beyond Differences is a student led organization and youth movement that engages middle and high school students, as well as educators and parents, to understand and ultimately to eradicate the sources of social isolation in their communities.   
 
Beyond Differences was founded by Laura Talmus and Ace Smith in memory of and as a tribute to their daughter, Lili Rachel Smith.  Lili was a dynamic and talented young woman born with Apert Syndrome, a rare genetic cranial-facial disorder, characterized by malformation of the skull, face, hands and feet.  Lili’s strength and determination in the face of social challenges at school was an inspiration to her family and to all who knew her. 

THE FACES OF 'BEYOND DIFFERENCES'

 
 
Laura Talmus, Founder and Executive Director
 
Laura Talmus has deep experience in political fundraising and marketing, and has honed her skills both in major Democratic political campaigns and as a consultant to advocacy organizations in the Jewish Community. 
 
In addition to serving as Executive Director of Beyond Differences, she is the Western Regional Director for American Jewish World Service.
 
 
SECRET WEAPON
 
 
Beyond Differences Teen Board of Directors
 
The Teen Board of Directors is a specially selected and trained group of teens who run school assemblies which focus on teen social isolation, why it happens, and how it can be stopped.  Over 3000 kids have participated in the assembly programs since 2010.
 
This year, and additional 40 students joined the movement as members of the Leadership Advocacy Training Program (LATP), which will participate in a year-long curriculum on leadership in their communities as well as starting Beyond Differences Clubs at their schools in order to advocate for social change against isolation. 
 
 
LATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT

“No One Eats Alone”, an initiative of Beyond Differences, has launched with a mission to reverse trends of social isolation by asking students to make sure that no one at their schools has to face eating alone at lunch. 
 
GET INVOLVED!

CONTACT
 

415-256-9095

336 Bon Air Center, #436 Greenbrae, CA 94904


 


 
 

 

BRINGING HOPE TO SURVIVORS OF THE DARFUR GENOCIDE

 

 

Darfur United (a project of i-Actis an all refugee soccer team comprised of Darfuri genocide survivors now living in Eastern Chad, Africa.  i-Act Founder and Executive Director, Gabriel Stauring scoured the twelve existing refugee camps in eastern Chad for the best soccer players to create a team that would compete in the 2012 Viva World Cup Championship in Iraqi Kurdistan.  It has been an emotional and heartwarming journey.  Not only did the members of the team compete for the Viva World Cup, but they have inspired pride and a new joie de vivre within the refugee camps of Chad.

 But even more than that, the team has inspired a movement, “to bring hope, inspiration, and joy to the displaced people of Darfur.”

Supported by the UN High Commission for Refugees, among others, this team has brought the Darfuri refugees out of the shadows of the living, as one refugee put it, back into the world.

THE FACES OF 'DARFUR UNITED'

 

 

Gabriel Stauring
Founder and Executive Director of i-ACT
 

Grassroots activist Gabriel Stauring graduated from California State University at Dominguez Hills with a major in Behavioral Science. He became involved in the Darfur Genocide out of a sense of personal responsibility. He believes in the power of community and compassion, combined with personal empowerment, to bring about meaningful, positive change.  He has visited the refugee camps on the Chad-Darfur border numerous times and has developed long standing and deep relationships with many of the survivors living there.

 

SECRET WEAPONS

Mark Hodson,
Darfur Untied Head Coach (volunteer).

 

 

Alex Nuttall-Smith,
Darfur United Physical Trainer (Volunteer)

 

LATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT

Played in the 2012 Viva World Cup Championship games in Iraqi Kurdistan

 

GET INVOLVED!

DONATE: http://darfurunited.com/support/

FACEBOOK:  http://facebook.com/darfurunited

See also: One Man's Mission to Keep Darfur on the World's Emotional Radar: A Conversation with Gabriel Stauring, Founder of i-Act (Stop Genocide Now)



 

OPENING THE WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES FOR 

OUR YOUNGEST SCHOOL CHILDREN

 
 

 

Dream A World Education, Inc. uses arts education programming to teach critical thinking skills and cultural understanding for children in grades K-2.  It approaches learning on a global level with programs that teach children to better understand the world and the universal principles that join us as a global family.  

The unique Secrets Of The Heart arts residency program for grades K-2, uses music, dance, theatre arts, and visual arts to teach friendship, kindness, imagination, and gratitude, while integrating the arts with language arts, vocabulary, geography, life skills, and values. 

LATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT

Approximately 1700 children have graduated from the Dream A World Education, Inc. programs, all from Title I Schools, with populations that live below the poverty line.


THE FACES OF DREAM A WORLD EDUCATION, INC.
 
 

Bunny Hull, Founder and Executive Director.  
 
Bunny is a Grammy® award-winning songwriter and vocalist who began working with children in 1994. She has created all of all curriculum, original music and is author of the books that are used in Dream A World Education’s programs.
 
 

 
Anindo Marshall, Program Associate.
 
Anindo began her music and dance career in her homeland of Kenya as a vocalist, dancer and percussionist.  Her responsibilities include scheduling, contributing to curriculum, and working as a performing and teaching artist with Secrets Of The Heart and our continuation program, Passport To The Heart.
 
LATEST PROJECTS
 
Since our inception, through our Secrets of the Heart residency programs and followup program, Passport To The Heart, we have served 1706 students in Title I Schools in the Los Angeles area. These are schools with populations that live below the poverty line.

SECRECT WEAPONS
 



Diane Kabat
Vice-President, Board of Directors.  
 
Diane has been instrumental for both marketing and fundraising for Dream A World.  She’s connected us with schools, worked as a photographer, volunteer coordinator, and steps up to the plate regularly to fill any need from helping write text for a flyer to taking a meeting with a school superintendent.  Diane is one of a kind.   

 
 
Dr. Michelle Windmueller
Instructional Director for the Intensive Support and Innovation Center,
Los Angeles Unified School District
 
Dr. Windmueller has naturally evolved into our most valuable talking head. Her knowledge about and belief in our programs and the way she articulates our mission has put a face on what we do from the inside looking out.  
 
 
GET INVOLVED!
 
 
CONTACT
 


 

 
 
NURTURING THE NEXT GENERATION OF PEACEMAKERS 
 
IN THE MIDDLE EAST
 

 

 

Hand in Hand Center for Jewish-Arab Education was created to build partnership and coexistence between Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel through the creation of integrated bilingual schools. Hand in Hand operates three such schools, helped establish a fourth one and is now working to open two additional schools. In total, over 1,000 Arab and Jewish children and youth are enrolled.

Additionally, Hand in Hand carries out a broad array of programs outside of the classroom and works to build "shared communities" of Arabs and Jews. In a context where these two communities have lived in conflict with one another for so long,

Hand in Hand stands out a beacon of hope and optimism.

 

THE FACES OF 'HAND IN HAND CENTER FOR JEWISH-ARAB EDUCATION'

 

Shuli Dichter

Executive Director

 

A long-time civil-society activist in Israel, Shuli Dichter has been involved at a leadership level with progarms and initiatives for Jewish-Arab partnership for over 20 years.  He joined Hand in Hand in January 2011.  Previously, he was the co-executive director of Sikkuy, The Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality, a Jewish-Arab advocacy organization. There he worked to advance equality via government-policy change, municipal cooperation and mobilization of public opinion. His op-ed articles and essays on equality and Arab-Jewish relations are frequently published in Israel and abroad.

 

Dr. Inas Deeb
Education Director

 

Inas Deeb supervises program development, curriculum development and teacher training at Hand in Hand's four schools. She holds an undergraduate degree from Haifa University and advanced education degrees from Hebrew University in Jerusalem and St. Joseph University in Pennsylvania. She holds a Ph.D.from Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv.

Most recently, she worked as a teacher, counselor and language advisor at the Pedagogical Center of East Jerusalem, and has served as an assistant professor and chief research coordinator at Bar-Ilan's Multidisciplinary Brain Research Center.

 

Lee Gordon, Co-Founder, Hand in Hand
Executive Director
American Friends of Hand in Hand
 

Lee Gordon lived in Israel for two decades, where he was actively involved in Jewish-Arab dialogue. Originally from the United States, Lee earned an M.A. in social work from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and graduated from the Mandel Institute's prestigious School for Educational Leadership.

Lee is a veteran social activist and community organizer, having worked and volunteered for numerous educational and community organizations. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and three children, where he builds a network of international support for Hand in Hand.


LATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT

in June of 2012 Hand in Hand graduated its second class of high school students. It is now receiving a major grant from the U.S. government to expand and open new schools in Haifa and Tel Aviv.  In addition, mixed groups of Jewish and Arab parents from numerous towns throughout Israel have approached Hand in Hand interested in building schools in their communities.

GET INVOLVED!

Donations to Hand in Hand in the U.S. are tax-deductible and can be made online through its website (www.handinhandk12.org) or by sending a check payable to Hand in Hand.

CONTACT INFO:

 www.handinhandk12.org

 info@handinhandk12.org

Snail Mail:

Hand in Hand
PO Box 80102
Portland, Oregon 97280

Related articles: , Inching Toward Peace: A Lunch With Two Student Ambassadors From Hand in Hand Center for Jewish-Arab Education


The Award Winning Hand in Hand Center for Jewish-Arab Education: Nurturing the Next Generation of Peacemakers



 
 
INCENTIVE MENTORING PROGRAM
 
A REVOLUTIONARY HOLISTIC  FAMILY STYLE SUPPORT SYSTEM

TO USHER AT-RISK YOUTH THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE

 

 

Incentive Mentoring Program engages underperforming high school students who confront significant barriers outside of the classroom by providing each one with a family of committed volunteers and increased access to community resources. Using a family style model and support system, it fosters students’ academic advancement and personal growth into self-motivated, resilient and responsible citizens.

Latest Accomplishment: 100% of IMP students have received a high school diploma or equivalent degree and have been accepted to college, and over 700 IMP volunteers have gained invaluable leadership experience, professional development, and personal growth.

 

THE FACES OF IMP:

 

Sarah Hemminger, Ph.D.
Co-Founder and CEO
 

Co-Founder Sarah Hemminger has extensive experience in nonprofit management and in the development, expansion, and replication of innovative, paradigm-shifting models of mentoring. She also draws on a deep understanding of the challenges that face students in successfully completing high school and accessing higher education.

In 2010, Sarah received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the Johns Hopkins University.  She received the prestigious Siebel Scholars Award for outstanding work in the field of technology and engineering and has lectured internationally on her work .  

 

 

Tong Zhang, Ph.D.

Chief Operating Officer

 
 

Tong Zhang’s role in IMP has evolved over the years from supervisor and role model, to founding Director of the Technology Service. In 2011, she joined IMP as staff as Chief Innovations Officer, a role in which she recruited, trained and supported Directors to provide programs, services, and infrastructure development for the organization. In her current position as Chief Operating Officer, she is working to codify the IMP model to enable further scaling and replication of the program at future sites.

Zhang received her Ph.D. in Immunology from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

 

Garima Bhatt
Site Director
 

Garima began her work in urban education as an undergraduate in Washington, D.C., where she co-founded D.C. Today…D.C. Tomorrow, an after-school service learning club for high school students in Southeast D.C.  She was responsible for writing and teaching a service learning curriculum; working with partner organizations to set up and chaperone service trips for the students; and facilitating all volunteer trainings. She continued her work in urban education as an elementary school teacher in Baltimore through Teach for America.


Garima has also served as a Baltimore City Mayoral Fellow and she has worked for the Central Office of Baltimore City Public Schools. She holds an MA in Teaching from Johns Hopkins University.
 
 

Marquett Burton
Site Director
 

When working in Juvenile Services in Oakland, California, Marquett Burton became interested in the way young African American males view education and formal employment.  At University of California, Berkeley, he won a George A. Miller scholarship to research the historical development of African American attitudes toward public education, and in addition, he studied the attitude of mainstream hip hop music toward formal and informal work identities.

At IMP, Marquett has played a critical role in establishing a mentoring partnership with Union Baptist Church to provide his students with technological training and resources, college readiness field-trips, mentoring and tutoring.

Marquett holds a Masters in the Arts of Teaching from the Johns Hopkins School of Education and has served as a Mayoral Fellow in the office of the CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools.

 

 

Kathleen Lee, M.D.
Program Director
 

During the past five years, Kathleen Lee's contributions as a volunteer have been critical in IMP's evolution from a student group to a thriving non-profit. As a co-founding Director of the Academic Affairs and SAT Preparation Programs, founding Director of the Health Service, and creator of two annual reports she has exemplified IMP’s core values.

Prior to joining IMP, Kathleen served as the Coordinator of the Princeton University – GetSET Program, an after-school program for elementary school students in Trenton, NJ.

Kathleen has a medical degree from Johns Hopkins University, and has received numerous awards for her service to the community. 

 

SECRET WEAPON

Kevin Huang,
Director of the Academic Affairs Program, Homewood Site
 

Kevin has spent countless hours supporting tutoring for IMP students and collaborating with ACCE High School leadership. He is always eager to help in any way he can and follows-through even if it means walking to ACCE High School in one-hundred degree heat to get report cards or visiting every teacher to collect exam review materials. He consistently goes above and beyond without seeking any recognition.

 

GET INVOLVED!

Volunteer:  http://incentivementoringprogram.org/volunteer

Donate: http://incentivementoringprogram.org/howtohelp

 

CONTACT INFO:

www.incentivementoringprogram.org

PO Box 1584

Baltimore MD 21203

information@incentivementoringprogram.org

Related article: Incentive Mentoring Program: A Revolutionary Holistic Educational Program Ushers At-Risk Youth Through High School and College

 



 

MIT CLIMATE COLAB 

(A PROJECT OF THE MIT CENTER FOR COLLECTIVE INTELLIENCE)

 

AN INGENIOUS CROWDSOURCE MODEL

TO ELICIT INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS TO CLIMATE CHANGE 

 

The research team at the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence is interested in the way the internet allows collaborative work on a scale that accommodates small contributions from individuals, exemplified for example, by Wikipedia.  In 2006, they came up with an ingenious new approach to problem solving that engages a grass roots base with a contest model as key pieces of their system.
 
The brainchild of Center Director Tom Malone and research scientist, Mark Klein, the Climate CoLab devises contests designed to mobilize the public – primarily students and concerned citizens– to come up with innovative solutions to climate change.  Inspired by the UN’s 2009 recent climate change summit in Copenhagen, Cancun, and Durban and the Rio+20 Earth Summit of this year, the Climate CoLab has designed public contests on a national and global scale.  
 
Winners are invited to present to organizers of global climate conferences and to congressional committees. This year, the Climate CoLab is pioneering a new approach, which seeks on , to break out the large complex problem of climage change into more manageable sub-issues and also to work with partners like Carbon War Room (an initiative of the visionary Sir Richard Branson) .
 
LATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT

In August, the Climate CoLab project launched this new approach, which will involve  running larger numbers of more highly focused contests.  Six contests will kick off the Climate CoLab’s new approach.
 
       Building efficiency, physical actions
       Building efficiency, social actions
       Profitably reducing emissions from cement (in collaboration with Carbon War Room)
       Local Solutions (in collaboration with Transitions US)
       Transportation efficiency
       Decarbonizing energy supply
 
 

THE FACES OF' MIT CLIMATE COLAB'

 

Tom Malone
Professor, MIT Sloan School of Management
Director, MIT Center for Collective Intelligence

 

Mark Klein
Principal Research Scientist,
MIT Center for Collective Intelligence
 

Rob Laubacher,
Research Scientist and
Associate Director, MIT Climate CoLab
 
 
 
Mike Matessa
Community Development, U.S.
 
 
 
James Greyson
Community Development, U.K.


SECRET WEAPON:

Advisors include community members with input from a distinguished group of experts in climate science and policy who also help to judge the contest contributions by community members.

CONTACT INFO

EMAIL:

Rob Laubaucher: rlj@mit.edu

The MIT Center for Collective Intelligence
MIT Building NE25, 7th Floor
(5 Cambridge Center)
Cambridge, MA 02142



 

BUILDING DYNAMIC WORKING RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN

YOUNG PROFESSIONAL MUSLIMS AND JEWS

 

 

 

NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change was founded in 2006 to create a national model for healthy relations, productive engagement and social change between American Muslims and Jews.

To transform the landscape, the Muslim Public Affairs Council and  Progressive Jewish Alliance joined forces to create a fellowship for emerging Muslim and Jewish leaders to change the tone of the conversation.


Today, NewGround is an independent group fiscally sponsored by Community Partners and housed at the City of Los Angeles Human Relations Commission.


LATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT

With the support of 14 communal leaders throughout Los Angeles, NewGround is currently spearheading the launch of the first annual Muslim-Jewish High School Leadership Council.

Eight Muslim and eight Jewish teens have been selected to participate in a one-year council experience which will begin with a fall retreat to build relationships and educate students about Islam and Judaism in America.  

 

THE FACES OF 'NEWGROUND: A MUSLIM-JEWISH PARTNERSHIP FOR CHANGE'

 

 

Rabbi Sarah Bassin,
Executive Director
 

Rabbi Sarah Bassin worked at Princeton University’s Hillel before entering the rabbinic program at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), from which she graduated in 2010 with a dual Masters degree Jewish Non-Profit Management. 

Since taking the helm at NewGround she has developed and enriched the Young Professional Fellowship Program, which brings together young professional Muslims and Jews in Los Angeles to build relationships and skills, and often fast friendships, which allow them to collaborate on key civic programs that affect both cultures.  Her program has attracted worldwide attention, and serves as a model for peace building in the U.S. and internationally.

 

Edina Lekovic
Board Chair

As MPAC's Director of Policy & Programming, Lekovic leads the MPAC team of staff and volunteers on strategic initiatives in government relations, media outreach and interfaith collaboration, while also coordinating the organization's approach to domestic and international affairs.  

As a spokeswoman for the American Muslim community, she has appeared on national media outlets, including CNN, BBC, MSNBC, and the History Channel and her work has been featured in several leading newspapers.  Named one of the Top 500 Influential Muslims in the World in 2009, Edina is a proud graduate of the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute.

 

SECRET WEAPON

 

Suzy Marks
NewGround Advocate

Suzy Marks and her late husband Wally were among the seed funders of NewGround back in 2006. Today, Suzy continues to be one of NewGround's biggest advocates.  She also serves as an informal mentor to the executive director to help guide decisions and aim for the most significant impact.   

GET INVOLVED!

DONATE:  Select "New Ground' from the drop down menu".

EMAIL


CONTACT INFO.

Rabbi Sarah Bassin- muslimjewishnewground@gmail.com.

Website: www.muslimjewishnewground.org

Related article: A Bold and Brilliant Strategy to Build Working Relationships Between Young Professional Muslims and Jews




 
TURNING HUMAN WASTE INTO A SUSTAINABLE ENERGY RESOURCE
 
Two ingenious MBA students at MIT's Sloan School of Management were interested in how to bring dignity to the sanitation experience in urban slums of the developing world.  SANERGY was born — and they ultimately figured out a way to turn human waste into biogas and organic fertilizer.   The goal within five years, per MIT News is to bring sanitation facilities to 500,000 Africans, provide 7.5 million kilowat hours of electricity, and produce 11,000 tons of fertilizer.  An absolutely amazing story and something we are sure to hear much more about in coming years.



 

BRINGING EDUCATION AND COMMUNITY HEALTH SERVICES

TO THE PEOPLE OF RURAL CAMBODIA



The Savong Foundation helps to improve the lives of people in northern Cambodia.  It supports the Savong School (a free language school with over 600 students), the Savong Orphan Center (which is home to 35 children) and the Savong Student Center (a home for the older students attending high school or university).  Although the focus is education, it develops other community projects such as the fluoride rinse program. 
 
None of the administrative positions at the Foundation are paid.
 
 
THE FACES OF 'THE SAVONG FOUNDATON'
 
 
Phil Caldwell, CEO, COO
Phil Caldwell, trained as a veterinarian, has lived and traveled all over the world. On his many trips to Cambodia, he fell in love with the country and especially with the people in the rural areas. He was struck by the grossly inadequate education and health care services available, and became determined to use his skills to better the lives of the people he had come to know.  
Inspired by Svay Savong, who started the first English language school in the area, Phil turned his focus to founding and building the Savong Foundation, and spends most days  fundraising and in program development for the Foundation. 
Because his work for the Savong Foundation is unpaid, Phil has kept his day job as a much beloved veterinarian based in Sherman Oaks, California. He travels to Cambodia once a year, to oversee the projects there.
In addition, there are three advisors to the board who help guide decision making and develop new projects in the area.

LATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT
Savong Foundation started a fluoride rinse program which will improve dental hygiene in the local schools.  With the help of the Angkor Hospital for Children, it is importing the fluoride into Cambodia.   With the appropriate training, The Savong Foundation hopes to serve at least 5000 students in 10 schools each year. 

SECRET WEAPON
 
Dr. Dilshad Sumar is an American pediatric dentist who is currently an advisor to the Board of Directors.  She has donated significant time and money to the dental program at the Angkor Hospital for Children and has worked hard to make our fluoride rinse program a reality.  
GET INVOLVED!
 
Volunteers are welcomed, especially in areas of fundraising, marketing and social media crowd sourcing. Interested people can contact me atPhil@savongfoundation.org.    
CONTACT INFO:



 

PROTECTING AND EMPOWERING THE WOMEN AND GIRLS OF DARFUR

 

 

The Solar Cooker Project (a project of Jewish World Watch) is committed to protecting refugees, who have fled the genocide in Darfur, from rape and other forms of violence.   These women and girls are particularly vulnerable to rape and attack by local Chadians and roaming militia while performing the critical task of collecting firewood for cooking.
 
The mission is to reduce the frequency of these crimes by providing an alternative cooking option: the solar cooker.  Solar cookers, using only the energy of the sun, enable women to remain within the relative safety of the camp by reducing their dependency on wood.

THE FACES OF THE 'SOLAR COOKER PROJECT'
 
 
 
Rachel Andres
Director of the Solar Cooker Project.
 
Rachel Andres has built a national interfaith coalition raising awareness and funds to provide simple equipment that dramatically reduces the risk of violence for Darfuri refugees.  She is the recipient of the 2008 Charles Bronfman Prize which celebrates the vision and talent of an individual whose humanitarian work has contributed significantly to the betterment of the world.   



 
Brie Loskota
Chair, Solar Cooker Project (SCP) Advisory Committee,
Board Member, Jewish World Watch.
 
Since the creation of the SCP, Brie has offered her expertise, guidance and support in shaping strategy, performing evaluations and securing funding. Professionally, she serves as the Managing Director of The Center for Religion and Civic Culture at University of Southern California (USC).

LATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT
 
The Solar Cooker Project, working with UK based Cord, began operations in our fourth refugee camp.  In working with Cord, we realized that an added benefit to the Solar Cooker Project is that we help girls stay in school.  Without solar cookers, girls were missing school often due to the enormous amount of time it took (often 10 hour trips outside the camps) to search for firewood.  We plan to start a new Solar Cooker Project in early 2013 in a fifth camp home to approximately 18,000 refugees.  
 
Hot off the Press: The Solar Cooker Project produced a “Best Practices Manual and 11 minute mini-documentary” to document the work with refugees in Chad in order to expand solar cooking by helping other NGOs and international organizations.

SECRET WEAPONS:
 
 
Diane Kabat, Board Member, Jewish World Watch

The multi-talented Diane Kabat is one of the superstars in the fight for our cause. As a JWW Board member, Diane Kabat has been involved with the SCP since it began.  Her generosity of time and spirit and leadership skills have helped to build the Solar Cooker Project into an international success story.
 

GET INVOLVED!

A gift of just $40 provides 2 solar cookers to a refugee woman to cook for her family, stay safe and keep her daughters in school.

To get involved or create your own fundraiser for the SCP, contact the Solar Cooker Project at solarcookers@jww.org  or 818-501-1836 ext. 250.  We will help you brainstorm ideas for a project or event, send you our “Event Planning Kit” to get you started, and update you on the status of the project.
 
DONATE:   www.solarcookerproject.org


CONTACT INFO:
 
www.solarcookerproject.org
www.jww.org
solarcookers@jww.org

Rachel Andres
Director, Solar Cooker Project
Jewish World Watch
Rachel@jww.org
818-501-1836 ext. 250

 
 


 
 
 
 THE TAGUM CITY FOOD BANK
 
FEEDING THE MALNOURISHED CHILDREN OF MINDANAO
 

The Tagum City Food Bank restores severely malnourished children to healthy weight thru weekly feedings, nutrition classes for the Moms and distribution of rice. The childrens' weight is tracked weekly using the BMI index.


THE FACES OF TAGUM CITY FOOD BANK
 
 
 
Chef David Wasson
Co-Founder and Executive Director
Tagum City Food Bank

Chef David Wasson, Founder and Executive Director of the Tagum City Food Bank, is a  local legend in Mindanao.  After a successful career as a chef in Seattle, Washington, he arrived in Mindanao, two years ago, hoping to retire.  What he found shocked him:  hungry children — hundreds of them, some whom he determined to be malnourished and others, severely malnourished.  So — instead of retiring, he did what he had to do: he partnered with the Chef and Child Foundation and the Tagum City Rotery Club to open the Tagum City Food Bank.  
 
The Tagum City Food Bank now serves as a lifesaving resource for the local population.  In addition to providing regular weekly balanced meals, Wasson offers nutrition classes for the parents as well as free rice distributions to supplement his weekly meals.  Wasson has even been known to dip into his own pocket to pay for medical correction needed for children with clubbed feet and cleft palates.  
 

SECRET WEAPON(S):

Helen Reclusado, Head Barangay Health Worker

Emele Caboratan, Manager 

Attny. Luel Mundez

Dr. Glenn Pono


LATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT

In the last two years, Tagum City Food Bank has restored to health 327 severely malnourished 0-6 year old babies.

 

GET INVOLVED!

Donate Here: http://www.tagumfoodbank.org/

 

CONTACT 

David Wasson CCC, CCE, chef.wasson@gmail.com

Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tagum-City-Food-bank/141204399234728

Tagum City Food Bank


Related articles:  Chef David Wasson and the Tagum City Food Bank: One Year Later



 
 
 
 
 
 
PREPARING COMMUNITIES

FOR THE IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE

 
The Transition Movement is comprised of vibrant, grassroots community initiatives that seek to build community resilience in the face of such challenges as peak oil, climate change and the economic crisis. Transition Initiatives differentiate themselves from other sustainability and "environmental" groups by seeking to mitigate these converging global crises by engaging their communities in home-grown, citizen-led education, action, and multi-stakeholder planning to increase local self reliance and resilience. –Transition website

LATEST PROJECT
 
The 360 Home & Garden Challenge: A diverse coalition of groups, including over 40 school, church, business, non-profit and civic partners,  organized toward an ambitious goal: get 350 gardens planted in Sonoma County over the course of one weekend. Ultimately, 628 gardens were planted or revitalized, and the participants used the event as an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of local food production, water conservancy, cutting greenhouse gas emissions, supporting local business, and community resiliency.  See article on the 350 website for more info. 
 
 
THE FACES OF 'TRANSITION U.S.'
 
 
 
Carolyne Stayton
Executive Director
Transition U.S.

Carolyne Stayton has successfully galvanized communities around various social issues and has particular expertise in program development, participative leadership and "learning" organizations.  She has served as Director of New College's North Bay Campus for Sustainable Living, an innovative educationoal institution that promoted advanced studies in leadership and community-building and developed the nation's first "green" MBA program. 
 
Carolyne has a master's degree in Nonprofit Administration, resides in Sebastopol, California, and is passionate about stewardship and protection of the natural world.
 

SECRET WEAPONS

Every volunteer, the lifeblood of the Transition movement.


GET INVOLVED!

Donate here.
CONTACT INFO

Facebook



 
INDIVIDUALS MAKING AN IMPACT

 

Los Angeles Attorney, Mother-of-three and Godsend for the Los Angeles homeless and low income community who need veterinary care for their companion animals

 

Analee Brodie
 
 
Los Angeles attorney Analee Brodie did not set out to become an animal activist.  She practices full time in Los Angeles, and she is a wife and a mother of three small children.  By anyone’s standards, her plate is more than full.  
 

She began helping companion animals of the homeless when she passed the Occupy L.A. site on her way to work one morning, and noticed a small kitten playing in the garbage.  On closer inspection, she saw that it’s eye was squeezed shut from infection and it had a hard tight belly – filled with worms.  Once she determined that the kitten was a stray, she took it to work with her, then to the vet for treatment. That’s when her conscience wouldn’t let her rest.  “If there was one kitten that needed help there, I knew there had to be more”, she said. 

 
So, back she went the next morning to the Occupy site and found slews of animals that needed care.  “All of them needed to be fed, spayed and neutered," she said, "and there were scores that needed treatment for infections of one kind of another.”  In the next two weeks, she managed, with the help of other animal activists, to arrange transport for many of them to the vet for care.  Before she knew it, she became one of the most visible figures of what was then called "The Occupuppy Project."  
 
The Occupuppy Project may have faded, but Analee's passion has not.  She continues this work on her own time, driven purely by her love and compassion for animals.  “The message here is that there is an enormous underserved animal population in the homeless community. 
 
IN HER OWN WORDS
 

I help homeless and low-income-earning people get veterinary care for their cats and dogs, especially spaying/neutering, vaccinations and microchips.  For many people, basic vet care is financially out of reach, and as a result their pets suffer. Recently, I raised several thousand dollars from kind strangers to obtain eye surgery for two kittens born with a painful blinding eyelid deformity. 
 
But on a good day, I arrange transportation for companion animals of the homeless community to a free or low cost vet for spaying/neutering, and I try to raise money to pay for vet services that are not free: flea treatment, abcesses, care for injuries or illness.
THE PUBLIC SHOULD KNOW
 
It is much easier to PREVENT suffering than to alleviate it!  Spaying and neutering your dogs and cats is so important as long as there are countless unwanted animals in shelters and on the streets.  Even basic vet care is financially out of reach for many people, so the cycle of disease, abandonment, and suffering continues.  
 
And please support any local vet or organization offering free or low-cost spay/neuter, such as 1-888-SPAY-4-LA, a state-of-the-art mobile clinic that offers FREE spay/neuter in downtown Los Angeles.
 
GET INVOLVED!
 
Contact Analee to donate transportation, money, pet supplies, or if you are a veternarian, or veternarian staff who can offer free or discounted services to homeless and almost-no-income pet owners.

Contact info:  Analee Brodie (909) 730-0675 or

analeebrodie@gmail.com



 
WORKING TO ERADICATE ANIMAL CRUELTY IN OUR WORLD
 
 
 
Elliot Katz, DVM
Founder, The Guardian Campaign
President Emeritus, In Defense of Animals
 

 
 
Dr. Elliot Katz began his second career in animal advocacy, when as a young veterinarian in in the 1970's, he successfully challenged the University of California at Berkeley for the deplorable conditions in which they kept the dogs in their research labs.  In 1983 he founded In Defense of Animals, which has grown into one of the premier animal advocacy organizations in the world today. 

The Guardian Campaign is an outgrowth of his life's work, which attempts to instill a sense of respect, responsibility and compassion for the animals with which (whom!) we share our lives and our planet.  It works through a substitution of one word that defines our relationship with them: rather than "owners", we must be "guardians", or  protectors of the animals in the orbit of our lives.
 
Dr. Katz now a national figure and the activists of The Guardian Campaign have made inroads into changing the perception of our relationship with animals.  They have partnered with organizations committed to spreading the word about The Guardian Campaign, they have developed curricula for teachers, they have worked with city officials to develop new language for resolutions and ordinances.  Thus far, more than twenty U.S. cities are identified as "Guardian communities" –they have included the term "guardian in their bylaws which reference treatment of animals — and more than six million Americans and Canadians have taken the "guardian pledge".
 
In a prior Action Now+Network article we wrote, "This campaign not only has the potential to significantly reduce animal cruelty and abandonment, but also to redefine the boundaries, to expand the definition of compassion, and to rewrite the script for treatment of animals in a way that has not been accomplished before."   This is true now, more than ever.
 

Email emk@idausa.org
 


A FORMIDABLE WARRIOR FOR OUR NATION'S LAST WILD HORSES


Laura Leigh
President and Founder

 
 


 
Laura Leigh has devoted her life to documenting the plight of the wild horses; she has taken it upon herself to patrol the plains of Nevada, living out of her truck, in an effort to stop the clock from signaling the end of the wild horse on our prairies. 
 
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) according to Leigh, is clearing the land of wild horses  in favor of grazing and drilling rights for corporate ranchers and for other private interests.  In the process, they are not only in violation of The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 which sought to create multiple use areas on the land but they  are destroying a national treasure and heritage which  belongs to us all.
 
Leigh has traveled to multiple states and has witnessed more roundups and management areas in the last two years than any other person including government personnel.  And – more importantly – she has used the U.S. Court system to go "head to head" with the government –advocating, often successfully, to put an end to inhumane roundups on the Nevada plains.   
 
IN HER OWN WORDS

WHAT DO YOU DO?

I advocate for wild horses. I document horses from the range through (their) holding (period) or adoption. I utilize that documentation to take pertinent issues into the Courtroom and news media and attempt to work with BLM toward finding solutions.

WHY?
 
A convoluted set of amendments and laws have been set in place to weaken any protection these animals have. You are their only voice.
 
We have created five wins in the Court system in the last two years.

Last month I won two more Court decisions. In Jackson Mountain, the Bureau of Land Management used a small area where drought conditions existed, to try to roundup an entire Herd Management Area during the "prohibited foaming season".   We were able to hold them to the area of emergency during foaling season.

We also won another victory in the battle to achieve a humane care policy. During a roundup last summer I shut down a roundup after catching the helicopter pilot hitting a horse. We were able to extend that verdict beyond the end of that single roundup. That victory was achieved based on new case law based on a First Amendment suit that won on Appeal in the Ninth Circuit (note: I wrote a good portion of that Appeal).

Both the First Amendment suit and the Humane care suit have become active again as we prepare to head into discovery.

THE PUBLIC SHOULD KNOW:

This is your land and these are your resources. Right now your tax dollars are being used for private interests which profit off the land.  In that process…a living symbol of your Freedom is fast disappearing.

GET INVOLVED!

EDUCATE yourself on the issues.  

Visit our website, subscribe to the action alerts, volunteer and donate.  We are a small organization and are able to exist only through your generous donations.


CONTACT INFO:

 wildhorseeducation@gmail.com

http://wildhorseeducation.org/
https://www.facebook.com/WildHorseEducation

SEE ALSO:

Advocate Laura Leigh and the Battle Royal to Save the Nation's Wild Horses



PULLING BACK THE CURTAIN ON ETHICS IN WILDLIFE FILMMAKING   


 Chris Palmer, Ph.D.
Distinguished Film Producer in Residence
American University School of Communication
Director, Center for Environmental Filmmaking
 
 
 

 

Chris Palmer has had a long and illustrious career in wildlife filmmaking.  He has worked with the industry greats, from Ted Turner to National Geographic, and he has received numerous awards in recognition of his work, including two Emmys and an Oscar nomination.

In 2010 he shook the wildlife film industry to its core when he published Shooting In The Wild, An Insider’s Account of Making Movies in the Animal Kingdom, an expose in which he revealed to the world how the films are made, financed and edited and distributed, with rarely a thought to ethics or conservation.

Palmer joined the full-time faculty at American University in August 2004 as Distinguished Film Producer in Residence and founded the Center for Environmental Filmmaking at the School of Communication, which he currently directs and from where he now happily mentors the future wildlife documentarians.  He is also President of One World One Ocean Foundation, located in Laguna Beach, California.

IN HIS OWN WORDS:

WHAT DO YOU DO?

I run the Center for Environmental Filmmaking at American University in Washington DC, and I’m the president of the One World One Ocean Foundation in Laguna Beach, CA. Through these organizations, I devote my life to conservation, to producing films that make a difference, and to educating the next generation of environmental and wildlife filmmakers.

My goal to win wider support for treating animals and the natural world with respect, care, and love.

WHY?

If we don’t do these things, then the world is going to continue to spiral downwards, propelled by over population, climate change, loss of biodiversity, toxic pollution, and a dozen other major problems which are ruining this beautiful planet. And I do it because films are an effective way to give animals and nature a “voice” that they themselves don’t have.

WHAT SHOULD THE PUBLIC KNOW?

Please don’t support films that harass or goad animals, that involve unethical deception (for example, by surreptitiously using rented animals from inhumane game farms), or that carry anti-conservation messages (for example, that sharks are man-eating monsters).

Contact information:  palmer@american.edu.

cell 202-716-6160; office 202-885-3408; home 301-654-6137
Center website: www.environmentalfilm.org

President, One World One Ocean Foundation
President, MacGillivray Freeman Films Educational Foundation
 
SEE ALSO:
 
 

 

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FEATURED ORGANIZATION: THE JEWISH WORLD WATCH SOLAR COOKER PROJECT

Thursday, April 14th, 2011


 


  

 

HOW A $40.00 CARDBOARD CONTRAPTION COVERED IN FOIL

IS SAVING THOUSANDS OF DARFURI REFUGEES

FROM A LIFE OF TERROR

 

 

"Our mission is to protect the women and girls who are refugees – people would think they are safe now that they are in the refugee camps but we learned otherwise"


 

MAKE A DONATION TO THE JEWISH WORLD WATCH SOLAR COOKER PROJECT HERE

$40.00 BUYS TWO COOKERS AND PROTECTS A FAMILY OF WOMEN AND GIRLS

 

By Jonathan Arkin

 

When Imani, a young African woman and refugee from Darfur, leaves her camp in Chad to collect wood for cooking, she first needs to find trees – or any vegetation for that matter – to cut and carry.

Then she needs to get back to the camp – alive.

The genocide in Darfur, the result of a long-running government-militia alliance fighting a loose confederation of Darfuri rebels, has affected millions of western Sudanese in the wake of the fighting, first, by the decimation of villages and families, and then by starvation, and mass displacement.   

Unbelievably, however, the horror of the genocide is only the first trauma the Darfuris must endure.  If they are “lucky” enough to have miraculously survived the wholesale destruction of their villages and the murder of their families, they must make the days-long trek on foot to one of the refugee camps on the Chadian border, where they can find a modicum of food and shelter.   Once settled in the camps, it is the responsibility of the women and girls to find firewood, a precious commodity used for for meal preparation.  If this last part sounds easy compared to the ordeal of surviving a genocide, think again.

For thousands of women in the Chadian refugee camps, both the natural and man-made erosion that has limited the availability of trees for firewood is only part of the life-endangering problem of collecting. A far more sinister issue lurks in the savannah, and it has little to do with animal predators and the unforgiving weather.

Bandits, militia and other outlaws, known as Janjaweed  (roughly translated as “devil on horseback) have long been aware of the parade of women gatherers who leave refugee camps, sometimes alone, to collect necessary wood for burning.  Oftentimes, this very act of cutting down trees is illegal, but it is not the danger of arrest that troubles these women.  Rape, kidnapping and murder are daily traps that the women – some as young as 10 or 11 years of age – must learn to avoid in order to survive.

 

 “We saw young girls with huge piles of wood on their shoulders and we had never seen that at all in the other camps…it was so telling, and pulled at my heartstrings.”

 

When Rachel Andres, Director of the Jewish World Watch  Solar Cooker Project – an interfaith effort celebrating its five-year anniversary this May 16, saw what was going on, she quickly identified the best way to reach out to the women of Darfur.  Luckily, there was already a model in place for assisting the women whose daily routine consisted of walking for miles at a time just to reach usable firewood. 

Andres, heard about the work of Dr. Derk Riiks, a Dutch scientist who first saw the need for solar cookers at the Iridimi camp in Chad, –cookers that could use energy from the ever-present 100 + degree sub-Saharan African temperatures.  The idea of solar cooking has been around for nearly 200 years.  The project in the refugee camp was still in a pilot stage when  Andres and Jewish World Watch gave the program an extra push by publicizing and supporting it. 

When Jewish World Watch made their first trip to the camps they saw the progress of their efforts.  After completing an evaluation in the first camp where the project started she went with her team to the 2nd camp where JWW had built a manufacturing plant but solar cooking had not yet begun.  “We went to the new camp to meet with the people who would be running the project on the ground,” Andres said of her first trip. “As we were driving on the dirt road, led by a security convoy, we saw young girls with huge piles of wood on their shoulders.  We had not seen that at all in the camp where we had set up the solar cookers.   

 


A refugee girl gathering firewood in Chad.      

Copyright Barbara Grover

 

It was so telling and pulled at my heartstrings because we hadn’t seen that yet, and we knew that we were getting up and running, but we weren’t quite there yet. These girls were still not safe. It was upsetting on one hand and exciting on the other that we knew they would shortly have cookers.”

The women and girls, who are historically mandated by their local culture to serve as the traditional gatherers of the firewood, had been leaving the camps several times a week, thereby increasing the chances of getting attacked.

 

A  SIMPLE AND SUSTAINABLE ENERGY CONCEPT

 


The Solar Cooker:  2 cookers costs $40.00

 

It is, as some describe it, a deceptively simple concept: a foil-covered sheet of cardboard, one plastic bag and a pot for heating.  Two “Cook Kits,” as they are called, are provided for each family; and the problem of heating foods that need a substantial amount of cooking time, such as beans, meat, and the sauces that accompany them, is partially solved and time becomes a new luxury for these women.

 “The solar cooker cooks food using only the energy of the sun,” said a JWW spokeswoman in a recent informational video. “With solar cooking, the women no longer risk rape and attack from having to leave the refugee camp to search for firewood.   Instead, they are able to cook their food using the solar cooker without producing any smoke or harm to themselves or to the environment.”

 


Women in the Iridimi camp, in Chad, use the cookers during the heat of midday.

Copyright Barbara Grover

 

“I now have time to look after my husband,” said one woman who had rediscovered her family hours, in an evaluation report recently released by JWW.   The study also listed the reactions of other residents of the camps who found that since the competition for firewood had largely disappeared, their relations with neighbors had improved – as had their bronchial and respiratory health.

 

“We take the risk…because we have no choice.” 

 

Yet another challenge, keeping young girls in school, was an issue that arose when the volunteers discovered some of the younger women whose days were defined by four-hour walks to and from the wood-rich areas, plus an extra two hours for the gathering – left little to no time for school.   Dropout rates, even among the elementary school-aged children, was alarming.

“We take the risk because we need the firewood to cook for our families,” said another female refugee at the Iridimi camp. “I know it’s dangerous to send my little sister, but sometimes, we have no choice.”

Andres says they now do have that choice – and many of the women are venturing out less.

Our mission is to protect the women and girls who are refugees – people would think they are safe now that they are in the refugee camps but we learned otherwise.  We started the project with the aim of helping the women recover from the trauma they endured, the rapes, seeing family members killed,” said Andres of the steps from concept to reality. “We heard about this pilot project and we thought what a great way to keep the women (safe) within the confines of the camps, and to keep people from cutting down so many trees.   And, health-wise, there are lung diseases and eye diseases associated with the burning of wood.   People felt so connected to the project when they heard about it and they began to donate money, and to tell their friends about it.  We are now in three camps of over 70,000 people.”

 

“According to a recent evaluation, 53% of refugees say that they never leave the camp anymore to search for firewood since they have received their solar cookers, and  overall (firewood gathering) trips (out of the camp) have been cut by 86%…”

 

Studies have shown that the plan works.  According to a recent evaluation,  53% of refugees say that they never have to leave the camp to search for firewood since they have received their solar cookers, and overall trips out of the camps have been cut by 86%. 

 

EMPOWERING THE WOMEN IN THE REFUGEE CAMP

The Solar Cooker Project approach is one used by many philanthropic field operations: they go straight to the community leaders and present their product. Following the model established by Rijks, the team goes into each new camp and meets with the president of the women and men’s refugee groups and the humanitarian workers on the ground, and shows them how the cooker works and inquiries if they think it will be successful there.

 


Women assembling the solar cookers in the manufacturing plant.

Copyright Barbara Grover

 

If everyone approves the project (“which generally happens”, says Andres), “we’ll set the wheels into motion and get a manufacturing plant built and see who’s interested in the work.  We end up hiring the hard workers – a mix of full time and part time.  We also hire trainers, people who have the personality and who want to do it.”

What makes the JWW’s project unique, according to Andres and the JWW staff, is that theirs is the only solar cooker project for refugees that operates on such a large scale.  In fact, it is the largest of its kind in the world.

Another important component of the project, say its organizers, is the empowerment of the women – not only to acquire the skills to make the cookers function properly – but also to train others to use them and to train the trainers as well. The rarity of holding a job in a refugee camp, Andres said, is a crucial element of economic development.

“They are ambassadors of the project,” she said of the women who are trained to lead the project onward.   “It’s a real win-win for everyone.”

 

THE COVETED BRONFMAN PRIZE FOR HUMANITARIAN WORK

As Director of the project, Andres shared a synopsis of her own duties.

“I don’t have a usual day.  I work in a variety of areas, helping the NGO on the ground determine priorities,” she said. “I also work here in the U.S. to help educate people about the genocide in Darfur and to educate people on how they can help.  We work with all different kinds of organizations and individuals, synagogues, churches, girls’ organizations, High School groups, college students, you name it, they have supported the project!”

 


Solar Cooker Project Director Rachel Andres and Charles Bronfman,

after accepting the coveted Bronfman Prize for her humanitarian work

 

Indeed, Andres’s description of her work is modest.  In 2008, she was awarded the much coveted Bronfman Prize for her groundbreaking work in guiding the growth and implementation of the Solar Cooker Project.

 

CONTINUING DANGERS, CONTINUING CHALLENGES

With the situation in Darfur continuing – albeit well under the radar these days – with tens of thousands of new refugees becoming displaced recently and having to face the dangers of attacks from the Janjahweed militia and others, the need for concerted efforts in Chad is greater then ever.   Some refugees walk 300 miles just to reach the safety of the Chadian border, as documented in this short film by photojournalist Barbara Grover.

“When we went there to do the evaluation of the project we had some nervous moments,” Andres said. “Now the U.S. government has put out a travel advisory for Americans not to travel there.”

But with the project in full swing and expanding, the SCP faces the usual challenge in such cases: creating and maintaining an effective campaign to deliver help.

 

EXPANSION DELAYED ONLY BY A LACK OF FUNDS

The Solar Cooker Project’s goal of expanding the project into more camps will happen when there is enough money to ensure the ability to not only start up in these camps but continue the work for the follow-up years.   The next step is to get the solar cookers into the eight additional refugee camps – large outfits that house a quarter of a million people.

“It’s complicated,” Andres said of working in the refugee camps.  “It’s a huge venture to outfit all 12 camps.  We can only do it if we raise more money.   Our goal is to be in all 12 refugee camps in Chad sooner rather than later. I know we can do it.  ”

 

“People have heard about the genocide, and they have found that they can actually make a difference. They know that they have helped girls stay safe.” 

 

The success of the project, Andres explained, is definitely its own reward.

“What’s been exhilarating about this project is that such a simple solution works to help so many people, that it’s so basic,” she said. “You don’t have to understand the intricacies of the crisis in Darfur – you can just know that you are helping a genocide survivor stay safe now.  It’s easy for  people to understand and love the project. People have heard about the genocide, and they have found that they can actually make a difference by supporting this project.   They know that they have helped girls and women stay safe.   Going to refugee camps in Chad – seeing the women use the solar cookers, talking with them, seeing how much time they have to do other things, it’s gratifying beyond belief.”

 

GET INVOLVED WITH THE JWW SOLAR COOKER PROJECT

 

 

Tea time

copyright Barbara Grover

 

Getting involved is simpler that one might think.  Two lifesaving cookers are $40.00, and typically will serve one family for about nine-twelve months before replacement is necessary. 

 “We want everyone to be involved,” said Andres when asked about the segments of the public that JWW is particularly trying to reach. “We know that people want to do something that’s tangible, where they can see the results of their donations. What I see is that people want to get involved as donors and they then stay involved. It’s a way for them to get more involved in helping those affected by the genocide in Darfur.  It’s important for people to help and to educate others about what’s happening around the world.”

 

“We want everyone to be involved!” 

 

Other examples of the helping hand abound.  At one recent birthday party here in the U.S., a donor asked her guests to forego presents and instead to donate to the project.  One teenager painted rocks and sold them to raise money.   A church group made and sells Mother’s Day cards (this year’s Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 8).  A 14-year-old boy turned his family’s hiking trip to the top of Mt. Washington into a fundraiser.

We’ve been fortunate that so many people have found many creative ways to help these women and girls,” added Andres. “Like the girl who painted the rocks, she found something to do that she was good at – that is a part of what has been really special about this – people have found a way to own this project for themselves. People find their passion and use it to help these women and girls.

In addition to donating, some suggestions include hosting events where they can educate people about the project, the genocide, JWW in general; there have been gatherings called “Potholder Projects” (groups decorate pot holders that the JWW then sends to the women there so that they do not burn themselves when they open their solar cooked food) to show the refugees that someone halfway around the world cares.

 

UPCOMING 5-YEAR ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION

In the five years since its inception, Andres and the solar cooker project have raised a total of more than 2 million dollars and have just expanded into the 4th camp in Chad with 21,448 refugees.  That’s four camps with tens of thousands of lives saved – and eight camps to go. 

 

Training to use the Cookits in the 4th and newest camp in Chad

 

To celebrate this hugely successful run, Andres and her Solar Cooker Advisory Board are planning an anniversary celebration and fundraiser, scheduled for May 16, 2011, at which Los Angeles celebrity chefs are getting involved — “women cooking here for women cooking there,” as it has been called, and there is much more planned for the day. 

 


 

 


 

Jonathan Arkin is a graduate of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and is currently a  writer living in southern California.


CONTACT:

Rachel Andres, Director

Jewish World Watch Solar Cooker Project

Rachel@jewishworldwatch.com

 

www.solarcookerproject.org

 

FACEBOOK

 

Other links:

LA LIST

Action Now+Network feature on Jewish World Watch

 

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ARCHIVES: FEATURED ORGANIZATIONS: 2010

Sunday, February 6th, 2011



2010



May 17, 2010

Jewish World Watch: Never Again Will We Remain Silent in the Face of Genocide


May 24, 2010

Hand in Hand Center for Jewish-Arab Education: A Bridge to Peace in the Middle East

 

May 31, 2010

Infrastructure Academy and Generation Power: A Vibrant Model for Training

Green Leaders of Tomorrow'


June 21, 2010

Levitt Pavilions captures the soul of the community with 50 concerts 

a year – absolutely free of charge

 

 June 28, 2010

African Wildlife Foundation: The only African based holistic conservaton

movement that works to conserve the land, protect the wildlife and

empower the African people to protect their heritage

 

July 12, 2010

Los Angeles Youth Network: 

Providing a Safe Haven and a Fresh Start for Thousands

of Homeless Children in Los Angeles


July 26, 2010

Hollywood Arts: A One of a Kind Los Angeles Arts Academy

that Changes the Lives of Homeless Young Adults


August 9, 2010

HoPe Veterinary Center: The First and Only Full Service Veterinary

Center for Pets of the Los Angeles Homeless Community


August 23, 2010

Full Circle Learning: Award Winning Concept in Education Prepares Young Students

To Become Proactive Citizens in a Global World


September 6, 2010

Right To Play: Olympic Gold Medalist Johann Koss Brings the Power of Play to 

Children of the World's Conflict Zones


September 20, 2010

Beyond Differences: Creating A Movement In Which Teen Social Isolation Becomes a Thing of the Past


October 4, 2010

REX Foundation: The Legacy of Grateful Dead Lives On Through Funding of Grass Roots Organizations

and Human Rights Education in the Schools


October 20, 2010      

 Seeds of Peace: Internationally Recognized Program Empowers Talented Teens From the World's 

Conflict Zones to Become Leaders of Tomorrow


November 1, 2010

Incentive Mentoring Program: A Revolutionary Holistic Educational Program Ushers At-Risk Youth 

Through High School and College


November 15, 2010

Women Thrive Worldwide: Shaping U.S. Policy to Eradicate Global Poverty by Protecting and Empowering Women


November 29, 2010

i-Act:  Fulfilling the Promise of "Never Again": Real Time Video Brings the Darfuri Genocide Survivors Into Your Heart


December 13, 2010

Molly Melching and Tostan: African Communities Leading Movements for Human Rights




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The War Over Conflict Minerals in the Democratic Republic of Congo: What College Students Can Do To Take Action

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

 

 

 

 

THE WAR OVER CONFLICT MINERALS IN THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO:

WHAT COLLEGE STUDENTS CAN DO TO TAKE ACTION

 

BY Anjana Puri


For more than a century, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been plagued by civil unrest and violent regional conflict. Warring rebel groups relentlessly terrorize and exploit innocent Congolese civilians in an effort to gain control of the eastern region’s vast mineral resources. The revenue generated from the trade of these minerals is used to finance armed groups in eastern Congo, many of which engage in systematic campaigns of sexual violence in order to intimidate local populations and maintain control over mines.  Since 1998, the conflict has claimed over 5.4 million lives and has displaced over 2 million people. With an estimated 45,000 people dying every month, the United Nations has described the brutal conflict in eastern DRC as one of the “worst humanitarian crises in the world.” 1

 

The region’s mineral trade is one of the underlying forces perpetuating the conflict. Armed rebel groups earn hundreds of millions of dollars each year by trading four minerals: the ores that make tin, tungsten, tantalum, and gold. Armed groups sell these minerals to American companies at competitive prices. The minerals are eventually used to make common electronic devices including: cellular phones, laptops, cameras, portable music players, and televisions. The revenue generated from these sales enables armed groups in DRC to buy more weapons and further exploit Congolese civilians. Lack of transparency in the “conflict mineral” supply chain prevents American consumers from knowing whether or not their purchases are indirectly funding mass atrocities in DRC.

 

While the situation in the eastern region of DRC seems bleak, it is not hopeless. In 2009, the Conflict Minerals Trade Act was introduced into the US House of Representatives. If adopted into law, the bill will demand greater transparency from electronic companies that purchase conflict minerals in order to ensure that the revenue generated from these sales is not being used to support Congolese rebel groups. As conscious consumers, we have an obligation to demand greater social responsibility from electronics companies to ensure that the objects we purchase are conflict mineral-free. By encouraging our political representatives to endorse this bill, we can ensure that our purchases are not indirectly perpetuating mass atrocities in the DRC. 

 

College students, in particular, can play a special role in the movement to bring peace to Congo. Universities are among the biggest clients of electronic companies. By altering their institutions’ procurement policies to express favor towards doing business with vendors of “conflict mineral-free” products, colleges around the country can ensure that their purchases do not indirectly contribute to the exploitation of Congolese civilians. 


Last June, students at Stanford University encouraged their school’s administration to adopt proxy-voting guidelines that encourage Stanford’s investment partners to further investigate their conflict-mineral supply chains. In doing so, Stanford University became the first “conflict mineral-free campus” in America. The students who championed the issue are hopeful that other universities will follow suit.  In fact, students at the UCLA Law School have recently started a campaign to make their campus conflict-mineral free.  

 

Organizations such as Enough Project and Jewish World Watch have started programs designed to help students start similar campaigns at their respective schools. To get more information about how to make your campus conflict mineral-free, please visit: www.raisehopeforcongo.org/content/initiatives/make-your-campus-conflict-free

 

See also: Raise Hope for Congo: Standing with the Women of Congo to Change the Calculus of the Deadly Conflict Minerals Trade



1. http://www.mg.co.za/article/2010-06-11-un-drc-one-of-worlds-worst-humanitarian-crises


Anjana Puri is a recent UCLA graduate, and is currently applying to law schools.


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FEATURED ORGANIZATION: i-ACT BY STOP GENOCIDE NOW

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

 

 

 

 

i-ACT BY STOP GENOCIDE NOW

 

FULFILLING THE PROMISE OF “NEVER AGAIN”:

REAL TIME VIDEO BRINGS THE

DARFURI GENOCIDE SURVIVORS INTO YOUR HEART

 

 

Video in partnership with Darfur Sister Schools Dream Team

 

“When someone can see a face and hear a voice, it’s much more than seeing a black and white photo. 

It shows us, we’re human here. We are more than the news.”

 

 By Diana Marcketta 

 

 

If you’ve seen video images of Darfuri women and children that have trekked for days across the desert to reach refuge in the Chadian refugee camps, it is likely that those images were captured by the team from Stop Genocide Now  and i-ACT .

 

REAL TIME VIDEOS PROVIDE A WINDOW TO THE WORLD OF GENOCIDE

 

 

 

 

 Stop Genocide Now  (SGN) is an all volunteer grassroots online community that has come together to document in real time video, the plight of the Darfui refugees – survivors of genocide now living in the refugee camps in Chad .   The mission is to educate the public about genocide through an interactive experience that will bring them face to face with the people living through the daily traumas – and to  motivate them to take action in some way, to become a part of the solution. 

 

The group, led by southern California native, Gabriel Stauring, is comprised of technically-minded, media-savvy individuals from across the U.S.  The emotional videos — shot directly in the middle of Sudan refugee camps on the border of Chad where victims of the massacres in Darfur now live — are broadcast around the world via You Tube and on the Stop Genocide Now website. 

 

Stop Genocide Now works in tandem with sister organization i-ACT, a U.S. based not-for-profit organization (501c3) that functions as the fundraising umbrella for the multi-media work of the two organizations.

 

 i-ACT (an elongated acronym for “interactive activism”), in fact, gives new meaning to the concept of  the “reality video”.  The short videos capture the daily life of the camps; they present same day web casts through daily reports and streaming activity logs of life in the camps, the stories of the people, and their hope for peace in the Darfur region of Sudan.  As visitors to the site are virtually connected with the survivors in the course of their daily lives, they form emotional bonds with individuals they meet and follow through the camps. 

 

Together, Stop Genocide Now and I-Act provide an experience that is unique and emotional, while driving home the ever-present underlying message that we can never again allow these atrocities to occur.

 

 

 

 

STOP GENOCIDE NOW:  THE BEGINNING 

Flash back to Orange County, California, 2004:  Gabriel Stauring, a newly minted family counselor specializing in child abuse, was driving to his next in-home appointment while listening to a National Public Radio account of  the of the Rwandan massacre that had taken place ten years earlier…a sweeping genocide that resulted in the murder of more than 800,000 people within a three-month period.

 

“I felt disbelief,” said Stauring, co-founder and director of both Stop Genocide Now  and i-ACT . “I remember going through a lot of emotions…How could the world let this happen?” 

 

THE DARFUR GENOCIDE

Though the Rwandan genocide had ended a decade earlier, Stauring knew that similar  atrocities were occurring  in the Darfur region of the Sudan in Africa, where hundreds of thousands of civilian children, men and women were driven from their homes under by the Sudanese Janjaweed militia groups.   In Arabic, Janaweed means “devil on horseback, and in this context, they were actually Darfuris of Arab descent funded by the Sudanese government to destroy the Darfuris of Black African descent in a massive ethnic cleansing campaign.  Imagine murderous armies stampeding on horseback into undefended villages, brandishing AK47s, burning mud huts to the ground, torturing and summarily executing civilians, poisoning water wells, gang raping and brutalizing terrified women and children. 

 

Survivors of fled to the border of Chad, where refugee camps provided primitive shelter, and continues to house them by the tens of thousands.  Even today, survivors cannot return to their homes despite a ceasefire agreement  signed in February,  2010. 

 

STAURING WAS INSPIRED TO TAKE ACTION 

Stauring, a behavioral science graduate of California State University at Dominguez Hills, had no idea how to start a non-profit organization, nor was he sure that he had a full grasp of what was happening in Darfur at the time.

 

“It was the end of 2004, and I became aware of Darfur,” says Stauring, who has since visited the region eight times. “I began doing research over the internet, and talking with people. I began connecting with people who were concerned. Ultimately, it came down to, “What can we do?’”

 

As he questioned people about the ongoing horrors in Darfur, many felt overwhelmed and helpless to stop the unfolding tragedy.

 

“It felt too intimidating and too huge for anyone to feel they could make a difference,” says Stauring.   Although  the U.S. and other governments had pledged their allegiance to the fight against the atrocities occurring in  Darfur’s, the political complexities of the situation  were not readily resolved. The United Nations also has long held a presence there in support of the refugees.

-

CREATING THE EMOTIONAL BRIDGE TO CONNECT ACTIVISTS WITH VOLUNTEERS AND ORGANIZATIONS TO THE PUBLIC 

Stauring felt  that the limited media coverage available failed to provide an emotional connection to the atrocities in Darfur.  Darfur seemed far removed, and the situation was so severe,  that it was nearly impossible to relate on a personal level.  But Stauring was moved by sadness in the refugee children’s faces.

 

So he began to think about how to create a connection between people here in the U.S. and the children and families living in refugee camps in Chad. He wanted to create a tool to connect activists to volunteers and organizations to the public.

 

Stop Genocide Now began as a month-long trip to Chad in 2005. Stauring and a friend — equipped with still cameras, lightweight DVD cameras, a laptop computer, and a satellite modem embarked on a venture to connect people over the internet with what was happening live in the refugee camps.

 

 

“We didn’t know what we were doing,” says Stauring. “Especially me. I was the most technologically challenged…I was very fortunate in that the people I was with knew what they were doing, and back in the U.S., we had a wonderful technical person handling things on this end…I’ve gotten a lot better since then technically.”

 

DODGING SKIRMISHES AND FILMING BY DAY, UPLOADING VIDEO TO THE WEBSITE BY NIGHT 

 

 

During the day, they would film in the refugee camps, talking with mothers, fathers and children about what they were experiencing. Then the group would quickly edit and upload the media files to be transferred over the net to the Stop Genocide Now website with very little lag time between the final cut and the internet feed on the website.

 

Each day of filming and shooting on their tiny budget would prove to be a challenge.  In a area with almost no infrastructure, Stauring and his friend travelled up and down the border through mostly deserted lands with no roads.

 

Batteries died quickly, and finding an electrical outlet was often nearly impossible. Random violence occurred around them along the border as they traveled from camp to camp. Often they engaged with other humanitarian aid organizations already there working to help the Sudanese people.

 

At first, the aid groups were reluctant to assist Stauring and his friends. But soon they began to earn the trust of both aid workers and refugees alike. 

 

As they traveled, they interviewed and listened to the horrifying tales of escape and torture. Most had lost homes. Women had been raped. Most had lost family members. There was often little hope and understandably much anger among the refugees.

 

BEARING WITNESS AND FILMING STORIES THAT HAD TO BE TOLD

 

 

Stauring and his crew were compelled to continue, feeling strongly that the stories must be shared.

 

“When someone can see a face and hear a voice, it’s much more than seeing a black and white photo,” Stauring said. “It shows us, we’re human here. We are more than the news.”

 

“Some of the kids (in the camps), knew no life but the refugee camp,” says Stauring. He felt it was important for students and families living in the U.S. to experience the impact of what was happening in Darfur by seeing footage as close to real time as possible.

 

Stauring also felt, based on his travels, that there were already a number of effective organizations helping refugees in Chad, but none were able to completely communicate just how extensive the genocide was nor how damaging its affects were on those who survived and escaped to the border camps.

 

BRINGING THE REALITY OF GENOICDE TO OUR LIVING ROOMS MOTIVATES ACTION FOR POSITIVE CHANGE 

Ultimately, Stop Genocide Now galvanized a global internet community; it brought the reality of the genocide and the refugee camps into the living rooms of concerned citizens who could then become part of the conversation — and ultimately become part of the solution. 

 

 

“We wanted to give access to refugee camps from anywhere in the world, so they could see what was happening,” says Stauring. “For instance, a student can wake up, take a look at the videos, go to class and on the same day ask questions of his instructor about what’s happening there. “

 

The same goes for politicians, says Stauring, whom he said he hopes will be motivated by the footage and photographs they see on the website to make positive change in support of the refugees.

  

For instance, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is featured in one video, which uses clips from Biden’s public speeches on C-Span and other media outlets, demanding that action to end Darfur’s genocide begin now.   Footage of rebel arms, including tables stacked high with machine guns, and film of children living in refugee camps is also featured in the same clip.

 

NEXT STEP: BRINGING THE CRISIS UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL:  LA CLIPPERS STAR BARON DAIVS WILL ACT AS A CONDUIT BETWEEN  U.S. STUDENTS AND CHILDREN IN THE REFUGEE CAMPS

This December, 2010, Stauring and volunteers from i-ACT will return to the border refugee camps to resume filming for 12 days. It will be Stauring’s ninth voyage there.

 

What he hopes to begin next is to establish relationships through technology for the Darfur Dream Team Sister Schools Program, a unique collaboration with other NGOs and Los Angeles Clippers star Baron Davis that enables students in the U.S. video-blog,  to share pictures and comments, and even talk live with children living in refugee camps.  Stauring says he feels the ability to interact over the internet takes the Darfur situation a step further.  “Personalizing a crisis is the best way to reach people,” he says.

  

 i-ACT and the Darfur Dream Team will soon launch a Facebook-like page which will link schools in the U.S. with schools in the refugee camps to connect.

 

COLLABORATIONS STRENGTHEN THE MESSAGE

Stop Genocide Now and i-ACT regularly work in collaboration with other active advocacy and aid organizations, such as Jewish World Watch, the Enough Project, led by human rights activist and author John Prendergast, and Save Darfur. Sudan Now is another visible campaign, supported by actor-activist George Clooney, which has been very effective in its fight for peace in Sudan, says Stauring.  

 

Stauring and his team also make frequent presentations at universities, using their footage to motivate and inform students. Because of their savvy with cameras and computers, the group has earned a go-to status as the multi-media organization for the Darfur issue.   This, Stauring says, is the  best way to influence political policy and public awareness

 

SMALL ACTIONS MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE 

Stauring points out that it isn’t essential, by any means, to personally brave the dangers of Sudan in order t have an impact in Darfur.  Small steps make a big difference as well.

 

“My very first act of activism was an email to friends and family,” says Stauring “It was something I knew they would look at differently if I sent it to them.”

 

 

 

Contacting local leaders, sending letters to government officials in Washington D.C. and  sharing information with friends about what is happening in Darfur is also effective, or volunteering talents to the organization is beneficial. 

 

Donations also help. i-ACT was established in order to raise money for the group to continue its multi-dimensional media work.

 

“We found that Americans are generous — they like to give, and they feel giving money is an important way to help,” says Stauring. 

 

THE EMOTIONAL CONNECTION IS KEY 

But what Stauring feels is most important is that people connect to the Darfur crisis on a very emotional level. His hope is that i-Act removes walls between victims and activists and the politically influential.

 

“Most people are afraid to take that first step,” says Stauring. “You have to allow it to connect with you on a personal level. Then you’ll be personally moved to take it the next step, to contact leaders or whatever you feel is right for you.”

 

FOLLOW i-ACT DAILY

While Stauring and the i-ACT team are filming in Darfur in Dec. 9-20, daily feeds will be available for viewing and interacting at  the Stop Genocide Now and the i-Act websites.

 

Despite what is sometimes a dangerous venture for Stauring and other volunteers, the mission to share the experiences of those affected by genocide overrides any fears or doubts to continue the work.

 

“It’s great to wake up and know that you’re doing what you need to be doing,” Stauring says.

 


CONTACT:

For more information about i-ACT or Stop Genocide Now, go to www.stopgenocidenow.org or www.iactivism.org

 

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