Haiti on Our Minds

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Like many of you, I’ve been watching three days of news reports streaming from MSN.com and CNN.com. As I sit here in the comfort of a sturdy Midwestern home, I grieve for people I have never known. I watch in frustration as the planes land with supplies, yet reports from the streets are that aid is not reaching those who are most affected and most vulnerable.

What amazes me is the overall calm that has prevailed so far in this desperately poor country, even in the face of a disaster of massive proportions. Men, women, and children alike wait for help that is far too long in coming — in a relatively orderly manner for the most part. Yes, there are outbreaks of violence and looting. But the astonishing thing is how long peace reigned before any trouble began — and that it still reigns still over most of the capital city.

Speaking to an MSN.com camera crew, one young man with a clear American accent said, “I don’t expect you to get it to us immediately. But at least give us something, so we can have courage.” …

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Dispatches from Copenhagen – Wednesday, Two Days Remaining

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COPENHAGEN — The anxiety and anticipation rising in the conference center are palpable as the fault lines become more distinct and several entities attempt to resurrect negotiations. It’s Wednesday morning in Copenhagen, there are far fewer NGOs, a lot more press, and sightings of presidents and prime ministers scuttling to meetings. It’s difficult to make sense of everything that is taking place at these talks. But one thing is clear, the sense of urgency has heightened, and time is running out for nations to strike a deal….

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Jen’s Kitchen — Serving Up Sandwiches and Humanity to Survival Sex Workers

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On any given night, between 7 PM and 1 AM, Jennifer Allan walks from street corner to street corner in a section of Vancouver, British Columbia known as the Downtown Eastside. She is looking for prostitutes. They are easy to find at this hour, in this place, where drug addiction is common, and addicts will do almost anything for their next fix. But Allan is not seeking sex or drugs or stereotypes. She is reaching out to hurting, hungry people. She carries with her a basket of sandwiches and a heart filled with compassion.

Jennifer Allan is the founder and sole proprietor of Jen’s Kitchen, which she describes to me by phone as “an advocacy, outreach, food-relief program.” She adds, “We work with survival sex workers, single mums, victims of domestic violence, and women getting out of federal and provincial prison.”

The term “survival sex worker” is new to me, so I ask Allan to define it….

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Heifer International – A Sustainable Solution to Poverty

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“Lifting people out of poverty doesn’t come from the outside in; it’s an inside-out job,” says Christine Volkmer, spokesperson for Heifer International. The organization she represents is known worldwide as having a highly effective method for helping one family at a time to not only survive, but prosper. More important, families helped by Heifer International also commit to share, passing on the benefits they have received…

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Make a Difference in Hunger, One Person or Village at a Time

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When most people I know talk about hunger, we are referring to a rumbling emptiness in our stomachs that makes us look forward to our next meal in a few minutes or, at worst, a few hours. We get hungry, but we are far from starving. Yet I have known plenty of kids whose only meals were the breakfasts and lunches they received at school. I’ve seen hungry people standing in line waiting for a free lunch. This is what hunger looks like in the U.S. and most other industrialized nations…

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ANSWER – Ending Caste in Nepal with Education and Jobs

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Conscientious donors around the world give money to NGOs with the full expectation that their contributions will work toward the benefit of the intended recipients. But, as Earle Canfield, explains in today’s post, the reality is often quite different, with too many NGOs working ultimately for their own sustainability and not delivering “real help.”

Canfield’s NGO, American-Nepali Student & Women’s Educational Relief (ANSWER), is different. “Instead of fostering dependency,” Canfield says, “we empower students.” ANSWER gives “just enough help” to impoverished low-caste families by paying for one child’s private school education. The families, in turn, pay for a small part of their children’s school needs. By requiring a personal investment, ANSWER motivates families to continue the child’s participation through college, whereupon the graduate secures a good-paying job. Education not only breaks the cycle of poverty for the families, it also empowers low-caste students to become part of the new middle class that will overturn the caste system in their lifetime.

This is Part 2 of a two-part interview with ANSWER’s founder, Earle Canfield.

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