Even though it’s been nearly seven years since I moved to Seattle, as a southern transplant living in the Pacific Northwest I still struggle to adjust this time of year. With the return of gloomy skies, rainy weather and very short days, I find myself seeking out bits of inspiration and joy to get that warm, cozy feeling that helps get me in the autumn spirit! While hot soups, the beautiful colors of changing leaves and crisp morning walks certainly help, Global Impact thought we’d put together something even more effective in curing the winter blues.
This month we are focusing on economic development and, in the spirit of the giving season, are sharing six uplifting stories from our charity partners about how they are helping people around the world rise out of poverty. Plus, as we are in the heart of autumn, these stories all involve three of my favorite fall themes – family, home and food.
Habitat for Humanity International: A Home of Their Own – The Key to New Opportunities
Habitat for Humanity International provides a place for families across the globe to call home. In partnership with families, communities and an extensive network of volunteers, Habitat for Humanity is creating a stronger, more stable and self-reliant future for them. Affordable housing and homeownership not only frees families from instability and increased stress, but it also gives them a place to gather, flourish and transform their lives.
After years of pouring money into rentals and having to wait on others to respond to her home’s needs, one Habitat for Humanity applicant, Krushetta, reached her breaking point and decided it was time to take charge. She partnered with Habitat for Humanity and completed hundreds of hours to help build her new home, eventually achieving her dream of finally becoming a homeowner. Krushetta chose a yellow front door to represent her new beginning and, now that she has her home, she is focusing on continuing her education for new career opportunities. And, while she isn’t at work? Krushetta is filling her home with laughter and music, cooking with her three very proud sons, finding calm with her baby granddaughter and dancing with friends. As Krushetta says, “A lot of love was put into the home, and we’re still putting in love each and every day.”
World Renew: Supporting Family with Sustainable Farming and Warm Tortillas
Through community development World Renew works to free families from poverty. They have joined together with staff, local partners, global communities and donors to bring positive change to create a brighter future for tomorrow and help restore hope. World Renew’s community development programs help break down barriers so communities can provide families with more opportunities and a path to change their stories of poverty.
Honduran native Merlyn Zuelma Zambrano has partnered with World Renew as part of their savings and loan program to grow her tortilla business. Despite slowed sales and rising expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the help of World Renew Merlyn has been able to keep her business open and help her family thrive. When Merlyn is not focusing on her tortilla business, she is helping to transform her community by working with other women in sustainable farming. World Renew has trained them on efficient ways to grow, harvest and market vegetables. The program helps Merlyn and the other women subsidize income and provide nutritious food for their families.
International Orthodox Christian Charities: Supporting Families, Communities and Businesses Rebuild After Devastation in Greece
International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) offers emergency relief and development programs to those in need worldwide. They equip people with the means to improve their own lives and communities, and to live with dignity and hope. IOCC operates in countries across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas, including Greece.
The long financial crisis continues to impact the daily lives of people and businesses in Greece. Add on COVID-19 and natural disasters like flooding and fires, and many have found themselves struggling to return to stability. Here are two examples of how IOCC is helping support the people of Greece:
In the wake of natural disasters and emergencies throughout Greece, IOCC has provided grants to farmers who have lost livelihoods and livestock; given refugees aid, hot meals, emergency food, and water/sanitation infrastructure in camps; and supplied families with vouchers or grocery cards to buy food, school supplies and basics like beds and kitchen appliances.
One recipient family includes people like Ioanna, her elementary-school age son George and their neighbors who survived devastating fires that hit their village in Ilia in August 2021. After losing so much to the fires, IOCC responded quickly, working with local groups to meet immediate needs by including vouchers for food, hygiene and home necessities. In addition to the immediate assistance provided, IOCC is also focused on long-term recovery by providing animal feed to farmers and new equipment to small businesses across affected areas, as they work to rebuild their lives and livelihoods. George was one of many children who received a school supply voucher and a school kit so he could have everything he needed for the first day of classes.
Anera (American Near East Refugee Aid): Learning Traditional Cooking Skills in a Home Away from Home
Anera provides humanitarian assistance and sustainable development across Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan. Through economic development and other programs Anera responds to the critical needs, providing help and hope to refugees and communities hurt by conflict.
Lebanon hosts the largest Palestinian refugee camp, Ein El Hilweh. Since its founding in 1948 its population has swelled to over 120,000 as refugees from other countries and conflicts in the region have fled there. Although the camp is faced with security problems, violence and overcrowding, residents have made it their home away from home – which is especially evident at The Women’s Program Association in the heart of the camp. The Women’s Program Association is an Anera partner that offers a safe space for women, children and youth. It has developed vocational courses that equip young residents with technical skills to increase their employability, including a course on food preparation and preservation. Participants learn how to cook and train in the traditional food preservation technique known as mouneh – or canning in English. This course teaches them how to dry and pickle vegetables, extract oils, produce pastes and age cheeses, while also helping them develop important life skills such as building confidence, problem-solving and communication along the way.
The program has made major impacts on the lives of its students. Firas, a 20-year-old Palestinian resident who dropped out of school in the ninth grade and has struggled to secure steady work, found his calling through this course. He is now working towards his dream of partnering with his mother to combine their mouneh knowledge and experience and start their own business. At just 17, another young chef Raghad Al-Khatib already has ambitions of making distillates that can be added to food as sweeteners, like rose water and blossom water, and launching a line of healthy, homemade mouneh products.
UMCOR: Supporting Communities Across Africa with Farming and Agricultural Training Programs
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is the global humanitarian aid and development organization of the United Methodist Church. They support people in need through key impact areas like disaster relief, health and hunger, education, community development and more. Through their work they transform the lives of individuals and nurture communities in sustainable ways.
Their Bishop John K. Yambasu Agriculture Initiative supports churches across Africa in fully mobilizing local and regional resources for crops and animal raising. The program improves household livelihoods and food security through training opportunities, providing seeds and tools and ultimately helping communities in Africa to become more self-sustaining. Recently they had 27 farm and technical operatives from Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria and Zimbabwe attend at a two-week training to learn agricultural entrepreneurial skills in sustainable farming. The initiative has also cultivated about 140 acres for rice farming in Sierra Leone, is developing farms across Zimbabwe, training 200 farmers in Liberia, and working on intensive agricultural development in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). They developed a training center in North Katanga, DRC, and are working with communities in crop production, marketing, administration and project development. Through these programs UMCOR and its partners can address critical problems around food security in Africa, generate income to fund future projects, create jobs for local communities and provide an additional source of revenue for participants.
Church World Service: Bringing Delicious Sweets Back to the Village
Church World Service (CWS) was born in the wake of the devastation of World War II when 17 Christian denominations came together, acknowledging they were stronger together than apart. CWS continues its work with those same principles of welcome, collaboration and dignity. Through their work and their partners, they provide people around the world with a voice and a safe place to call home.
This includes Nurmita. Nurmita lives in a central Salwesi village with her family selling traditional cakes to make her income. When a devastating earthquake hit her home in 2018, Nurmita and many others in her community lost their livelihoods. Nurmita’s baking equipment and supplies were gone, but with help from CWS, she and 89 others in the village were awarded small grants to restart their businesses. With her grant she bought a mixer, small oven, propane and other supplies that helped her start baking again. She is back to selling her famous cakes like biapong, a steamed bun filled with peanut paste, and konto-konto, a fried bun filled with brown sugar. Nurmita sells just over 100 cakes every day and uses the money to pay for her children’s education and other household necessities, with money left to save every month!
We hope these stories have brought you some warmth as we draw further into the fall se
ason. As you can see, there are so many ways in which Global Impact’s charity partners are helping people, families and communities all over the world rise above poverty – and you can be a part of their efforts! If these stories have inspired you to do more, here are a few easy ways to support those in need during this giving season:
- Continue the journey! Click here to learn more about our charities’ work in economic development and read more inspiring stories on how they are helping to eradicate poverty.
- Donate! Be a part of these inspiring stories by donating to one of the organizations featured in this blog, or your favorite charity, through your employee giving campaign. You can see which Global Impact charities participate in your workplace’s campaign with our campaign selector.
- Join others in a mission to reduce and end poverty by contributing to Global Impact’s Economic Development Fund.
- Volunteer! Our charity members have a variety of fun and unique ways to engage with their work. Whether you’re looking for something you can do with your coworkers, with your family or on your own, you can find a volunteer activity that’s right for you with our volunteer menu.
- Spread the word! Keep the inspiration flowing by sharing these stories and others with your colleagues with our Economic Development Cause Kit.