Angelique Namaika: The humanitarian nun who dedicates her life to helping women in need

Angelique Namaika: The humanitarian nun who dedicates her life to helping women in need

When Angelique Namaika was a child she became so sick that she almost didn’t survive, but what followed was a happy childhood, one in which she was very close to her parents, giving her a good foundation for helping those … Continue reading

A volunteer’s view

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I recently spent a day volunteering at MAG HQ in Manchester, after which they asked me to write an article about my experience for their MAG Dispatches blog.

I found out about MAG whilst doing research on the effect of landmines and discarded bombs from the Vietnam War. I came across an article about an all female demining group in Laos and what I found fascinating about the story was how MAG train and employ women from local farming communities to demine the fields. This raises the status of women in a country where the literacy rate among the female population is currently 54 per cent, compared with 77 per cent for men. Working for MAG means they receive valuable training as a technician or medic and gives them skills they can pass on to their daughters.

 Female demining group in Laos
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MAG Laos Deputy Team Leader Souk Savan carefully places a corroded 60mm mortar bomb, close to the ancient stupas in Khoun. This is a popular tourist site and, like the Plain of Jars, it is important the area is made safe. [Photo: Sean Sutton / MAG]

This inspired me to write to MAG to ask if there were any volunteering opportunities available at their HQ in Manchester and they were kind enough to let me come in for the day to help the fundraising team with donor mailing. When I arrived, Jen Birch and Jess Carver gave me an introduction to MAG and how their fundraising activities work. It was interesting to learn that MAG is known primarily as a humanitarian organisation with a long-term focus on finding ways to reduce the risk of injury or death by educating local communities and creating jobs (more than 90% of MAG’s employees are local workers). Rather than focusing on how many landmines have been destroyed or how big an area has been cleared, their aim as a humanitarian organisation is to enable countries to rebuild socially and economically.

My day at  MAG HQ involved sending thank you letters to all their donors and also a copy of their bi-annual publication called Impact, which helps keep supporters up to date with MAG’s work. It is a very informative booklet giving an insight into everything from Lebanon’s female bomb searchers to an update on how the public’s contributions during the Laos Appeal helped people living in dangerous areas.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at MAG, the staff were fantastic and made me feel incredibly welcome. Their passion for the organisation really shines through and I came away with an even greater understanding of the amazing work they do.

The original article can be found here on the MAG Dispatches blog

• Please check the MAG website for volunteer opportunities at MAG HQ: www.maginternational.org/jobs.

A plea from the Treasure Fairy

©treasureboxes

©treasureboxes

I was browsing facebook this morning when I came across a really important message from the Treasure Fairy. Back in June I wrote a blog post about the Treasure Fairy, an eight year old girl who makes bracelets to raise money for women and children living in a women’s refuge, a deed she started at the age of six. She is currently trying to register with the Charity Commission – it is hoped that she can reach more women’s refuges around the country with her work.

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Please spare a couple of minutes to read this important message from the Treasure Fairy and her family.

“I have spent a lot of time planning over the summer and once the school holidays are over I am going to be spending more time developing this into something that can reach out to far more children. This is going to mean some personal sacrifices, which I am more than happy to face, but I need your help and it need not cost you a penny.

Currently we cannot be registered with the Charity Commission as I have to prove to them that we can generate at least £5000 a year (check out their website for more details on this). The sooner that we can submit our accounts to show that this amount is achievable, the sooner we can start the registration process. Registration will enable us to access new avenues of funding and support.

Although it would be wonderful for a secret millionaire to read this and make a large donation, I know that this is not likely to happen. We also believe that you should get something in return for your donation – along with the satisfaction of knowing that you have supported a group of children that society seems to overlook.”

A note from The Treasure Fairy ©treasureboxes

A note from The Treasure Fairy ©treasureboxes

“All I am asking is that you make a donation in return for a bracelet, bag charm, keyring, pendant or fairy adoption. If every one of our Facebook and Twitter followers did this we would smash the £5000 target and it would start us on the journey to something truly amazing.

Help the Treasure Fairy to realise her dream of being able to support every single child who spends time in a women’s refuge. If you can’t donate, please just share. Your Facebook share might just lead us to our secret millionaire!”

To share this page on facebook please follow this link: http://www.facebook.com/helptreasureboxes

Follow on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/Treasure_Boxes

Donate to Treasure Boxes here – http://www.treasureboxes.org.uk/content/order

Find out more here: http://www.treasureboxes.org.uk/home

A Very British Appeal: 50 years of the Disasters Emergency Committee

Tonight at 10:35pm ITV will screen a documentary about how the British public, for the last 50 years, has responded with a huge amount of generosity to appeals made by the Disasters Emergency Committee.

DEC_logo_mainEvery time there’s a natural or conflict driven disaster anywhere in the world, 14 of Britain’s biggest aid agencies, including Save the Children, Christian Aid and the British Red Cross to name a few, come together as one under the banner of the DEC who then organise the emotional celebrity led appeals that we see on our TV screens, or hear on the radio. In the 50 years since this British charity began, they have raised over £1billion to help relieve hunger and suffering around the globe, from Ethiopia and Rwanda to Somalia and Syria.

The documentary tonight follows the charity through the last 50 years and 62 DEC appeals. Aid workers talk about lessons learnt from dealing with some of the worlds biggest humanitarian disasters and the presenter Rageh Omaar travels to Haiti where three years ago 220,000 people died during the most deadly earthquake in modern times. He gets to see for himself exactly how the £107 Million you gave to the DEC’s Haiti Appeal has been spent including a visit to a school rebuilt with DEC money.

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Rageh Omaar

The documentary also goes behind the scenes to follow the story of the DEC’s most recent appeal – Syria. From concept to launch, the DEC team attempt to raise the vital funds to ease the suffering of the hundreds of thousands of refugees currently fleeing the crisis over the border to Jordan.

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Traditionally conflicts never raise as much money for the DEC as natural disasters, but over the years the British have been very quick off the mark to donate their money especially during the Kosovo and Darfur crises and the 1984 Ethiopian famine.

If you’d like to watch the documentary it will be screened from 10:35pm until 11:35pm this evening on ITV.

If you would like to donate to the Syria Appeal you can do so by clicking here – http://www.dec.org.uk/appeals/syria-crisis-appeal

You can follow the DEC on Twitter here – https://twitter.com/decappeal

And on Facebook here – https://www.facebook.com/DisastersEmergencyCommittee

Pakistan Expenditure per Sector

World Refugee Day 2013: By the end of the year half of Syria’s population will be displaced

A Syrian refugee plays with her child in front of her family's tent in the Zaatari Syrian Refugee camp, in Mafraq, Jordan © Mohammad Hannon/AP

A Syrian refugee plays with her child in front of her family’s tent in the Zaatari Syrian Refugee camp, in Mafraq, Jordan © Mohammad Hannon/AP

Tomorrow (20th June 2013) is World Refugee Day, and with latest events in Syria it is now more important than ever to be aware of the plight of refugees.

There are currently 1,600,000 Syrian refugees living in camps in Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey. Yesterday UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie was in Jordan where 540,000 refugees reside. She visited one of the camps to mark World Refugee Day and also “to show support for Syria’s refugees, to call on the world to address their plight, and to better understand needs in Jordan and other countries in the region most directly affected by this devastating conflict.”

51c163ce6“The worst humanitarian crisis of the 21st century is unfolding in the Middle East today,” Angelina added. “By the end of this year half of Syria’s population – ten million people – are expected to be displaced and in desperate need.”

The UN recently launched the largest emergency appeal in their history for £3.2 billion. In the Zaatari camp in Jordan there are 30,000 children of school age living there but only two schools in operation which are full to capacity, teaching 10,000 children. They are building another school that will be able to house 5,000 children but due to a lack of funding there is no money for the teachers’ salaries or to run it full stop.

Children in the camp are suffering from diarrhoea, respiratory infections, high fever, ear infections and skin diseases, due to poor sanitation and hygiene. In winter the camps are constantly flooded due to rain and snow and in the summer the temperatures regularly top 100°F making living conditions in the dusty camp unbearable.

The £3.2bn currently sought by the UN is to cover refugees’ most basic needs and only until the end of this year – the situation is critical.

One U.N. agency, the World Food Programme (WFP), has delivered 500 million meals in Syria so far this year. “We have reached a stage in Syria where some of the people, if they don’t get food from the World Food Programme, they simply do not eat,” the WFP’s Syria Regional Emergency Coordinator Muhannad Hadi said.

Syrian refugee children walk after heavy rain at Al-Zaatari refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq ©  Reuters/Muhammad Hamed

Syrian refugee children walk after heavy rain at Al-Zaatari refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq ©
Reuters/Muhammad Hamed

The European Union last week promised 400 million euros, Russia and China have so far contributed $10 million and $1 million to the UNHCR. Although it is fantastic that countries all over the world are donating to the cause, the numbers from world governments still falls way short of what they need to survive. It is hoped with the Syria appeal that donations from the likes of you and me will help them reach their target so they can provide for the basic needs of the thousands of refugees streaming out of Syria everyday.

You can help by donating to the WFP here. Alternatively you can help by donating to the UNHCR’s appeal here – UK UNHCR – http://donate.unhcr.org/syria-uk or the Worldwide UNHCR – http://donate.unhcr.org/syria

£15 could provide two families with synthetic mats to prevent them from sleeping on the ground.

£30 can provide high thermal fleece blankets to keep a family warm during the bitter winter months.

£80 can provide kitchen equipment for eight families to cook warm food throughout the winter.

£300 can provide a tent to shelter a family from the harsh weather.

Angelina Jolie talks to to Syrian refugees in a camp on the Jordan-Syria border ©AFP/Getty Images

Angelina Jolie talks to Syrian refugees in a camp on the Jordan-Syria border ©AFP/Getty

To understand, on a tiny scale, what it must be like to be a refugee, I’d like to share a story from my post on World Refugee Day last year. Apologies about this but it is a story that has stayed with me ever since I saw it on the television series Equator several years ago.  The presenter Simon Reeve visited a refugee camp on the Somalian/Kenyan border and met a young girl, Fatima, who fled the dangers of her home country Somalia for the camp in Kenya. What really struck me was that she’d never travelled more than 4km from the camp. The Kenyan authorities wouldn’t let her go any further into Kenya and she couldn’t go back to Somalia so therefore had been trapped with thousands of other refugees in the camp for the last 17 years. In the programme, Simon Reeve talked about having a British passport and how he could go anywhere he wanted in the world yet the refugees are confined to what is almost a prison.

After visiting the camp, he said: “Thanks to an accident of birth, I was lucky enough to be able to leave to continue my journey around the world”.

The number of displaced persons around the world currently numbers 45,000,000 due to the ongoing conflicts in Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mali. In 2012 alone, 7,600,000 people became refugees, with the total number at its highest since 1994.

Thank you for reading,

Please, please donate if you can by following this link for the UK site – http://donate.unhcr.org/syria-uk or this link for the worldwide UNHCR page – http://donate.unhcr.org/syria

Visit the UNHCR here – http://www.unhcr.org.uk/

Donate to the World Food Programme here.

You can follow the UNHCR on Twitter here – https://twitter.com/Refugees

And on Facebook here – https://www.facebook.com/UNHCR

The WFP are on Twitter here – https://twitter.com/WFP

And on Facebook here.

It’s Small Charity Week

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This week, from 17th to the 22nd June, it’s Small Charity Week.

Small Charity Week is a campaign which was first set up in 2010 by the Foundation for Social Improvement (FSI) to celebrate and raise the profile of the small charity sector.

The objectives of Small Charity Week are to:

  • Celebrate the contribution that small charities make to communities throughout the UK and across the world
  • Improve the knowledge, representation and sustainability of small charities
  • Highlight the work of the small charity sector to the broadest possible audience
  • Encourage public giving
  • Work with the small charity sector to develop political engagement at a national and local level

These objectives are put into practice over the course of the week through a series of activities and initiatives in order to bring attention to all the small charities that are trying to make a difference in the world. For example, on day 4 (the 20th June) of Small Charities Week, the charities have the objective of showcasing their volunteering opportunities.

Act4Africa

This week I’d like to put the spotlight on Act4Africa which is a small charity based in Altrincham, Cheshire.

It was set up in 2000 by husband and wife team Martin and Kathy Smedley with the aim of combating HIV and also promoting gender justice for women and girls by equipping them with life skills to be free from poverty.

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They run a medical elective programme where they organise placements at hospitals based in Uganda for medical students or health professionals on a career break/who have retired. They also organise trips for teachers wishing to do their placements in Uganda.

In partnership with Girl Effect and the Uganda Girl Guides association, they provide life-training skills and health education to allow 65,00 girls to escape poverty, It is thought that in Uganda 85% of girls leave school early. Act4Africa’s three-year programme aims to combat this through training and education, enabling girls to aspire to higher paid jobs and leadership positions.

This small charity has made a huge impact since it started 13 years ago. They have rolled their training programme out to 1.25 million Africans with 75,000 children a year receiving teaching and learning on gender equality and HIV risks. Not only this, they have set up a mobile village for HIV testing and counselling which over 10,000 people a year have access to.

‘Making the world dramatically different’ is their tagline… I’d say they’re doing exactly that.

If you would like to find out more information on Small Charity Week and Act4Africa, please follow the below links:

Visit Small Charity Week here – http://smallcharityweek.com/

Visit Act4Africa here – http://www.act4africa.org.uk/

Follow Act4Africa on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Act4Africa

Follow Act4Africa on Twitter – https://twitter.com/ACT4AFRICA

Follow Small Charity Week on Twitter here – https://twitter.com/SCWeek2013

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