There is no one recipe to improve the lives of others, no perfect alchemy of the right conditions, the right kind of experience or academic background necessary to effect real change in the world. Sometimes a single event can lead to a movement that spreads globally and has a deep social impact.
Here are five organisations that prove we are all capable of making a positive change in the world. It’s time to get inspired!
Mary’s Meals is a global charity, which was set up in 2002 by Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, a former salmon farmer from Argyll in Scotland. He met a boy named Edward from Malawi whose mother was dying of AIDS. When Magnus asked the boy what his dreams were, he replied: “I want to have enough food to eat and to go to school one day.” This response inspired the birth of Mary’s Meals.
The school feeding programme started by feeding just 200 children in Malawi and has been steadily expanding ever since. Mary’s Meals now provides over one million of the world’s poorest children with a nutritious meal every day they attend school. The charity currently works in 12 countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. It costs as little as £6.10 to feed one child for a whole school year. Mary’s Meals effectiveness is borne out of its simplicity. Providing one meal a day at a place of learning is an elegant solution to curb hunger and encourage education.
Find out more: https://www.marysmeals.org.uk/
Amnesty International is the world’s largest grassroots human rights organisation. It was founded in 1961 by British lawyer Peter Benenson, who was incensed when two Portuguese students were jailed for merely raising a toast to freedom.
Benenson wrote an incendiary article titled Forgotten Prisoners for The Observer, which was reprinted in newspapers across the world. Peter’s call to action sparked an extraordinary social change movement based on people across the borders, uniting in solidarity for freedom, justice, fairness and truth.
“It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness”
Benenson channelled his outrage over a singular event into a global movement that has been going strong for 50 years: seven million men, women and children stand together for human rights.
Amnesty’s work is supported by their independent field research, first-hand eyewitness and survivor accounts, and forensic data. It investigates and exposes abuse, educates and mobilises the public to transform societies to create a safe and more just world by convincing unflinching governments to address long-standing human rights violations.
Find out more: http://www.amnesty.org.uk/
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 2 million annual deaths are attributable to unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene. Lack of access to safe water and sanitation has a great implication on development.
Scott Harrison, a former club promoter, founded Charity water in 2006. Unsatisfied with his hedonistic lifestyle, he decided to make a change and signed up for a two year voluntary programme with a humanitarian organisation that provided free medical care in some of the world’s poorest countries. While in Liberia, he learned that unsafe water and sanitation was the major cause for most diseases they encountered.
On his 31st birthday, he threw a party, charged a $20 entry fee and raised $15,000; enough to fund the construction of three wells in Uganda. And he hasn’t looked back.
This young charity has now provided clean drinking water to more than five million people and had has funded over 16,000 water projects in Africa, Asia, Central and South America.
Find out more: http://www.charitywater.org/
Girls not Brides
One third of girls in the developing world are married before the age of 18 and 1 in 9 are married before the age of 15 (International Centre for Research on Women). One of the leading causes of death in girls between the age of 15-19 in low and middle income countries is pregnancy and child birth complications. These girls are denied fundamental rights to health, education and safety and are often socially isolated.
Girls not Brides is a member-driven partnership that connects organisations working around the world at grassroots, local and global level to end child marriage worldwide. It was launched in 2011 and currently has a partnership of over 500 organisations working in over 50 countries.
The goal is straightforward: raise awareness about child marriage and eradicate the practice. The reality of achieving this goal, however, is complicated and requires a multi-faceted and collaborative approach. These organisations work together to make change by calling for new laws, policies and programmes that will make a difference to the lives of millions of girls.
While awareness of child marriage has increased in recent years (e.g. I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced), there is much work left to be done. If we do nothing, an additional 1.2 billion girls will be married by 2050.
Find out more: http://www.girlsnotbrides.org/
Hippo Water Roller Project
The Hippo Water Roller was created in 1991 by two South Africans, Pettie Petzer and Johan Jonker. Both of them came from rural farming communities where access to water was a daily struggle.
The 90 litre Hippo Water Roller helps communities to improve access to water by enabling people, especially women, children and elderly to collect five times more water than a single bucket by simply rolling it along the ground. This simple yet innovative design not only holds more water and saves time but its utility cap is fitted with a filter, ensuring the water is hygienic and safe. It is also a multi-purpose tool: Small farmers can use it for irrigation by unscrewing a mini-cap on the main lid which releases a stream of water. It is designed for tough terrains in rural areas and has a life span of five-seven years without maintenance.
Although this may not be a long-term solution to water scarcity, it a great short-term solution that saves time, energy and has many social benefits. It has a positive effect on education especially for girls who spend a lot of their time collecting water and overall bolsters the productivity of communities.
The Hippo roller project was first started in South Africa in 1994. Nearly 40,000 Hippo rollers have now been distributed to at least 20 countries with at least 300,000 beneficiaries.
Find out more: http://www.hipporoller.org/