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Read, Debate: Engage.
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March 08th, 2019

Berliners: raise your voice against racism and in support of tolerance

type:Donation, NGO, Protest, Volunteering
by:Yair Oded

Across the world, far-right elements have penetrated the socio-political discourse— garnering rising support of local populations by touting xenophobic sentiments and a rhetoric of “us” vs. “them”. They inspire hatred and suspicion by capitalizing on people’s most primal fears, prejudices, and insecurities— both financial and cultural.

As a result, oppression of racial minorities, immigrants, refugees, and women has exacerbated dramatically.

The Coalition Berlin is a Berlin-based NGO committed to dispelling racist and hateful sentiments and inspiring tolerance and social-equality.

They do so through a series of events, community actions, and rallies across the German capital.

“We will speak up against injustice and oppression wherever it occurs. We do not accept a world in which hate is used as a weapon and diversity seen as a threat.” the Coalition members declare in their manifesto.

Visit their website to learn more about their mission, event calendar, and ways in which you can get involved.
March 07th, 2019
Support local communities worldwide in their fight for equality and climate justice
type:Donation, NGO, Volunteering
by:Yair Oded

Grassroots International is an non profit organization working to forge connections between U.S. based groups and communities across the globe in order to help them tackle issues such as poverty and climate change-related disasters.

The organization places its focus on vulnerable communities in locations that range from Brazil to Asia, who deal with various socio-economic hardships and human rights violations and puts them in touch with American organizations and volunteers who can help them advance their causes.

Grassroots international organize rallies, fundraising campaigns, advocacy efforts, and operates a team of volunteers who together help to empower communities around the world in their fight for their right to land, water, and food as well as for climate justice.

Whether you’re interested in supporting indigenous people in Brazil whose lands are confiscated by the government, Guatemalan communities ravaged by mining projects, or feminist groups galvanizing support prior to Women’s Day, Grassroots International can put you in touch with local groups and situate you at the heart of the activism effort.  

Visit their website to learn how you can help spread their message and get involved.

Image credit: Grassroots International website.
March 05th, 2019
Sign the People vs. Oil petition to end the age of oil
by:Yair Oded

The disastrous effects of the oil industry on our planet are acutely visible.

As stated by the IPCC in their 2018 report, the international community has to drastically reduce emissions by 2030 in order to prevent the worst impacts of global warming. This means divesting from oil and embracing new energy production technology.

Emboldened by a series of court victories against oil giants and successful climate initiatives launched by communities, civilians, nonprofits, and governments from across the globe— Greenpeace seek to step up the game and ensure that oil becomes a feature of the past.

Support Greenpeace by signing their People vs. Oil petition calling on global leaders to ban all new oil development and extraction, phase out production and sales of oil-operated vehicles, and transition to “people-centered, renewable energy and transport systems.”

You may also help by spreading the news and circulating the petition in your networks and social media platforms.

Time is of the essence. Every vote counts.

Let’s end oil. For good.

Image credit: Greenpeace website.
March 04th, 2019
Protect the rights of immigrants in the U.S. and call for the end of their abuse
type:Donation, NGO, Volunteering
by:Yair Oded

Treatment of immigrants in the United States (both documented and undocumented) is worsening rapidly. What was already a harsh reality for immigrants in previous years, has devolved under the current administration to an absolute nightmare— as the government issues more and more decrees that complicate the immigration and asylum process and render them increasingly treacherous and inaccessible.

Meanwhile, across the country, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has morphed into nothing short of an anti-immigrant army— employing inhumane tactics to intimidate immigrants and arrest them in their homes, jobs, in the streets, and even at courthouses while their non-immigration related cases are being deliberated.

The Immigrant Defense Project is a nonprofit organization working to protect immigrants (both documented and undocumented) across the United States. Among their many projects and campaigns, the organization provides tools and information for immigrants who are at risk of deportations and inform them of their rights.

They also launched an interactive map called ICE Watch, which tracks the location, time, and story of ICE raids committed in the northeast, and provide detailed information about recent tactics they employ to apprehend immigrants.

The organization lobbies with government and legislative authorities on behalf of immigrants in order to cease arrests at courthouses and halt deportations of immigrants who commit petty crimes, and adopt more substantial laws protecting them from abuse and arbitrary imprisonment and deportation by the immigration authorities.

They also provide training to litigators and volunteers dealing with immigration and immigrant detention cases.

Please visit their website to further acquaint yourself with the reality of immigrants in the U.S., learn about your rights as an immigrant, and figure out how you can help defend them as a lawyer or volunteer.

Image credit: AP file photo through
March 01st, 2019
Support DRC’s persecuted journalists and freedom fighters
type:Donation, NGO
by:Yair Oded

Stability has yet to reach the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a country which has known incessant bloodshed, conflict, corruption, and poverty since the 1970’s. After 18 years in power, DRC’s leader, Joseph Kabila, has announced an election in which he ultimately lost to to Felix Tshisekedi, who took power in January 2019. Many argue, however, that Tshisekedi’s victory resulted from fraudulent elections, as his opponent, Martin Fayulu, was projected to win by a landslide. The growing assumption is that Tshisekedi had made a deal with Kabila, allowing him and the elite to remain involved in the country’s affairs.

Furthermore, while DRC’s government and financial elite have looted the country’s natural resources (through the support of greedy Western governments and corporations), the local population has been thrown into a growing humanitarian crisis- as poverty and disease ravage Congolese people across the country. Freedom of speech and dissent have been utterly stifled by the regime, and killings, abuse, and intimidation of journalists and political activists has been rife.

As Western governments and corporations gain from DR Congo’s corrupt regime, they are reluctant to exert any pressure on its authorities to adopt Democratic principles of governance. It is up to the people of the world, therefore, to raise their voice and join the Congolese people in their demand for justice.

Front Line Defenders (FDL), an NGO that monitors and supports human rights activists across the globe, has placed one of its focuses on the situation in DRC. FDL regularly publish and track cases of individuals harassed and arrested by the authorities in DRC for their humanitarian work and expression of dissent.

FDL also provide financial and medical aid to such local activists who face abuse or prosecution by the government.

Please visit their website to learn more about the situation unfolding in the DRC, and make sure that the country’s freedom fighters are supported by the international community.

Image credit: Front Line Defenders website.
February 28th, 2019
Urge UN to monitor and prevent human rights violations in Western Sahara
type:NGO, Petition
by:Yair Oded

For decades, the Saharawi people of Western Sahara have been pushing for independence from Morocco, which refuses to relinquish control of the region. Last December, another failed round of talks between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front has left Western Saharans under grave uncertainty regarding their future.

While the United Nations maintains its presence in the area through MINURSO (the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara), it fails to oversee the humanitarian situation in the region and curb the numerous human rights violations taking place there— including gross violation of freedom of expression, movement, assembly, and the right to fair trial and freedom from torture.

Western Sahara Action Forum (WSAF) is a nonprofit working to pressure the UN Security council to establish a human rights monitoring mechanism in Western Sahara alongside the renewal of the MINURSO mandate— until a free and fair referendum takes place to determine the future of the region’s residents.

In addition to gathering and circulating information regarding human rights abuses in the region, WSAF take actions to raise the issues with those in charge at the United Nations.

One of their campaigns invites supporters to draft and send letters to members of the UN Security Council regarding the issue.

Please visit their website to learn how you can help pressure the international community to take a stronger stance against human rights violations in a conflict zone that often fails to reach the public’s attention.
February 02nd, 2019
This NGO gives thousands of Kenyan youths a ticket to a better future. Support their efforts today.
type:Donation, Volunteering
by:Yair Oded

Kenya’s youth is in a challenging position. Research shows that 1 in 5 Kenyans between the ages of 15-24, who are eligible for employment, are unemployed. In turn, high unemployment rates increase these youths’ exposure to criminal activity, teen pregnancy, prostitution, and dire poverty. This puts an already vulnerable population at an even greater risk.

Since 2001, Raising Futures Kenya have been working tirelessly to provide the country’s youth with employment opportunities and guarantee their prosperity and well-being (as well as those of their families).

Through a network of volunteers, Raising Futures Kenya collaborate with individuals, other NGOs, and local government to provide training to young Kenyans in various fields, with which they could later on find employment or beginning their own small business (a process through which Raising Futures assist them).

The organization places special focus on children and teenagers with disabilities, who are still largely discriminated against in Kenya and often have no access to vocational training, education, or employment. Raising Futures collaborate with schools that specialize in education for children with disabilities and provide them with more resources to meet the needs of these children.

The organization also focuses on the advancement of girls, who also suffer from discrimination in education and employment, compared to male Kenyans. In fact, 72% of the program’s attendees are girls, who receive vocational training and support in launching their own businesses.

Raising Futures Kenya have thus far educated and trained more than 2,000 youths. 86% of their graduates are either employed or self-employed and 89% of them contribute to their family’s needs every month.

What’s more, is that an estimated 50% of graduates currently monitor and support others in their community, which through a trickle-down effect ensures the prosperity and improvement of others around them.

If you are interested in volunteering with Raising Futures, please visit their website.

If volunteering isn’t an option for you, please consider donating to their important cause.

Image credit: Raising Futures Kenya website.
January 28th, 2019
WWF protect our oceans, rivers, forests, and wildlife. Learn how you can contribute.
type:Donation, NGO, Volunteering
by:Yair Oded

As climate change exacerbates due to human activity and natural resources dwindle, both humans and animals suffer great habitat loss, and a growing number of wildlife species are at risk of extinction.

WWF is a United Kingdom-based independent conservation organization, whose primary goal is to “to create a world where people and wildlife can thrive together.”

Through a global network of members and volunteers, WWF work to encourage people to live sustainably and espouse practices that minimize their impact on the environment.

One of their main methods of operation is to apply pressure on and provide guidance to governments, companies, and organizations, working tirelessly behind the scenes to promote green and sustainable policies that would protect wildlife and natural resources and reduce carbon emissions. Just last year, WWF campaign successfully urged major banks across the UK to implement policies that would safeguard World Heritage sites.

Another successful campaign of WWF is one through which people may ‘adopt’ an endangered animal and thus learn more about the risks it faces as well as of actions taken to protect it.

From forests to oceans to freshwater and frozen environments- WWF maintains a presence across the globe, drawing public attention to conservation crises, educating communities and institutions about ways in which they can contribute, as well as aggressively pushing for sustainable policy reforms in order to mitigate the catastrophic effects of climate change.

VWWF also holds events (such as marathons, for instance) to raise awareness of their cause and help fund-raise.

Please visit their website to learn about ways in which you can contribute: either by attending events, volunteering, fundraising and campaigning for the organization, or donating.

Image credit: Luc Sanchez via Flickr
January 26th, 2019
The Great Green Wall: Africa’s ticket to environmental and economic sustainability
by:Yair Oded

Faced with increasing rates of climate change related catastrophes, famine, terrorism, and migration of young individuals and families towards Europe, African nations decided to take matters into their own hands and save their citizens’ future.

Their solution? An 8,000 km wall of trees planted across the entire width of Africa, stretching from Senegal in West Africa all the way to Djibouti in East Africa.

The Great Green Wall initiative was established by 11 African nations along the Sahara Desert border- Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Senegal, with each country responsible to establish a plan to fund and organize the planting of this natural belt in cooperation with local communities.

The Great Green Wall, 15 percent of which is currently built, aims to stop the expansion of the Sahara desert, restore tens of millions of hectares of degraded land and employment sources, as well as absorb 250 million tons of CO2 from the atmosphere.

Decades of extreme weather conditions- in the form of worsening droughts and land degradation- combined with a steadily rising population explosion in various regions of the Sahara desert have led to severe shortages of farming and employment opportunities and poor access to essential resources. Frustrated and hopeless, many young individuals in the region either turn to extreme terrorist groups or attempt to migrate to Europe for a better future.

Already, the Great Green Wall has managed to tame and reverse some of these adverse phenomena, and spawned positive developments in the region. According to EURACTIV, for instance, “over four million hectares of previously degraded land have been restored with the planting of over 27,000 hectares of indigenous trees” in Senegal. The fruits produced by the trees have also contributed to the emergence of a whole new market along the green wall, which provides employment prospects for young people in the area.

The project has been endorsed by international bodies, such as the European Union and World Bank. At the UN Climate Change Summit in Paris last December, the member nations pledged to contribute $4 billion to the construction of the Great Green Wall.

It seems that as far as construction of walls is concern, the U.S. president should turn to his counterparts in Africa for some urgently needed advice.

As stated in the words of Dr James Wahonye from the University of Nairobi Institute of Diplomacy and International Studies (during an interview for EURACTIV), “The problems in the Sahel should not be treated in isolation. We are in a global village and any threat, especially one of this magnitude, should get the whole world’s attention because it is just a matter of time before it mutates to the rest of the world.”

To sign their petition and pledge your support for the Great Green Wall, please visit their website.

Image credit: Adam Jones/Flickr via EURACTIV
The Missing Lost Migrants
January 24th, 2019
Help save the lives of migrants crossing the desert
type:Donation, NGO, Volunteering
by:Yair Oded

On any given day, countless migrants seeking refuge in the U.S. find themselves in a race for survival as they cross the arid desert spanning between Mexico and South-western U.S.

One of the most dangerous crossing points is the Sonora desert, which extends from northern Mexico into Southern Arizona. Over the past two decades, the Sonora has become infamous as the death toll of migrants dying while crossing it increased exponentially.

As government agencies are failing (or unwilling) to provide sufficient aid to migrants in distress, and in some cases reportedly abuse those they ‘catch’, numerous organizations have set out to extend a helping hand to those whose lives are at risk in Sonora.

One of these organizations is No More Deaths (NMD). Since 2004, NMD has been operating as a nonprofit dedicated to saving the lives of migrants crossing the desert into Southern Arizona and advocate on their behalf.

NMD volunteers engage in a number of activities to decrease the number of migrants dying throughout their arduous journey to safety and ensure that their rights are acknowledged and respected.

Their campaigns include distribution of humanitarian aid (water, food, first aid kits, blankets, and clothes) along the remote Sonora areas in both Southern Arizona and mexico, provision of legal assistance to migrants applying for asylum or facing deportations, assistance with locating family members gone missing in the desert, and support of border communities.

NMD also document abuse of migrants by border patrol agents and government officials, work to increase public awareness of their plight, and actively promote human immigration policies and reforms.

Regrettably, the current administration (as well as various officials in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife agencies in the area) is laboring to criminalize NMD volunteers who provide humanitarian aid on the ground for migrants in distress. Only recently, charges were pressed against nine different NMD volunteers who entered the Cabeza Prieta Wildlife Refuge in order to leave water and food for migrants.

Shortly before charges were pressed against him, NMD volunteer Scott Warren stated the following in an essay published in the South Atlantic Quarterly, “Humanitarian aid drops of water, food, socks, and blankets serve to acknowledge the struggle of migrants and force land managers and the public to recognize the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Simply put, the very presence of humanitarian aid forces land managers to publicly acknowledge a problem that they may wish to push into the remotest and least touristed areas of the desert, keeping it invisible to everyone but law enforcement personnel.”

Warren’s words highlight the importance and urgency of bringing the plight of migrants crossing the desert into the heart of national debate and public attention. Now is the time to ensure that migrant lives will no longer be viewed as expendable.

To learn more about their mission or how you can get involved, please visit No More Death’s Website. Their campaign can and should be supported from across the globe.

Image credit: Gregory Bull | AP