November 25, 2014
The Ebola epidemic that hit West Africa this year and touched the shores of the U.S. and other countries clearly illustrates the interconnectedness of our world, and some of its most critical vulnerabilities. Of course we have long been aware of development challenges in sub-Saharan Africa, such as the lack of health systems and infrastructure that helped the Ebola virus take root and continues to negatively impact the response, but we may not have connected these vulnerabilities so closely with our own lives and our own communities. If we didn't totally understand how important it is to invest in under-resourced and remote parts of the world before, we do now.
World Connect is a growing non-profit organization working in 15 developing countries to launch locally-led, innovative approaches to promoting health, protecting the environment, and increasing educational and economic opportunity. Our projects emphasize results for women and children and address vulnerability in communities. We bring our work back home to schools in the U.S. and teach young Americans about global issues and global development by connecting them to our projects. Our model of youth engagement brings our international development work into the classroom, giving young people practical experience with international development, teaching students about global issues, and building a stronger sense of community in our globalized world. Every day our international projects are making communities around the world healthier, safer, and more equitable, and every day our domestic projects are opening the eyes of students in the U.S. and engaging them in global citizenship.
Thanks to strategic partnerships with organizations such as the Peace Corps, whose volunteers enable World Connect to reach last mile communities in developing countries, we launch 100+ projects each year that are locally designed, developed, and led. We have built and renovated health clinics, provided clean water, facilitated safe childbirth, installed green energy resources and greenhouses, promoted women's leadership and empowerment, launched women-led small businesses, formed sports leagues and built sport courts, reforested, introduced recycling, increased access to family planning, and advocated for the rights of those discriminated against. We never prescribe the solutions; we listen, and let local leaders lead. We have launched 1,000 projects, empowering communities to solve their own, acute challenges, with our simple operational model that requires little overhead to achieve high impact.
Our projects are achieving real traction. In western Kenya, on the shores of Lake Victoria, where women traditionally traded sex with fishermen for fish to feed their families, World Connect provided a local women's cooperative with $3,400 to build their own fishing boats. The women have taken control of their bodies and their economic security, raising their monthly income, changing local gender dynamics, and reducing the spread of sexually transmitted infections. In Belize, World Connect invested $3,000 in a women's economic cooperative and watched them turn their small sewing group into a business. Just weeks ago, World Connect learned that these innovative women entrepreneurs will be receiving a grant of $50,000 from the United Nations to grow their business. These incredible women are literally changing the shape and the future of their local economy.
World Connect is poised to expand our success with a ready constituency of 7,000 Peace Corps Volunteers in 65 countries and dozens more field partners ready to scale-up our international work, and hundreds of youth volunteers here in the U.S. ready to support these projects. I hope that in light of the promise of our work and the urgency of our mission you will consider supporting World Connect with a year-end donation. Feel free to contact me at (347) 563-7452 or at email@example.com with any questions. Thank you in advance for your support.
I wish you a very healthy and happy holiday season!
|Pamela Nathenson, MPH