For children orphaned by the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Zambia during the 1990s and early 2000s, the lack of access to a school adds significantly to their challenges. Communities all across Zambia have come to the aid of vulnerable children and established their own schools. There are now thousands of community schools like Chisomo Streamside Community School in Chipata, Zambia that have stepped up.
By Jennifer Jones
Imagine looking your 8-year old child in the eyes, with hands on their shoulders saying, “You have to go. You have to go.” You’re not talking about going to the dentist, or to school, or to music practice. You’re talking about going to America. Alone.
Imagine you’re a teenager in Burundi, a landlocked little country in Central Africa and one of the world’s poorest nations. In Burundi, more than 80 percent of citizens live in poverty, and around you, people are in trouble. Peers from your school have been swept up in the political violence that has plagued the country for decades, but which reignited with fervor last spring. Many other people you know have lost their homes, maybe even their lives in the crisis.
How will you stay safe? How will you build a future?
By Jennifer Jones, Vice President - Strategic Communications
After a late night at work, I’m driving home and listening to a BBC story about Guatemala’s farmers. I know something about Guatemalan farmers because Counterpart has been working with local partners in the country since 2003. I turn up the volume.
In a time when governments around the world are restricting civil society activism, 32 determined Afghan youth leaders traveled to Bosnia Herzegovina to discuss the role of youth engagement in post-conflict, Muslim countries. The youth – 16 women and 16 men from 25 provinces in Afghanistan – captured headlines across Bosnia as they met with leading media outlets, grassroots activists and key officials to exchange their ideas and experiences.
Timor-Leste turns 13 this year. The young nation’s independence was restored in 2002 after years of occupation and colonial rule and, with such recent change, many Timorese don’t have a clear understanding about how their government and justice systems work.
Enter Counterpart’s Ba Distrito project, which is educating government leaders about their roles and responsibilities and reaching out to some of Timor-Leste’s most vulnerable populations to teach them about their legal rights.
Since 2008, Counterpart’s school feeding program in Cameroon’s North West and North Regions have proven that serving free meals and take-home rations to children at school leads to higher student enrollment and retention, especially among girls. In the 2014-2015 school year alone, student enrollment increased 26 percent (35 percent for girls) at schools participating in Counterpart’s school feeding programs.
PartnerSHIP for Impact (P4I) celebrated World Humanitarian Day by sending a shipment of medical and household supplies to help an estimated 15,000 people displaced by the crisis in Ukraine. The shipment contained $127,000 worth of medical and hygiene supplies, clothing, shoes, school supplies and other items.
Counterpart accelerates collaboration within communities, bringing farmers together to build healthier lives and more secure futures.
Fabian Perez was all alone. After years of civil war crippled Guatemala’s highlands, farmers were used to working independently.
Then last year the “coffee rust” fungus destroyed their crops and, with it, their livelihoods. And the white fly infested their vegetables and worsened malnutrition. Already poor, already hungry, their lives were in danger.
Afghan communities will soon become better equipped to engage citizens and ensure all voices are heard, thanks to the Afghanistan Institute for Civil Society (AICS). Launched in February at a ceremony attended by Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Officer, AICS is the first locally-driven, independent organization supporting civil society at the community level in Afghanistan. Nearly 200 Afghans from various sectors attended the event in Kabul.
The children of Badjouma Radier, Cameroon are growing stronger and learning more—and the whole community is rejoicing. More than 2,500 community members gathered at Badjouma Radier Elementary School this month to honor International School Meals Day.
Counterpart has a long history of improving nutrition for school-aged children. In Cameroon, widespread drought has meant many children were not receiving the nutrients needed to keep them well-fed and focused in school. Since 2012, Counterpart’s Food for Education program has provided breakfast and lunch to more than 95,000 schoolchildren and helped increase school attendance, especially among girls.
Our partners have built a network of 150 communities to keep girls in school and improve nutrition for 14,000 families.
Where Maïgawassie Sylvie lives, in Northern Cameroon, school attendance is low, especially among girls. A third of Cameroon’s children under five suffer chronic malnutrition, and widespread poverty force many families to arrange early marriages for their daughters.
Maïgawassie, who turned 12 this year, was just one of many girls whose future was in jeopardy.
Why does Counterpart invest in leadership development? Because passion and vision, with the right tools and resources, can create lasting change for generations.
In Mymensingh Sadar, Bangladesh, students entering middle school have to take enrollment exams. And yet, with the only elementary school more than two miles away and too far for children to walk, many of the children from this community received no primary education and were unprepared for the exam, causing many to not enroll in middle school.
One leader learns to mobilize others to create an informational network that can now be activated on any issue of community concern.
In the 1990s, the government in Moharjapur, Bangladesh partnered with nonprofits to test the water in local wells for arsenic. The solution was to paint the wells green (safe) or red (unsafe).
Maté Mint Sidi Ali’s village in Guidimakha, Mauritania sits six miles from the nearest health clinic – too far for many in her community to get any kind of healthcare.
“Hiring a ride is expensive and an all-day trek takes people from their work and children,” says Maté. “Because of this, health problems went untreated and turned severe or chronic.”
Community members were also largely unaware of proper sanitation practices. Small children were frequently made sick from contaminated water and many villagers suffered from malaria or fever.
In Demsa, Cameroon, many families don’t have the money to buy pencils or workbooks for their school-age children. Without these simple tools, children cannot attend school.
Last week, 350 of Demsa’s most vulnerable children received the school supplies they needed and now are enrolled in elementary school.
This year alone, Counterpart’s Food for Education program has provided backpacks, textbooks, and pencils to 7,500 children at 150 schools throughout Cameroon.
Lack of food and poor nutrition can impact nearly every layer of society. Most often, those who suffer most are those who can do little to change their situation. Counterpart, and our local partners Union Nationale des Aveugles du Niger (UNAN) and HANDICAP NIGER (National Organization for People with Disabilities’) on the ground, are working to help those most impacted by food insecurity in Niger – the disabled.
At this moment in Ukraine, an estimated 310,000 people have been displaced from their homes. Families are struggling to secure basic necessities and anxiously anticipating the harsh winter ahead.
At this moment in Arkansas, Texas, and Mississippi, and Indiana, there are four 40 foot ocean containers waiting to be shipped, each loaded with 5-gallon kits carrying essential items such as soap, toothpaste, Band-Aids and antibiotics. Other containers include pounds of rice and still more include shoes, winter clothing, medical supplies, and bedding, beds, and mattresses.
Comprehensive School #120 in Rudaki District, Tajikistan provides primary level education for 191 children ages seven to 15. The school has 12 educational and four support staff members, but due to unusable classrooms children in grades 5-9 could no longer attend their own school. Children were forced to walk between 2-5 kilometers to schools that already struggled with over-enrollment, leading to a drop in attendance.