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MySocialGoodNews is dedicated to sharing news about
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Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

Monthly Archives: November 2017

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On Our Radar Launches New Campaign To Uncover The True Stories Of Garment Workers In Bangladesh

Brand new web documentary aims to cut through compassion fatigue to reveal the humans behind the high street

Press Release – On Our Radar, the communications agency for unheard communities, has today launched The Lives Behind The Label – a web documentary comprising of six, intimate short films that reveal the humans stories behind the clothes we wear every day. The new documentary mimics the style of a typical aspirational fashion website to visually represent the hopes, dreams and hardships of garment workers in Bangladesh and balance the stereotypical and often negative images of their lives that have dominated the media following the collapse of Rana Plaza in 2013.

The six films delve deeper into the lives of female garment workers aged between 24 and 42 years. They take a closer look at female autonomy, life as a member of the ‘third gender’ community, the dreams of aspiring dancers, fashionistas and activists, and also feature the story of a Rana Plaza survivor. The films can be accessed here.

Commenting on The Lives Behind The Labels, Paul Myles, Head of Editorial, On Our Radar, said: “We have a connection with garment workers in Bangladesh through the supply chain, yet they remain a group of people that are largely painted in a negative, one-dimensional way. Communities are experts by experience and the most powerful stories come straight from the source.”

On Our Radar gathered a rich collection of stories that look beyond the stereotypes by empowering garment workers through its unique grassroots approach. Rather than interviewing the workers with a set of preconceived themes and stories, On Our Radar ran storytelling workshops with 80 garment workers, facilitated by the Awaj Foundation – one of Bangladesh’s largest trade unions – on how best to communicate their personal stories.

The approach allowed On Our Radar to build a collective picture of common themes and concerns and ensure its understanding was true to the workers’ experience at every stage. On Our Radar did not film anything for the first half of the trip to focus its attention on exploring open-ended questions, allowing for surprising and unexpected conversations.

Myles added: “By taking a collaborative approach and blending our pitching and production skills with the garment workers’ authenticity and power as storytellers, The Lives Behind The Labels humanises the people who make our clothes. We encourage other organisations to work more closely with the most marginalised communities in the world and allow them to be the expert voice on their own experience.”

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Multi-Sensory Stimulation To Enhance Learning

Projects Abroad ticks off early childhood development checklists

Volunteers paint a day care center’s garden colorful during their Care Project in Sri Lanka

Press Release – NEW YORK – November 22, 2017 – Improving multi-sensory stimulation as an important component of early childhood development has been a key focus of Projects Abroad‘s volunteer programs with children. With the help of volunteers, the world’s largest volunteer organization has accelerated the development of multi-sensory facilities at many of the child care centers around the world where it’s volunteers provide support to children and communities in need.

As a method of tracking the progress and continued development of every child that benefits from Projects Abroad’s Care Projects, placements work with specific early childhood development checklists. Items on these lists vary depending on the different age groups of the children that volunteers work with, but each include physical/motor, social/emotional, and cognitive/language categories. Behavioral habits and organized activities reveal strengths and room for improvement within each child’s abilities, and volunteers play an important part in monitoring this.

At a day care center in Sri Lanka, Projects Abroad High School Special volunteers recently created a multi-sensory garden where they painted walls with educational murals, repurposed old tires as playground bumblebees, and built creative playground equipment to accelerate development. At another Care Project placement in Ethiopia, volunteers developed a multi-sensory playroom for children with disabilities, and volunteers painted a multi-sensory space with bright colors to enhance learning at a kindergarten in Nepal.

“The brain is like a muscle – it needs exercise and stimulation to make it stronger. In fact, brains require progressive and diverse methods of stimulation in order to be developed to its full potential,” says Jenny Puyo, Projects Abroad’s Head of Program Development. “Puyo describes the long-term impact multi-sensory facilities can have in the life of not only children, but also those with disabilities: “In a number of placements we work with, resources and stimuli are limited. Therapies like Multi-sensory Environmental Therapy, which can be facilitated in play areas, can make a great change to someone’s daily routine and can help promote general wellbeing. A lack of stimulation in early years can lead to delayed development later in life.”

To ensure the children at the care placements where Projects Abroad’s volunteers work continue to develop, a constant volunteer presence is required to achieve project goals. Projects Abroad encourages those who are passionate about the development of children to join their team and volunteer on a Care Project abroad.

About Projects Abroad

Projects Abroad was founded in 1992 by Dr. Peter Slowe, a geography professor, as a program for students to travel and work while on break from full-time study. The program had its genesis in post-USSR Romania, where students were given the chance to teach conversational English. After a few years just sending volunteers to Eastern Europe for teaching, the company expanded to sending volunteers of all ages around the world on a wide range of projects.

Projects Abroad is a global leader in short-term international volunteer programs with projects in 30 countries and recruitment offices in the UK, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Holland, Hong Kong, Norway, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden and the United States.

For details on volunteering abroad, visit Projects Abroad’s web site at

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Jersey City Sikh Community Feeds More Than 15,000 People Across 84 Homeless Shelters in NJ/NY/PA

Let’s Share a Meal organization carries out mission to spread love, peace and diversity.

Press Release – JERSEY CITY, N.J., Nov. 22, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — The Sikh community of Jersey City served at least 15,000 individuals across 84 homeless shelters in the NJ/NY/PA area with hot meals, snacks and fruits this past Saturday and Sunday.

This is being done in celebration of the birth anniversary of the founder of the Sikh faith, Guru Nanak, and his establishment of the Sikh institution of Langar, the free community kitchen.

Langar can be found at all Gurdwaras, which are Sikh places of worship. The entire project was carried out under the organization “Lets Share a Meal.” Co-founder Oankar Singh said along with hot meals, a message of Love, Peace and Diversity was carried out. It took the effort of 275 people, preparing the food, packing the food and driving to 84 shelters in two days.

There are over 250 Gurdwaras in America, from Massachusettsto Hawaii. At any Gurdwara you will see that Langar is funded, cooked and distributed by the Sikh community to all. Visitors are welcome irrespective of race, color, gender, religion or social status, and are served food with dignity and respect. Langar instills the notion of equality and the brotherhood of mankind. For Sikhs, the idea of Langar is thought of as a nurturing experience, which nourishes body and soul while starving the ego.

Guru Nanak spent time visiting Hindu and Muslim places of worship in modern-day India, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran and Tibet, and, in the process, attracted a number of disciples (the word Sikh means disciple). Religion, he thought, was a bond to unite all humanity together, not to divide it apart. Guru Nanak emphasized that God may be spoken of in many ways through different faiths and in many names, but the true way to practice faith is by truthful means, which do not hurt or insult members of another faith. Guru Nanak taught the Sikhs that the love of God is the highest goal of humanity and God dwells within all living beings.

On this auspicious occasion, Bakshish Singh, President, Nanak Naam Jahaj Gurudwara, said, “Guru Nanak showed us the path of peace, harmony and righteousness. His message of Honesty, Humanity, Peace and Equality for all Mankind has timeless relevance and can help in transforming our society.” He wished Happy Holidays to people from all communities and extended invitation to people of all communities to visit a Gurudwara nearby and share a meal with the Sikh community to prosper the brotherhood across various communities.

To learn more about this initiative and vision of the organization Lets share a meal, please go to

Nanak Naam Jahaj Gurudwara
1080 West side Ave, Jersey City NJ 07306 |

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Students Across The Globe Will Connect Virtually To Solve Entrepreneurial Challenges

Press Release – ANN ARBOR—A new virtual exchange program will allow undergraduate students at the University of Michigan the chance to address social entrepreneurship challenges from opposite sides of the world.

The MENA-Michigan Initiative for Global Action Through Entrepreneurship (M2GATE) is a program launched through the William Davidson Institute, a nonprofit education and research organization at the Ross School of Business that aims to provide solutions to low- and middle-income countries.

Through M2GATE, U-M undergraduate students will have the opportunity to collaborate with students from Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia to compete in a social entrepreneurship challenge.

The students from U-M and the other countries will team up to identify a social problem within one of the international locations. Their projects could range from solving a health or sustainability problem to offering a means where people can get job training to start a business that locals can run. It is hoped that teams will come up with scalable solutions.

From there, the teams will work to create a solution and a pitch video. The teams will be split up in three cohorts over three separate eight-week periods. The winning team from each cohort will travel to Ann Arbor, where they will meet each other and participate in joint activities such as meeting with professors, investors, and incubators and startups in Detroit.

“The close collaboration and getting a bird’s eye view of challenges in other countries is hugely valuable for U-M students. It’s great as an eye opener, for networking, and as an international experience,” said Amy Gillett, vice president of the William Davidson Institute’s Education Initiative.

Gillett noted that the program is structured as a virtual exchange, an approach that is not only useful for learning new skills, but also is relevant in today’s modern world, where many corporations are using virtual teams.

The teams will complete online learning modules that will give them the skills needed to work towards their end goal of creating a scalable product or service as a solution the problem they have identified.

WDI was one of 13 organizations selected by the Stevens Initiative to be invited to participate in this program. The Stevens Initiative, housed in The Aspen Institute, aims to foster leadership, ideas, and action within others.

“We want to bring together a rich collective of students and have them identify issues in a wide range of areas. This could span from health issues to unemployment to dealing with waste to more,” Gillett said.

The deadline for students to apply is Dec. 1.

William Davidson Institute

Follow us on Twitter: @UMichiganNews

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Journeys Of Refugee Women At Heart Of 16 Days Of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign

Press Release – NEW YORK – November 20, 2017: When the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence kick off on November 25th, Footage Foundation will launch a series of stories about refugee and migrant women who have journeyed from situations of conflict to finding connection through the NGO’s Her{connect}Her program.

The 16 Days campaign launches annually on November 25: International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and ends on December 10: Human Rights Day.

This year, Footage Foundation’s 16 Days of Activism initiative, “From Conflict to Connection,” will advocate for young women displaced by crisis and conflict, raising awareness of their vulnerabilities in respect to gender-based violence and the positive impact connection has on their lives and the world. Over the course of the 16 Days, the NGO will share “Her Routes and Roots,” a story series that tells of the journeys of displacement undergone by young refugee and migrant women, focusing on their resilience and pivotal moments of strength. The series will be published on Medium.

Footage Foundation Executive Director and Co-Founder, Dr. Kristen Ali Eglinton, explained that the stories were carefully drawn from in-depth narrative interviews she conducted throughout this year with women from Syria, Iraq, Cameroon, Saudi Arabia, and other countries who are now living in refugee camps and cities across Europe. This work forms the core of Footage’s Her{connect}Her voice empowerment program for young refugee and migrant women.

“The series will include the words of young women, artwork by photographer Ali Richards, as well as digital stories produced by Footage’s program participants,” Dr. Eglinton said.

Footage will engage in public outreach beginning on Giving Tuesday (November 28) in Washington Square Park, New York City. A multimedia installation will project the voices and stories of refugees. There will be an opportunity to leave messages of connection for these young women, information about Footage’s innovative voice programming, and advice for the public on other ways to make a difference in the wake of the refugee and migrant crisis.

“Funds we raised in Washington Square Park earlier this year supported Her{connect}Her, and this will be the first time the public will have the chance to hear these stories. It is exciting for us to show the community what has been accomplished, the change they have made in the lives of others through their giving,” Dr. Eglinton said.

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South African Non-Profit Helps ONE And Camfed Raise Funds For Girls’ Education

Press Release – Tragically, 130 million girls globally are not in school. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, up to 28 million girls do not attend school. This is why a new campaign from ONE, an advocacy organization of eight million members, is saying that “poverty is sexist”.

And they’re shouting it from the rooftops because the world will not be able to beat extreme poverty until the barriers holding women and girls back are broken down.

To try and make this happen, ONE has teamed up with Camfed and The Relate Trust to ensure as many girls as possible can go to school – because every girl has the right to an education.

ONE is a global movement of people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. Camfed is an international non-profit organization tackling poverty and inequality by supporting marginalized girls to go to school, to succeed, and to lead.

South African not-for-profit social enterprise The Relate Trust makes handmade products to benefit causes around the world and to create jobs in South Africa. For this partnership, Relate has made beaded bracelets which will be sold through ONE’s online platform.

Proceeds from every bracelet sold will benefit Camfed’s work in the poorest rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa. Simply put, for every bracelet sold, Camfed will be able to get more girls in school.

Why girls? Camfed’s philosophy is: “When you educate a girl, everything changes”.

The sad truth is that education is not freely available globally, and often girls are the first to drop out or to be failed by the system. Access to education gives the promise of a life beyond poverty, where girls can become women who start their own businesses, have the careers they dream of, and where they can live the life they deserve.

“In South Africa, we have significant job shortages and a lack of opportunities available for young people. We empower the young people who work for us in production by putting them through training in their chosen careers beyond Relate. They receive a salary so that they can provide for themselves and their families, while working towards the future they want,” says Relate Trust CEO Neil Robinson.

“Helping young people achieve their goals is part of the core of who we are at Relate. It is startling that so many girls in sub-Saharan Africa, and the world, are lacking basic education. We believe it is our duty to try and help change that.”

Camfed has proven through their work that quality education can reap significant and long-lasting benefits for girls, and transform communities.

Since 1993, Camfed’s innovative education programs in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana, Tanzania and Malawi have directly supported almost two million students to attend primary and secondary school, and more than four million children have benefited from an improved learning environment.

Bracelets will be sold online through ONE’s website, Visit,, or to learn more. Together, we all have the power to sound the alarm on the global girls’ education crisis!

About The Relate Trust:

The Relate Trust is a proudly 100% not-for-profit social enterprise which predominantly sells handmade beaded bracelets to raise money for charities globally, while creating jobs for people in low income communities.

In the last three years alone, Relate has raised more than R26million for causes in health, education, conservation, social upliftment, and children’s and women’s empowerment, while raising close to R50million since it became a Trust in 2010.

For more information on The Relate Trust, please visit

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Fresh Water Filters for Puerto Rico Delivered by Two Innovative Not for Profits — The Good Cards and WATERisLIFE

Press Release – PALO ALTO, CA (20 November, 2017) – The Good Cards, the digital platform that promotes kindness through an app designed for gaming fun, is partnering with WATERisLIFE, a transformative water sanitation non-profit, to help solve Puerto Rico’s water crisis. The Good Cards Tribe is focusing their social media and outreach programs to raise funds to help #EnditToday, with clean drinking water produced by WATERisLIFE filter straws, for the people of Puerto Rico.

How you can help Puerto Rico

Please visit

  • Buy a set of WATERisLIFE filter straws for two people in need in Puerto Rico – a $20 donation
  • Buy a case of water, where all profit is given for clean water programs in Puerto Rico

WATERisLIFE is dedicated to #EndItToday and to save lives all over the world, by providing clean water, sanitation, and hygiene. During a disaster, like the hurricanes in Puerto Rico, WATERisLIFE straw filters provide an immediate clean water solution to save lives. The straw filter is a portable water purifier, which can be used in any water source to provide clean and safe drinking water nearly right away.

“The devastating crisis caused by the hurricanes hitting Puerto Rico, struck the hearts of all The Good Cards’ Dreamers,” said Corey Harnish, CEO of Better World International. “With the rate of global climate change and the associated natural and man-made disasters, we all need to work together to help each other. The Good Cards has developed a social media community and is activating its global tribe to get the word out.”


WATERisLIFE is the 6th largest water sanitation organization helping to provide clean water + sanitation & Hygiene to the 663 million people who lack access to clean water. Through community-driven and community-engaged programs, WATERisLIFE works closely with nonprofit partners, local governments, and community organizations to focus on an integrated approach that ensures households, schools, orphanages and medical facilities have access to safe water, proper sanitation, and hygiene programs.

About Better World International and The Good Cards

Better World International is a tech-gaming non-profit that combines a vision of a better world with technology-driven solutions for social change. Its series of real-life games are being developed to encourage a global trend of doing good, while empowering people to take small positive actions and see their impact in real time. The Good Cards, a Better World International project, is an innovative online-gaming platform and app that engages people worldwide in doing good deeds for happiness and global sustainability. Better World International is a 501(c)(3) and is soliciting donations to sustain its growth. Learn more about The Good Cards and please donate:

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War Child USA Debuts $249 Campaign on Universal Children’s Day

Campaign launches with powerful animated film narrated by “Stranger Things” star Caleb McLaughlin, featuring Radiohead’s ‘No Surprises’

Press Release – NEW YORK, New York, November 20th, 2017— Internationally acclaimed humanitarian organization, War Child USA, today launched its first campaign in the United States. The campaign, titled $249, raises awareness about global spending on war, which amounts to approximately $249 per person, per year for every man, woman and child on earth*. The campaign encourages people to offset this spending on war by investing in peace together with War Child USA.

The $249 campaign launched with an animated film, narrated by Stranger Things star, Caleb McLaughlin, featuring Radiohead’s hit single ’No Surprises’ from their album OK Computer.

“I was lucky to have a safe and happy childhood, and I believe that every kid deserves the same,” said Caleb McLaughlin. “When I heard about the work that War Child is doing to support kids in war zones, I was happy to lend my voice to their $249 Campaign. Investing in peace makes much more sense to me than investing in war.”

The concept for the $249 campaign came from War Child USA Founder, Dr. Samantha Nutt’s TED Talk on the deadly impact of small arms, which has garnered over one million views.

“War is ours as human beings. We buy it, sell it, spread it and wage it. We are therefore not powerless to stop it. On the contrary, we are the only ones who can,” Dr. Samantha Nutt says.

To watch the $249 campaign video click here.

The $249 campaign was created in partnership with renowned advertising agency, Publicis New York. Along with the campaign launch, they also developed War Child USA’s new website, which can be accessed here. The campaign animation was graciously donated by animation studio, The Mill.

Andy Bird, Chief Creative Officer, Publicis New York, stated, “War Child is one of those rare opportunities where we can use powerful creative for both powerful, and meaningful, change. War is ugly. War is violent and raw, and not a place for anyone. Especially not for our children. We hope this body of work will make people look at the real cost of war, in a new and personal way. Let’s start investing in peace.”

About War Child USA

War Child USA is the newest addition to the War Child family in North America, joining War Child Canada in a shared vision and dedication to supporting children and their families affected by war. Together, we impact hundreds of thousands of children in conflict-zones around the world.

Our mission at War Child USA is to create a world where no child knows war. We do this both by supporting children and their families impacted by conflict, and working to build sustainable peace for generations to come. We don’t believe in quick fixes, but long-term solutions. We invest in local communities, working to provide children and their families with access to education, economic opportunities and justice- programs designed to break the cycles of poverty and violence that those living in war confront daily.

*$249 is a per capita approximation based on reported global defense spending and world population estimates.

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Kenya A beacon of Hope, says UNDP Representative Siddharth Chatterjee*

Press Release – BERLIN | NEW DELHI (IDN-INPS | WION)Major Siddharth Chatterjee (Retd), the United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator and the UNDP Resident Representative in Kenya, a humanitarian and development professional, a feminist and a passionate advocate for youth empowerment who has served in many war-ravaged and fragile parts of the world spoke exclusively to WION about his passion for advancing gender equality, his impressions of Kenya, the UN reform, and his transition from the Indian Army to the UN.

Below is the full transcript of the interview, first published on WION on November 15, 2017. It is being reproduced with due permission.

Q: Why this passion about gender equality and women’s empowerment?

A: I would say my passion for gender advocacy was cemented by my experiences in the Indian Army and at a personal level. My own grandmother was married at the age of 11 and had 15 children, 9 of whom survived. My early years in conflict settings also brought home the reality that women and children are worst effected during wars and natural disasters. While serving in the army as a young officer, I was horrified to find out that a soldier from my unit had raped a young girl.

I remember the sheer fear and trauma that girl went through, and the helplessness of her family.

It was a life changing moment for me. While the punishment that followed was swift and uncompromising, it was at that moment that I swore to fight all forms of misogyny, discrimination and violence.

In many of the countries I worked in, disease outbreaks, lack of water and sanitation were the order of the day. Reproductive health services, including midwifery outreach services, antenatal care, management of prenatal complications and sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS were not readily available in conflict regions. These problems had particularly harsh consequences among women and children.

The years I spent in fragile environments will always remain a poignant reminder of the disparate harm that women are predisposed to whenever one form or other of humanitarian crisis arises. Some were victims of rape and torture, others were widowed at young ages, their husbands murdered or kidnapped.

Regrettably, even in peace time, many societies still exhibit levels of patriarchy and misogyny that are simply appalling. The psychosocial status of the women who survived such atrocities are issues that continued to preoccupy me.

When I joined the UN in 1997, I felt the need to advocate against all forms of discrimination against women and children.

Photo: UNDP Resident Representative in Kenya, Siddharth Chatterjee

Q: What were your first impressions of Kenya?

Ans: Kenya is a beacon of hope in a region mired in instability and a regional economic hub was of course a good break for me, away from the war and conflicts of my earlier duty stations.

It was also a chance for me to continue with my personal mission of championing the causes and elimination of gender-based violence as well as Female Genital Mutilation(FGM) and child marriage, which is still an egregious practice in some parts of Kenya.

Kenya’s prevalence of violence against women and girls is unacceptably high, with one in every four women having experienced physical or sexual abuse in her lifetime. The biggest problem in Kenya like many others, is the conspiracy of silence around gender based violence.

In Kenya, gender inequalities are revealed in various ways. Too many Kenyan women have no control over their own fertility. They cannot decide the number and timing of their children. A lot of the unpaid work within families falls on the shoulders of women therefore they are left as economic dependants. Many girls are uneducated, and those who go to school rarely proceed beyond primary level. In addition, men continue to occupy most positions of political and legal authority.

Yet it is clear that Africa’s economic take-off will not happen if we do not invest in young people, especially adolescent girls. How to work with other stakeholders towards making Kenya lead the way towards gender equality was my challenge when I took office in UNFPA and now as the UN Resident Coordinator and the issues still need to be faced today.

Siddharth Chatterjee presents credentials as UN Resident Coordinator to the Foreign Minister of Kenya, Ambassador Amina Mohamed. October 2016. (MFA Kenya)

Q: Could you tell us about your work with the First lady of Kenya?

Ans: I must say I was very fortunate to begin my term at UNFPA almost at the same time that Her Excellency Margaret Kenyatta also came in as First Lady. Her personal mission in the plight of women, especially in regard to HIV and maternal mortality, dovetailed perfectly with the global mission of the UN family in Kenya.

Her leadership and personal involvement in the Beyond Zero campaign meant that the issues gained high level international and local visibility. It was unprecedented to see a First Lady so passionate about the rights of women and girls and who participated in the London Marathon as well as her initiative to run several Half Marathons to advance the cause.

As a whole, the government has recognised the central role of maternal health, leading to the programme of free delivery services in public health facilities. Within the first three years of that programme, deliveries under the care of health workers increased from 44 per cent to 61 per cent.

The government support was also crucial for us at the UN as it was a time when we came up with a project to enlist the support of the private sector to create new and more-effective products, services and technologies towards maternal health, especially in remote counties. For instance, just six out of the 47 counties in Kenya carry close to 50 percent of the maternal mortality burden in Kenya.

We were supported by the government to set up a major public – private initiative now going on in those six high-burden counties. Today, the Beyond Zero Campaign has delivered mobile clinics to all 47 counties in Kenya. I also commend Philips, Safaricom, Merck, GSK, Huawei and Kenya Health Care Federation who joined the initiative.

The campaign has been instrumental in raising the consciousness of the entire nation regarding the plight of many often underserved women and girls in desperate need of care. It was only fitting that Her Excellency the First Lady was voted as the 2014 UN Person of the Year in Kenya.

Siddharth Chatterjee presents a communique to the First Lady of Kenya signed by 15 County Governors to improve maternal and adolescent health, in November 2014 (UN Kenya)

Q: Why was there a particular focus on North Eastern Kenya?

Ans: Achim Steiner, the UNDP Administrator has emphasized, “The critical importance of leaving no one behind and reaching the furthest behind first”. Due to various historical, climatic, cultural and logistical challenges, the counties in Northern Kenya have the highest health and economic challenges in Kenya, and have been left behind.

For instance, 6 of the North Eastern counties in Kenya have a disproportionately heavier burden of reproductive, maternal and child health burden. It is with this in mind that the government and various partners have came together under what is called the RMNCAH(Reproductive Maternal, Neo Natal, Child and Adolescent Health) 6-County Initiative to address critical bottlenecks in the health systems in north eastern Kenya.

Under the stewardship of the National Government and respective County Governments the initiative has mobilized a multitude of partners across sectors to go there where not many went before and to collectively and holistically help increasing demand for and access to affordable quality RMNCAH care.

The Private Sector Health Partnership Kenya, which was launched in September 2015 at the global launch of the UN Secretary General’s Strategy for every woman, child and adolescent health, is a clear demonstration of how the initiative has mobilized non-traditional players in the development sphere.

By engaging a wide range of partners from across sectors there is great potential to develop new models that offer the best of both public and private sector, with the potential for scaling-up the delivery of healthcare for vulnerable and poor populations in low-resource settings. It also provides opportunity to ensure long-term engagement of partners, and sustainability and scalability of new models, through shared value creation.

We are confident that there will be collateral gains, not just in health, but in sectors such as security, because the feelings of exclusion in these areas have created fertile ground for youth extremism.

Q: Kenya recently had elections. What would you say to the new governors who have been recently elected in Kenya?

Ans: At the UN system in Kenya, we will continue to work with the Nairobi county governments especially towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It is known that more than half the population now lives in urban areas. However, it is in such areas where the problem of inequality is most visible. Too many urban residents grapple with extreme poverty, exclusion, vulnerability and marginalisation.

Like any African countries, urban settlement patterns in Kenya are changing as slums and informal settlements are emerging along the peripheries of cities. The majority of people who live in these slums have no proper sanitation, clean running water, housing, proper collection and disposal of waste, among other urban amenities. As a result, they are exposed to all kinds of diseases and sometimes even death.

An issue that is particularly close to my heart is the place of youth. Unemployment rates among the youth in Kenya are the highest in this region, and the country must create one million new jobs annually to accommodate those joining the labour market.

County governments must do all to prepare the youth to participate in the economy if the country is to reap the benefits of the demographic dividend.

Investments in health, education, skills, empowerment, employment and economic policies must be underpinned by good governance, the exercise of public authority which entails adherence to the rule of law and enhancement of human rights applied universally.

By ensuring healthy, educated, productive populations, do we have any chance at all of making the Kenyan dream of a prosperous middle to high income country a reality in our lifetimes, Achieve Vision 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals.

I have seen tremendous strides made in health care in Kenya. Kenya as a matter of fact can lead the way in achieving universal health coverage.

Q: UN reforms seem to be the order of the day. What are your views?

Ans: There are many thorny issues facing the world, and the UN Secretary General Mr Antonio Guterres and his Deputy Ms Amina Mohamed have called on the United Nations staff and member states of the UN to stand up and unite to tackle the challenges of extreme violence, large movement of refugees, underdevelopment and poverty, and civil strife.

They are together driving some of the boldest reforms of the UN system at the country level, which is where the UN makes a real difference. They are leading efforts to ensure that the UN is more effective, efficient, coherent, coordinated and a better performing United Nations country presence with a strengthened role of the UN Resident Coordinator and a common management, programming and monitoring framework.

I am privileged to be working with an incredible United Nations Country Team in Kenya, led by a highly professional and committed group of UN colleagues. I coordinate the work of 27 UN agencies represented here and our work, in a nutshell, is to work with the people and government of Kenya to achieve the national goals including what is known as Vision 2030 and the SDGs.

The UN Country Team during a visit by former UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, in August 2016 (UN Kenya)

We are committed to the Delivering as One process, therefore as the Resident Coordinator I am responsible for harmony in the outputs of our programs as the UN family in Kenya. This includes all objectives as identified in the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), where we are supporting the government to deliver on its priority development milestones. Developed under the leadership of the Government, the UNDAF reflects the efforts of all UN agencies working in Kenya and is shaped by the five UN Development Group programming principles: Human Rights-based approach, gender equality, environmental sustainability, capacity development, and results-based management. The UNDAF working groups have developed a truly broad-based Results Framework, in collaboration with civil society, donors, and other partners.

We are also assisting the Government of Kenya by an appeal to respond to the current drought, ensure timely and effective humanitarian interventions and to build the resilience of communities in the face of climate-related hazards.

As a United Nations Country team in Kenya, we have come together to advance Mr. Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary General’s Prevention Agenda. With over 65 million people displaced around the world due to conflicts and natural disasters, there are increasing violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses. People are fleeing their homes on a scale not seen since the second world war and the scourge of violent extremism threatens every region.

In fact Kenya has been a victim of cross border terror stemming from instability, in the region. Meanwhile, climate change, a rapidly expanding youth bulge, rapid urbanization, food insecurity and water scarcity are adding to the tensions and instability in Kenya and the region. Kenya is also home to nearly 500,000 refugees. As the UN Country Team and we intend to sharpen our focus to assist the Government of Kenya in responding effectively to the above issues.

With a median age of 18 years, Kenya can lead the way in reaping a demographic dividend, ensuring gender equality and women’s empowerment and achieve its Vision 2030. Vision 2030 aims to transform Kenya into a middle income country and providing a high quality of life for all its citizens by 2030. We have as a UN family in Kenya committed to walking this journey with the Kenyan government and the Kenyan people.

Q: Would you have a comment on the recent allegation being made against the UN Deputy Secretary General, Ms Amina Mohammed that despite a ban in force on the export of rosewood, an endangered resource, she signed thousands of certificates authorising the shipment of vast quantities of the wood?

I am not sure I am authorised to answer that question, but having been a target of malicious and fake news myself for close to 10 years, let me just begin by saying that I feel very sorry for Amina Mohammed. It is most unfair. This is yellow journalism and premeditated mendacity.

Rev. Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1855) said “If you want truth to go around the world you must hire an express train to pull it; but if you want a lie to go around the world, it will fly; it is light as a feather and a breath will carry it.”

In my view that is how this news is being spread.

Let me state unequivocally Amina Mohammed is a leader of highest and unquestionable integrity and character.

I applaud and admire Mr Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary-general, for having promptly and firmly come out in defence of his deputy, Amina Mohammed. He has stated categorically that she has his “full support and confidence.” A mark of a true leader.

She has explained with crystal clarity what happened in different media platforms and I would encourage people to read her interview in the Pulse. The Government of Nigeria has also issued a detailed clarification in her defence.

Frankly what I am seeing being flung at her is careless, unsubstantiated rumours and meant to undermine her as a woman of substance and a phenomenal leader.

Q: You have had a unusual career track, from a soldier to a humanitarian and development professional. How did you manage this transformation?

Siddharth Chatterjee was an Indian Army Special Forces Officer.

Ans: I owe my ability to adapt and embrace adversity and diversity to the foundations my alma mater, the National Defence Academy and to the Special Forces unit I served in. My year of study and reflection at Princeton University was perhaps one of the most significant intellectual growth spurt and sharped my understanding of public policy. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity I had at Princeton. I encourage everyone to take a year off in their careers to pause and go back to school. It gives you the freedom to pursue your intellectual interests, develop new capabilities, expose yourself to new approaches and methods and advance your career.

*Siddharth Chatterjee joined the United Nationas in 1997. He has lived and worked in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq (two tours), South Sudan, Indonesia, Sudan (Darfur), Somalia, Denmark, Switzerland and Kenya. In South Sudan, he successfully negotiated the release of 3551 child soldiers from the rebel army of the SPLA and led the largest ever demobilization of child soldiers in 2001 during an ongoing conflict. Watch his TEDx(Video) talk on the topic. A prolific writer, Mr Chatterjee has a blog in Reuters and Huffington Post. He has a Master’s degree from the Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, USA and a Bachelor’s degree from the National Defence Academy in India. He is active on social media, his twitter handle is: @sidchat1. [IDN-InDepthNews – 18 November 2016]

Photo (top): UNDP Resident Representative in Kenya, Siddharth Chatterjee. Photo (bottom): Siddharth Chatterjee was an Indian Army Special Forces Officer.

IDN is the flagship of International Press Syndicate.


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Impact Fund Surpasses $17 Million for Sustainable Coastal Fisheries in Indonesia and the Philippines

Meloy Fund I, LP closes additional $7 million, including investment from the Global Environment Facility, and partners with the U.S. Agency for International Development

Press Release – ARLINGTON, VA November 20, 2017: The Meloy Fund I, LP (the “Fund”), an impact investment fund dedicated to promoting sustainable coastal fisheries in Indonesia and the Philippines, today announced closing an additional $7 million of funding and finalizing a partial guarantee with the U.S. Agency for International Development through its Development Credit Authority (DCA). This brings the total amount of capital raised to $17.1 million.

The close included the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Fund’s anchor investor, as well as Ceniarth, LLC, a single-family office which funds market-based solutions that benefit underserved communities. They join a diverse group of family offices, investment managers, and foundations already invested.

Naoko Ishii, CEO and chairperson of the GEF, said “As the anchor investor in the Meloy Fund, we are committed to catalyzing private sector action and investment to address the drivers of environmental degradation and trigger systems change. This investment helps support our commitment to safeguard the critical marine ecosystems in Indonesia and the Philippines. A key area for GEF innovation has been the use of non-grant instruments (NGI) to offer concessional finance for crowding-in of private sector investment. As the anchor investor, the GEF’s non-grant equity investment in the Meloy Fund helped catalyze private sector action and investment, and is an example of how the GEF can successfully expand innovative blended finance to natural resources management and translate non-grant innovations across key sectors.”

The Fund also announced the finalization of a partial debt guarantee with the USAID. The guarantee assistance will help the Fund’s borrowers expand their sustainable fish and seafood production or supplemental livelihood activities, resulting in increased incomes for fishers and application of sustainable practices and technologies to protect coastal systems.

Lawrence Hardy, USAID/Philippines Mission Director, said, “USAID is pleased to partner with the Meloy Fund to support small and medium fish and seafood enterprises that increase productivity, advance inclusive economic development, and help conserve biodiversity.”

The Fund’s projected social and environmental impacts include the improvement in the lives of 100,000 fishers and their household members, while placing 1.2 million hectares of coastal habitats, including coral reefs, seagrass beds, and mangroves, under improved management.

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