Saturday, January 17, 2009

Ethiopia Reads

Ethiopia Reads

"To create a reading culture in Ethiopia by connecting children with books. By planting libraries for children, creating culturally appropriate reading materials and training educators to nurture a love of books, Ethiopia Reads brings hope and educational skills to this generation of Ethiopians."

Ethiopia Reads was started by Yohannes Gebregeorgis, a native Ethiopian who entered the United states as a political refugee early in his life. He earned a Master's degree of library science and worked as a children's librarian in San Francisco. Although there was a large Ethiopian population in San Francisco it was impossible to find children's books written in Amharic or other native Ethiopian languages. This prompted Gebregeorgis to team up with Jane Kurtz and write the first English/Amharic book for children titled Silly Mammo. In 2003 Gebregeorgis took it a step further and moved back to Addis Ababa to build the Shola Children's Library. Gebregeorgis and his team also regularly pack up a small library on a donkey to make books and reading available to children in rural areas.

Ethiopia Reads includes the Shola Children's Library, a school library development program, a publishing program to encourage more English/Amharic books, a training program for Ethiopian teachers and librarians, and various child development workshops and initiatives throughout Addis Ababa.

Donations of dollars can be made through the website and Ethiopia Reads is also accepting books, reading-related posters, and school supplies that can be shipped either directly to Ethiopia or to a United States office [book donation guidelines and addresses for shipment], and if you're a big spender consider sponsoring ($10,000) or co-sponsoring ($5,000) a library in Ethiopia. A full-sponsored library includes furniture, books, training materials, sorting & transport of books, Amharic and English education & fiction books, reference materials, art & office supplies, decorations, library skills training, management and oversight, and 3 years of collective development and training.

In 2009 Ethiopia Reads hopes to sell copies of Silly Mammo and other Amharic/English books for children on the website.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Girls Education & Mentoring Services (GEMS)

Girls Education & Mentoring Services (GEMS)

"Girls Educational and Mentoring Services' (GEMS ) mission is to empower young women, ages12-21, who have experienced sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking to exit the commercial sex industry and develop to their full potential. GEMS is committed to ending commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking of children by changing individual lives, transforming public perception, and revolutionizing the systems and policies that impact sexually exploited youth."

GEMS provides direct service to girls and young women who have been exploited in domestic prostitution rings. The organization was created in 1999 by Rachel Lloyd, who herself experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking. GEMS' philosophy rests on the beauty and worth of every young woman and never falls back on a paternalistic, superior attitude towards the young women and girls they help.

There are a variety of services offered by GEMS including prevention and outreach (street and facility), intervention through legal advocacy, case management, transitional living assistance, and trauma based therapy and clinical support, and youth development in recreational/educational/therapeutic groups as well as youth leadership programs.

Donations can be made through the website or through purchasing merchandise (t-shirts, buttons, and bracelets that state "Girls Are Not for Sale" as well as DVDs and art books), or supporting through purchasing wishlist items and if you're located in New York City volunteering your time and energy.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Homeboy Industries

Homeboy Industries

"Homeboy Industries assists at-risk and former gang-involved youth to become positive and contributing members of society through job placement, training and education."

Homeboy Industries works with both men and women in Los Angeles that are trying to leave gang life. It began by Father Gregory Boyle as Jobs for a Future (JFF) and gradually grew into an all-encompassing, life changing experience for troubled youth. Homeboy Industries offers job training and placement assistance (including small businesses directly affiliated with the organization), education, legal service, mental health counseling, twelve step meetings, post-prison transition assistance, and tattoo removal; all free of charge.

Homeboy Industries can be supported through direct contribution on their website or purchasing merchandise which is made in a small business staffed entirely of former gang members and at-risk youth.

If you're in Los Angeles you can volunteer your time or visit the various small businesses staffed by Homeboy Industry successes: The Homeboy Bakery, Homegirl Cafe, Homeboy Maintenence, or Homeboy Silkscreen.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan

The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA)

"RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, was established in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1977 as an independent political/social organization of Afghan women fighting for human rights and for social justice in Afghanistan."

RAWA has remained an organization throughout the Soviet occupation and war, the Taliban take over, and the current United States occupation and war. They have opened up orphanages, schools, and hospitals throughout Afghanistan and refugee camps in Pakistan. They provide literacy courses to adults and help with food distribution to the Afghan people as well as counseling and job training to women forced into prostitution. You can see all they have accomplished here or read the book With All Our Strength: The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan by Anne E. Brodsky.

RAWA provides several options for helping out financially. You can donate directly through their site, purchase books, shirts through their cafepress, or fund something from their amazon wishlist (the cameras and electronics are used by Afghan women to secretly film the atrocities committed throughout the country).

There are also ways to help out without opening your pocketbook. RAWA lists them here. For example, talking to local leaders about bringing a RAWA representative to your area, translating articles into other languages, or having a teach-in about RAWA and Afghanistan in your community.