Tuesday, 16 December 2008

A Spark Of Hope

A major part of The Prem Rawat Foundation - TPRF's work is to help people most in need by providing nutritious food and clean water.

TPRF has provided millions of free hot meals to people in Africa, Asia, the Americas and the Middle East. They partner with non-profit organisations such as Friends of the World Food Program, Oxfam, Action Against Hunger and the Red Cross, to reach a greater number of people in the field more rapidly.

Here is a short video about a food-aid facility the Foundation opened in northeast India.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Habitat For Humanity

Habitat For Humanity was founded in 1976 and addresses the issue of substandard housing by building or renovating houses for those in need.

It does this with the help of homeowner families, through volunteer labour and donations of money and materials. HFH homes are sold to low-income families at no profit and are financed through affordable long-term loans; the mortgage payments, combined with donations, are used to build more homes around the world through the revolving fund.

In addition to these monthly mortgage payments, homeowners invest hundreds of hours of their own labor (“sweat equity”) into building their home and homes of others. Among other benefits, this reduces the cost of the homes, increases the pride of home ownership and builds communities.

Habitat For Humanity works in response to a major need that exists. About 1 billion people are living in inadequate housing in urban areas alone and about 100 million people worldwide are homeless.

There are now more than 3,000 Habitat affiliates in nearly 100 countries around the world. The local affiliate is a community group responsible for the day-to-day management of HFH’s work in the community from determining the building site to organizing local volunteers. This hands-on, grassroots approach to management gives communities new skills and leadership. These thousands of local affiliates or community groups are supported by national, regional and area offices which provide training, information resources and oversight.

To find out more, or if you wish to help the work of Habitat For Humanity, visit their website at http://www.habitat.org/

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

2 Ways In Which Individuals Can Help

With the internet it is now so much easier for us as individuals to do something about issues that matter to us. I'm going to talk about 2 of these ways here.

Fundraising Online

You can set up your own web page to raise funds for the non-profit organisation or charity of your choice. The UK site, which was the first, is Justgiving and the USA site is Firstgiving.

The UK organisation has been around since 2001 - the brainchild of Zarine Kharas - and Firstgiving was set up in 2003. I've only just heard of them recently, but I suppose that's because they can only work with UK and USA charities and non-profits.

I think it's a great idea, and enables people to easily set up their own standard site and raise money for whatever charity they wish. In the UK there is the added benefit that Gift Aid can be added, so that for every £10 that's given, almost £12 goes to the charity. In the time that they have been going in the UK, 6,210,796 people have raised £344,490,538 for 5,642 charities through Justgiving and in the US, 1,322,516 people have raised $72,918,876 for 14,865 non-profits through Firstgiving!

From what I can see, it seems very simple to set up your page and get up and running. There is also space at the bottom where the people who have donated are listed along with the amount and their comments. I don't know if it's possible for someone who wishes to remain anonymous, not be publicly listed.

Anyway, it seems such a simple idea that empowers so many people to be able to raise money easily.

Signing A Petition Or Starting Your Own Petition Online

I've just signed a petition online to Save the Cretan Landscape - see my post on Corfu Chronicles - and it's a very simple process for each of us to do.

You just go to the Petition Site at Care2. Here they list all the petitions currently online, and you can browse through the categories to see if there's anything that you feel strongly about and want to support. Alternatively, you can start your own petition - it couldn't be easier, and having stated the number of signatures you are aiming at when you set it up, there's a "Thermometer" on the page, which tracks and displays the numbers signing.

So far, 526,565 petitions have been created at the Petition Site.

Friday, 28 November 2008

A Voice For Earth

I've just come across this great book - A Voice For Earth - which is a collection of poems, essays, and stories that together give a voice to the ethical principles outlined in the Earth Charter.

The book hasn't been officially launched yet, but the authors will be speaking about it at the upcoming Miami Book Fair International.

Peter Blaze Corcoran, who is one of the editors of the book, is a professor of environmental studies and environmental education and director of the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education at Florida Gulf Coast University.

The Earth Charter, which was adopted in 2000, is a declaration of fundamental principles for building a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society for the 21st century. It has been endorsed by thousands of organizations and institutions.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

This holiday season, YOU are the perfect gift!

This holiday season, the UN World Food Programme are inviting people to feed a child in honour of someone you love and join their interactive Wall Against Hunger. Your gift will "Fill the Cup" for hungry children and provide them with the nutrition they need to learn in school.

Joining the Wall Against Hunger can be done in 3 easy steps -

1. Fill the Cup! Make a donation to WFP.
2. Upload a photo of friends or family and send a personalised message.
3. Share it with loved ones and spread the word.

To find out more, click on the banner below.

WFP's Wall Against Hunger

Thursday, 20 November 2008

CERES Launches New Climate Policy Coalition

Five leading U.S. corporations joined with Ceres today to announce the launch of a new business coalition calling for strong U.S. climate and energy legislation in early 2009 to spur the clean energy economy and reduce global warming pollution. The group’s key principles include stimulating renewable energy, promoting energy efficiency and green jobs, requiring 100 percent auction of carbon allowances, and limiting new coal-fired power plants to those that capture and store carbon emissions.

The founding members of Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP) are Levi Strauss & Co., Nike, Starbucks, Sun Microsystems and The Timberland Company.

BICEP members believe that climate change impacts will ripple across all sectors of the economy and that various new business perspectives are needed to provide a full spectrum of viewpoints for solving the climate and energy challenges facing America.

For more details on BICEP and the BICEP priciples visit here.

Ceres is a leading coalition of investors, environmental groups and other public interest groups working with companies to address sustainability challenges such as global climate change.

View this short video on the Investor Summit on Climate Risk that Ceres organised earlier this year at the United Nations.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

World Food Programme Delivers Food for 50.000 in Congo

The trucks loaded with 100 tons of food, encountered no problems on their journey on Friday morning from Goma, 75 kilometres south and 50,000 people have been registered to receive food, of whom 12,000 were due to receive rations on Friday.

Malnutrition rates among children under the age of five are above emergency levels in some parts of Rutshuru district, where the distribution took place. The entire population in the area has suffered because of the upsurge in fighting in recent weeks. Many people were unable to plant their fields for several successive seasons and prices of basic food items have risen sharply.

For more details of the World Food Programmes's work, please visit their site.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Environmentally Friendly Holidays

More and more people are becoming tired of mass tourism and as well as relaxing on their holiday, would also like to learn and to benefit the local people and the environment whilst they are doing so.

Responsible Travel has been helping people to do just that. Since 2001 they have been "handpicking inspiring holidays from all over the globe to give you a fantastic experience and make a real difference to local people and the environment." They link up travellers with the operators and destinations which provide responsible holidays.

They now offer 3000 holidays in 160 countries with 250 activities. Through the website you can search for the type of holiday you would like and then get in touch directly with the tour operator or the owner of the accommodation. You can feel safe in the knowledge that all those listed on the site have been screened as being 'responsible'.

The operators and accommodation owners are screened for their social, environmental and economic policies before their holidays can be promoted on the site. Travellers also give feedback and reviews on the holidays that they have been on.

The whole idea of responsible tourism, as I mentioned at the beginning, is to bring the travellers in contact with the local people and culture. Groups tend to be small, rather than a faceless mass, and people employed as guides and escorts are local so that there can be real contact between the cultures and local income can be generated.

Responsible travellers are people who are interested in the authenticity of the experience and not in a 'packaged experience'. They want to really learn about the local people and way of life and, in turn, give something back, economically, socially and environmentally.

If this interests you in any way, then a visit to the Responsible Travel site is well worth it, where you can also subscribe to their newsletter. On the site, their is a comment from Michael Palin which I think puts it quite succinctly. "Getting to know more about each other remains one of the most important hopes for the peaceful future of the planet. If we are really to understand each other better, then we need to be reminded to travel carefully and thoughtfully, listening to people along the way and respecting the world we are privileged to travel through."

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Ecological Credit Crunch

Well, to get the ball rolling here I decided to post something that I have already posted on one of my other blogs - Corfu Chronicles. I think it is very appropriate.

We may be going through an economic credit crunch caused by, to put it simplistically, spending more than we have, but there is an ecological credit crunch coming up - and who is going to bail us out when that happens?

WWF publish a Living Planet Report every 2 years and the 2008 edition has just been released. And the news is not good - as if we really didn't expect it. Put simply, we are using up earth's resources so quickly that we have got ourselves "into debt" and by the mid 2030s, according to the report, we will need 2 planets to maintain our lifestyle!

Just as reckless spending causes a recession, so reckless consumption of our natural resources is "depleting the world’s natural capital to a point where we are endangering our future prosperity."

Our global 'footprint' now exceeds our capacity to regenerate by about 30%. The 5 countries with the largest footprint are the United Arab Emirates, USA, Kuwait, Denmark and Australia. The 5 with the lowest are Bangladesh, Congo, Haiti, Afghanistan and Malawi.

Just as some nations are economically in debt to other nations, so there are 'ecological debtors' - nations whose national consumption has outstripped their biocapacity. At the moment, more than three quarters of the world's population live in countries that are ecological debtors. What this means is that we are supporting our current lifestyle with ecological capital from other countries. It is frightening to read that if we all had the USA's consumption patterns, then we would need 4,5 planets to live on!

Another factor coming into play now is our 'water footprint'. The Mediterranean area is facing greater and greater water stress and 5 of the top ten countries with water footprints are from that area - Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Cyprus. Around 50 countries are suffering moderate to severe water stress.

'Sensible' people always go on about 'good housekeeping' - spending what you have and only borrowing when you know you can pay it back. What we are doing with the planet we are living on is completely at odds with that, however. Do we need to reach the point when the crunch actually comes before we face the situation? It will be too late then. As I mentioned above, there is nobody to bail us out of an ecological crunch when it comes. On TV here, we are seeing more and more people in the USA who have lost their homes and are having to live in tents or their cars; if we lose our global home, where are we going to live?

Many people perhaps believe - maybe even just subconsciously - that it won't happen in their lifetime. What about the next generation, who are going to have to pick up the tab? Would you spend money recklessly all your life and just say, "I'm going to die and my children can just pay off all my debts."? What kind of a parent does that?

Anyway, the good news is that, according to the report, that it is still not too late - the trend is not irreversible and we have the means to do something about it.

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