Posts Tagged ‘Advocacy’

Written by: Maria Dieci

National security threats have changed face drastically over the course of the past few decades, and have become infinitely more frightening, invisible, and unpredictable.  Lawless lands, where conflicting groups vie for power, are the most dangerous threats to national security.  Violent, extremist groups – such as Al Qaeda and the Taliban – threaten both US security and the stability of the countries they infest.  What makes these threats so difficult to isolate and defuse is that they do not operate in an organized manner and they threaten their own people with little opposition.  Further, weakened states fail to provide their citizens with protection from terrorist groups because of fragile or inexistent infrastructure.

According to a United Nations estimate, 4 billion people live outside of the protection of the law.  These people may not even know what basic rights they have, let alone if they are being violated.  In many disorganized states, there is no effective mechanism to control corruption, greed, and exploitation.  Further, while some of these states are signatory to United Nations Human Rights Agreements, they have no matching legislation and no effective public justice system to protect the poor.  Those in power are unchallenged, and can strip the poor of any foreign assistance they receive.  As much as 85% of foreign aid never reaches those for whom it is intended, reveals a World Bank study.  Could half a century of development work have been done in vain?


Corruption, violence, and injustice are common in failing states, delivering crippling blows to the most vulnerable sectors of the population: the poor, women, and children.  Education and healthcare are scarce, and the youth of these countries have very few opportunities.  Without opportunity, there is little hope for the future.  Feeling hopeless youth are a vulnerable target of terrorist organizations that offer food for their families, security, acceptance, and purpose in exchange for loyalty.

This is why creating opportunity for children is so important and why human rights groups have made it their mission to provide hope for the world’s youth.  Children equipped with education, adequate healthcare, and prospects for the future are more stable.  They are also less likely be recruited by terrorists and are poised to strengthen and rebuild their countries.  Youth must be given opportunities to learn, harvest dreams for themselves, and be a positive force in their countries.

Regardless of political belief, those who are interested in national security have a vested interest in human rights, and those who are interested in human rights have a vested interest in national security.  Development must happen on the ground level with the empowerment and education of youth and the establishment and safeguarding of human rights.  It must also happen on the national level with the development of infrastructure, the creation of public justice systems and the restoration of political stability.  Only then can a weakened state be strengthened and rebuilt in order to champion human rights, offer hope for the future, and, as a consequence, achieve national and international security.

Return to the Our Global Victory homepage to see how you can become involved in providing youth with opportunity and hope for the future.


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Our Global Victory is announcing its Atlanta Tattoo Artists for Human Rights Contest to benefit underprivileged children and communities in the areas of education, opportunity, and protection. Artwork submitted by the winning artist will be used on t-shirts and bags for charity to fund the humanitarian projects featured on the Our Global Victory website. These include building classrooms for refugee children in Uganda, creating leadership opportunities for at-risk youth in NYC, providing education and healthcare for children from slum communities in Pune and Mumbai, and providing literacy education for women and children working in the Nigerian marketplace. If you would like to have a copy of the flyer sent to your email address, please email Our Global Victory at ourglobalv@gmail.com with your request. The winner will be announced on July 28, 2010. For contest details, please view the flyer below:

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The founder of OGV speaks with conference attendees.

Our Global Victory was pleased to be a guest at the 2010 Voices for Africa conference at the Harvard Graduate School of Education on April 10, 2010.

Speakers included Dr. Shirley Burchfield from World Education, Dr. Tatiana Carayannis from the Social Science Research Council, and Godfrey Orach Otobi, a student of Fletcher School at Tufts, who shared his personal experiences growing up in conflict.

Rich discussions followed informative presentations on topics aimed at highlighting the challenges of accessing quality education faced by African children in conflict and post-conflict situations.

Some thought provoking issues that were discussed were:

The Youth Bulge in Africa

Participants discussed how the youth bulge in Africa will affect the economy and the possibility of increasing future conflict. Many states greatly affected by conflict in Africa are made up of over 50% youth under the age of 25. Many young people have not had access to education for many years and have lived in traumatic situations. Some scholars believe that these youth will be more likely to become involved in future conflict. However, the overall consensus of practitioners and researchers at the conference was that this was an extremely important opportunity to provide these youth with opportunities and that they could influence their states in positive ways that would result in economic growth and peace for Africa.  Discussed by Dr. Tatiana Carayannis of the Social Science Research Council.

GET INVOLVED! Forego two lattes this year – and make a small donation of $10 – to build classrooms for a post conflict refugee community in Uganda so they can become more sustainable!

Dr. Carayannis, Richard Opio, and Dr. Mendenhall

Getting Vital Information to the People of Africa

With limited resources, how can positive messages and accurate news spread through Africa? Many practitioners and advocates are harnessing the power of radio to reach the African populations. Organizations such as Search for Common Ground, are utilizing the radio to promote peace between groups and empower young people using interactive programming. Other organizations offer important educational information including agricultural, disease prevention, and objective news to help increase political participation from villagers. Discussed by Sally Chin of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Adult Literacy Education

A crucial need that is often overlooked in literacy education is the need to educate illiterate adults in a meaningful way. This includes finding out what they need and want to learn and what would be most useful for them to learn. Some possibilities of note were how to make prices in the marketplace, basic literacy, and issues useful to their everyday lives. Most adults do not wish to go through the rigorous literacy programs that are taught to children in primary school and need a program that is adapted to suit their lives. Discussed by Atema Eclai of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.

GET INVOLVED! Forego two after dinner desserts this year – and make a small donation of $10 – to give adult education to people in the marketplace of Vandeika Benue State Nigeria so that they can afford to send their children to school!

Sally Chin, Joe Read, and Atema Eclai

The afternoon talk given by Godfrey Orach Otobi on The Effect of Conflict on Education in Uganda tied the conference together and made people appreciate a deeper understanding of the days topics. Godfrey described growing up in conflict and how his experiences made it impossible for him access a quality education. He described how he and his classmates fled for their lives from rebels who captured them repeatedly after every escape. Despite constant trauma, it was his mother’s inspirational words and thoughts on education that gave him the strength to survive. He now advocates on behalf youth in Uganda and to giving them opportunities for a bright future.

The overall tone of the conference can best be described by Atemi Eclai’s words when she urged people to look at Africa “through a lens of hopefulness”.


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This talk at the Harvard Kennedy School regarding slavery and human trafficking highlighted different issues including decreasing the demand for sex slaves, the positive and negative consequences of alerting authorities to possible trafficking rings, and finding inspiration to get involved with this cause.

This talk was moderated by Timothy McCarthy, Director of the Human Rights and Social Movements Program at the Carr Center at Harvard. The guest speakers, Kevin Bales of Free the Slaves and Ashley Judd of Population Services International, eloquently spoke about the reasons they were moved to get involved, introduced the audience to some of the horrendous acts of slavery occurring now,  and gave suggestions on what people can do to help stop slavery.


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HoPE Primary School – Uganda

I was introduced to this project by my professor, Sarah Dryden-Peterson, at Harvard. Sarah had spent time in Uganda researching and wrote a paper on this remarkable refugee community. HoPE provides free education to refugee children and a center to foster peaceful relations between refugees and locals. Their current need is to build three additional classrooms each costing $7345. This will provide education for additional students and help this community become more sustainable.

MarketPlace School Initiative- Nigeria

A former classmate, Haviva Kohl, co-founded this initiative to provide literacy education for children and adults in an area with immense need: the marketplace. Children making a living in the Nigerian marketplaces often forego schooling to help feed their families. Women who get an education from MPSI will be able to apply for micro-loans, expand or start businesses, and pay for school fees for their children. Just launched in March, 311 women are already enrolled. Current need is $2568 to help create the Vandeika, Benue State School.

Akanksha – India

A colleague of mine spent time volunteering in India with Akanksha and was amazed at their ability to provide education, opportunity, and protection to children from slum communities in Pune and Mumbai. Their current need is to help maintain schools, buy medical supplies, and help support their social welfare program.

Global Potential – Central America

A fellow Harvard Alum introduced me to a program that she believes in so much that she volunteers with it in a full-time position. GP projects help underprivileged youth in NYC and Boston by enabling them to build skills and by helping them stay in school. In turn, they travel to an impoverished community outside of the U.S. to complete a service project that helps that community build its economy and create sustainability. Their current needs are funding for transportation, training, and accommodations for their upcoming service projects.

Each of these projects fit meet the OGV guidelines and criteria to ensure their impact, legality, non-discrimination policies, and ethical standards. For more information on this process click here.

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Our Global Victory is my passion. I created this organization to help unite the advocacy efforts of non-profits, corporations, governments, and individuals for underprivileged children. The greatest impact results when diverse organizations work together toward a common goal. Together we can achieve Our Global Victory and help children reach their full potential. 

I have had the privilege to know the stories of many courageous children who faced barriers to education, healthcare, and safety. A young woman, whose father was incarcerated, struggled to help her mother raise her younger brothers and sisters while attending school. A boy, who was physically abused and had attempted suicide, fought to rebuild his self-esteem and focus on the future. A twelve year old, forced from his home by war, wrestled to recover from post-traumatic stress disorder and to have one night of sleep free from nightmares. Their stories, and countless others like them, are both tragic and triumphant. They are, unfortunately, too common. Barriers to opportunity make it hard for children to reach their full potential and, in many cases, make it impossible. 

It is their stories and the hope of change that inspire me everyday. The world loses so many inspirations – about 26,500 children* – are lost each day due to poor health conditions, poverty, negligence, and other preventable causes. I believe that every child has the right to opportunity and that every individual has the right to contribute to the world in a meaningful way. Our Global Victory is dedicated to creating partnerships that result in a better future for children and the communities where they live… a better future for everyone. It is possible. 




*From UNICEF, ‘State of the World’s Children 2008’: http://www.unicef.org/publications/index_42623.html

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