Making an Impact for Human Rights

By: Anika
Anika is a participant in Allowance for Good's Spring Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy: Explorers class. 

This week in ELP, we talked about human rights. We learned about the different plans and steps for fixing the problems that come with the lack of human rights. There is a declaration issued by the United Nations about human rights. We tend to take many of these basic rights for granted.

 In this class, I learned a lot about human rights and I was able to appreciate how fortunate I am. Less developed countries do not provide adequate protection of human rights, which is a problem that needs to be fixed. Some people don’t have freedom of thought, or the right to privacy. I cannot imagine not having the right to privacy and freedom of thought and speech.

 One of these rights was the right to education. Malala’s speech about the right to education was very inspiring for many reasons.  She is a young girl living in a Taliban dominated and controlled country. She is a girl and a child and the Taliban believed that the children of Pakistan, especially girls and women, had no right to education.  She still stood out, regardless of everything against her and spoke out for both girls and boys. Taliban continued to threaten her but she could not be stopped because she believed in the right to education for everyone. She was shot in the head by the Taliban but that made her even more determined to fight for access and equality of education.

 Another right is the right to food and shelter. There are so many people who don’t have 3 meals a day. Hunger and shelter is a problem all over the world, including the most developed countries. Even a country as developed as the United States has over 5,000 homeless and hungry people in just a 50 mile radius. All of my life I have grown up listening to how my classmates and I were so lucky to have food on our plates and a roof over my head.

 I have heard statistics that 1 out of 5 children go hungry. We have not discussed ways in which we could solve this problem. I would like to try and make a dent in the issue of homelessness and hunger.

One of the ways to doing that is to build awareness of this problem at a younger age. It could be as simple as teaching kids to not waste food and water, volunteering at a food bank, richer class discussions etc.

Passionate Youth Building Awareness, Taking Action

By: Kate
Kate is participating in Allowance for Good's spring 2014 Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy: Explorers program.     

One issue that I am passionate about is domestic violence and abuse. I am passionate about this topic because I was exposed to this through my swim club and through my church. I swim for the YWCA Flying Fish in Evanston. While this is a completive swim program, it is unique because the pool is located in the YWCA which houses displaced women and their families. Every year our team raises money for the YWCA through a ‘swim marathon’. For the swim marathon we swim as many laps as possible within one hour. We each raise money by collecting donations for each lap we swim. This year the Flying Fish raised almost $100,000 and it is all donated to the YWCA to help the abused women and their families. I have been doing this for the past eight years. During this time I have learned about domestic violence and abuse.

I also experienced the affects of domestic violence and abuse this past winter while doing volunteer work for my church. A few friends and I volunteered to work at the Night Ministries in downtown Chicago. We helped serve food to the homeless and less fortunate. Before we started, the person in charge told us that some of the women we were going serve are victims of domestic violence. This really hit home when a young woman came through the line with tears in the corners of her eyes. I could tell immediately that something was wrong but it was not my place to ask too many questions. When she went through the line my dad asked her if he could do anything for her, but she shook her head no. Just from looking at her tear stricken face, I could tell something was very wrong and it made my mind wonder with questions. Was she a victim of domestic abuse? Did she have anyone she could talk to? I was only there to give her a warm meal, but I wished there was a way I could do more. 

From my involvement in both of these organizations, I have had some exposure to domestic violence and abuse. However, I’d like to become more involved. To build onto the work I have already accomplished I can look into volunteering at the YWCA to help these women. This issue inspires me because I do not think it is something anyone should have to go through. I also think that people everywhere should become more educated about this issue so we can try and prevent it from happening again.

Kate, left, discusses leadership styles with AfG Executive Director Elizabeth Newton at an Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy seminar.

If I Had a Family Foundation...

By: Genevieve
Genevieve is participating in Allowance for Good's winter 2014 Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy program.

If I was the head of a family foundation, I would support education and housing for those in need. I would support these causes because I believe that they are the two most important things one needs in order to have a successful life. There are so many people without shelter. Homelessness exists throughout the world, from San Francisco to Italy. Once you are homeless, it is very hard to get back to a normal life without a group of people who want to help. My foundation would not just provide a shelter for people who need a place to stay for a little while and then go back out onto the streets. During the day, all school age children would go to a public school so that they can be educated. Their guardians would be learning about how to get their life back on track, continuing their education and getting some job training. When the kids come home from school, they would be able to do their homework and then have a good, healthy dinner. I would want these families to feel safe without worrying about where they are going to sleep the next night. I believe this stability is the core to having a successful life. If the kids are staying in school and getting an education while their guardians are improving their lives, these families will have a higher chance of success out in the real world. 

I think that education is very important, because if one is not educated, then they will not be able to get a stable job and support their families. I have noticed at the shelter that I volunteer at, that when a family has been staying there for several weeks, the older kids end up taking care of their younger siblings. This is a big responsibility for the older siblings and I wonder how much time they have left over to do their own homework. It seems to me that the kids have just as hard of a time being homeless as the their guardian does. I volunteer on Wednesdays at a women’s homeless shelter and I help the children with their homework. As a reward, we play games after they are done. I try to encourage the kids to work hard so that they can develop good study habits and enjoy going to school. 

Genevieve, right, listens to guest speaker Sharmila Rao Thakker of The Siragusa Foundation during the Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy seminar.