It’s Time to Set the World Aflame! #2030NOW Social Good Summit

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The 5th Annual Social Good Summit was held this year at 92nd Street Y from September 20-22, 2014 and streamed around the world in multiple languages.

 

Last night I returned home after attending my third Social Good Summit in New York City, this year as a United Nations Foundation Social Good Fellow. The Social Good Summit is a unique convening of world leaders, new media and technology experts, grassroots activists and voices from around the world that come together for a two-day conference coinciding with the United Nations General Assembly meeting held during UN Week.

 

“Social media is one of the most powerful tools in creating social change” ~ #JimmyCarter #2030Now

 

 

The theme of this year’s summit – #2030NOW: Connecting for Good, Connecting for All challenged speakers, participants and a growing worldwide community to explore how technology and new media can be leveraged to benefit people everywhere, to spark discussion and ignite change in creating a better world for all by the year 2030.

Conservation/Environment Food Security Global Health Global Issues SOCIAL GOOD

The Children of Syria: Hunger in a War Zone

“The world has stood and watched as the children of Syria have been shot, shelled and traumatized by the horror of war. The conflict has already left thousands of children dead, and is now threatening their means of staying alive.

We understand there is a political debate over what to do next in Syria, but we believe everyone can agree on the critical need for safe humanitarian access across the entire country. There is no room for delay or argument: Syria’s children must not be allowed to go hungry.”

-Roger Hearn, Save the Children’s regional director for the Middle East.

Save the Children distributes bread to residents of Za'atari refugee camp

Save the Children distributes bread to residents of Za’atari refugee camp. Photo credit: Nicole Itano/Save the Children

Last week at the Social Good Summit in New York City, I attended a small panel discussion hosted by Save the Children, ONE and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  It was a rare opportunity to hear some of the top social advocates and leaders speak about some of the pressing developments in social good involving eliminating extreme poverty, using technology for activism, and the current crisis in Syria.

One of the most touching conversations at the roundtable that day was listening to the President and CEO of Save the Children Carolyn Miles discuss the growing crisis in Syria and its tragic impact on its children. A week after returning from New York, I am still reflecting hard on these children and wondering how on earth I can help spread the word and raise awareness of their plight.

The war in Syria is one of the largest humanitarian crisis of our time and sadly Syria’s most vulnerable citizens, its children, are paying the price.

On September 23rd, coinciding with the gathering of global leaders at the UN General Assembly in New York for UN Week, Save the Children released a startling report titled “Hunger in a War Zone: The Growing Crisis Behind the Syria Conflict“. I read the report and could not put it down. The images of Syria’s children still haunt me and I had to do something to spread the word about what is going on and how we can help.

Here is a summary of the key findings of the report. All information below as well as images being used with permission from Save the Children. To read the report in full, click here.

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Zeina *, two, at her home in a tented refugee settlement in Lebanon, near the Syrian border. Zeina and her family are living in a small tent on the Syrian border. The father, Ahmad, has been part of Save the Children as Cash for Work programme, and used the money on food and water for the whole family. Thousands of children and their families continue to stream into neighbouring countries. Most of those who have escaped are living in makeshift shelters, unsuitable buildings or in overcrowded camps, amid growing shortages of food, medicine and water. * Names have been changed to protect identities. Photo Credit: Jonathan Hyams/Save the Children

Pictures tell a story. They show the world the people who are really suffering in Syria. Its most innocent and vulnerable: Their children.

This is the photo that struck a chord in my heart. She could be my own daughter. Same age. Same love for stuffed animals. But no smile to greet the day.

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Refugee child in Iraq. Most of the refugees did not manage to bring any belongings with them when they fled Syria. Some children managed to save their favourite teddy bear or doll. Others have received new toys after moving to the camp. Photo Credit: Rob Holden/Save the Children

It is hard to look at these photographs and not feel some inherent urge to jump on a plane and save them. As a mother of two children, ages 6 and 8, I cannot even begin to imagine what it must be like for these parents and their children.

In mid-September, it was estimated that there are over 4 million displaced families living inside of Syria’s borders in temporary housing with little access to food to feed their children and barely a drip of water. Another two million have fled the country pouring into neighboring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt at a rate of nearly 6,000 day*.

Some families are living in abandoned industrial buildings while others in makeshift refuge camps. The World Health Organization has deemed the crisis in Syria “to be one of the worst ongoing humanitarian crisis on earth”. As the sun begins to turn cold and food becomes more and more scarce, what will these families feed their growing, hungry children?

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Zeina *, two, at her home in a tented refugee settlement in Lebanon, near the Syrian border. *Names have been changed to protect identities. Photo credit: Jonathan Hyams/Save the Children

Per Save the Children, “More than four million Syrians — more than two million of them children — are unable to produce or buy enough food, with many thousands living under fire and with no access to all but the bare minimum foodstuffs needed to survive. Save the Children is already seeing reports that one in 20 children in rural Damascus is severely malnourished”.**

One of the biggest issues right now is the fact that most of Syria’s families are trapped in dangerous locations where they have little or no access to food. They are faced with making the unimaginable decision. To stay inside their homes and starve or to face bullets and death by leaving the safety of their homes to get food for their family. It is a choice no parent should have to make.

“A message to the World” 

“This is a message from the Syrian people to world leaders. I am 13 years old and I am Syrian. I am Ali. I want to talk about the tragedy that we have in Syria. In Syria, we have no good food and not enough water. We only have lentils. So we ate lentils every day. We would see wounded people and dead bodies every day in the street, and many children who did not have homes. They are living in schools. But now they don’t even have a school to live in. I am asking the leaders of the world to provide us safe shelter, food, water, medicine – this is all we ask. Please, please, please – help us”. 

-Ali, 13 years old***

Maya * 11 months, at her home in a disused industrial building in Lebanon near the Syrian border *All names have been changed to protect identities. Photo credit: Jonathan Hyams/Save the Children

Maya * 11 months, at her home in a disused industrial building in Lebanon near the Syrian border *All names have been changed to protect identities. Photo credit: Jonathan Hyams/Save the Children

Another issue is that the war has destroyed Syria’s economy pulling a once relatively prosperous country into shambles. The United Nations “now estimates close to seven million inhabitants have been plunged into poverty since fighting began. In addition, Syria’s agriculture and infrastructure are collapsing, with grain production falling to less than half of what was typical before the war”**. Furthermore, “after two and a half years of war, the conflict has set Syria back 35 years and imposted an economic cost of more than $84 billion, equivalent to over 140 % of Syria’s pre-war GDP”. *** Once the war ends, rebuilding is going to be a long and painful journey.

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A child plays in the dirt at a tented refugee settlement in Lebanon, near the Syrian border. Photo credit: Jonathan Hyams/Save the Children

What Save the Children is asking world leaders is to secure humanitarian access to the people per Save the Children’s Carolyn Miles. There are 7 million people in need of assistance and 5 million people stuck inside the country. Save the Children strongly believes that regardless of the political situation in Syria, we must do something about this enormous humanitarian crisis. We must act and we must act now. Time is running out for the millions of children and families who are suffering and facing extreme hunger and malnutrition. The world must listen and help.

Here is a link to what needs to be done. (See page 19)

Here is the latest response by global leaders: Press Release 10/02/13 Save the Children “UN Aid Access Agreement Could Save Thousands of Lives in Syria”.

The fight to save Syria’s children is far from over. We need to act now and spread the word. We need to voice our concern.

This is what is at stake: Children. 

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Suhad * six, lies on the floor of her home in a tented refugee settlement in Lebanon, near the Syrian border. *Names have been changed to protect children’s identities. Jonathan Hyams/Save the Children

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Nadia *, one and a half, is carried by her mother Roula * outside their home in a tented refugee settlement in Lebanon, near the Syrian border. *Names have been changed to protect identities. Photo Credit: Jonathan Hyams/Save the Children

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Rami*, two, at her home in a tented refugee settlement in Lebanon, near the Syrian border. *Names have been changed to protect identity. Photo Credit: Jonathan Hyams/Save the Children

Related Posts and References:

*“Six Million Displaced by War in Syria” via the Atlantic

**Food Shortages Put Syria’s Children at Risk of Malnutrition

***Hunger in a War Zone: The Growing Crisis Behind the Syria Conflict

Highlights from the 2013 Social Good Summit

To keep in touch with the latest updates on Save the Children’s work in Syria and how you can help, click here.

About Save the Children

Save the Children is the leading independent organization for children in need, with programs in 120 countries, including the United States. We aim to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children, and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives by improving their health, education and economic opportunities. In times of acute crisis, we mobilize rapid assistance to help children recover from the effects of war, conflict and natural disasters. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Food Security Global Issues Global Non-Profit Organizations and Social Good Enterprises Humanitarian SOCIAL GOOD

World Food Program’s Live Below the Line Challenge

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Yesterday I had the opportunity to listen in a conference call along with other social good bloggers to hear World Food Program USA Board Chair Hunter Biden and WFP USA President & CEO Rick Leach discuss the “Live Below the Line” Challenge to help solve global hunger.  The fact that 1 in 8 people in the world live in constant hunger – which means 925 million people will not get enough to eat this year (more than the populations of the United States, Canada and the European Union) is not only a tragedy but the world’s number one health risk.

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Food Security Global Health Global Issues Global Non-Profit Organizations and Social Good Enterprises SOCIAL GOOD

The Crisis in Syria and how you can help

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The onset of the Syrian conflict over 21 months ago has been utterly devastating. Thousands of Syrians have been displaced and over 540,000 Syrians are registered refuges in the neighboring countries of Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Egypt. Unfortunately the refuge crisis is only getting worse. Bordering countries have seen a huge sudden increase of over 140,000 refuges in just the last six weeks. Furthermore, on Wednesday The UN predicted that if things don’t calm down in Syria and the ugly Civil War does not end soon, the number of Syrian refuges could explode to over 1.1 million by early summer.

As winter blankets Syria and her neighbors, the conditions at the refuge camps are grim. In some camps, women and children represent over 75% of the refugees such as in Zaatari, Jordan, which has 30,000 refugees at the moment. Families are struggling to survive and feed their families, living in tents under the freezing cold conditions with sadly no end of their desperate situation in sight.

Fortunately NGO’s such as World Food Programme (WFP) is there to help. The WFP has worked alongside the UNHCR (The United Nation’s Refugee Arm) to provide a regular supply of food to the families. While UNHCR is distributing such necessary supplies as blankets for fuel and cooking, the WFP has been supplying “dry rations” over the winter months that refugees can cook themselves. The Dry rations include rice, bulgur, wheat, yellow split peas, sugar and salt, which are provided along with a daily allotment of bread.

In the Zaatari refugee camp alone, over 100 communal kitchens have been built that services 30,000 people. The UNHCR is working to build more in order to ensure everyone has access. But the cold, cruel wind of winter is making situations miserable for many.

Meanwhile inside Syria, food insecurity is on the rise due to bread shortages and higher food prices, leaving millions of Syrians in desperate conditions and may lead to more people leaving the country and entering the already over-crowded refuge camps.

It is not a good situation, but you can help. Simply share this video to raise awareness or make a small donation to the World Food Programme that can help feed a family and save a life.

This post was written on behalf of the Global Team of 200. Information above is provided by the WFP as well as research on the web. To learn more about the World Food Programme’s work, click here.

Food Security Global Issues Global Non-Profit Organizations and Social Good Enterprises Humanitarian SOCIAL GOOD

World Food Programme in Bolivia

Photo credit: World Food Programme

The World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide.

“Born in 1961, WFP pursues a vision of the world in which every man, woman and child has access at all times to the food needed for an active and healthy life. We work towards that vision with our sister UN agencies in Rome — the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) — as well as other government, UN and NGO partners.

On average, WFP aim to reach more than 90 million people with food assistance in more than 73 countries. Around 15,000 people work for the organization, most of them in remote areas, directly serving the hungry poor.”

World Hunger is an enormous yet preventable problem. Per WFP, there are 870 million undernourished people in the world today. That means one in eight people do not get enough food to be healthy and lead an active life. Hunger and malnutrition are in fact the number one risk to the health worldwide — greater than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.

The World Food Programme is working in Bolivia to provide nutritious meals for children in schools. You can ask a question for the children in Bolivia that will be translated and delivered by Ximena, WFP’s Communications Officer there.

Here is where you can direct your readers to ask a question. Simply click here and send your message.

I asked my question….will you?

Food Security Global Issues Global Non-Profit Organizations and Social Good Enterprises SOCIAL GOOD

Feeding 7 billion: World Food Day October 16th, 2012

Photo taken of farmland in rural Guatemala.

Do you ever wonder how on earth we are going to feed the world? With a population of 7 billion and growing every day, how will the world come up with enough food to feed its population?

Per a recent alarming UN report on global sustainability, the forecast is frightening:

“As the world’s population looks set to grow to nearly 9 billion by 2040 from 7 billion now, and the number of middle-class consumers increases by 3 billion over the next 20 years, the demand for resources will rise exponentially.

Even by 2030, the world will need at least 50 percent more food, 45 percent more energy and 30 percent more water, according to U.N. estimates, at a time when a changing environment is creating new limits to supply.

And if the world fails to tackle these problems, it risks condemning up to 3 billion people into poverty”.

The best produce in Guatemala is exported and the leftovers remain for the people.

Food Security Global Non-Profit Organizations and Social Good Enterprises SOCIAL GOOD