"Save The World" Challenge Images

Girls watching women weave baskets in Sherpur, Bangladesh.
photo | Guy Martorana
organization | The Institute of Integrated Rural Development

Family carries aid supplies back to their camp in Menik Farm.
photo | Ryan Hudock
organization | Worldwide Shelters and IOM

The sweetest little girl on the side of the road in Kenya.
photo | Tina Brown

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Making an imprint

Posted by Anthony Wald in Volunteers Edit

Carol Olson was sitting with three friends eating lunch, when the conversation turned to wanting to give back. The three friends knew they wanted to do something, but what was a question that needed some evaluation. Each decided to go home, do some research, and meet again to discuss their findings.

At their next meeting one of the women brought information on Global Volunteers. Global Volunteers is described on their website as, “A private, non-profit, non-sectarian, non-governmental organization engaging short-term volunteers on micro-economic and human development programs in close partnership with local people worldwide.” “I was in awe of what they had to offer” Carol explained. “Global Volunteers is invited into each country they provide service for which was important to me” she continued. With the organization set, they just needed to decide on where to go, or where they felt they could make the biggest impact. After several discussions the women honed in on a program in Romania.


Krochet Kids International Give it Back

Working together, nonprofit Krochet Kids International (KKi), buy-one-give-one shoe store TOMS and sports retailer Active Ride Shop held the third annual Give benefit concert on July 18 at the Irvine Spectrum Center in Irvine, California. With live music by VOiD808, Crash Kings, Pawnshop Kings, The Daylights, and Dustin Kensrue of Thrice, it was an event for the books.

The 1,500 attendees supported KKi’s economic development programs and TOMS Shoes’ donations through the suggested $2 entry donation, more than $3000 in Krochet Kids product sales, and two murals and fifteen mannequins by Rock Harbor Artists to be auctioned at a later date. The Give event will make a lasting impression not only through raising funds but also through raising awareness of poverty in Africa. “All of our profits go back into the program in Northern Uganda. They pay the woman’s wages and implement programs that we have in place to enrich their lives and their families’ lives,” says Brad Holdgrafer of KKi. The program is designed to provide a reliable salary and to empower participants toward future independent entrepreneurship. It currently aids ten women in Northern Uganda who meet to crochet hats and other wares daily.

TOMS Shoes sold 300 pairs of customizable shoes, which translates into 300 pairs of shoes donated to children in need. “It was incredible to see three separate companies all with a heart to help people, working together and all with a good spirit,” says Holdgrafer. “The vibes were good, the people were good, the bands were great and the art was phenomenal.”

This Saturday, August 1, KKi is holding a benefit party in Seattle, Washington at the BoConcept design and furniture gallery from 8 to 11 p.m. Expect music by DJ duo Wulfpak, discount sample sales, contests and dancing. Considering how well the Give event went, no one in Seattle should miss this one.

Krochet Kids International
TOMS Shoes


Every day, around 1,500 people in South Africa become infected with HIV. This epidemic has led to about 1.4 million orphans in South Africa alone. Many of these young children are malnourished and are in desperate need of care. Jill Youse, founder of the International Breast Milk Project (IBMP), is here to help.

To date, IBMP has sent 65,000 bottles of breast milk to South Africa. This amount of “liquid gold,” as Youse calls it, has the ability to feed 2,188 babies for a month. If you do the math, it’s easy to see that there’s still a need for milk. Youse and two thousand other mothers are determined to meet this demand.

The idea of donating milk first came to Youse after her daughter was born and she had a freezer full of breast milk. Not wanting the food to go to waste, she turned to Google. Youse soon found an orphanage in South Africa that needed donor milk. After personally sending her milk to Durban, South Africa, Youse had no idea that her actions would turn into an international nonprofit.

“I didn’t think, ‘Oh I’m going to go start a nonprofit organization and start a worldwide movement. I just thought, ‘This is a simple solution. I have a whole lot of something, and here’s this baby that has nothing. Certainly this is least I can do,’” says Youse.


Independent Filmmaking and Social Issues

How does a great film idea receive the funding to get off the ground and onto the screen? Some succeed with the help of organizations such as Cinereach. The New York-based organization has the simple mission of supporting vital stories artfully told. Its mission is carried out in three ways: giving grants to filmmakers, supporting recent graduates through The Reach Film Fellowship, and producing its own films.

Cinereach has made grants to more than thirty socially relevant film projects, including acclaimed films such “October Country,” “High Rise” and “A Jihad for Love”. The success of these projects is important to Cinereach because, like NEED, it believes in putting a spotlight on important social issues.

Still image from Cinereach's Bronx Princess (a film by Cinereach Grantees Yoni Brook and Musa Syeed) scheduled to air on PBS' POV series September 22

As a complement to the grants Cinereach makes to emerging and established filmmakers, Cinereach’s Reach Film Fellowship provides socially conscious filmmakers early in their careers with the resources they need to become working professionals. Four applicants are selected each year to participate in the fellowship and receive a grant, work with a mentor, and walk away with a finished 10-minute film relating to a socially relevant idea. From the 2007 fellowship, the short film “So the Wind Won’t Blow it all Away” will be broadcast on PBS’s POV program on September 22, programmed alongside Cinereach grant recipient film “Bronx Princess.”

Partnerships with other film organizations and foundations are also key to the Cinereach agenda. Cinereach recently announced a partnership with the Sundance Institute involving a $1.5 million, three-year grant. This discretionary grant will be used to help push works-in-progress to the finish line as they participate in Sundance’s existing Feature and Documentary Film Labs. At least 12 films with socially relevant causes will receive support by the end of the three-year period. The project will also include a fellowship opportunity for emerging filmmakers who will receive funding and support from Cinereach as well as access to Sundance’s resources.

Still image from Cinereach's So the Wind Won't Blow it All Away (a film by Annie Waldman, a Reach Film Fellow)) scheduled to air on PBS' POV series September 22

On top of their grants, fellowships, projects and productions, Cinereach recently formed a funder-partnership to share resources with Arts Engine for the Media that Matters Film Festival, which makes socially relevant films freely available to activists and educators online. “Media that Matters is a program that we really believe in,” said Reva Goldberg, communications and special projects manager at Cinereach, “in terms of how artful story telling can really transform the conversation about an important topic.” NEED will screen the films selected for this year’s Media that Matters Film Festival on October 8, at the Oak Street Cinema in Minneapolis, to make public the films’ social issues.


Kosi Flood

© 2008 NEED Communications, Inc.
photo | Sumit Dayal

Writer: Line Wolf Nielsen

Locals in North India call it the “Sorrow of Bihar” - an appropriate name for the river Kosi which burst its embankment in eastern Nepal on the 18th of August. An area the size of Singapore has been inundated, making some 3 million people homeless and causing huge damages to roads, railways and farmland.

Gauri Devi's bamboo hut is barely standing. A row of wooden poles hold up the thatch roof, a wall looks ready to slide into the waist deep waters. Gauri Devi is among 2.5 million people in India’s Bihar state and 100,000 in Nepal made homeless by the Kosi changing its course. She has now returned to her village in Bihar's Madhepura district with her five young children.

Boxing up Relief

Posted by Katy Petershack in Interviews, Organizations Edit

Balochistan Earthquake 2008 | photos courtesy of ShelterBox/Mark Pearson

When disasters strike, thousands of people may be left without shelter. In 2001 Tom Henderson, a former Royal Navy search-and-rescue diver, founded the organization ShelterBox to combat this problem. He created a compact kit that holds enough supplies to help families stay alive and healthy. ShelterBox has several branches in different countries including one in the USA. I spoke with Casey Chadwick, the Public Relations and Marketing Director for the USA branch.

Ms. Chadwick told me, “As soon as I started learning more about [ShelterBox] I became very interested. … [This is] a sound program for humanitarian aid relief.” The boxes typically contain a ten-person tent, thermal blankets and insulated ground sheets, waterproof ponchos and bin bags, a multi-fuel stove, cooking supplies, collapsible water containers, water purification tablets, a basic tool kit and a small children’s pack with drawing books. This kit can help a family of 10 survive for six months.


Every Sip Counts

Jacquie Berglund Co-Founder and Executive Director of Finnegans Irish Amber

Since developing its recipe for Irish Amber in the late 90s, Finnegans has presented a tasty beer whose purchase makes an impact. Donating 100 percent of all profits to community projects throughout Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin, founder and executive director Jacquie Berglund has created a model for social entrepreneurs.

Since the business became profitable in 2003, it has donated more than $138,000 to its sister nonprofit, The Finnegans Community Fund, which makes grants to deserving nonprofits. Finnegans aims to give away $45,000 this year. That means selling 3,800 barrels, or 51,000 cases, of the Irish Amber. “I run it like a nonprofit,” Berglund says. “I pay the bills, pay myself a salary and any money that is leftover goes into the Finnegans Community Fund.”

In the spring and fall, the board of directors review grant applications and choose nonprofits to receive up to $2,000 each. They like to follow the proverb, “Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” In other words, Berglund explains, “We tend to fund sustainable projects that are capacity building.”

Urban Boatbuilders recently received a Finnegans grant. Through teaching at-risk youth how to build wooden boats, it not only creates an object that can continue to fund the organization, but also gives kids valuable work experience. Since 1995, teenagers from public schools, charter schools and juvenile corrections in the Twin Cities have had the opportunity to practice teamwork and perseverance, and learn the outcome of hard work.

Guardian of the Favela

Posted by Katy Petershack on December 18th 2008 in Uncategorized Edit

Photos | Niccolo Guasti

Ricardo Gomez Ferraz lives in one of the most dangerous cities in Brazil. Recife, located in the far eastern corner of the country, averages 90.9 murders per 100,000 people. While Rio de Janeiro often makes headlines for its bloody drug war, Recife’s even higher rates of violence go relatively unnoticed by the outside world.

The area is riddled with drug dealers, and some members of the police resell confiscated drugs and weapons, providing easy access to both in the community. According to photographer Niccolo Guasti who visited the area, everyone knows a family member or friend who has been killed as a result of crimes.

When Ferraz was 20, he and his cousin Nicolas, were swept up in the violence, shooting and robbing a person on the beach. Policemen found them and immediately shot and killed Nicolas. The police told Ferraz that he could leave with his life but warned him not make another mistake. At that moment, Ferraz decided to devote his time to improving his community.


"Save The World" Challenge Images

La Oroya Antigua, one of the 10 most polluted cities in the world.
photo | Giuliano Koren

The Cradle of Civilization. Pyramids of Giza.
photo | Andrea Darrington

Future of all Galapagos' animals rests in the hands of children.
photo | Buffy Redsecker
organization | Animal Balance

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From Coast to Coast: Barefoot

Posted by Rachel Yuen in Events, Organizations Edit

Traveling a distance of nearly 3,500 miles is manageable by air plane, time-consuming by car, and practically unthinkable by foot. However, 19-year-old Dashiel Alsup opted to complete a journey of that enormity on his bare feet. Alsup trekked shoeless from Washington to Florida, not on a whim or out of curiosity, but to demonstrate that millions of people around the world walk barefoot everyday because they do not own a pair of shoes. Backed by the organization Soles4Souls, Alsup raised eyebrows, awareness and support during his seven months of travelling.

Soles4Souls is an organization dedicated providing the simple gift of shoes to people in need across the world. It was founded by Wayne Elsey, who had been in the shoe industry since he was 15 years old, and worked his way up the ranks in a major footwear company. Elsey sold his company and established the nonprofit Soles4Souls after his involvement with the aid efforts for the 2004 tsunami that hit Southeast Asia and hurricanes Rita and Katrina.


"Putting the Neighbor Back in the Hood"

Restoring a family-friendly environment for communities across the nation, Mad Dads seeks to address issues of drugs, gangs and violence in crime-ridden communities. They head to the streets at night to protect and intervene in violence, and by day they hope to provide a model for adolescents to look up to.

Recently, Minneapolis Mad Dads, spoke at NEED's Contributors Speak Out Event, and as promised, here is a look into the work of a Mad Dad.

Photos Courtesy | Mad Dads

Mad Dads


"Save The World" Challenge Images

Children learning the alphabet using water and mud.
photo | Liz Cantu
organization | Christian Reformed World Relief Committee

Hathe, a local root, is revered for its medicinal properties. Jumla, Nepal
photo | Kiran Ambwani
organization | Centre d’etudes et cooperation internationale (CECI)

If you can spend $4.25 on coffee, then surely you can spare me a dollar!
photo | Lindsey Brunsman

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All Aboard the Seoul Train

Posted by Adam Hanson on July 29th 2009 in Organizations Edit

What can a group of American college students do for North Korean refugees 10,000 miles away? One organization, Liberty in North Korea (LiNK), proves everyone has a part to play to help North Koreans.

No one knows how many North Koreans have managed to escape out of their country and into China. Estimates of how many refugees may be living in China range into the hundreds of thousands. China refuses to recognize the refugee status of these escapees, capturing and deporting hundreds daily and deporting them back to North Korea where they will face imprisonment, torture and possible execution for attempting to “defect.”

Started in 2004 as a loose connection of college students concerned about these refugees, LiNK has grown into a non-profit that aids North Koreans through a network of shelters in Asia and education and assistance programs here in the US. Perhaps LiNK’s most important role is to educate about the plight of these refugees through grassroots action. By asking people to listen to the heroic stories of escapees from North Korea and those who have helped them along the “underground railroad” through China, LiNK is hoping to inspire many more Americans to support this life saving work.

LiNK is currently looking for “Nomads”, individuals who would travel to different cities educating people about North Korea and showing the documentary film Seoul Train. They hope this passionate adventurous group of Nomads will spark a nationwide movement to support the liberation of North Korean refugees.

Become A Nomad - Music Video from LiNK Global on Vimeo.

Women Weave a Brighter Living

Posted by Kyra Gibson in Organizations Edit

Photo | Kyra Gibson

As any hardworking Nepali knows, if you want something you have to fight for it. With over 80% of the population living a less than $2 a day in Nepal, nothing is easy. Women in the picturesque city of Pokhara, Nepal are taking matters into their own hands. They work 12 hours a day creating beautiful handbags to sell in the market.



Kyra Gibson, Liz Werner and Timon Bondo present at The Beat Coffee House

As I looked around the Beat Coffeehouse last night and saw a room full of NEED supporters and friends I felt a rush of energy. This could have been partly due to the vanilla latte I just drank, but mostly it was wonderful to see people come together for a socially-minded event.

This is the second NEED contributors event we’ve hosted this summer and it went just as well as the first. The three speakers were Kyra Gibson, Liz Werner and Timon Bondo.

Timon started the evening by describing what it was like to grow up in Rabondo, Kenya. As Liz asked more questions about Timon’s nonprofit work, a quiet respect seemed to fill the room. Personally, I’m always inspired by the good works of the Rabondo Community Project USA.

The next speaker was just as moving. Kyra Gibson spoke about her experience in Nepal, where she spent seven weeks in a home for girls rescued from the sex trade. The personal stories she shared about Shanta, founder of the Peace Rehabilitation Center, and the girls living there touched everyone listening.

As the evening came to a close, people mingled, finished their coffee and asked how they could help. Thanks to everyone who stopped by. If you weren’t able to make it, why not join us at the Meet & Greet that NEED is hosting on July 29?

Hope to see you there.

Three Questions for Amma

Submitted by Anne Katoski

Amma hug. Amma expresses her love for humanity by ritually hugging thousands of people.

Sri Mata Amritanandamayi is a spiritual leader affectionately known as “Amma,” or “Mother.” For the past 30 years, Amma has dedicated her life to easing the suffering of humanity through a very simple gesture: a hug.

Amma’s outreach takes two forms: hugging and speaking with her millions of followers around the world; and the humanitarian efforts she has inspired. Collectively known as Embracing the World, these humanitarian efforts address disaster relief, free homes for the homeless, community care, food and medicine supply, education and orphanages.

Amma has enthused many communities to extend their hands and hearts to those in need. One long-time devotee I spoke with, Raman Johar, has helped to initiate five groups in the Chicago area. These groups work together with neighboring churches to coordinate monthly food collections for the poor and homeless. Along with these efforts, the youth of Chicago are giving back through an initiative to plant trees.

Jobs. At her tour stop in Chicago, Amma sold goods from a community-based vocational group that she founded, Amrita Self-Reliance, Education and Employment. The program provides training and loans to women who seek to start a business.

When Amma’s 2009 North American tour made a stop in Chicago, I could not miss this chance to see her. I weaved my way to the front of Amma’s line in a state of shock and excitement. When Amma answered my questions about her humanitarian efforts, I saw how her message of compassion guides the way for humanity.

Q: What parts of your humanitarian efforts are most important to you?

A: All parts of the humanitarian activities are equally important to me. It all depends on each situation because sometimes people need water and so then that becomes most important. Other times they need clothing or shelter. … Nothing is small as far as I’m concerned. Suppose an engine of a plane crashes and the plane cannot take off because the vital screw is missing. So because the vital screw is small we will never ignore it. Likewise, as far as creation, everything is significant.

Q: What is your greatest hope for humanity?

A: My greatest hope is that everyone across the globe should wake up to a higher level of consciousness so that there will be more peace and love. Everyone should be able to smile, play around, and celebrate like small children.

Q: Amma, we can learn so much from your selflessness. What steps may one take within themselves in order to find the deep desire to serve others?

A: First and foremost one needs the deep desire to serve humanity, and this desire needs to be sincere and honest. Most importantly one needs to look within and discover that there is an infinite capacity inside one’s self. Once we tap into that realm of consciousness, we can keep on giving. We then begin to take only what is really necessary for ourselves and continue to give to others. … The feeling of “the other” disappears and we will see everything as a part of the whole, as oneness. Suppose there are one hundred pots all filled with water up to the brim. You may see one hundred suns reflected, but in reality there is only one sun. Likewise, people may be different with various cultures, languages, nationalities, caste, sect, creed, but the consciousness is one and the same. Once you realize that, you can serve everyone equally.

(Answers translated by Swami Amritaswarupananda.)

Amma: Embracing the World

Home to Generations

Posted by Bronson Enriquez in NEED Magazine, Uncategorized Edit

Photos | Bronson Enriquez

I traveled to Haiti with regular contributor Paul Corbit Brown to shoot a story for the magazine. We were flying into the capitol city of Port au Prince, and spending the first night at a boy’s home. I figured it would be a guest house behind an orphanage or something. Just a place to sleep before heading north to Gonaives, where the organization we were covering helps people affected by Hurricane Gustav.

I didn’t expect the beautiful home we found on arrival. The building itself is gorgeous, and all of the walls inside are decorated with fantastic artwork. A miscommunication regarding travel arrangements resulted in our spending two extra days there. Despite the time crunch this created, I am grateful for the opportunity to get to know more about this wonderful place.


New Volunteer Finds Work Online

Photo Courtesy | Serve.org

What interests you? And where would you like to volunteer?

I admit to often shying away from materials that say “volunteer opportunity,” but this summer is different. This is the “Summer of Service” and it is time I did my part.

United We Serve, running from June 22 to September 11, is the Obama administration’s means of calling on all Americans to help facilitate the country’s revitalization. The heart of the project is based online. The Web site, Serve.gov, acts as a meet-up hub where volunteers and coordinators can find and post service projects. It is a great way to find exactly what you are looking for, and you may even surprise yourself, as I did, at how easy it is to use.

Photographer Jonathan Alpeyrie experiences Georgia conflict

Photographer Jonathan Alpeyrie

The upcoming issue of NEED magazine will feature a story about life-saving aid being given to those displaced by conflict in Georgia. Jonathan Alpeyrie, a war photographer whose photos will be featured in the story, describes one of his experiences photographing in the midst of this conflict.

“Life is often a series of events best described by luck, or a lack thereof. As a war photographer who has seen much pain and human suffering, I am very attached to luck, because no one outlives a thousand fateful events. During the Russian offensive in Georgia last August, I realized how much my understanding of life and luck are bound together.

While riding in my Georgian friend’s car during the Russian bombing, I was looking for a story to tell through my photographs. South Ossetian raiders roamed the streets of Gori in search of revenge and loot. After hearing bomb blasts, Jimmy and I turned a corner to take a more hidden route.

The narrow street led us to a chain of small houses, most of them abandoned by owners who had fled the city. We drove past a larger home with a garage and I asked my friend to stop the car because I could hear people crying. I looked into the garage and saw a family, mostly men, in tears.

We talked with them and found out that the grandfather had just died from wounds suffered during the Russian bombings that day. The family noticed my camera and wanted to make sure others would see what the Russians have done to them. They brought me upstairs to a room where the body of an elderly man rested inside a wooden coffin surrounded by traditional drapery. On both sides of the coffin, women of the family cried in desperation, regretting the violent death of a man whose life should have ended peacefully.