"Save the World" Challenge Images

A formerly homeless child being fitted for school uniform in Kenya
photo | Julianna Morrall
organization | Flying Kites

Student holds up CD of song written and recorded by her band.
photo | Ross Green
organization | Music Seeds International

Children in the slums of India watching their new school being built from the windows of their existing "school"
photo | Jodie Fried
organization | The Anganwadi Project, Inc.

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A Charitable Retirement

Children stand with Ben Wilson in Vietnam.

Amazing, exhausting, and heart-warming: that's how I would describe my week visiting the programs conducted by Children of Vietnam (COV), the Children’s Culture Connection-represented charity that supports Vietnamese children in need.

Children of Vietnam, which just celebrated its 10th anniversary, was started by a man named Ben Wilson as he was facing retirement after a long corporate career. According to Ben, he didn't play golf and was worried that he wouldn't have enough to do to keep busy. So, at 65 years old, he started COV.

After seeing how many ways his organization is impacting the lives of children in need, I can confidently say that Ben does NOT need to worry about being bored.


Volunteering in Kenya

Displaced Kenyans gather to receive aid from volunteers.

On December 27, 2007, the disputed re-election of Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki spurred an outbreak of ethnic and political violence around Nairobi and Western Kenya. Subsequently hundreds of thousands of Kenyans fled their homes, and now live in or around crowded displaced persons camps.

Rafe Steinhauer volunteered in Kenya for more than two months with the Global Volunteers Network (GVN). He taught math, English, and soccer at schools in Nairobi and Maasailand and helped aid missions into displaced persons camps after the post-election violence. In Nairobi, Steinhauer taught at a rehabilitation school for teenage boys who had committed nonviolent crimes. I asked Steinhauer some questions to find out what his experience was like.


Swat valley refugees

This photo essay was submitted by photographer, Jonathan Alpeyrie

I constructed this photo essay around one specific Pashtun family from the Swat valley in Pakistan. In the wake of the recent government offensive against militants, the family fled south to seek refuge and safety. These photos show the life within a few hundred yards, from activities around the camp to the few tents where the family and its neighbors eat, play and survive as well as they can.


Zambian caregiver presses Congress for Aids and TB funding

Lister Chingangu outside the Capitol Dome. Courtesy of World Vision.To raise awareness about the tragic impact of HIV/Aids and Tuberculosis (TB), a Zambian caregiver who partners with American organization World Vision has just visited the United States and spoken to members of Congress.

Lister Chingangu asked them to take action swiftly and renew the Global AIDS, TB and Malaria Bill, a bipartisan legislation worth USD 50 billion that was first passed in 2003 to fund programs to fight these diseases in poor countries. World Vision has worked with Congress since then to ensure that this funding is protected, but authorization for this bill expires on September 30, 2008.

NEED magazine had the opportunity to speak to Mrs. Chingangu about God Our Help Ministries, the home-based care program that she runs in Lusaka, her hometown in Zambia.

"Save the World" Challenge Images

Doctor Jennifer Furin of Partners in Health works on a 15 month old girl who came to clinic in Lesotho suffering from malnutrition, and possibly AIDS and TB.
photo | Justin Ide
organization | Partners in Health

A Kenyan boy collects water for the day
photo | Peter Chasse
organization | The Water Project, Inc.

Little "Puja", who now goes to school in one of our newly rebuilt anganwadi preschools in the slums of India.
photo | Jodie Fried
organization | The Anganwadi Project

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Health Through Water

An estimated one billion people worldwide are without access to adequate drinking water, a problem that 22-year-old Jordan Wagner of California and his dad, Pastor Philip, are devoted to help solve. Their organization Generosity Water funds 82 well projects in 15 countries throughout Africa, South America and Asia. Supported by individual and community donations, Generosity Water supplies an estimated 32,000 people with clean water.

In his trips to Africa since starting Generosity Water last year, Jordan has seen women and children lug heavy buckets of dirty water for miles, leaving little time for education or community development. He’s also toured hospitals where more than half the patients were admitted due to a water-related disease such as malaria or diarrhea, which kills an estimated 3.5 million people a year. “We shouldn’t be building more hospitals if we’re not stopping the reason people are coming to the hospital,” Jordan says. “For us, the first step is water.”

Generosity Water partners with local nonprofits in each community they help to engineer the wells, which cost about $3,000 each and serve about 400 people per project. Members of the villages help build the well. “The women make clay bricks; the men dig holes,” Jordan says. Generosity Water can’t travel to every project, so the nonprofits train community leaders on well maintenance, hygiene and sanitation practices, and the community leaders pass these skills along to residents.

Jordan, an innate entrepreneur, lost his lucrative mortgage company to the recession in 2008. Fed up with his health care recruiting position, he traveled to Africa to visit a well that his father’s church had funded through bottled water sales. The trip changed his perspective and brought him back to reality. “I came back really grateful for what I had and I wanted to dedicate the next part of my life to making a difference and giving them clean water,” he says. Since then, Jordan has spoken at schools and churches to raise water shortage awareness.

Communities that have worked with Generosity Water have seen vast improvements in health since installing wells. The Tanzanian government even opened a school near one of the wells.

In the next few months, Jordan will travel to five African countries – Nigeria, Liberia, Kenya, Ghana and Uganda – to check up on how existing wells are progressing and talk to communities who have applied for a well. Generosity Water hopes to build 1,500 wells by 2012.

All photos courtesy | Genoristy Water

Generosity Water


Fashion With A Heart

Fashion is the epitome of narcissism and vanity, right? Wrong. As Sheena Matheiken has proved along with designer Eliza Starbuck, fashion absolutely can be the vehicle for sustainability and philanthropy. The Uniform Project launched in May when Matheiken put on the versatile black dress for the first time, and vowed to wear it every day for one year. Well, to be precise, she plans to wear seven identical copies of the dress, reinventing it daily with vintage pieces and accessories.

In addition to being an exercise in fashion sustainability, the project is a year-long fundraiser for the Akanksha Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to providing the means to educate slum children in India. The Indian government spends an average of $360 on one child’s schooling. The Akanksha Foundation pledges to spend the same amount of every slum child to afford them the same educational opportunities as their peers.

At the end of one year, The Uniform Project will send supporters’ donations to the Akanksha Foundation. For the duration of the project, Matheiken herself will add one dollar to the jar each day, so that by the end of the one year, she will have provided the funds necessary for uniforms and other educational expenses for one child living in the Indian slums.

Dialysis Clinics Save Lives

The dialysis clinic had just opened in Guayaquil, Ecuador, when Juan Carlos was wheeled in, clinging to life, his body bloated. Juan’s mother, learning of the possibility of saving her son’s life, “sold everything they owned, sold the chickens for bus fare” to get Juan to the clinic for help, says Ginny Mello, executive director of Bridge of Life, which is a charitable arm of Davita, a dialysis provider in the US. Until that day, Juan had felt he didn’t want to go on living, didn’t want to burden his family with expensive dialysis treatment from a private hospital. Within days of receiving the dialysis that saved his life, Juan Carlos said that he now wants to be a doctor.

The nonprofit clinic in Ecuador was the first of several Bridge of Life to open in developing countries where kidney disease means certain death for those who cannot afford the expensive, ongoing treatment. Mello, who was a full-time Davita employee, and her husband, who is the company’s chief operating officer, founded Bridge of Life to share their knowledge and passion, to “take what we know that works here and transplant it to a place where it doesn’t exist” in developing countries, says Mello. Davita donates equipment, expertise and employee hours to get the clinics up and running, which takes about a year.

Our kidneys filter excess water and waste from our blood and make urine. The two leading causes of kidney disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, can damage the blood vessels, causing kidneys to shut down. In developing countries, another risk factor for kidney disease is lack of knowledge, as a result of which poor people become very sick before seeking care. In addition, lack of understanding of the disease among medical professionals decreases the number of patients who are properly diagnosed and treated in its early stages. Instances of kidney disease are not well-tracked in developing countries, but are believed to be much higher than in the US, where millions are affected by it, according to The National Kidney Disease Education Program.


Made Without Child Labor

Though its mission remains the same, RugMark, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting ethical carpet production by eliminating the use of child labor in India and Nepal, is slated to launch a new brand, GoodWeave, this fall. RugMark will remain the organization’s name while the brand name will be replaced by GoodWeave.

April Thompson, director of marketing and communications for RugMark’s US office, made it clear that RugMark will remain focused on eliminating child labor, but the organization is expanding its reach to improve adult worker conditions and to institute progressive standards for water and air pollution. “There were multiple reasons to make the switch [to GoodWeave]. We’re strengthening the work around child labor as many of these issues are interconnected,” says Thompson. “We can only make progress on these issues in collaboration with our industry members, and they are very supportive of these changes, and excited to see the program expand.”

Providing workers and children with adequate childcare and schooling effectively prevents children under age 14 from entering the handmade rug industry. A percentage of each certified rug purchase supports RugMark's programs in weaving communities, including educational programs for former child laborers. If inspectors find child laborers working on the looms, they rescue the children, attempt to reunite them with their families, and offer the children the opportunity to attend school, while the manufacturers forfeit the right to use the RugMark label.

Aside from the expanded scope of improving conditions for workers in Nepal and India, the new GoodWeave label is more aesthetically pleasing. Thompson says that the new label has a “more contemporary look and name to complement the beautiful rugs. All members are embracing the new look and the other changes the brand is undergoing.” The brand name “GoodWeave” does not include a specific product in the name because RugMark is interested in potentially expanding its branding to other woven products such as shawls made in Nepal.

Importers of all products certified by RugMark must register all of their looms and are subject to random inspections by Rugmark inspectors. According to RugMark’s website, its inspectors visit an average of 64 looms per day, resulting in a total of 16,000 looms inspected per year. Both exporters and importers must be sign agreements with the organization, and pay a small fee that offsets the costs of both inspections and community programs.

One of the main goals of GoodWeave is to make the process of becoming a member more rigorous and transparent, relying on a multi-stakeholder committee for critical input. In order to achieve this goal, GoodWeave has become an associate member of the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labeling Alliance (ISEAL), an organization that focuses efforts on international standard-setting for organizations focused on social and environmental issues. Thompson notes that becoming a member of ISEAL was a rigorous, three-year process to become a member of ISEAL.

“We're the first ISEAL member to tackle some of these issues, namely working with child slavery in an informal sector where workers are very vulnerable to abuse. We look forward to strengthening our operations with ISEAL's guidance,” says Thompson.



Thank You! | Street Music for Street Kids

Billy Johnson. photo | Steve Floyd

The Street Music for Street Kids event on Thursday, August 20th was an amazing success. The one-night street music festival that was scheduled to be held outside at Peavey Plaza had to be moved inside due to substantial rain. The fantastic staff at Hell’s Kitchen were overly gracious in welcoming the entire event onto their stage and the large crowd into their seats. People were standing in the aisles, crowding booths, and sitting on any patch of space they could find on seats or on the stairs. The mass of people that braved the weather were rewarded with show like no other. Twelve great local bands put aside their amplifiers and electronics and played back-to-back sets of beautiful acoustic music. The event raised nearly $5000 in one night for a school helping to educate street kids in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Mark Murphy from Wookiefoot. photo | Steve Floyd

We at NEED are extremely grateful for the relentless support of so many who helped us put this event together from the city of Minneapolis, Peavey Plaza, Hell’s Kitchen, Lisa Walker and the film crew, and all the musicians who came out in support of street kids.

We have many more photos and video to come!

Sounds of Blackness. photo | Steve Floyd

If you can, go out and support these local musicians at their next shows here in the Twin Cities.

Sounds of Blackness – CD Release Party at the Mall of America Rotunda. Tuesday , August 25 6:30 pm Free and open to the public

Aby Wolf – Late Night at Barbette. Monday, August 31, 10:00 pm

Hyland – Benefit show at The Crossing. Saturday, August 29, 7:15 pm

Enchanted Ape – Downtime Bar. Friday, August 28, 9:30 pm. $5 cover

Billy Johnson – Crave. Thursday, August 27, 8:00 pm & – JJ’s Dry Dock Friday, August 28, 5:00

The Get-Rites – Acadia CafĂ©. Friday, September 12, 9:00 pm

Ada Jane – University of Duluth. Tuesday, November 17, 9:30 pm

Wookiefoot – Harvest Fest. Friday, September 11-Saturday, September 12

Thinking about Impact and Public Perception

This week I had the opportunity to attend an event presented by the Charities Review Council and Thrivent Financial entitled, "Delving into Public Perception: what Minnesotans think about the charitable sector (and what to do about it)." To a captive audience of non-profit professionals, presenters discussed findings from a survey conducted for the Charities Review Council that polled Minnesotans on their giving habits and attitudes towards charities. The survey questions touched on issues of trust, ethics, and the proper use of funds by charities. For the most part, the survey respondents believed that charities could be trusted, that they are ethical, and that they wisely spend the money they receive from donors. Although the survey findings concluded that, for the most part, the public’s perception of charities is quite favorable, the event’s presenters reminded the audience that many external and internal forces have the potential to hurt charitable organizations.


A look into the Myanmar Culture

This photo essay was submitted by photographer Gail Shore, who explores locations where native cultures and environments are in jeopardy. She believes that the more we know about each other, the better we are able to shape our world. Shore founded Cultural Jambalaya, a nonprofit that aims to celebrate cultures through international photography.

I visited Myanmar / Burma in December 2009. The country is rich in ethnic groups, languages and traditions that date back centuries.

In spite of a ruthless ruling junta that commands absolute power, the people throughout this fiercely religious Buddhist country exercise profound kindness, compassion and respect for elders, community and family. They maintain an exceptional mental discipline, and as a result, their disposition is persistently positive and their friendliness is organic. With seemingly little hope for a better life, I got a glimpse of what the human spirit is capable of accomplishing.

In an attempt to characterize the remarkable spirit of Myanmar’s people, pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi says, "It’s part of the unceasing human endeavor to prove that the spirit of man can transcend the flaws of his nature."

“Novice Monks”
These novice monks are from the ethnically diverse area of Kengtung, located in Shan State on Myanmar’s eastern border where Laos, China and Thailand come together. Because of the geographic relationship, this remote region is of strategic importance to the Myanmar government.

“Mun Chin Women”
The Mun Chin, Tibeto-Burmese people dating back to 500 BCE, live in western Myanmar in the mountains that border Bangladesh. I was told that only a handful of foreigners have ever been to this isolated village, and that I’m likely to be the only American to visit this tribe since the missionaries before WWII.


Education Amid Upheaval

This article was contributed by Timon Bondo, founder of Rabondo Community Project USA, as an update on its progress.

Gifts of time, money and kind thoughts have contributed to the revitalization of the Rabondo Village in ways that I could not have imagined ten years ago. In fact, we have just built two new classrooms earlier this year.


Better Sustainable Development for the Future

A United Nations Volunteer from India (right) assisting a farmer in Bhutan. Photo | UN Photo

What should a student be taught if he or she is going to be in charge of billions of aid dollars or plot the course of an entire country’s development?

For many years, students who wanted to be leaders in humanitarian development typically focused their studies on economics and management. The belief was that sustainable development could be achieved by efficiently coordinating the flow of aid dollars and resources. Last year, the International Commission on Education for Sustainable Development Practice concluded that while economics and management are important, future leaders of development need a broader base of knowledge.

The commission’s final report states that “extreme poverty in much of the world is rooted in a complex set of causes including poor agricultural productivity, the stress of climate change, the burden of tropical disease and the absence of basic infrastructure.” As a result, it recommends that professionals striving to eliminate poverty train in the fields of public health, agronomy, engineering and environmental science alongside economics.

The MacArthur Foundation, in response to this report, has provided grants to nine universities throughout the world in order to help them establish a Master of Development Practice (MDP) program that incorporates these different studies. The foundation hopes that these programs will allow future leaders—such as ministers of finance, managers of aid organizations and heads of international financial institutions—to better address complex development issues in a more sustainable manner.

The Rabondo Community Project

photo | justi grierson

Issue 01 | ONE
Writer: Liz Werner
Photographer: Candice Towell

Timon Bondo is hard to miss with his bigger-than-life smile, hearty laugh and effervescent spirit. Though lighthearted in most aspects of his life, Timon is serious about helping the children of Rabondo, Kenya, a small subsistence farming community where he grew up. Fraught with AIDS, poverty and a sense of hopelessness for the past decade, Rabondo is experiencing dramatic change because Timon is taking action.

Timon may not be whom you picture when you think of a hero. While his story carries a legacy of heroic proportions, Timon himself is an unlikely superman. Unsure of his actual age due to a lack of accurate birth records, Timon estimates that he is somewhere between 65 and 85 years old. His youth is not the only thing slipping away; he has been losing his eyesight for the past 10 years and now is almost totally blind. So how, then, did an aging and ailing man almost single-handedly restore a sense of hope to a village that is nearly 8,000 miles from where he sits today? Admittedly, Timon acknowledges that he is neither a genius nor a millionaire. Determination, patience and a vision of education were the guiding and abiding lights of Timon’s efforts as his programs continue to strengthen and save Rabondo’s children and community.


Living in a Cemetery

Brian Carlson submitted this story about his motivations as a photographer.

photo | Brian Carlson

I traveled to the Philippines to do a photo story on families who live in a garbage dump and squatters who live in a cemetery. Being knee-deep in trash and watching children and teenagers pick through garbage is heartbreaking. On arrival I teamed up with an organization called Metro Ministries, whose mission is "to bring hope to urban children through faith based and character education while addressing issues such as hunger, AIDS awareness, and child abuse." Through them I had the opportunity to interview a woman who had been raped, gave birth to a child from that rape, and was living in the dump. They were providing this woman with food and emotional support through her struggle. I've been in some sad situations, the slums in Kenya and war torn Sudan, and this was equally saddening. When she began to cry after recalling what happened, I had to turn away and hold back tears. Nothing can prepare you for that. I'm currently using the interview in a multimedia story that I am producing on the garbage dump.


NEED on KFAI Radio

NEED co-founder Kelly Kinnunen was featured on Twin Cities radio station KFAI on August 18 at 8 AM to talk about NEED’s upcoming music festival. Interviewed by Pam Hill Kroyer, Kelly described plans for the event, who it will benefit, and how listeners could get involved. This was a great opportunity for NEED to get the word out about the Street Music for Street Kids benefit concert, which will be held in Minneapolis at Peavey Plaza on August 20 from 6 to 8 PM. Kelly told the KFAI audience about the struggle plaguing the street children of Jakarta, and of the hope that the event’s beneficiary, the Nurani Insani School for Street Children in Jakarta, strengthens in them.

Listen to the program on KFAI website

Color, Polka Dots, and Hope for Shelters

In 2007 Terry Grahls, an interior designer, visited a women’s shelter in Michigan. She went through the normal routine for a prospective project, taking “before” pictures, yet felt overwhelmed with the idea of a pro bono shelter makeover. Grahls put the visit in the back of her mind until she developed the pictures and noticed polka dots—her long-time favorite pattern—on a stained pillowcase laid on one of the shelter beds. She took this as a sign and decided to do whatever she could to help re-decorate the shelter. She began looking for sponsors, donors, and volunteers to revitalize the shelter into a beautiful, inspirational place.

The project at the first shelter was so successful that Grahls has continued this kind of work. In January 2009 Grahls’ original design company, Terry’s Enchanted Cottage, officially became Enchanted Makeovers, a nonprofit that redecorates shelters for women and children in Michigan with story-book designs that encourage dreams, possibility and hope for the residents. With a plan in mind, Grahls creates a wish list of supplies that must be donated or sponsored before the refurbishing can take place with the help of volunteers. Everything must be new or handmade, to make it clear to the women that they deserve the best. “They see how hard people work and how they care to take the time to make handmade items for the rooms,” says Grahls.

Grahls’ style is colorful and fun, evoking faraway lands. Through her makeovers, she hopes to evoke a make-believe world and share her way of coping with life’s hardships “which is really creating your own life visually.” In the redone rooms, she hopes the women are not constantly reminded of their difficult situation. “I wanted them to really feel like they have these hidden cottages tucked away in the forest” says Grahls.

Addressing Issues of Poverty with Design

A new exhibit at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden showcases a myriad of products and practical designs for use in developing countries to address issues and symptoms of poverty. The exhibit is described as reflecting "a growing movement among designers, engineers, architects, and social entrepreneurs to create low-cost solutions for everyday problems faced by the world’s poor."


Helping One Household at a Time

Roughly 1,600 homeless people live in Ramsey County alone. The magnitude of homelessness is so great that we often accept it because facing the problems and questions that homelessness presents can be overwhelming. Personally, I know I have walked by homeless people and thought, what can I do? Or tried to avoid eye contact because the pain is too real, and the solutions too obscure. How can we solve such a problem?


Anna Kari featured in TIME Magazine

Getting to work with passionate, documentary photographers is one of one of the perks of NEED. One such photographer, Anna Kari, donated images for our arguably most difficult article to date, Issue 2’s child soldiers story. We are proud to share Anna’s latest project which has been featured in TIME magazine with you.

>>view the photo story

Anna Kari


The Coffee Process in Guatemala, a labor of love

Photographer Alexander Zoltai submitted this article.

Photo | Alexander Zoltai

Coffee production in Guatemala is a timeless process. For the most part, coffee farmers produce coffee the same way their grandfathers did. It is a long, arduous and beautiful process.

The problem associated with coffee production in Guatemala lies in the small amount that farmers receive for a very labor-intensive product. Fewer that six families are responsible for the majority of coffee production in Guatemala, a monopoly on coffee that allows the families to dictate the price of coffee in the country.


A platform for voices

All photos | Rajiv Kapoor

Tara and Daniel

Bookkeeper Tara and painter Daniel lost their jobs as property managers after a shift in property ownership. As a result they also lost their housing. Securing temporary housing through Seattle’s Solid Ground has enabled Tara and Daniel to focus their energy on finding jobs instead of searching for places for them and their two children to spend the night. Their temporary apartment is equipped with basic phone service but no way to receive messages. Through the Community Voice Mail program, the family now has a phone number to place on the mounting pile of housing, assistance, and employment applications, and a means to stay in touch with friends and family. The basic phone service allows Tara and Daniel to return messages placed on their Community Voice Mail number. Things are looking up. Kristjan and Sophia, ages 8 and 6, have weathered the storm remarkably and continue to do well in school. Tara recently completed a GED program with terrific success and is considering pursuing a college degree in social work.


Over the course of eight years, Bill spent countless days and nights in and out of hospitals and doctors’ offices dealing with stomach-related illnesses and depression. The former Peace Corps volunteer, social worker, and amateur photographer pressed on. Unable to work during this period of his life, it wasn’t long before Bill found himself sleeping in homeless shelters between hospital visits. Community Voice Mail was the only constant thing in his life. He used the service to track medical appointments and keep in touch with family and friends he made during his time in the hospital. He now manages his illnesses through a regimen of 30 medications a day. He’s off the streets and out of the shelters, residing in a tiny subsidized apartment. He still gets messages on his Community Voice Mail. Through his ordeals, Bill has learned that he is stronger than he once thought.