Tag Archives: Sri Lanka

Technical Skills Training for Low Income Girls in Sri Lanka

By Patricia Brick

Young women in Sri Lanka face rates of unemployment nearly twice that of their male counterparts, with unemployment levels highest among women with secondary school diplomas. But the costs of vocational training and other higher education are prohibitive for many girls. While state universities offer free higher education, these schools accept only a fraction of qualified students. Those who are not accepted must pay to attend private or professional schools, where scholarship funding may be difficult to come by.

The BGR project, “Providing Access to Skills Development for Selected Out-of-School Girls from Low Income Families,” supports Sri Lankan girls and young women in pursuing higher education and vocational training. Administered by the Center for Women’s Research (CENWOR), the project helps young women prepare for careers in such rapidly expanding fields as information technology and civil engineering.
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BGR Provides Emergency Relief to Countries Facing Famine and Floods

by BGR Staff

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At the recent annual projects meeting on May 7th, the BGR board voted to provide $20,000 for emergency relief in four countries currently affected by near-famine conditions: South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, and Yemen. This donation has been divided evenly between two organizations working in the affected countries: the World Food Program and Oxfam America. This is in addition to the $10,000 donation sent this past March to the World Food Programme for assistance to the four countries.

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For separate reports on conditions in those countries, see the website of the World Food Programme. According to their report, 20 million people in these countries are suffering from extreme food shortages. The lives of many hang in the balance, yet WFP has at present received only 25% of the monetary assistance they require to tackle the crisis.

Flooding in Sri Lanka (Photo: Groundswell)

This past week BGR also provided $10,000 in emergency aid to Sri Lanka, which has been ravaged by virulent floods that have swept across the country, inundating towns and villages, displacing half a million people, and claiming over 200 lives. The contribution was divided between two organizations working in Sri Lanka: Sarvodaya, the largest grass-roots village renewal movement in the country, and a smaller humanitarian organization, Karuna Trust.

Although BGR is not an emergency relief organization but focuses on intentional projects that address chronic hunger and malnutrition, on occasion we find it necessary to respond to heartrending emergencies in ways that are feasible within the limits of our budget.

Projects for Fiscal Year 2016–17—Part 5 (of 6)

BGR Staff

17. Kenya: Improving Maternal and Child Nutrition     NEW PROJECT

 

In Kenya, undernutrition is a major problem among children. According to a 2014 survey, the rate of stunting among children in Kenya is 26%, wasting 4% and underweight 11%. Undernutrition is also a major contributing factor to the country’s high infant and maternal mortality rates. Helen Keller International (HKI), a long-time BGR partner, is working together with the Ministry of Health and Action Against Hunger to improve access, delivery, and utilization of essential nutrition-related services for mothers, newborns, and children (MNCH) in five counties in Western Kenya.

Among these, Kakamega County, which is densely populated with more than 1.6 million people and a poverty rate of over 50%, requires additional support in improving health and nutrition outcomes for hundreds of thousands of vulnerable women and children. A grant from BGR, the first in a three-year program, will enable HKI to provide critically needed technical support, improve access to nutritious food and supplements for mothers and young children, and strengthen accountability.

During the first year, HKI will increase demand for health services in Kakamega County and improve service delivery by the Ministry of Health. HKI will identify and promote locally appropriate mother, infant and young child feeding practices (e.g., the promotion of nutritionally dense locally available complementary foods) and improve the access and uptake of nutrition supplements provided by the Ministry of Health. The project will also strengthen Health Information Systems (HIS) through improved data collection and analysis of data in order to inform local and national decision-making.

This project has been made possible through a generous grant to BGR from the Chao Foundation. Year one of a three-year project. Continue reading

Poor Farmers Facing Mysterious Illness Across Two Continents

Charles W. Elliott

We’re following a story that continues to emerge from Sri Lanka, India, and Central America of a mysterious illness striking down tens of thousands of poor farm workers, destroying their kidneys. The victims are often young, male outdoor farm workers, far removed from the usual patient with severe kidney failure: older, sedentary men with a history of diabetes or hypertension. What would connect these dying farm workers in different countries across two continents?

Dambj_20120501_9681Photo credit: Anna Barry-Jester, Center for Public Integrity

A recent study estimated that the ailment, called “chronic kidney disease of unknown etiology” (CKDu) has killed more than 20,000 people in Central America alone.

We invite you to watch this five-minute video “Mystery in the Fields” from the Center for Public Integrity that explains the problem and shows its devastating human impact on poor families and communities.[1]


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Projects for Fiscal Year 2015–16—Part 5 (of 6)

BGR Staff

19. Sri Lanka: Empowering Young Women

Sri Lanka_CENWOR

CENWOR (Centre for Women’s Research), founded in 1984, aims to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women in Sri Lanka. One of its major missions has been providing girls from poor families with education and vocational training. Drop-out rates in Sri Lanka are very high: a third of all students do not attend their final two years of high school, and the rate is higher for female students. For the fifth time, BGR will be sponsoring a year-long project with CENWOR intended to help girls who have not completed their high school education. The project will select forty girls—ten each from Colombo, Galle, Kandy, and Anuradhapura—and enable them to enroll in the technician program at Level 5 at the State Colleges of Technology. The grant will cover a coordinator, travel costs, and tuition and fees for the forty girls. Annually renewable project.
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Projects for the Next Fiscal Year—Part 5 (of 6)

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

15. Rwanda and Malawi: Training in Organic Agriculture

Ecology Action of the Mid-Peninsula is a U.S.–based organization that disseminates a system of organic agriculture called Grow Biointensive. BGR is providing a second grant to Ecology Action for a two-year project that has been training farmers from Rwanda in the Grow Biointensive method.  The expected outcome is improvement in the health of malnourished children, increase in the diversity and quantity of household food, and better knowledge of health and care-giving. Farmers should also be able to increase their earnings through sale of surplus produce on the market.

In this second year, two master trainers will train a minimum of four Community Resource Persons (CRP) for Rwanda, who will then train individuals and their communities. An estimated 1,500 to 2,000 could receive training directly, and an additional 1,500 to 2,000 trained by CRP and community members. The project includes a third year of support for trainers in Malawi, who hope to spread Grow Biointensive to other parts of the country, with a special focus on widows and their families. Year two of a two-year project.

16. Sri Lanka: Empowering Young Women

CENWOR (Centre for Women’s Research), founded in 1984, aims to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women in Sri Lanka. One of its major missions has been providing girls from poor families with education and vocational training. For the fourth time, BGR will be sponsoring a year-long project with CENWOR intended to remedy inadequacies in the public education system that result in a high dropout rates for girls. The project will locate ten girls not attending school at any level, determine the reason, and provide them with the support they need to return to school.

CENWOR will also locate fifty girls who dropped out of their final years of high school and provide them with vocational training that will enable them to find employment. CENWOR will also offer the women complementary courses in English, basic IT, personality development, and gender issues. Annually renewable project.

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Help on the Way: New Buddhist Global Relief Programs (Part II)

 

As a followup to our June 21 post on Buddhist Global Relief’s new programs, we are pleased to announce new support to communities in Sri Lanka and Vietnam:

Tam Binh Red Cross (hospital feeding)

For the fourth consecutive year, BGR continues to support Vietnam’s Tam Binh Red Cross’ program to help the poor feed family members who are hospitalized. Located in the Tam Binh district in the Mekong Delta region, a single hospital exists to serve more than half a million people. The price of a hospital stay does not include food, and poverty-stricken families who must carry the heavy weight of medical and hospital costs are further burdened by the need to buy food for their ill family members. BGR’s funding will allow the Red Cross to purchase in-season vegetables, tofu and charcoal for cooking for these patients. These funds are leveraged with the volunteer labor of more than 80 volunteers, who prepare the meals and serve lunch and dinner to the most vulnerable ill and poor people.

Tam Binh Red Cross (Scholarships)

BGR continues to support the scholarship program of the Tam Binh Red Cross with a third year of funding. Entrenched rural poverty in Vietnam has forced many families to make the difficult decision to keep their children at home to work in the fields rather than send them to schools where they cannot afford the basic fees. BGR funds will provide the annual enrollment fee, educational materials and basic health care for 150 students, enabling them to overcome the barriers of poverty and to continue their studies. 100% of BGR’s funds will be used for these scholarships, without any deduction for administrative costs. To qualify for these scholarships, each student must meet criteria for low income, high teacher recommendations, and good conduct. By providing educational opportunities to these promising students, BGR hopes to break the cycle of poverty in their families.

Sarvodaya (Kelwatte water supply)

This year, BGR is supporting its long-time partner, Sarvodaya (“Welfare of All”) USA with a life-saving project to provide reliable clean water supplies in the Kelwatte district of Sri Lanka. Currently, these residents obtain untreated water from an open and polluted stream. An assessment of the needs of these villagers showed a high rate of childhood disease from drinking unsafe water. Dry seasons threaten water shortages every year, putting crops, livelihoods and health at risk. BGR funds will help provide safe and clean water to hundreds of residents with a new gravity water supply system. The local community participates in the construction by providing direct labor through shramadana: “sharing work, knowledge, talents and time.” This project will empower the community, raise individual and self-esteem and be a model project for neighboring communities. Thus, the project will provide a foundation for personal and social awakening and offer the gifts of water and health.

In making these grants, BGR addresses the twin problem of pollution and poverty,  helps ill and vulnerable members of poor families, and acknowledges the critical role of education in escaping intergenerational poverty and hunger.