This week many of us are continuing on with the momentum that began on Giving Tuesday – a day that provided North Americans the motivation to come together and give back however we could.
The weekend and new month approach us, as does another very important day – and a continuous opportunity to give back. Tomorrow, December 1, 2012, is World AIDS Day, a day set aside to shed light on the HIV and AIDS Epidemic, celebrate the advancements made and further fuel the quest to create a world in which AIDS no longer exists. It is also a chance to honor those who were impacted by HIV/AIDS and are no longer with us.
Today, even fewer lives have been lost to this life threatening disease as a result of more people having access to treatment and a reduction in new HIV cases. Thanks to government agencies, charitable organizations and people like you and me working together not just to aid those who have been impacted by AIDS and HIV, but to also help prevent new cases through education and the raising of awareness, for many of us a light at the end of the tunnel has become increasingly visible.
“On this World AIDS Day, the goal of ending AIDS is within our reach.” ~ Jim Yong Kim
This year’s theme for World AIDS Day is “Working Together for an Aids-Free Generation.” To learn more about what you can do visit AIDS.gov and UNAIDS.org. May 2013 bring with it new advancements and increased prevention measures, ultimately bringing us even closer to an “Aids-Free Generation.”
Giving. It’s what this time of year is all about.
We stand in line for hours to buy the hottest items, browse the internet searching for the perfect gift, and spend our last dollars trying to buy the people we love a gift to show them how much we care because somewhere along the way saying it was no longer enough.
We are a society that it is consumed with the acquiring of things. We have to have the newest season’s fashions or the latest phone. We are always trading in, upgrading, sizing up – because we want more. We want better.
Many of us stay up all night wrapping gifts year after year. We give out of obligation or from the kindness of our hearts and most often we give to those who we are close to or interact with on a regular basis. But there is a world out there that extends beyond our close circle of family and friends, and the world is in need. The world is filled with people who are depending on the kindness of others, people who may have never met them; people who are not a part of their circle. People like you and me.
Most of you are familiar with Black Friday and Cyber Monday. They are two of the days in which we spend large amounts of money in our quest to obtain more stuff, some for us to keep or give away as gifts to friends and family. Imagine if we extended our giving to reach people beyond our immediate circle. What if we added something to our shopping cart for someone we didn’t know or passed on one sale and took the money we saved and donated it to a charitable organization?
This year on Tuesday November 27, 2012 we are encouraged to give.
It is a day referred to as “Giving Tuesday” and it is an opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life. Whether it be by donating money, preparing a healthy meal for someone who would otherwise go without, donating clothes or toiletries to a shelter or charity, spending time volunteering, or starting a fundraiser, there are numerous things that you can do allowing you to give from your heart and make someone else’s life better in some way.
The wonderful thing about making a difference is that anyone can do it. Your age, socioeconomic status, cultural, religious or political beliefs no longer really matter. What matters is that you have a desire to do something — something to make someone else’s life better simply because you care enough to give from your own heart. And in the end your life will be better too.
Join countless charities, business, families and individuals and give this coming Tuesday. No act of kindness is too small. For more ideas on what you can do visit GivingTuesday.org.
Peace One Day, launched by Jeremy Gilley, resulted in an initiative to establish the first ever annual day of global ceasefire and non-violence. This initiative was “unanimously” adopted by the United Nations, declaring September 21st as Peace Day. Those behind Peace One Day are hopeful that it will be “the largest global reduction of violence ever recorded on one day”.
Peace Day in 2008 resulted in a 70% reduction in violent incidents in Afghanistan and in 2010 on Peace Day over 50,000 women and children in Kabul received life saving vaccinations.
Peace One Day is viewed as an opportunity to facilitate change. Each year activities geared toward “peace building, development and aid” occur. And, it is on this day UN agencies and humanitarian organizations can come together and address their “life saving activities” on a global scale.
According to their website, “It is mass participation by people from all over the world that will provide the leverage needed to inspire governments to follow. It is all our efforts combined that will contribute to the success of the “Global Truce 2012 campaign.”
Peace One Day is about celebrating and spreading peace your way. Using avenues such as music, art or organized activities, it is a chance to bring together others in order to bring about peace within the community.
Peace One Day has invited each of us to join them and become a member of Global Truce 2012 and unite with others September 21, 2012 all in the name of Peace. If the world can come together for just one day and say no to violence, people will be inspired and future days in which a state of peace is the norm just might occur.
A request for world peace might seem like a tall order when looking at it on a larger scale but by simply starting with one day and one act no matter how small, and suddenly the impossible begins to seem quite possible.
Imagine a world without poverty? Are you able to see it?
The men and women behind the organization Nuru International (Nuru is a Kiswahili word meaning light), hold this vision and have made it their mission to “end extreme poverty in remote, rural areas”.
Instead of offering quick fixes or temporary solutions, they are making a lasting impact by providing people with the knowledge and tools necessary to “life themselves out of extreme poverty forever”. They believe that through education the cycle of poverty could essentially be eradicated.
Founded by Jake Harriman, who served in the Marine Corps for over 7 years, Nuru International operates under the belief system that there is a direct correlation between poverty and 21st century insurgency. Harriman’s own experience fighting against the war on terror was the catalyst for this realization, inspiring him to leave the marines, enroll in college, and found Nuru.
Nuru focusus on areas such as agriculture, healthcare, water, and sanitation and partners with communities , helping them find ways to address the issues they face in an effort to help them become “self sustaining”, no longer having to rely on “handouts” to simply survive.
Above all, Nuru believes in ending poverty one community at a time, and that every one of us can help – declaring that each one of us can be “Nuru”. According to Nuru:
“If each one of us gives some of our time, talents, and resources, WE can change the world.”
Optimism, collaboration, rigor and innovation are the four values that come together to define the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation‘s approach to philanthropy as well as how they direct their “strategies” and grant making.
Co-chairs Bill and Melinda Gates, who describe themselves as optimists, have created a foundation that focuses on a select “few issues” rather than many as part of their efforts to have “a great impact”. Collaborating with partners around the world, in order to reach people on a broader scale, they are working to address issues such as “extreme poverty and health in developing countries” and the “failures of America’s education system”.
It is the belief of the Gates Foundation that these issues in particular create the largest barriers as people seek to “make the most of their lives”.
The Gates Foundation is committed to improving lives. They understand that true success can take years and decades to occur as opposed to days and months and they are willing to put in the amount of work and time necessary to see results. Taking on the role of “catalysts for change”, they state that they are “motivated to confront problems that others consider impossible to solve”.
The Gates Foundation is tackling some of the world’s most challenging issues and they understand that in doing so there is some level of risk involved. Their approach to handling this risk is simple – embrace it.
They “embrace risk and learn from failure”, helping others to avoid the same pitfalls in the future as they work to come up with more innovative ideas.
In his 2012 Annual letter Bill Gates eloquently stated, “When innovators work on urgent problems and deliver solutions to people in need, the results can be magical.”
The core message that seems to be fueling the work done by Bill, Melinda and the rest of the Gates Foundation and their partners is that “All lives have equal value”. Knowing the great value each human life holds regardless of background, socio-economic status, health, or education, they are taking risks, learning from them, making progress and changing lives. As for the results, they are magical indeed!
“A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman.” – Melinda French Gates
We are all about using our voices for good over here at The Conscious Perspective and so are former First Lady Hilary Rodham Clinton and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright who established the Vital Voices Democracy Initiative in 1997. This initiative was established after the United Nations Fourth World Conference on women, which was intended to “promote the advancement of women as a U.S. foreign policy goal”, took place.
Through the Vital Voices Democracy Initiative, the United States Government and several other global organizations and governments coordinated conferences bringing together women leaders from all over the world. The Vital Voices Democracy Initiative was positively received, and eventually led to the creation of the nonprofit non-governmental organization Vital Voices Global Partnership.
At this time Vital Voices is concentrating on issues such as the socio economic, social and political statuses of women. They seek to do this by “providing skills, networking and other support to women around the world” to achieve various desired outcomes – including increasing political participation by women, and promoting entrepreneurship.
The mission of the organization focuses on investing in women not only in the United States but across the globe. They identify, train and empower “emerging women leaders and social entrepreneurs” to help them have the ability to contribute to the world in a manner that will benefit all people. Women are encouraged to become agents of change within their communities.
Vital Voices works to combat human trafficking and other types of violence toward women and girls and they support entrepreneurship by helping women expand their enterprises through “business development, marketing and communication skills helping create employment and provide women with a means to provide for their families.
According to their website, the Vital Voices team, which consists of over 1,000 members, has trained and mentored over “12,000 emerging women leaders” throughout the world including Africa, Asia, Latin American and the Middle East since their work first began in 1997. Using a “pay it forward” approach, these women leaders have returned home to train and mentor more than 500,000 additional women and girls in their communities. It is the belief of Vital Voices that the women they are serving are in fact the “Vital Voices of our time”.
To learn more about the Vital Voices community visit them online at vitalvoices.org, like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter at @VitalVoices and be sure to take a look at their infographic on the Vital Voices model.