Tag Archive: lived experience

Egyptian Philanthropy during the revolution

sduncan post on January 29th, 2015
Posted in North Africa Tags: , ,

By Sandra Guirguis

Approximately two years ago, the people of Egypt decided that they have had enough, after years of following the regime of President Hosni Mubarak. Thousands of civilians gathered to protest, which lasted months until they were able to force the President to step down. Mohamed Morsi was elected as President, following Egypt’s first presidential election. What civilians failed to realize at the time was that the Muslim-Brotherhood member had ulterior motives to rule the country under Islamic law – which was clearly not supported (G. Guirguis, personal communication, September 24, 2013). Soon after, Egyptians gathered for yet another demonstration to oppose the rule of Morsi. Once again, Egyptians were able to come together to overthrow their political leader. This revolution was not as simplistic as it sounds. Hundreds of people were killed and thousands were left injured as a result. During this period, a country wide curfew was put into place to ensure the protection of civilians.

​Curfew in Egypt began at 9 o’clock p.m. and ended at 6 o’clock a.m., with the exception of curfew beginning at 7 o’clock p.m. on Friday’s (BBC, 2013). Curfew hours were typically spent arguing about the politics of the revolution, and people were becoming bored. This sparked an initiative lead by a youth group in Egypt called, Mashroo3 Kheir. This form of philanthropy required the use of volunteers’ time. Using the social networking site Facebook, the youth led group was able to create the program “Kheir fel Hazr,” meaning “Doing good during curfew” (El-Saeed, 2013).

​Braille books are unfortunately not available in Egypt and Kheir fel Hazr aimed to change that (El-Saeed, 2013). Pages of books were scanned and then sent to volunteers to type in a Microsoft Word document. From there, a program was used to translate the pages into Braille. Realizing that not all visually impaired individuals could read Braille, the group also began creating audio books. The initiative currently has over three hundred volunteers, and has been able to create seven Braille books as well as seven audio recorded books (El-Saeed, 2013).

Although the curfew in Egypt has now been removed, the initiative has decided to continue to its mission. And from there the group will expand its mission by gathering volunteers with various talents and expertise and offering teaching lessons for children in need. Mashroo3 Kheir focuses on improving Egypt after the revolution in aspects other than politics (El-Saeed, 2013). The group’s future plans include traveling to less fortunate places in Egypt, such as Upper Egypt, to provide education for illiterate children. As well as distributing clothing to children in orphanages during the Islamic celebration of Eid (El-Saeed, 2013).

Works cited

British Broadcasting Corporation. (2013, August 25). Egypt government relaxes night-time
curfew. British Broadcasting Corporation News Middle East. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-23830892
El-Saeed, Y. (2013, September 8). Philanthropy during the curfew. Daily News Egypt. Retrieved
from http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2013/09/08/philanthropy-during-the-curfew/

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My mother’s memories of Manila

sduncan post on January 29th, 2015
Posted in South East Asia Tags: ,

By Marecar Joanne Chan

Growing up in the Western society, I have inherited some of my values and traditions from the culture of my mother. My mother was born in the Philippines in the capital city of Manila, however was raised on an island in the province of Southern Leyte. Born into a family the youngest of 5, my grandmother did not have the sufficient funds to support my mother through her education. A tradition within in my family includes providing support through establishing an agreement to pay for a student’s school tuition fees and in return, the student would live and work for the person or family supporting them.

My mother and her siblings are the product of this cultural form of giving. As a young girl, my mother moved to Southern Leyte to live with a family that would be able to afford to fund her education and in return, she lived with the family and assisted them with household chores. These household chores would include cooking, cleaning, babysitting, and assisting with general house work.

This is a form of giving in a sense that the family that supported my mother did not necessarily need the outside assistance to complete everyday tasks. The family created work for my mother at a very young age, which allowed her to receive an education that would not have been available to her due to her lack of resources. Instead of simply giving her the money to fund her education, through taking her in, they have relieved her family from the expenses of raising her and created an honest way to earn money. In this way, this is a diverse form of giving that empowers the people of the community. Rather than seeing the money as a handout or welfare, creating a job allows people to work and feel the satisfaction of earning a living.

Today, my aunt and her husband live in the same province. With no children of their own to support, they have taken in a little girl from their community to fund her education in the same way it was done for my mother. In a household of two, my aunt and her husband do not require the extra assistance with cooking and cleaning, however being able to afford her education provides her with greater opportunities in life. Opening their home to this little girl, allows her the chance to receive an education, pursue her dreams, and later support her own family.

Philanthropy in this form includes members of the community supporting their community to provide a better quality of life. Through funding a community member’s education, they are creating sustainable development that benefits the person, their family, and their future. The people with the available funds are donating to sustain and improve the human resources in an area, which is a different practice than investing in only physical resources. Through this philanthropic tradition, people with greater means are able to support their community and empower the people that live within it.

Works cited

J, Chan, personal communication, September 27, 2013.

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Filipino Diaspora Philanthropy

By Ezra Mayled

The sense of family is an important part of many cultures; the Filipino culture is no exception. From a culture that is often identified as being “hospitable”, the practice of philanthropy is also present. Over recent years there has been an increase of immigrants coming from the Philippines, with Filipinos being the highest number of permanent residents by top source countries from 2010 to 2012 (Citizenship and Immigration Canada, 2013). A similar situation can be found in the United States.

Also birthed from the migration of Filipinos to the Western World is what Garchitorena (2007) calls “Filipino Diaspora Philanthropy.” Diaspora meaning, “the movement, migration, or scattering of a people away from an established or ancestral homeland (Collins English Dictionary, 2012). When Filipinos move overseas they tend to “give back” (Garchitorena, 2007) to their homeland country.

Reasons as to why they give back vary from situation to situation; those who have done well abroad seek ways to share their “wealth or talent with their home country” (Garchitorena, 2007). As I took a second to reflect at how this is true in my own (family) life I see that the Diaspora Philanthropy is evident so who better to discuss the topic than my own Filipino family. Upon asking my father, his reply was “the reason for giving back is gratitude, because we are thankful for what our families have done for us, and we want to share the blessings we have received here in Canada” (P. Mayled, personal communication, September 19, 2014). Another reason for the desire to give back to the homeland is “self gratification in knowing that I have helped someone who is more in need” (N. Pantig, personal communication, September 19, 2014). “After giving back and sending Balikbayan boxes or money, I feel comfortable knowing that people who will be receiving the gift will be a little more comfortable in life themselves” (M. Mayled, personal communication, September 19, 2014).

Methods of giving back which have been briefly mentioned include Balikbayan boxes which are boxes filled with non-perishable food, clothing, health-related items. These Balikbayan boxes are sent directly to families usually on trips to the the Philippines where “there is great personal satisfaction when one can actually meet the person who will benefit from a donation” (Garchitorena, 2007) or by shipping it and the recipient(s) receiving it in approximately 4-5 weeks. Another common method is through money transfer. My family every so often sends money over to their families back in the Philippines, especially to help cover ever-so-expensive health costs for a family member. One other method my family gives back is by donating money through our local church especially to help victims of natural disasters such as typhoons, and landslides.

I believe one of Garchitorena’s (2007) reasoning encompasses why I would personally give back in the near future which is the “compassion for the poor and underprivileged”. I was born and raised in Canada, and have only seen a glimpse of living in the Philippines. With just that slight glimpse I know the way of living in Canada is a hundredfold different (and one could say better) than in the Philippines. I can see them as two completely different worlds. To see how my relatives in the Philippines live and how I live here in Canada makes me count my blessings, and even share them whenever I can out of the compassion of my heart.

Works Cited

Garchitorena, V. P., (2007). Diaspora Philanthropy: The Philippine Experience. Convention on Biological Diversity.

diaspora. (n.d.). Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. Retrieved September 23, 2014, from Dictionary.com website:http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/diaspora

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Labor Day in Jamaica

sduncan post on January 28th, 2015
Posted in Central America Tags: , ,

By Kristen Leegstra

In North America, Labour Day is the “last day of summer”, the perfect day to have a barbeque, catch up with friends and family or even go to the beach. This national holiday however, is very different from the country of Jamaica. In Jamaica, Labour Day falls on May 23rd; prior to 1964, Labour Day was known as Empire Day which celebrated the birthday of Queen Victoria, until a bill was passed that created May 23rd as the national volunteering holiday. On this specific day Jamaicans from every community and town, take part in this national movement of generosity and giving. Together as a community they work together to clean roads, fill potholes, paint schools, and numerous other activities.

For this assignment I had the opportunity to interview my sister Natalie and her husband Justin, who was born and raised in Little London, Jamaica. My sister and brother in law mentioned that they have been in Jamaica many times on Labour Day and have been part of this special holiday. Natalie mentions that “it is a beautiful thing to see because these communities have such few possessions and few resources, nevertheless the towns still congregate together to finish the job.” The main focus of giving is that we do it for free and do not expect a gift in return, which is idealized completely in the country of Jamaica through their community contributions on Labour Day. Additionally, many individuals in the impoverished Jamaican communities do not have many possessions, regardless everyone comes together to do their part showing the genuine generosity this country has.

Oftentimes generosity and giving are hand in hand when it comes to acts of volunteering or philanthropy. The act of generosity is shown greatly in this annual tradition as many individuals have fewer resource, yet help each other in ways that make the biggest difference. If there is a person in the community who works with carpentry they will fix up the houses and schools, if someone is a painter they will use their resources to help paint the schools. From these examples we may see that despite the little materials they have they utilize their abilities for the benefit of others. This concept of having nothing but giving everything accurately captures the idea of giving as it is a selfless and loving act.

During the interview my sister mentioned that people in Jamaica are very enthusiastic about giving back to the community, and consider Labour Day as an exciting holiday, as the Jamaicans feel very rewarded helping their community. I believe that the mindset the Jamaicans bring to this act of giving is something that we as country need to adapt in our everyday lives. Our fast paced community would greatly benefit from acts of selflessness and giving as it is these acts that bring the community together and help us move forward. The Jamaican community can be an example for us in North America to question what giving is to us and how we can change the world around us by doing little things that make the difference. Countries such as Jamaica come from poverty and struggle, however, with volunteer opportunities such as Labour Day we are shown that the country is very rich in generosity and the act of giving.

Works Cited
Interviewee: Justin & Natalie Pringle ( Brother-in-law and sister)

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Maidan: The Ukrainian Revolution

sduncan post on January 28th, 2015
Posted in Eastern Europe Tags: , ,

By Marta Masnyi

After seven long, challenging, and cold months, the people of Ukraine finally achieved what they began protesting for – closer ties to Europe and a new president. It all started off on November 21, 2013. After hearing that the former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, wanted to suspend preparations for signing of the Association Agreement with the European Union, Ukrainians became unsatisfied. To show their disagreement with the chosen decision, people with the help of social networks began to organize themselves in the independence square in the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv. It started off with one person, and in a couple hours there were thousands. A week after the protests began, riot police were sent to beat students out of the square in the middle of the night. The next morning, tens of thousands of people came out to show their rage of the beating of innocent students and that is when Maidan started.

After the beating of the students, people were determined to stay in the independence square to the very end. There was a new purpose for the protests and that was to find democracy and dignity in Ukraine. Yanukovych did not want to lose his place as leader of a country, so every time he felt weak, he would send in riot police against the peaceful protesters in attempt to disperse them. First, the dispersing was a little more about pushing people around.Sure enough, slowly but surely the police became more violent each time. But the violence was not the only thing that grew, the unity of people had also expanded drastically. People of different cultures, nationalities, languages and religions gathered in the square for one reason. It was something unbelievable, that has never happened before. It was amazing how people organized themselves to work with others. If that had not happened, there would never be a success to this revolution.

Many of the people that came from different cities or countries did not have enough money to live in a hotel so they brought tents and set them up in the middle of the square. Soon, a tent city was in the process of development as millions of people gathered. In this city there were numerous tents, big and small, people, and a stage. Some of the examples of the tents were food and tea tents , health and church tents.

The food and tea tents always had people working in them. Surprisingly, these people came to volunteer from all over the country. The people working in here were mostly women, since the men signed up for battalions to protect their families, and their beloved nation from the riot police and corrupt government. The women gave up their free time to work in a kitchen and serve the people who lived at Maidan.These women made sandwiches, boiled large buckets of soup, and walked around the square with tea and biscuits, to help others stay warm. All sorts of women worked here, rich and poor. In a time of crisis, social status does not matter. One of the women who worked at the food tent is a pageant queen who won Miss Universe. Women who worked day to day jobs sometimes took a day off work and stayed an extra long weekend to help distribute food for everyone who roamed the square. One of my aunts had worked in the food tent many times. She said that it was an interesting job, but exhausting by the end of the day.

The Battalions of men began to start building up when the attacks of the riot police became more violent. Each battalion was built out of one hundred men. These men were aged from 18-70. Everyone who was in the hundreds signed up voluntarily. These men were not trained before hand and no one had any weapons. The fellows who signed up were aware that their life could end today. What kept these men and encouraged them to join was knowing that when this whole fiasco ends they would be the reason the Maidan survived this horrific battle.To make this clear, none of these men were paid. The only gain for them was in the end, when Yanukovych fled the country.

The church tents were man handled by priests, also from all across the country. People could go pray here for peace and to successfully battle against the corruption. The medical tents first started off with a few volunteers who were trained with first aid, but as events escalated to more violence, the number of volunteers increased exponentially. Several doctors from different regions willingly gave up their time to treat people who became sick or were beaten viciously. During the bloodiest week of the fight for democracy, women ran around no-man’s land and tried to save lives of people who were extremely close to dieing.

Soon enough, a new tent was being set up. This tent held the donations that were being collected from all over the country and the world. Some examples of items donated included: warm clothes (coats, shirts, pants, socks, shoes) since it was winter, food for people to not starve, medical supplies (pills, needles, Celox) to treat people, helmets for safety, blow-up mattresses to sleep on, etc. The most helpful factor, other than the amount of people who demonstrated, was money. This money was used to buy material for the battalions to protect themselves from the weapons the riot police used. It was also used to buy treatment that was available in Ukraine for a cheaper price.

The people in the country connected like never before! Everybody did everything they could, even sacrifice themselves in hope of a better future for their beloved nation. People who visited Maidan for the weekends brought many donations. As soon as Ukrainians over the world saw that their country was in desperate need of help, they began to fundraise as much money as possible, to help their brothers and sisters. When this became a world problem, it was remarkable to see people around the entire world begin to support the brave Ukrainians.

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Beit Al – Yateem, a Druze Orphanage

sduncan post on January 28th, 2015
Posted in Middle East Tags: , ,

By Dida Raouda

Since the beginning of time people have used religion to help guide them through life. There are many different religions out there with different religious paths that all eventually lead up to the same end result, which is a higher power that we look up to (in most cases). Some religions are more common than others and are very well established around the world such as Christianity, Islam and Judaism. In 1017 the Druze faith branched off the Islamic faith and was established. (Wikipedia, 2014) The Druze faith is a relatively small Middle Eastern religious sect characterized by its close-knit identity and distinctive faith. They are a monotheistic religious and social community, found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan and account for approximately 2,000,000 of the world’s population. (Wikipedia, 2014) The Druze beliefs incorporate elements from Abrahamic religions as well as Gnosticism, Neoplatonism, Pythagoreanism and other philosophies creating a distinct theology known to highlight the role of the mind and truthfulness. (Britannica, 2014)

Conversion into this religion is not permitted, so due to the smaller extent of the people in this faith it is important that they have a strong support system for one another in order to maintain strength and posterity. One of the many things the Druze do for their community is support and fundraise for an orphanage with has now become a non – profit Druze organization with a social philanthropic institution for public services called Beit Al – Yateem.
This facility was established by Arif Al – Nakadi who had a great deal of passion for assisting those in need. With little support from the Lebanese social welfare service at first, Mr. Nakadi received the majority of the funds as a loan from the bank, and collateral of his personal properties. (Druze, 2014)

This project was financially very unsteady for Mr. Nakadi, but over the past thirty years the Druze Orphanage with the assistance of private and corporate donors the Orphanage now owns the main building along with the new administration and schooling buildings. The orphanage provides boys and girls who have no family or come from broken homes with housing, nourishment, clothing and schooling. The Orphanage now owns seven buildings in which 900 children are cared for. (Druze, 2014)

The Druze community is very supportive of their own people and has provided much assistance in maintaining the foundation for the Orphanage. I am of Druze faith and we host many events at our community center along with many Druze people in different cities or communities. This Orphanage has always been a focus of ours along with many other Druze foundations. During our events much of our proceeds are donated to the Orphanage, along with clothing drives which take place in hopes to provide these children with bright futures and the tools for great opportunities. (Druze, 2014) This summer I had the opportunity to visit this Orphanage with my family and it was such a blessing to see how strong of a community and belief system we have in order to work together and give these children the opportunities and care they have, otherwise who knows where they could have ended up based on their circumstances.

Works Cited

Druze Orphanage. (2014). Retrieved September 19, 2014, from:


The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. (2014).Druze. Retrieved September 19, 2014, from: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/172195/Druze
Wikipedia. (2014). Druze. Retrieved September 19, 2014, from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Druze

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Prerna Residential School for Girls

sduncan post on January 28th, 2015
Posted in India Tags: , ,

By Louise Malhota

In India, a recent charitable act by one single nun is helping to change the lives of many of the countries’ most unfortunate girls who were born into the Dalit (or “untouchables”) caste.
The caste social system originated in an ancient Hindu text, called the Laws of Manu (circa 200 BC) that divided society into 4 main social classes or “castes”. These were Brahmins (priests), Kshatriyas (warriors), Vaishyas (merchants) and the lowest ranking caste, Shudras (servants). The Dalits were the lowest sub-category of the Shudras, and historically they were treated poorly, had little to no health care or education, and were segregated from other castes except for their “jobs” as cleaners of latrines and waste.

India’s new constitution in 1950 banned caste discrimination, and modernization and a more mobile society has greatly diminished the caste-based societal structure in today’s India. Intercaste marriages take place, and Dalits do hold prominent positions in modern society. However, caste discrimination is still quite rampant in more impoverished rural areas that make up 70% of India’s population . Furthermore, women are even more disadvantaged as they are seen as inferior to males. Rural Dalit girls are given few opportunities for education and are frequently married off young (typically around ages 12-14).

Into this societal context, a Catholic nun named Sudha Varghese opened the Prerna School for Girls in 2006 in the impoverished Mushahar (“rat eaters”, the lowest sub-sect of Dalits) area of Bihar state. Prerna means inspiration in Hindi. A second school opened in 2012. The schools now house 225 girls. The schools provide a safe place for education, as well as shelter, food, clothes and lessons in hygiene and health for the Dalit girls.
These remarkable schools exist mainly due to Sudha’s exemplary philanthropic efforts. Indeed, she gave up her family home and dedicated her life to her Prerna mission, becoming a nun as it was the sole occupation that allowed her to live as single independent woman alone in the community she wanted to help. She immersed herself in the Mushahar culture for 25 years, gaining their trust, and targeting the mothers with her educational message as they were key in allowing their girls to be educated versus married off young. Finally, in terms of funding, Sudha was instrumental in attaining the money to open, and continue operating, her schools.

According to the Globe and Mail’s Stephanie Nolen, the budget is “totally random. She asks government for the operating budget of the schools and they give it. Then sometimes random other money comes from European charities, from benefactors, now from Globe Readers. The make up of those donations is never consistent or predictable….and varies constantly” . Ms. Nolen goes on to explain that Sudha must harass the government for the funding, whom Sudha believes have a huge obligation to focus on Dalit education, particularly with India’s focus on becoming a global super-economy and eradicating any international perception as a culture with lingering gender and caste biases. For voluntary donations, initially Sudha singlehandedly sought out financial and labour support from her community, and her family (who helped despite their feelings her project was “crazy” ). Now, she just accepts gratefully for voluntary donations that come in due to the awareness and success of her venture, but they are not well organized or planned. And more troubling, a website opened by one of Sudha’s friends in the USA “narigunjan.org” now seems to be run by someone “sketchy” and the money never goes to Sudha, according to Ms. Nolen.

The future of the Prerna Schools is bright but uncertain. Some students have now graduated and broken the cycle of poverty in their families. But with a funding base dependent on an unreliable state government, and unpredictable voluntary donations, Ms. Nolen believes it is crucial for SOMEONE to help Sudha develop a strategy for long-term success. Given what Sudha has accomplished virtually on her own, it is inspiring and hopeful to think that with more philanthropic strategy and support, not only will the lives of many Dalit girls be changed for the better, but also the societal beliefs about caste and gender discrimination may be eradicated for good.

Works cited

Phone interview with Ashok Malhotra, father-in-law, Sept 21/2014.

Nolen, Stephanie. Breaking Caste – Globe and Mail series, December 2, 2011 (“Remarkable School Gives Girls From The Bottom Of India’s Caste System New Hope”)

Email exchange with Stephanie Nolen, South America Bureau Chief, Globe and Mail, Sept 22/2014.

Nolen, Stephanie. Breaking Caste – Globe and Mail series, December 2, 2011 (“Remarkable School Gives Girls From The Bottom Of India’s Caste System New Hope”)

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Ramadan in Somalia

sduncan post on February 25th, 2013
Posted in West Africa Tags: , ,

By: Marian Ali

How many times have you walked right passed a homeless person on the street? By being busy with our lives and always heading somewhere, we most often become un-intentionally desensitized to seeing people starve.

The Islamic religion allows a space for Muslims around the world to remember and empathize with those less fortunate than them. Read the rest of this entry >>

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Fundraising for Theatre in Hungary after the fall of communism

sduncan post on February 5th, 2013
Posted in Western Europe Tags: ,

By Zed Pitkin

We have to differentiate between three markedly different eras in modern Hungarian history, when it comes to Fundraising. In order to understand why professional fundraising still doesn’t exist today, we need to take a brief look at each of these phases.

Until 1945 Hungary functioned as a capitalist society, with market economy. It didn’t differ much from its other European counterparts. Read the rest of this entry >>

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Jamaican Philanthropy: At Home and Abroad

By Meghan Lynn Schnarr

The “culture of philanthropy” as it is understood in Western culture is far less established in other parts of the world. Understandably, specific conditions of given societies naturally call forth different philanthropic traditions. As such, the history and current day giving traditions in Caribbean culture, Read the rest of this entry >>

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