"Since the creation of the alternative income and livelihood pillar, Free The Children reports 30,000 women provided with economic self-sufficiency."
WHAT IS A LIVELIHOOD? A livelihood is a means of securing the necessities of life; a source of income.
An alternative income or livelihood program, in the eyes of Free the Children, should be a road to sustainability and savings. This particular pillar focuses on the empowerment and education of women and the community. By creating an alternative source of income for members of a community, poverty can eventually be eliminated in turn.
The main goal of this core pillar is to provide women and men with skills and knowledge not only to generate savings and achieve financial stability, but to later pass on to their children and friends. The long-term initiative is to develop an increase in household income and lift off and eradicate the impact and presence of poverty. Some of the barriers to attaining this pillar include resistance to change due to culture or structure of the society.
FREE THE CHILDREN STRATEGIES The main method of Adopt a Village is implemented in three steps:
Improve access. Expanding the capacity and skill set of a community leads to access to a source of income.
Change behaviour. Households become actively engaged in sustainable income opportunities.
Change status. Households in the community achieve stability and an above-poverty status.
Each project is unique to the community's culture, traditions, resources, climate, and environment.
Business and financial literacy workshops
Leadership and skills training
Women’s and Men’s lending circles and support groups
MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS & PILLAR FOUR
This Pillar goes hand-in-hand with the Millennium Development Goal of Eradicating Extreme Poverty and Hunger. The United Nations wanted to do this by reducing by half the amount of people living on less than $1 a day, achieving full and productive employment and decent work for all, and reducing by half the amount of people suffering from hunger.
Although this goal was accomplished, 15% of children under 5 are underweight, and one quarter of children under the age of 5 are estimated to be stunted in their growth. About one in five people in developing areas live on less than $1.25/day, vulnerable employment (employment that depends on the economy, weather, etc.) is responsible for 56% of all employment in developing regions, 1.2 billion people still live in poverty, and about 790 million people in developing countries are still extremely undernourished, with almost two-thirds of the people living in Asia and the Pacific.
We cannot just look at the bad in the world though, we should also notice the good: quite a bit of the reduction of poverty comes from China with their rate falling from 85% to 15.9%. The World Bank helped the United Nations accomplish this goal by supporting 245,000 orphans and vulnerable children living in extreme poverty in Kenya, reducing the number of people living on less than $1.25/day by 50% from 2003 to 2011 in Nepal, improving food security for 1.3 million children under 5 through community nutrition programs in Senegal, and much more.
Who Needs Help Because 1.2 billion people are still living in poverty, there are countries that still need help:
*These countries are stuck in the middle as they are not classified as living in poverty, and without having the status of being a stable middle class. Poverty levels stayed nearly the same in Uruguay, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic, and went up by 6.8% in Guatemala.
ALTERNATIVE INCOME & LIVELIHOOD, GLOBALLY SPEAKING
"The fighting got very bad. When I left Syria to come here, I only had $50. I was almost out of money when I got here. I met a man on the street, who took me home, and gave me food and a place to stay. But I felt so ashamed to be in his home, that I spent 11 hours a day looking for jobs, and only came back to sleep. I finally found a job at a hotel. They worked me 12 hours a day, for 7 days a week. They gave me $400 a month. Now I found a new hotel now that is much better. I work 12 hours per day for $600 a month, and I get one day off. In all my free hours, I work at a school as an English teacher. I work 18 hours per day, every day. And I have not spent any of it. I have not bought even a single T-shirt. I’ve saved 13,000 Euro, which is how much I need to buy fake papers. There is a man I know who can get me to Europe for 13,000. I’m leaving next week. I’m going once more to Syria to say goodbye to my family, then I’m going to leave all this behind. I’m going to try to forget it all. And I’m going to finish my education." (Erbil, Iraq)
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP Not everyone can get on a plane and engage in a face-to-face pillar project in any given country. However, empowering communities both across the globe and close to home is not only possible but easy. On a global spectrum, we can commit to supporting fair trade instead of free trade; to avoid purchasing items made in a "sweatshop" environment helps to ensure that households receive maximum profit for their efforts. Locally speaking, we can opt to buy local to contribute to the community economy directly. This means shopping at the farmer's market or buying products from local businesses.
CARE (Humanitarian Assistance for the Women of Afghanistan (HAWA) project) - Giving livestock and training women and girls in Afghanistan to care for animals in order to sell milk, yogurt, cheese, and other animal products to create another income for themselves and their families. https://www.care.org.au/the-widow-and-the-warlord/
Development Action for women Network (DAWN) - Teach women to produce a second income for their families by raising their skill level and teach then to create things to sell for money. http://www.dawnphil.org/livelihood.htm
“The interconnectedness of the global economy has perhaps never been as evident as it is today. With economies in the western world still lagging behind their pre-2008 highs, the importance of human and economic development in other areas of the world is clear. While the landscape of organizations and their practices continually evolves, it is our belief that Free The Children’s Adopt a Village model is an effective, sustainable and cost-effective approach to breaking the cycle of poverty in rural, marginalized communities world-wide.”
- Jason Saul, Co- Founder and CEO, Mission Measurement
THE RESULTS? Empowered, educated women and communities across the globe. Through the Adopt a Village model alternative income programs, skills are learned and money is earned, lifting households out of poverty.
TESTIMONIAL courtesy of www.freethechildren.com
Meet Carmen Sixteen-year-old Carmen Rocío Daquilema of San Miguel, Ecuador has seen her school undergo some pretty significant changes over the years. The addition of new classrooms made room for Grades 7, 8 and 9 for instance. Handwashing stations and a dining hall were added to help ensure students stayed healthy. A library gave the children of San Miguel new resources for learning and the computer lab, set to open in the near future, will connect them to the world like never before.
All of these Free The Children building projects have helped Carmen receive a quality education but, now that she is in grade nine, it’s Free The Children’s alternative income and livelihood program that will help her continue learning. “After Grade 9 if I want to continue studying to finish high school, I will have to take a bus to another town called Guamote,” she says. “I need the money to be able to pay the transportation to Guamote every day and for school fees and school supplies.”
As jobs are scarce in San Miguel, Free The Children has provided young girls with a means of earning money with the local Girls’ Club. Along with several other girls, Carmen attends club meetings once a week, learning to make recycled paper and to raise guinea pigs. In a period of three months, Carmen went from 10 guinea pigs to breeding and owning 60, which in Ecuador are eaten as a delicacy. Every week, Carmen sells 6 guinea pigs in the market. The money Carmen earns from selling her guinea pigs will be put towards supplementing her family’s income and furthering her education. The club has added to her personal development, too. “We are also learning about leadership, gender roles and culture and personal development,” says Carmen, adding that she has “learned to talk with more confidence with my peers and say my opinion… I feel much more confident participating in [the community].”