Posts Tagged ‘Christian Science Monitor’

The Christian Science Monitor collects wonderful stories for the series “People Making a Difference.” I’m on the email list and receive so much good news, it’s hard to choose what to share.

This story was written by Anita Satyajitin.

“The 41 boys of Sanmati Bal Niketan keep a lamp burning all the time in their home. They believe that the flame should never be extinguished, for as long as it burns, their ‘mother’ will be hale, hearty, and healthy.

“Their mother is Sindhutai Sapkal, a beggar who has used her earnings to raise 1,042 orphans over the past four decades.

“As a young pregnant woman in rural India, Ms. Sapkal was abandoned by her husband. She turned to begging for a living, seeking refuge in cowsheds, cemeteries, and train stations. But despite these hardships she found her calling as a mother to hundreds of children.

“Today Sapkal runs four homes for orphans and others in need across India’s state of Maharashtra, currently caring for more than 400 children and 150 women abandoned by their families.

“ ‘I have experienced what it feels like to have no one and nowhere to go. This [work] makes me feel like someone is dressing my wounds,’ Sapkal says.

“Four decades ago, when she would sing at train stations and beg to earn a living, she noticed the large number of orphans who made the stations their home. She had been grappling with thoughts of suicide, but instead she felt a strong call to care for the children.

“The more of them she looked after, the more vigorously she begged. …

“After a few years, with the help of supporters, Sapkal set up her first orphans’ home in Chikhaldara, a town in rural Maharashtra. As word about her work spread, people from other villages began to approach her with orphaned children. …

“Her innovative idea of having women abandoned by their families live in the same home as the children ensures that the children are cared for and the women have a family, too. …

“The children [are] all sent to nearby private schools or colleges to pursue an education. Sapkal, who travels between these homes, has worked with a network of nearby schools, colleges, and hospitals that offer their services free of charge or at a reduced rate to her children. …

“Sapkal’s success is also a result of the support she receives from the people she has raised. The day-to-day operations of her homes are run by her ‘children’ and their families.

“Dipak Gaikwad was 11 when relatives handed him over to Sapkal. When as an adult he inherited his ancestral home, he sold it and gave the money to her to carry on her work. Today he manages her Saswad home.”

More here.

Photo: Anita Satyajit 
Sindhutai Sapkal, who has nurtured more than 1,000 orphans, is seen here with a few of them at her home in Pune, India.

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Recently, Simone Orendain wrote a story for the Christian Science Monitor‘s “People Making a Difference” series on a Philippine man who helps kids.

“For the past 30 years [Harnin] Manalaysay has been a father figure and mentor to hundreds of youths in Cavite City, just south of Manila. … Half the young people he has helped were out of school and on the streets – neglected, abused, or abandoned. The other half were in school but on the verge of slipping into gang life …

“A majority of the young people [he has helped] have gone on to become professionals in fields such as finance, education, marketing, and psychology, Manalaysay says.

“Some have become rock stars of the philanthropic world. Kesz Váldez, his 16-year-old adopted son, won the 2012 International Children’s Peace Prize – the children’s equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize – for starting, at the age of 7, a foundation to help street children live with dignity and understand their rights.”

Manalaysay began his good works at 17, when, having run away from a violent father and some risky behaviors of his own, he found religion and “came across some kids in ragged clothes outside his new church making a lot of noise as they gambled with the loose change they had just begged for. He felt bold enough to scold them for making a ruckus.

“He asked if they were in school. They said no, so he started giving them basic lessons in reading and ABCs. The number of students grew, and he decided to tap some high school teachers, who recommended student volunteers. But he found that even those kids came from unstable families and needed help, too, including lessons in self-esteem and self-respect. Club 8586 was born. …

“Manalaysay credits his mother with this philosophy.

His earliest memories were of her selling home-cooked snacks that she would then give away to the poor once she earned enough to pay for the family’s needs.

That lesson in selflessness and love has stuck with him, and he has tried to pass it along to all of the kids whose lives he has touched.”

More here.

Photo: Simone Orendain
Harnin Manalaysay founded an outreach organization that helps street children in Cavite City, Philippines.


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Public banks can be helpful in emergencies, and what with hurricanes, tornadoes, and all, we sure seem to have a lot of emergencies.

Grand Forks, North Dakota, figured this out after one of their floods. Most banks have to make sure their loans meet the tough safety and soundness requirements of regulators, so they may not come through fast enough for people trying to rebuild after a disaster. Grand Forks isn’t relying on them.

Kelly McCartney at Shareable (by way of the Christian Science Monitor) says that the Public Banking Institute blog at WordPress “cites a powerful example of how a public bank can help a city bounce back from a devastating natural disaster. As Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts unfold, there’s a lesson from history about the role of strong local financial institutions in increasing urban resilience.

“In April of 1997, Grand Forks, North Dakota, was hit by record flooding and major fires that put the city’s future in jeopardy. One of the first economic responders was the Bank of North Dakota (BND), currently the only public bank in the United States.

“What’s a public bank, you ask? Public banks are owned by citizens through their government. They have a public interest mission, are dedicated to funding local development, and plow profits back into the state treasury to fund social programs and cover deficits. Rather than competing with private banks, BND partners with them to meet the needs of North Dakotans. …

“As a public bank, BND was able to respond to the ’97 flood in ways that a privately owned bank could not …

“Right after the flood, the Bank of North Dakota got to work, established a disaster relief loan fund, set aside $5 million to assist flood victims, and set up additional credit lines of around $70 million.” More.

Photograph: Reuters/File
Residents of Grand Forks, N.D., carry their pet dog to safety in the shovel of a frontloader April 20, 1997. The more than 50,000 residents of the city were forced to evacuate as the Red River reached 25 feet above flood level. A public bank, owned by citizens, was a key player in the city’s recovery.

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Yvonne Zipp wrote a nice article about a Christian Science Monitor-designated Difference Maker. He is Mario Morino, a philanthropist based in Rocky River, Ohio, outside Cleveland. He wrote the free book Leap of Reason to help large nonprofits demonstrate that they are serving the public in the ways they think they are.

Zipp writes that in 2009, after a day of meetings with three different nonprofit boards, Morino was about to burst from frustration.

“At each, a board was discussing how it would assess its nonprofit group. The problem? ‘There wasn’t a nonprofit executive in the room,’ he says.” How could the people who run nonprofits and the boards that assess them ever get agreement on worthwhile measures?

“Morino, who owned his own software development business in the 1980s before setting up the Morino Institute and later Venture Philanthropy Partners, went home and fired off one e-mail, then another. After a fourth, he had what became the core of his book, Leap of Reason, which has more than 40,000 copies in circulation so far – an impressive number for a book about the rarefied topic of nonprofit management. …

The book isn’t aimed at small nonprofits or “civic-minded individuals, Morino says. ‘They represent the strongest core of philanthropy in the US. You don’t want to touch that.’ He likens these folks to his long-ago neighbors in Cleveland, where, ‘if somebody’s building a garage, everyone helped build the garage.’

However, “of the 1.5 million nonprofit groups in the US, 40,000 have budgets of more than $1 million, according to Bridgespan [an organization that consults to nonprofits]. They are the targets of Leap of Reason.”

More here on how the data-driven approach outlined in the book has helped some large nonprofits become more effective.

By the way, the Center for Effective Philanthropy, where WordPress blogger Judith once worked as a writer, addresses the same issue. And Zipp’s article lists other organizations that advise charities.

Photograph of Mario Morino, Ken Blaze / Special to the Christian Science Monitor

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Although the Christian Science Monitor daily is strictly online, there is a hard-copy Christian Science Monitor Weekly that is worth buying. The cover story of the latest issue is about a group of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Each was floundering a bit in civilian life, looking for the same sense of purpose that they had felt in the military.

The story of how they came together in the blighted Oliver neighborhood of Baltimore is inspiring. The setting for the TV show The Wire, the area had been run by drug dealers for decades. Despite the best efforts of the local police, the residents could never get the help they needed to feel safe, to get vacant lots cleaned up, or to weatherize homes.

Today the veterans, applying the leadership and community-rebuilding skills they learned in places like Anbar Province, are making a difference — and feeling motivated once more.

See a great array of pictures at the Monitor website.

Photograph : Christian Science Monitor

Three veterans – (l. to r.) Patrick Young, Earl Johnson, and Dave Landymore – survey buildings and chat with neighbors on a warm Friday night. The men are volunteers with the 6th Branch, a nonprofit organization of volunteer veterans who use their community rebuilding skills to address urban blight in a project called Operation Oliver.

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The Christian Science Monitor has a regular feature on people doing good works.

Here Jennifer C. Kerr writes that some baby boomers are solving the problems facing their communities by becoming volunteers. But, she says, more are needed.

“Local charities and nonprofits are looking for a few good baby boomers – well, lots of them, actually – to roll up their sleeves to help local schools, soup kitchens, and others in need.

“Boomers are attractive volunteers, and it’s not just the sheer strength of their numbers – 77 million. They are living longer. They are more educated than previous generations. And, especially appealing: They bring well-honed skills and years of real-world work and life experience.

” ‘This generation, this cohort of Americans, is the healthiest, best-educated generation of Americans across this traditional age of retirement,’ says Dr. Erwin Tan, who heads the Senior Corps program at the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), a federal agency in Washington. ‘The question for us is how can we as a country not afford to mobilize this huge source of human capital to meet the vital needs of our communities.’ ” Lots more to read.

Photographer: Erik

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