Friday, February 23, 2018

Feel Good Friday - Oxfam

When searching for an organization to profile for today's Feel Good Friday, this slogan for Oxfam caught my eye: "the power of people against poverty". I was inspired to learn more about them and now you will too.

As summarized on their website, "Oxfam is a global organization working to end the injustice of poverty. We help people build better futures for themselves, hold the powerful accountable, and save lives in disasters. Our mission is to tackle the root causes of poverty and create lasting solutions."

Originally known as the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief, Oxfam started in 1942 when a group of Quaker intellectuals, social activists and Oxford academics joined forces to respond to the plight of refugees in Greece. They continued to provide aid to people in Europe before shifting their focus to developing nations. Oxfam America was founded by volunteers 28 years later in response to the humanitarian crisis created by the fight for independence in Bangladesh.

Collectively, Oxfam now works in 90 countries around the globe. To achieve their vision of "a just world without poverty" their efforts are focused in four areas:
  • saving lives
  • programs to overcome poverty and injustice
  • campaigning for social justice
  • public education
Examples of specific programs include working to end violence against women in Mozambique, supporting the peace process in Colombia, and inviting refugees to spend a day sharing their stories in Trump's childhood home. Last year over 22 million people benefitted from Oxfam programs.

You can find more information by checking out the list, "Top 10 things you need to know about Oxfam". Some statements that inspired me:
  • We believe that fighting poverty is about fighting injustice.
  • The projects we fund are community driven.
  • We help people learn about their basic rights and how to defend them.
If you'd like to get involved but don't know where to start, there's a toolkit you can download. It lists actions you can take on your own, such as skipping a meal in solidarity with people who are hungry and donating the cost of that meal to Oxfam. There are also plenty of ideas for group fundraisers.

Finally, you can always show your support for Oxfam with the usual suspects - donate, shop, volunteer, like the Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @OxfamAmerica.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Feel Good Friday - Black Filmmakers Foundation (BFF)

If you're a movie or pop culture fan, you know that Black Panther was released yesterday and A Wrinkle in Time is coming out next month. Both films are directed by African American filmmakers, it's Black History Month so today's Feel Good Friday organization is the Black Filmmakers Foundation.

As described on their Facebook page, the Black Filmmakers Foundation (BFF) is a "non-profit media arts organization founded in 1978" as a "product of the social and artistic consciousness that developed in the late sixties and early 1970s."

Founded by Warrington Hudlin, producer of the 1990 Kid and Play movie, House Party, the mission of BFF is to design and administer programs that address the institutional disenfranchisement of black filmmakers and black audiences.

Initiatives include producing film festivals, programming film retrospectives, hosting a monthly screening series of Black independent cinema, convening an annual BFF summit and producing a speaker series. Whew!

Want more? Listen to last week's 16 minute interview with founder Warrington Hudlin discussing the "Evolution of Black American Cinema" and if you're a black filmmaker, become a member of Cast and Crew of Color, "The online professional network for people of color who work in motion pictures, television and the Internet".

All of us can support the work of BFF by liking their Facebook page and by going to the movies!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Feel Good Friday - Black Girls Code

I was inspired to write about today's Feel Good Friday group, Black Girls Code, for two reasons. First, Thursday night my company hosted a Girl Geek dinner to promote networking among women in the tech industry and second, it's Black History Month and this is an organization that combines both of those elements.

Black Girls Code (BCG) was founded by Kimberly Bryant in 2011. As stated on their website, the vision is "to increase the number of women of color in the digital space by empowering girls of color ages 7 to 17 to become innovators in STEM fields, leaders in their communities, and builders of their own futures through exposure to computer science and technology."

BCG does this by running community outreach programs including weekend coding workshops, after school programs and hackathons that teach girls basic programming skills. As of this 2016 CNBC news report, there are chapters in 10 cities across the US and one in Johannesburg, South Africa, and over 5,000 girls have participated in the programs.

You can meet Kimberly and some of the girls in this 2-minute overview video. My favorite quote is "teaching kids of all ages, of all color, of all gender to code and to be able to become the programmers and not the programmed is critically important for our next generation."

To help diversify the tech industry and empower the next generation of programmers you can make a donation to BCG, volunteer your time, wear a shirt to represent, like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @BlackGirlsCode. That's the best way to find out when the next hackathon is coming to a city near you!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Feel Good Friday - Cameron's Camel Campaign

Most people associate camels with Wednesdays, but I'm here to celebrate camels on Feel Good Friday!

Cameron Oliver is a South African teenager living in Dubai who started his campaign as a school project after reading an article that said 1 in 2 camels in the United Arab Emirates die from eating plastic and litter left in the desert by humans.

The mission of Cameron's Camel Campaign is summed up by Cameron himself in this short video. Don't litter!

To encourage protection of the camels he lists some interesting camel facts. You probably knew they can go days without drinking water but did you know they can drink 27 gallons of water in 10 minutes and can carry up to 1,000 pounds?

The list of do's and don'ts on his website are pretty simple and include: "do take all your rubbish away with you after you leave the desert" and "don't expect to see camels in the desert much longer if you keep littering".

To stay current with Cameron and the camels, like his Facebook page. And whether you're in the UAE or the USA... please don't litter.