Friday, December 27, 2019

Feel Good Friday - EcoPeace Middle East

Another Feel Good Friday from Jordan, another post about a local organization. This time - EcoPeace Middle East.

With offices in Amman, Ramallah and Tel-Aviv, EcoPeace Middle East is "a unique organization that brings together Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli environmentalists." Founded in 1994, their primary objective is "the promotion of cooperative efforts to protect our shared environmental heritage."

The organization was formed because there are many shared resources, such as the Jordan River Basin, Gulf of Aqaba and the Dead Sea that require regional cooperation in order to maintain and preserve. EcoPeace approaches this by hiring local researchers from Jordan, Palestine and Israel then identifying the root cause of the problem and developing a common vision of how the researchers can influence decision makers, the media and the general public in their respective countries.

EcoPeace uses both bottoms up and top down approaches and covers themes related to geographical context, socio-economic projects and climate change.

Bottoms up projects include Good Water Neighbors, a way to involve local communities in solving regional water issues, and an eco center where locals and tourists can learn about and experience the shared environment.

Top down projects are based on research, publication of policy briefs and events to focus each country on advancing policy recommendations. You can read details about all of the ongoing, active projects here.

If you'd like to support the work being done by EcoPeace Middle East you can make a donation and spread the word on social media by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @EcoPeaceME

Next stop, Egypt!

Friday, December 20, 2019

Feel Good Friday - Queen Rania Center for Entrepreneurship

Happy Feel Good Friday from Jordan! In anticipation of being off the grid during my travels, I wrote and scheduled some Jordan-related posts before I left, including this one about the Queen Rania Center for Entrepreneurship.

Established in 2004, the Queen Rania Center for Entrepreneurship (QRCE) is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping develop technology entrepreneurship in Jordan.

The four areas of focus for the center are:
  • Networking - connecting entrepreneurs so they can share their experience and knowledge
  • Recognition and awareness - highlighting innovative technology startups and identifying potential opportunities
  • Capacity building and support - providing training, mentoring and support services to help entrepreneurs establish and expand their technology companies
  • Funding - providing assistance with fundraising during the initial funding and early growth stages
Examples of the QRCE programs include: a monthly startup huddle, where entrepreneurs can pitch ideas and discuss challenges and solutions; an annual competition where university students identify technology solutions for challenges in Jordanian society; and Global Entrepreneur Week, connecting young people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators.

In the last 15 years, over 30,000 people have participated in networking activities, 4,000 attended bootcamps and training workshops, 300 jobs were created and 25 startups were founded. You can read about successful program alumnae at this link.

To learn more and spread the word about the work being done in Jordan, like the QRCE Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @QRCE.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Feel Good Friday - Habitat for Humanity

It's another Feel Good Friday post about Habitat for Humanity. Why? Because I'm currently on a Global Village trip building houses in Jordan!

Since 1976, Habitat for Humanity has been working with people around the globe to fulfill their vision of "a world where everyone has a decent place to live". They do this because the need for affordable housing exists in every community.

Habitat works in over 30 countries with their Global Village program and since their founding, they've helped more than 29 million people build or improve the place they call home. Families apply for Habitat homes that will be sold to them at no profit. Once approved, they are required to make a down payment and monthly mortgage payments. In addition, they must put in 500 hours of "sweat equity" into the building of their own home and the homes of other Habitat partner families. Habitat considers the work they do a hand up, not a hand out.

I've volunteered on seven Habitat Global Village trips (Guatemala, Peru, Romania, India, Chile, Madagascar and Kyrgyzstan) and they've all been fabulous experiences. Being on a team of volunteers who are using vacation time to build houses with the families that are going to live in them is inspiring. Getting to interact with local people you might not meet as a tourist is an added bonus.

If you want to support the work of Habitat you can join a Global Village trip, make a donation, shop so you can wear your support, like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @Habitat_org. 

Friday, December 6, 2019

Feel Good Friday - Be An Elf

Thanksgiving is over so it's officially okay to make this Feel Good Friday post about Christmas and tell you all about Be An Elf.

Be An Elf was started by Hans Dohm and Patrick Reynolds in 2004 with a mission "to make more underprivileged children smile on Christmas morning, and to inspire people with the real spirit of Christmas." They started by handing out presents to children who had written to Santa, now they help other volunteers adopt letters to Santa and mail gifts. Be An Elf works in conjunction with the USPS's Operation Santa (which I wrote about here) to promote their program and recruit volunteers.

In previous years you had to pick up a letter from a post office in a participating city. This year, children's letters to Santa will be made available online so people can adopt a letter from anywhere and mail gifts from 19,000 postal branches.

Families can also go to the Be An Elf site to read tips on writing to Santa and increasing the likelihood of their letter being adopted: tell the truth; ask for basic needs first; bundle letters of siblings into one envelope so volunteers can adopt the whole family and use Santa's address - 123 Elf Road, North Pole, 88888.

If you still have questions you can check the FAQs. If you need some inspiration, read these letters from previous years. 

When you're ready to get into the Christmas spirit, there are three main ways you can support the program:
  • Go to the Operation Santa site, adopt a letter and respond
  • Donate to Be An Elf and let them buy and send Target gift cards on your behalf
  • Check these examples of how to promote Be An Elf on social media
Letters to Santa should be mailed no later than the 14th so volunteers have time to shop, and gifts need to be in the mail by the 20th to ensure an on-time delivery.

This program depends on volunteers like you so be sure to spread the word by liking the Be An Elf Facebook page and following them on Twitter @Howtobeanelf. Ho, ho ho!