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United Planet Donations at Work!
Some recent stories about United Planet Country Funds helping projects in other countries
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Rebuilding an orphanage in Peru
In Cusco, Peru, many volunteers have worked at Aldea Infantil Juan Pablo 2, an orphanage that houses over 60 children. The director says “United Planet is Padrino General of the Aldea.” (Roughly translated, General Sponsor.)
United Planet donated money to enable staff and volunteers to restore and update the buildings by painting and installing new tiles in the kitchens. “The kids, more than 60, will have a better and more cheerful environment to stay in. The local government did not repaint and maintained the houses for the 20 years that they are constructed, so you can imagine how they look like,” says Amelia Collantes Gonzales of the Aldea.
Providing vital transportation in Romania
It doesn't take a lot to make a child happy. Sometimes all it takes is a van! In Romania, United Planet volunteers work in an orphanage that is committed to providing homes to abandoned children, abused women, families in difficult situations, and others in need. The committed caretakers dedicate almost every minute of their time to provide them with interactions for proper development. Providing the kids with awareness of the world outside of the orphanage is also a key skill they learn.
Until last year, the orphanage had a bus to take kids on trips outside the orphanage. Unfortunately, the bus broke down -- and for almost a year the caretakers have had only two cars available for the 70 kids at the orphanage. Going on excursions became nearly impossible. Getting a new was not as easy as some may have thought.
The orphanage held a fundraising concert, but didn't raise enough money. This is when the country coordinators thought of the United Planet Romania Country Fund! As many of you know, part of each United Planet volunteer's Quest fee is put towards the United Planet Country Fund initiative; projects in need can send United Planet a request to use this money.
Thanks to your support, the orphanage was able to purchase a minibus. Now, these children have the opportunity to go on weekly trips into the local town for basic life skill training and excursions. The minibus will also be used to transport volunteers themselves.
What a great use of the Romania Country Fund!
Helping a school in Tanzania
“Be the change you want to see in the world” --Gandhi
Shannon DeAtley-Johnson traveled to Tanzania with United Planet. Her Quest mission was to teach English, math, and science in a primary school to all grade levels. She loved her time spent with the kids, and she knew she would like to continue supporting them upon her return. She wanted to do something in order to help them continue their education. With this thought in her mind, Shannon was restless when she came back to the United States, and spent all her time and energy creating an opportunity for these kids.
Upon her return, Shannon created the The MOOSE Foundation (More Opportunity and Outreach for Superior Education). The MOOSE Foundation provides cross-cultural education. On Shannon’s days off, she goes into schools or after-school programs and provides workshops for children, teaching them about the Tanzanian culture. The children are taught to say simple Kiswahili words, do crafts related to the country, and listen to stories. They are also offered the opportunity to become pen pals with children in Tanzania. This experience benefits the children from both countries by expanding their horizons and introducing them to a new world on a different continent. Currently, she is working on creating a forum where American educators can share experiences, stories, and techniques with their Tanzanian colleagues, allowing the exchange of teaching practices.
Various fundraising events have been held to raise funds and supplies, which always include educational components, as well as information of where the donations are going and who they are impacting. Most of the funds are used to provide scholarships for Tanzanian children to attend secondary school. Other funds go towards providing financial assistance to those needing financial help in the primary schools. The supplies are shipped to the school to be distributed to those in need and educators.
Shannon feels it is her personal mission to educate people about the beautiful country of Tanzania, the amazing people, and the continued need to assist with bettering the education system. She has also inspired friends and colleagues to join her in various ways. The potential of MOOSE Foundation is both exciting and inspiring. The world really does need more people like Shannon in it. Her favorite quote is “Be the change you want to see in the world” (Gandhi).
Shannon won the United Planet Distinguished Alumni Award for her great work! Be the next one to follow her!
Helping Women and Children in Guatemala
United Planet partnered with a shelter and orphanage in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala that serves women and children who are victims of domestic violence. Poverty, alcoholism, and a lack of government intervention all contribute to increasing levels of abuse in this town. United Planet volunteers developed a plan that would create sustainable revenue and provide valuable training to the women at the shelter.
After months of challenging preparation, Lavanderia Planeta Unido opened its doors. The Lavanderia (Laundromat) now provides laundry services for both tourists and residents of Quetzaltenango.
As a sophomore at Columbia University, Lizzie Lee had a strong interest in business and a passion for volunteering. While working as a United Planet volunteer in Quetzaltenango, the Longmeadow, MA native quickly recognized the Laundromat project’s potential to provide long-term benefits for the women and children of the shelter. Lizzie dedicated herself to improving the marketing and publicity involved in the project and her work helped boost revenues by an estimated 200 percent. She researched competitors, started a delivery service, and distributed flyers in and around the area’s most popular tourist spots.
Lizzie describes her Quest experience as “one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.” Upon her return home, Lizzie developed a formal business plan for the project. United Planet hopes to use Lizzie’s business plan and the laundromat as a model for similar microempowerment projects in Guatemala and at other United Planet sites.
Building a library in Tanzania
Rob Flook is a passionate downhill skier who graduated with distinction from the University of Alberta with a B.S. in Biological Sciences and Psychology. Rob is also passionate about volunteering. He decided to spend a month of one of his summers working in Tanzania at a community center that provides HIV/AIDS education. He wanted to understand how medically underserved communities deal with and manage devastating diseases like HIV/AIDS.
Rob completed his month of HIV/AIDS education at Ezra Ministry in Tanzania and returned to Canada with a much deeper knowledge of the country and the critical issues people there face. “I originally went to Tanzania thinking I would only be teaching about AIDS,” Rob recalls, “but after a week I ended up teaching about human rights, advanced English, and computers. It was truly a once in a life time experience for me.”
Rob,who has completed his Bachelor of Arts degree at University of Alberta, still has strong memories of his time in Tanzania. So Rob decided to hold a fundraising event to benefit United Planet’s Tanzania Country Fund. His “Hoops for Hope” fundraiser on the university campus was a great success, bringing in nearly $4,000.
The first project to result from Rob’s philanthropic efforts will be a library for the Ezra Ministry. During his time in Tanzania, Rob was dismayed to see many books and learning materials gathering dust and unused in the community center. Rob’s gift will mean that a library in the center will now house all the books and learning materials, making them accessible to all students and volunteers. And for Rob’s work in raising funds, the community had decided to name the library in his honor.