Monday, March 12, 2012

FOH Partner Honored on International Women's Day

On March 8th, 2012, Friends of Humanity president and founder, Graziella Zanoletti, attended a reception that honored FOH partner, Marguerite Barankitse on International Women's Day. The event was hosted by Gérard Coollomb Senator Mayor of Lyon. The event was also hosted by Thérèse Rabe, Deputy Mayor delegate of upholding the equality of men, women, and those with handicaps, Hubert Julien-Laferrière, Vice President at Greater Lyon delegate of  International Solidarity and Cooperation, and Jean-François Lavison, President of Bioforce. Marguerite Barankitse was awarded the medal of honor of the city of Lyon in light of her work with Bioforce School of Humanitarian Engagement. 

Marguerite Barankitse was born in Burundi in 1957. In 1993, at the height of the civil war, she worked to provide shelter and food for orphans. By 1994, she expanded a netowork of support to a number of businesses and cities to help with her efforts. She has opened many centers and hospitals to support those in need. In 2004, it was estimated that 20,000 children have benefited either directly or indirectly from this work. This extensive work earned Barankitse a number of awards, including an award for upholding Human Rights from the French Government in 1998 and the Nansen Refugee Award in 2004. In 2009, Barankitse agreed to sponsor the 28th class of students at the Bioforce Institute School of Humanitarian Engagement. Three years later, the Bioforce Institute was proud to honor Marguerite Barankitse awards in conjunction with the cities of Venissieux and Lyonon International Women's Day. You can read more about this event in French here.

In October 2011, Friends of Humanity launched a partnership with the Maison Shalom project in Ruyigi, Burundi. Maison Shalom primarily works to protect and promote the rights of venerable children in an area where children, particularly girls, are at a increasing risk of becoming victims of violence and sexual assault. The organization promotes the rights of children in the following ways:
  • by improving living conditions in the community and promoting reconciliation and cohabitation through peaceful, integrated and sustainable development, a cooperative movement and job creation
  • by identifying, tracing, reintegrating and monitoring orphans and other underprivileged children
  • by affording appropriate, accessible care to the sick, especially people living with HIV/AIDS
  • by considerably reducing mother and child mortality at birth through advocacy, education and preventive medicine
  • by ensuring that orphans and other vulnerable children can go to school
  • by building stronger platforms for dialogue and action in Burundi, the Great Lakes region and beyond, in order to safeguard the rights of the child

Friends of Humanity contributed 30 000 CHF to the project in order to support one hundred children. In 2012 they will be hosted in the center, and they will receive appropriate treatment, according to their priority needs (medical, legal, educational).Maison Shalom recently made stides toward advancing another one of their projects. An important meeting for "ITEKA-Microfinance" was held on February 26, 2012. Chaired by Maggy Barankitse, the president of Maison Shalom, the governor of Ruyigi, two parliamentarians and one senator discussed how best to implement this program. "ITEKA-Microfinance” was launched by Maison Shalom in May 2011. It is designed to support all those who still depend on aid, but who have good ideas for self-development. They lack only good coaching and / or seed money. " The project is expected to gain approval of the Central Bank of Burundi in the near future. At the meeting,organizers addressed strategies to insure that the project remains sustainable and has a long term positive effect on the community. Lacking supervision and monitoring, program beneficiaries cannot solve the problems they encounter in their activities. Disoriented, they consume their borrowed capital before they can expect new aid. Specifically, the project plans to focus on education, organization, and support for individuals who obtain loans. They also plan to concentrate efforts and resources in close groups of borrowers to insure a high rate of repayment.Maison Shalom hopes to help their community through direct involvement in their micro-finance program.

 You can read more about this project here

Friends of Humanity remains supportive of Maison Shalom's efforts. Small donations to the project can have an amazing impact. For example 50 CHF equals legal assistance for a child. 200 CHF equals long term medical support for a child infected with HIV/AIDS. These figures offer a unique opportunity to make a difference, especially in light of the growing success of Shop&Help, the FOH online ethical shopping site where shopping meets donating. Consider treating yourself to a massage; it may mean that a little girl in Burundi can find justice for her attacker.

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