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The Joyineering Fund: Spreading Light and Education in Bolivia

“In a world where we can be and do anything, be kind and do good.”
- Liliana Libecki

 

At the age of 17, Lilliana Libecki has been to 28 countries, all 7 continents, and seven major expeditions, including two expeditions to Antarctica, an ascent of Kilimanjaro in Africa, and a 150-mile trek through the Himalaya of Nepal all on adventures with her dad Mike, a National Geographic Explorer. But with each expedition, Lily takes the time to give back in helping the people and places she visited with humanitarian and conservation work. This has included installing solar power and laptops in Peru, Nepal, Tanzania, the Philippines, and India. She is now the founder of her own nonprofit organization- The Joyineering Fund and has now partnered with CHOICE, Dell, and Goal Zero Solar to help communities in Bolivia receive light and education. 

Join us as we talk with Mike Libecki about the inspiration behind the Joyineering Fund, their partnership with CHOICE, and their current project in Bolivia involving solar energy and computer literacy. 

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World Hunger- The Growing Number

World Hunger Day was created to recognize the 820 million people living without enough to eat. In the wake of COVID-19, that number continues to increase as remote communities are facing food shortages. When the Nepal government imposed a nationwide lock down, many people were left without work and food. Because CHOICE In-Country teams have worked closely with communities and their leaders over the years, they are often the first to respond in a crisis. CHOICE Nepal quickly acted on a request from the local authorities in the Besishahar Municipality to assist in providing food to vulnerable people who were facing devastating food shortages. The CHOICE team brought in a total of 793 kg of rice, 40 kg of daal (lentil), 40 kg of salt, 40 liters of cooking oil. The food was able to feed over 40 families. Including Manju BK’s family of eight.

Manju BK, originally from eastern Nepal works as a daily wage laborer along with her husband. She said, “After the lockdown we were without work and could not make any money. We were not able to pay our rent and so our landlord kicked us out. We are now living in this shack  in someone’s rice field. At a time when we were finding it very hard to feed our family, CHOICE Nepal has come to our aid. Thank you very much. It would have been very hard to make it to another day without your help (with tears in her eyes). This food supply will give us some time to find some work.”

Manju BK’s 72 year old mother said, “ Never in my life have I ever faced a food scarcity like this one. We always had something to eat. I hope this disease will go away soon.”

As remote communities around the world continue to face numerous challenges in the wake of COVID-19, the CHOICE teams are there to respond. Some communities have not yet faced the severe food shortages, but the CHOICE teams know that they will likely happen soon, which is why the teams are working urgently to implement food production programs. In areas where food shortages are already a major concern, the CHOICE teams are able to work with the community leaders to provide immediate aid.

Your support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic plays a critical role in supporting communities around the world. You can partner with CHOICE by donating to CHOICE CARES.

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Ecuador Facing Food Shortages in the Midst of COVID-19 Pandemic

 

COVID-19 has hit Latin America over the last month and it has had devastating effects. Hospitals and morgues are reaching capacity and bodies are scattered throughout streets. Ecuador has seen the number of cases skyrocket in their major cities since the beginning of April and remote villages are now stopping all traffic into their village. While this strategy has slowed the spread of COVID-19 into villages, it has brought on a different set of challenges that are proving to be equally devastating as the virus.

María’s village, which is hours from Quito, Ecuador’s capital, is shut off from the outside world. Food that would be brought into her village is no longer being transported. Not only is María terrified by the virus, but she is also threatened by starvation as her community faces food shortages. In addition, María’s income recently came to a sudden halt. Since her village has shut off from the outside world, she is no longer able to go to the market to sell her goods. With no food and no income, COVID-19 is one of the many very real fears María is facing.

There are thousands of individuals throughout Ecuador facing similar challenges as María. The CHOICE Humanitarian Ecuador team has recognized and prepared for the needs of remote villagers by creating a plan to provide seeds for increased food production and animals for animal husbandry programs. The CHOICE Ecuador team is currently working in multiple communities and impacting thousands of people by providing resources and training to increase the production of food in villages to combat the shortages they are experiencing.

 

Donate to CHOICE CARES to support CHOICE Ecuador's food production programs.

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El Tigre Community Rallies Together

CHOICE Humanitarian is excited to partner with The Joyineering Fund to provide remote villages access to technology. This June, CHOICE and The Joyineering Fund had a special expedition scheduled to take Dell computers and Goal Zero solar panels to villages in Bolivia to establish technology centers so that remote communities could be connected to the rest of the world and have the ability to further their learning. The technology centers would be built in two different communities, one of which being El Tigre.

El Tigre Technology CenterFor the expedition to set up the solar panels and computers and train the community how to properly use the equipment, the community would need to construct a building for the center. As the COVID-19 pandemic spread, roads were being closed off and people were not allowed in and out of remote communities in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus as much as possible. Just before the roads were shut down, CHOICE Bolivia staff member, Julio, realized that the community of El Tigre could use some extra encouragement. Knowing that he would likely not be able to leave the community once he was there, he went anyway, determined to assist the community as much as possible.

Being closed off from the risk of COVID-19, the community has rallied together and has nearly completed the building for the technology center. When travel is allowed, the community will be ready and eager to receive the new technology!

While so much has changed dramatically as a result of COVID-19, communities are still resilient and able to accomplish incredible feats when they come together!

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Building a Better Future in Kenya

Learn how CHOICE Humanitarian is supporting bright futures in Kenya!

 

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CHOICE Humanitarian Welcomes New CEO

Steven PierceCHOICE Humanitarian is pleased to announce Steve Pierce as their new Chief Executive Officer. Pierce's start at CHOICE has included more excitement than anyone had imagined. His first month brought a massive snow storm followed by a 5.7 magnitude earthquake at the CHOICE headquarters as well as a global pandemic. Despite the eventful start, he and the CHOICE team remain optimistic about the future!

Pierce is an international development leader with over 30 years of experience in the field. He is the former Director of Policy for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) where he led a team of experienced professionals to develop, operationalize and assess policies and strategies on a broad range of critical humanitarian and development priorities.  Prior to assuming that position, he was on assignment to the National Defense University’s Eisenhower School, where he served as Associate Professor for National Security and Resource Strategy and USAID Chair.  At NDU he taught courses in National Security Policy and Strategy and Industry Studies for senior military and civilian government leaders. Prior positions with USAID include Director of Program Staff; Special Coordinator for Development Effectiveness; U.S. delegate to the Organization Pierce in Boliviafor Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris, representing the USG on all matters related to development cooperation at the OECD; Director of the Office of Donor Engagement; USAID Executive Secretary, and Senior Policy Advisor to three USAID Administrators. He has extensive field experience in Latin America and the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Southeast Asia and has served in a leadership capacity on several international boards and networks, including as Co-Chair of the Effective Institutions Platform (EIP).  Prior to joining USAID, Dr. Pierce held leadership positions at the Inter-American Foundation and the Synergos Institute.  He began his career in development as the Country Director for Bolivia with the Andean Children’s Foundation (ACF), now CHOICE Humanitarian.

Learn why Steve Pierce is the ideal leader for CHOICE Humanitarian in the video below.

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Dreaming Big in Nepal!

Scholarships in Nepal"I am Binisha Ghimire from the Dalit caste, which is considered the untouchable community, in the Makawanpur District of Nepal. My father is a taxi driver and my elder brother works in small scale farming. My father struggles to feed, clothe, and educate his children and manage our family of nine.

I never dared to dream big, as my family does not have the means to provide us quality education. However, I experienced a change I never thought would happen in my life. I was selected for an annual scholarship worth 803.00 USD to fund my education, a three-year agriculture technician training course. The training is very valuable as Nepal needs more agricultural technicians. The award has relieved pressure on my family to fund my education. I am working hard and doing well in my studies. This degree will go a long way in helping me establish self-dignity and supporting my family financially after I graduate. It is empowering me to be independent and skillful.

My heartfelt thanks go to CHOICE Humanitarian for giving wings to my dreams of being an able and educated woman."

CHOICE Humanitarian invites you to become a member of The Village, so that more people like Binisha can dream big!

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A Family Forever Changed by Expeditions

Many people from the United States have the ability to travel and see the world, to experience cities, people and cultures. However, there is a difference between the “tourist” and the “traveler.” The tourist sees the sights, tastes the food, shops in the foreign markets; photographing each and every step along the way and savors the experience for many years to come. The traveler, however, is more of an adventurer, taking in the more subtle nuances of the people, the customs, the grit of a culturally different way of life. The traveler looks under the hood of each and every place choosing to live as the people live and getting to know more of the “why” and not just the “what” of foreign destinations often allowing the experience to serve as the souvenir. 

CHOICE Humanitarian service tripFloating on the Mekong River in rural Vietnam in the 1990’s my teenage daughter had one of those experiences that separate the tourist from the traveler. In quizzing a local, she discovered that the cost of a modest dwelling along one of Asia’s longest and most important rivers was the same price as a dress she wanted to wear to a high school dance. This was the type of an “aha” moment that I could never have taught her as her parent. The mere thought of that moment still gives me chills as that unspoken lesson vividly illustrated the disparity of opportunity in our two infinitely different worlds. 

That hot, humid day we experienced just one of many defining “traveler” moments as our family has participated in several humanitarian experiences over the years. Each of my children has had their own unforgettable interactions with villagers working side by side with them. Observing children scour through garbage for food on the streets of Kathmandu, walking with school children to school for nearly an hour each way on dusty trails, holding a flashlight as a youth had infected and impacted teeth removed and then watching them walk back to their village a half-days journey away causes your soul to stir in a unique and unforgettable way. The difference between the first world Dental Expeditionproblems of getting the latest app on your phone or deciding what will you wear to meet your friends at the mall is starkly different from a rural villager's problems of what will our family eat, how will a sick family member get well or how will we stay dry when the rains come. 

Those experiences have resulted in career choices and lifelong goals to participate in humanitarian outreach for my entire family. Whether in Vietnam, Peru, Nepal, Guatemala, Bolivia or Mexico we have learned through singing, dancing, working and dining with villagers that possessions do not make us happy, nor do they necessarily improve the quality of our lives and relationships. We return home changed and think we will never forget the lessons of the village. Every few years we choose to be reminded of the lessons of the village to keep us grounded and aware of what we value most. As we help villagers accomplish goals of education, clean drinking water and finding ways to support their families, they in turn, teach us that we can be happy, content and fulfilled with much, much less. 

There is no gift you can give your child that is greater than the gift of perspective through participating in a rural humanitarian expedition. We step away from our conveniences, our excesses, our time-wasting habits and rituals and step into a world of service, friendship, and teamwork. These types of experiences change the trajectory of human lives. While Humanitarian trip to Boliviareminiscing about an expedition last Christmas to Bolivia and the magic of that trip, two participants laughed and said “It is probably time we take another trip so we can reconnect with our teenagers.” 

It is true that a village experience is unpredictable, sometimes uncomfortable, and outside of our norm. However, it is in the unpredictable, the uncomfortable and the unusual that we really discover who we are and what we are made of. Therein lies the true magic of the expedition. There is no comfort in the growth zone and no growth in the comfort zone. With all that uncertainty, I can promise you one thing - you will come home changed, forever changed!

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CHOICE Humanitarian Peru- 2019

From teaching adult literacy programs to training entrepreneurs, see how CHOICE Humanitarian Peru changed lives and eradicated poverty over the last year.

 

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Extending Lives through Clean Stoves

Cooking and keeping warm is essential to any household, but for villagers living in extreme poverty, fulfilling those needs can be costly. In rural Nepal, indoor air pollution caused by wood stoves leads to significant health concerns, particularly for women and children. Prolonged exposure to unclean air lowers the life expectancy of women and children in Nepal. During their lifetimes they often suffer from eye, nose, and throat irritation, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue, while more long-term health concerns such as respiratory diseases, heart disease, and cancer can end lives tragically early. 

The health and well-being of women and children is integral to the health and well-being of a community. Sustainable poverty solutions depend on the education of children, the health of families, and promotion of gender equity. These solutions are all hindered when women and children suffer unhealthy living environments, as is their quality of life. CHOICE has made it a priority to help control indoor air pollution and save those vulnerable to it from related hazards; to do this, CHOICE has been implementing biodigesters and metal stoves throughout communities in Nepal.

Biodigesters are a simple and sustainable way to provide a home with a safe, clean stove. They use biomass (i.e. animal and human waste) to produce methane gas to power the stoves. Slurry, the by-product of the digester, makes for a highly valuable organic manure that villagers can use to improve their farming. With biodigesters villagers can eliminate the need for wood-burning stoves, keep the air in their homes clean, and produce fertilizer for their crops all at once. 

In higher-elevation parts of Nepal, biodigesters cannot be feasibly constructed, but a solution to indoor air pollution is just as vital. In these areas of Nepal, CHOICE instead provides and promotes metal stoves with an in-built chimney system. These stoves funnel smoke outside the house, keeping indoor air clean, and warm the home in the process. They’re also efficient, using only 30% of the wood needed for traditional stoves. This reduces air pollution and deforestation; it also significantly cuts down on the time women spend collecting firewood, giving them opportunities to pursue personal and family interests they didn’t have time for before. 

Through the use of biodigesters and efficient metal stoves, CHOICE is saving lives, improving the health and comfort of women and children, helping the environment, and, in the process of it all, ending poverty.

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