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W.E.B. Du Bois

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was founded during a time when America was still picking up the pieces of the Civil War that resulted in the liberation of slaves, but left the country scarred. In 1909, a group of people who were from different races and religions came together to strive toward equality in all public sectors.

Check out an interactive timeline on the history of the NAACP

Today the NAACP is still actively involved in the public sphere focusing on issues like economic, health and education disparity. In 2011, one of the largest initiatives the NAACP sponsored was advocating the innocence of Troy Davis, a 42-year-old man executed in September for the murder of an off-duty police officer in 1989.

The NAACP is easily recognized for its contributions to historical landmarks in equality for all citizens, but take the time today as part of Black History Month to find out what this organization is up to today.

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Below is a story from my roommate and friend, Danelle.

Danelle is a twenty-year-old nursing student at the University of Missouri who spent a summer immersed in a culture entirely different from her own. She was born in Columbia, Missouri, grew up in Quito, Ecuador and is now wrapping up a Ugandan adventure.

At the not-so-ripe age of 20 (about to be a junior in Mizzou’s nursing program), she’s done more things and worked in a more hectic environment than most of us could imagine. She’s also had the opportunity to get to know children, young women and entire families who it seems she would have nothing in common with. Yet, despite their differences — language, upbringing, culture, and the like — she’s built meaningful connections with many. Here is one of her Facebook updates:

Danelle with some of the children she's been spending time with in Mbarara, Uganda. Photography: Danelle Douce

“Monday through Friday I have a “program” with the three older girls who live here at the house. I teach English and mathematics, it has been interesting coming up with my own lesson plans for three girls at three very different levels. Thursdays are our “fun” days; this Thursday we made flower clips, and it has given me such joy and satisfaction to see the girls wearing them in their hair every day since! I have also been separately, daily, tutoring Asia, the girl who I met in Enciche. Sometimes two other girls from the community come as well. Asia has so impressed me with her faithfulness to come.

The first day she came, I was surprised to see her, yes, I had told her she was invited, but I had no idea if she’d actually follow through or not. We sat outside leaning against the house watching the boys play soccer while she told me her story.

She’s had a hard hard life. Her mother died when she was young and she was abused and abandoned by her father. A man came and promised to take care of her and protect her and so she decided to love him. Two months after she told him she was pregnant he left her and went to Kampala, the capital. She hasn’t heard from him since. Asia has a precious little girl named Shina, who is now one and half years old. Asia is 17. The second time we met, she brought a schedule she had written for us to follow; it was so sweet, and her enthusiasm is so encouraging to me! The next day she brought me a mandazi (one of my favorite treats), cassava, and sambosas, all small bread like snacks. She asked me if I wanted to come visit her house and so we made a plan for her to come by the compound on Friday and then we could walk together from there. When I talked to David and Esther — my “parents” in Uganda — about it they advised me that it was a bad idea for me to walk with just Asia alone, as it wasn’t the safest of places. Asia showed up on Friday to meet me, 15 minutes early, and I told her I wouldn’t be able to visit her home that day.

She didn’t understand at all, and I was so frustrated that that something like my skin color was keeping me from following through on my word to Asia.

She was so disappointed, as was I. I ran inside to call David and persuade him that I would be just fine and to let me go, but I came across Joseph in the living room instead. Joseph is a 23 year old Ugandan who is also currently volunteering here at Joy of a Child. I asked him if he’d be willing to walk with us and he said it was no problem! I ran back outside to tell Asia, but she said she didn’t want to take me anymore. She wanted to wait and ask David for permission. She was crying and I kept asking her what was wrong and she said “Well, it’s just that, sometimes when I have things in my mind and they don’t work out how I was thinking, it just brings tears to my eyes.” I felt so bad, because she was so genuine. It took me a while to convince her to still take me.

The walk was pleasant, and only about 15 minutes. It did feel very rural and I was glad for Joseph’s presence after all. We arrived at her house, a tiny two room brick/mud building. She was one of the best hosts I’ve ever had the privileged to visit.

She invited us in; she had one bed, one chair, and a container with plates and cups. She had two wooden statues for decoration. I could tell that she had cleaned and prepared for my visit. She didn’t have a dresser, but a suitcase for her and Shina’s clothes. I felt convicted, as I’ve been getting tired of living out of a suitcase just for four weeks!! She had prepared a meal and served us matooke with nut sauce and a glass of water (I knew I probably shouldn’t have drank it, but I didn’t care, I wanted to be a good guest). We sat and chatted and she showed me some pictures she had of her friends.

I love Asia so much. She isn’t just this girl who I’m reaching out to, she’s my friend.”

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As some of you might have heard, London and now other parts of Britain are going through what can only be described as pure acts of hatred and vandalism.

Houses and business are being burnt in the streets of London. Photography: Associated Press via El Mundo

It has now been three consecutive days of looting and street violence, with hooligans now raising the bar by setting fire to stores and houses. BBC News provides a live update on the UK riots, here.

As this strikes me deeply, for I lived in London for over five years, I wanted to share a story with you.

As I chatted with my friend back in London (late at night due to the time zone difference and that they were taking it in turns to stay up and guard the door) he told me what happened just hours before. This is the story I want to tell you.

As my friend and his flat mates were quietly asleep, they had suddenly heard a loud noise outside. Quickly they approached the window to look out when they saw that looters had broken into the pub next door and  proceeded to pour spirits (liquor) and petrol all over it. One of the looters then took out a lighter and lit the whole thing on fire. As the flames lit up the pub, the owner who happened to live above it (as it is very common practice all over the UK) woke up and looked out the window to see what was happening. Unknowingly underneath him, his business was slowly burning and the flames threatened to roar on and claim the upstairs, too. My friend and his flat mates yelled at him to get out and were themselves ready to evacuate, until the flames started dying out and eventually went out completely. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

London riots.

Rioters in London carry on for a third consecutive day. Photography: Efe via El Mundo.

The scene he described to me, which I just relayed to you, is one you might typically find in a movie about old Nazi Germany. Or, perhaps even a scene that would more commonly take place in a developing country we often neglect to mention or help because it seems they have little to offer. This particular scene, however, is happening in the capital of one of the most developed countries in the world. It’s occurring in a city that some deem the financial capital of Europe, and will be the home for athletes across the world as the 2012 Olympics draw near.

So, where’s the hope in the story? As often, it is in the little things — in the most minuscule and tiny details that come to the surface when all seems dark and grey. It might not sound like much, but the pub owner’s neighbours took him and his family in for the night, providing a safe place of rest and refuge. This simple act of generosity might sound small and insignificant — nothing compared to major riots striking the capital — but the compassion of this family was powerful enough for my friend to tell me about it. It was enough to light a small spark of humanity inside of him that transcended enough for him to wish to tell me the deed, to share the story and perhaps in the near future extend such courtesy someone else’s way.

This might not be a huge story concerning refugees or some colossal natural disaster; it’s a smaller story concerning one family. But I leave you with this simple thought, if every household showed the same kindness and generosity towards their neighbours and fellow citizens, who would be left to loot?

We — the people writing on this blog and developing this communications organization — are in the business of giving hope and helping people get hope. After listening to my friend’s story, I got some hope. So I can only hope this will give you all some, too.

Sleep tight London, the night is always darkest before dawn.

-Borja

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As web developer/designer for the site, I’m constantly browsing the internet for inspiration. One site I stumbled across, http://www.dolectures.com/lectures/ struck my eye because of the simplicity of the design. The idea is similar to Ted Talks (amazing organization as well) to provide the visitor a variety of speeches depending on the category they choose. I like the way they have previews of each of the speeches and think that something similar would be a good tactic to separate the “topics” for this site.

Another way I stay current with web design is scanning tweets on the Twitter lists that I’ve created (@emilypaigestew – i’d love for you to follow me 🙂 ).  @thecssawards, @smashingmag & of course @jasonsantamaria are some of my favorites. Pinterest.com has also been great for “pinning” sites where I see features that I think would work well for this site.

While waiting on some key components to go forward with this project, I’ve implemented a lot of the framework for the site, which you’ll be able to see in several weeks. After meeting with a few professionals, we decided that using WordPress.org as a CMS would be the best (and most sustainable) option. This is my first time using the .org side of WordPress and I really like it thus far. I still prefer coding using a simple text editor, but WordPress.org is growing on me. The feature I’m most excited about is the social networking plugin- BuddyPress. This allows our visitors to login using their WordPress username/pw and join our “network.” Each user has a profile page, recent activity, can add friends & comment on posts. I couldn’t believe how simple it was to implement- basically ready out-of-the-box.

Minus some minor frustrations/glitches, the project is going really well. Get excited for the final result!

– Emily

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As students of the Missouri School of Journalism (or students at Missouri with close ties to the J-School) and being a part of a startup news platform, we are constantly scouring the Internet for articles that are interesting, inspiring and relate to what we are doing now. These are a few topics that have caught our eyes recently.

 

  • This New York Times article compares what the founders of EBay and Progressive are doing as philanthropists. Albeit, differing personalities, both of these founders and philanthropists are handing out business advice with the money they are giving nonprofits. Specifically, human resources advice. Do you think large companies giving money to nonprofits should stop there or try to force their proven successful business practices on the nonprofits.
  • In case you haven’t already come across this, there is a series on The Guardian’s blog about the process of creating a new startup media news/entertainment website. These former journalists left the traditional world of journalism where they felt their creativity being squelched to start anew. Very interesting stuff!
  • This is a story that has been making headlines and touching the hearts of many all week. As a nine-year-old, Rachel Beckwith displayed a since of maturity and selflessness that many, including this 24-year-old lack. If you have missed this story, please follow the link and read it. Truly inspiring.
  • Since we are on the topic of it, this article is technically a few weeks old but is very pertinent to Rachel Beckwith’s story. Actor, Matt Damon is the co-founder of Water.org and is doing some great things to help bring clean water to countries in Africa.

Hopefully you find these stories as informing and interesting as we did. Have a great start of the week!

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Every 45 seconds a child dies from Malaria, according to Malaria No More. Malaria No More is a nonprofit organization based in New York with the mission to end Malaria deaths in Africa by 2015. Even though 91% of Malaria deaths happen in Africa, Malaria No More just became a little more local for Americans and specifically, Missourians.

NASCAR driver, Carl Edwards announced this week that he is teaming up with Malaria No More with his “Ride along with Carl” campaign where individuals can donate $10 for a mosquito net. Edwards has already donated money and was featured in a PSA for Malaria No More. In addition, Edwards will be spending the rest of this racing season visiting Africa and learning more about the deadly but preventable disease.

Malaria no more plans on implementing mosquito nets and educational campaigns to raise awareness of how to prevent and treat Malaria in Africa.

As a fellow Missourian and Columbia resident it makes me proud to see Edwards use his time and resources to raise awareness about a serious and preventable sickness that kills nearly 800,000 individuals each year, 85% of those being children under the age of five (again, stats are from Malaria No More).

For more information about Malaria and the partnership between Edwards and Malaria No More, please visit the Malaria No More website.

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AmeriCorps provided lunch everyday for volunteers in the Joplin High School parking lot. (Photo by Melissa Hatfield.)

This is how many of the homes surrounding Joplin High School look like. (Photo by Melissa Hatfield.)

 

Many know that on May 22, 2011 the town of Joplin, Mo. was rocked by an EF5 tornado. The violent storm was on the ground for about 22 miles and ripped a path of destruction up to a mile wide through the center of Joplin.

The purpose of this blog post is not to regurgitate what has been seen and read by millions on the news but to shed light on the stories of hope and recovery in the wake of a truly unfortunate event.

Two weeks ago I was fortunate enough to travel with a group from First Baptist Church in Jefferson City, Mo. to Joplin. We spent the week working on debris cleanup, tree removal and organizing and stocking donations in the warehouses and donation centers around town.

The debris teams were guided by the leadership of AmeriCorps and the Minnesota Conservation Corps. During my two days working in the neighborhoods surrounding what is left of Joplin High School I talked with volunteers from 33 different states. From the two men I talked to who had driven themselves from Maine and Seattle to the student from Missouri Southern State University who quit his summer job after a week to volunteer for the rest of the summer, I talked with people representing all walks of life.

There are many inspiring stories rising from the cleanup and rebuilding process of Joplin. Restore Joplin has created merchandise that people can purchase for their donations to Joplin. Rebuild Joplin is an organization created to connect affected individuals with donors and volunteers. Mission Joplin has a garage full of organized donations available for free for survivors. Songs for Joplin is giving indie artists a platform to promote their music while supporting the rebuilding effort.

Nevertheless, after spending a week observing, working and talking with locals I am convinced what Joplin needs the most is to be remembered. When the news finds something else to focus on Joplin will still be in need of money, donations and help cleaning and rebuilding. It will take years to rebuild. Continue to remember and talk about Joplin.

Local Company Using Social Media for Fund Raising
Brent Beshore, president of Pure Marketing and AdVentures in Columbia is a native of Joplin and within hours after the tornado created the Facebook page, “Joplin, MO Tornado Recovery.” After four days donations made through the site surpassed $1 million. The Columbia Business Times has an in-depth article about Brent and mentions other Columbia organizations supporting the relief efforts.

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