Volunteerism

Through time, the meaning of philanthropy has evolved from loving people to allocating private resources that help them tackle the challenges of an improved quality of life. Since the 1930s, philanthropy has continued to evolve through to the mid-twentieth century, in resonance with the major events of the period. Donors around the world are more aware of the challenges that different communities are facing every day.

Source: CNBC

While still remaining true to the memory of the great past practices, philanthropy today is more organized, professional, and global than ever before. Philanthropists work to improve and strengthen communities, support the arts, build schools and raise educational standards, combat epidemics, and provide relief to the victims of war and natural disasters; and they do so in a variety of ways. Individuals make donations and volunteer action. Neighborhood organizations take on local and global projects. Foundations support cutting-edge research. Corporations give back to their communities.

In Asia, the state of Singapore has been a benchmark for philanthropy initiatives for which many of its foundations have helped to develop a thriving environment, finding new ways to reach to people in need and, moreover, empower them to speak out for themselves and pursue the Sustainable Development Goals. Let’s have a look at the philanthropy foundations advancing these challenges in Singapore.

#SDG4 – Philanthropy advancing quality education: The Lien Foundation

The Lien Foundation was founded by Dr. Lien Ying Chow whose passion for education and commitment to the community led him to donate almost half of his wealth to help the deprived. The foundation supports and advocates early childhood education and elder care in Singapore, as well as access to clean water & sanitation in developing countries.

#SDG 3 and #SDG4 – Philanthropy advancing quality education and well-being: The Lee Foundation

One of Singapore’s oldest philanthropy institutions, the Lee Foundation, was founded by business tycoon Lee Kong Chian in 1952. A family foundation, it has since given nearly USD$1 billion charity, with tens of millions given annually to almost all sectors, including education, health, welfare, and religious groups.

#SDG8 – Philanthropy advancing decent work: ACSEP

The Asia Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy (ACSEP) is a research centre situated within the National University of Singapore Business School. It aims to advance the understanding and impactful practice of social entrepreneurship and philanthropy throughout Asia by focusing on research and education (NUS Business School, 2016). Its goal is to be a resource and knowledge hub that connects those who have the ability and desire to do good with those in need. The center also engages in collaborative efforts with academic institutions, government agencies, corporations, non-profit organizations, and social enterprises.

#SDG17 – Philanthropy advancing partnerships for the goals: NVPC

The National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) is a non-profit organization that aims to promote a culture of giving in Singapore by catalyzing development in volunteerism and philanthropy. NVPC facilitates partnerships with non-profit organizations, corporations, public sector bodies, and individuals in order to build Singapore’s giving ecosystem. NVPC also conducts research on giving motivations and behaviors, while it also creates roadmaps and landscapes of the giving sector, and aspires to be the go-to-place for giving.

The commitment and synergies that these foundations are creating towards the sustainable development goals demonstrate the progress on the oriented focus to look for new ways to help people in need by leveraging the giving networks to magnify the scope of philanthropy today. Horyou is proud to support disruptive Philanthropy through its platform, events and ever-growing community of innovators and social good doers, from Singapore to Japan, in all Asia and beyond.

Singapore is the host city for the Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum (SIGEF), organized by Horyou, the social network for social good. The event will be held in September 2018.

About Horyou

Horyou connects more than 250,000 Internet users to Non-Profit Organisations, Artists, and Innovators in 180 countries. Horyou organizes international events in resonance with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, such as the Horyou Village in Cannes during the Film Festival and the Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum, SIGEF. Horyou recently launched Spotlight, the first global social currency supporting economic inclusion worldwide, embedded into the social network. Horyou aims to connect CSR and innovative companies to its diverse community of change-makers worldwide.

Written by Sueyfer de la Torre

 

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Britta Holmberg is project director for The World Childhood Foundation. Located in Germany, Brazil, Sweden and the USA, the foundation’s goal is to prevent exploitation and abuse of Children. Over 100 projects across the world are implemented and supported by the foundation because every child has the right to safety, happiness, playfulness and curiosity in life. Mrs. Holmberg is involved in various projects worldwide; here she tells us about some of the success stories, and what to dream, inspire and act means in changing a child’s world one project at a time. — by Amma Aburam

Have you always wanted to be an advocate for Children’s rights? How did it come about?

For me, the interest and awareness about children’s rights has developed step-by-step. My first contact with children in vulnerable situations was when I worked at summer camps for children from the Chernobyl area, some of whom were living in institutions because of their hearing deficiencies. I remember visiting an institution in Belarus where deaf children were supposed to practice “hearing” and how so much of their education was led by teachers who did not know sign- language. Visits at several orphanages in Eastern Europe in the nineties made it very clear to me that these children were deprived of their childhood and that better options needed to be developed.

What are some of the key ongoing projects at the World Childhood Foundation? What is their impact?

Childhood supports around 100 projects around the world, all of which are important for the communities where they are implemented. I am especially proud when we take a risk and fund something that we believe in but where we cannot know from the start how it will turn out. There are many key projects that have had an impact also on national level, for example a program for HIV-positive mothers in Russia which led to a complete change in approach from the local authorities that could give the mothers better support and information which resulted in less children being abandoned at birth. We are also supporting a cluster of programs in Siem Rep in Cambodia that together not only can identify children who have been sexually abused at an early stage but also provide them and their families with qualified support. We have funded a number of parenting programs in South Africa, which have given thousands of children a safer and more loving childhood but also contributed to shed the light on locally developed low-cost programs.

Play is an integral part of the projects the World Childhood Foundation supports
Play is an integral part of the projects the World Childhood Foundation supports

What are your best/favorite success stories of the impact the foundation has had on the lives of children?

There are so many stories! Childhood has a very close contact with the partners that we support on the ground and we visit each project twice a year. We often meet with beneficiaries as well and each of them has their unique story. One meeting that made a strong impression on me was with a number of fathers in South Africa whose sons participated in a program for high-risk youth – who were on the edge of being removed from their families and/or expelled from school. Part of the program is working with the parents and making an effort to find at least one positive father-figure for the boys. The way these fathers described the transformation from being a distant, quite authoritarian father to one that actually starts to listen to their child and show affection and how much the loving relationship with their child now means to them was such a wonderful experience – not the least since absent and violent father are one of the key problems in South Africa – and loving, present fathers one of the key factors for change. There are also so many stories of resilience. I remember one 15 year old girl in Thailand that used to work on the streets – begging and scavenging – to support her uncle and aunt that she lived with as well as her siblings. With help from our partner organization she could return to school, the aunt got help to start a small business and the girl was now receiving vocational training to contribute to the family’s income. She had such dignity and strength despite a very difficult situation.

What in your opinion are the three building blocks in implementing children’s rights within communities?

One is simply to see and treat children as human beings! That might seem evident but in my experience it is far from being the case. In so many situations we treat children as a separate category that we do not listen to or scream at or humiliate in a way that we would never do with adults. Number two is being humble, starting with trying to understand the challenges and possibilities in each community – not thinking that we can come in from the outside and provide the solutions. Support the local capacity and local solutions. Number three is skipping the idea of quick fixes. Change takes time. If you want to get to the roots of problems, you will need to have a holistic approach and long-term perspective.

Early childhood development project in South Africa
Early childhood development project in South Africa

What are some of the challenges you face while working for Children’s rights and how do you address them?

One challenge that we struggle with is well-meaning people who want to “rescue” children, often with a charity approach that puts the helper in focus rather than the child or the family they claim they want to help. I am so sad to see that so much resources, energy and personal investments are spent on the wrong types of projects that sometimes are even harmful to children. One example is orphanage tourism and volunteerism where children are turned into tourist attractions and are easy targets for people who want to exploit them. Since people love funding orphanages it means that in some areas that is the only option available for poor families who cannot afford to put their child in school. Skewed funding leads to children being separated from the families that would actually be able to take care of them if some support was available that did not require that the child is placed in an orphanage. There are plenty of good intentions related to children at risk – but if you do not combine that with knowledge you will at best not contribute to any sustainable change but at worst actually make the situation worse.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 to 10 years? Any ideals?

I have a wonderful job and am happy to continue doing what I am doing for quite some time. If I get tired of travelling as much as I do I would love to focus on research and maybe evaluations of programs.

What does our mantra Dream, Act and Inspire mean to you personally and professionally?

For me, the mantra Dream, Act and Inspire means that we all have an important role to play to raise awareness about children’s rights and that we need to step up and do things that we might not really dare to do, but need to do anyway.

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