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Poverty Alleviation Projects

June 12, 2010

Dear Friends:

Welcome to your May report for The $10 Club.

I have long wanted to find a project in Niger, the French-speaking West African nation listed very last on the United Nations Human Development Index. According to the World Health Organization, one in five children will die before their fifth birthday; 70% of the population of around 15 million earns less than $1 a day; malaria is rampant with hundreds of thousands of new cases each year; tuberculosis, meningitis, and cholera are widespread and all are exacerbated by malnutrition; and the adult literacy rate is well below 20%.

An organization called Association pour la Sauvegarde des Girafe du Niger (Association for the Preservation of Giraffes in Niger, or ASGN) is a national development organization created in 1994 in Niamey, Niger’s capital. ASGN’s main mission is to preserve the last giraffes in West Africa, Giraffa camelopardalis peralta, while at the same time fighting extreme poverty in the villages of Tollo, Boulla Korgui, Kouré and the small surrounding communities, totaling approximately 2,500 people.

The most important need identified in the region is healthcare. In consultation with the government, ASGN has set up two small clinics in the area. They have also hired two midwives to improve sanitary and health conditions within local populations (especially those of women and children). The clinics support a small team of doctors who facilitate provision of medical services to impoverished citizens.

Poverty in Niger means the government is ill-equipped to fund adequate health services throughout the nation. Poor patients frequently visit health centers only to return home without being provided necessary care or medications. So ASGN provides medicines where needed most – especially to women and children (including orphan babies) without any financial means.

This month, 340 of us joined together to donate $3,400 to help ASGN provide medicines through their “health huts”. Our support will save the most vulnerable members of the population and enable an effective fight against chronic and deadly diseases and ailments paralyzing the community such as malaria and diarrhea – estimated to last the next six months. Thank you.

Populations in the area of the project live exclusively off subsistence agriculture, which is imperiled by short rainy seasons (lasting only four months at times). Agriculture does not provide abundant crops, meaning families go completely without food for lengthy periods. Half the population – some seven million people – faces food insecurity. Seven million people!

The connection between poverty, hunger, and illness is clear. Following bad harvests, literally millions of people suffer malnutrition and need help – but health centers across the country lack sufficient numbers of doctors and quantities of medicines and therapeutic foods. The situation is even worse in rural areas outside Niamey, where only about 10% of the nation’s health workers operate. It can take days for sick, malnourished people to make their way – often by walking – to a clinic of some sort. And then, in the case of malnutrition and illness, weekly monitoring is essential but nearly impossible to accommodate.

Destitution further leads to emigration and regional strains. According to the United Nations Development Programme: “In Niger, two thirds of respondents indicated that in order to cope with lack of food, clothing or income they had left their homes and looked for livelihoods elsewhere. Some households reported members leaving in search of paid work, particularly to reduce pressures on dwindling food supplies in times of scarcity.”

And on top of everything else, a coup in February has led to military rule and dramatic uncertainty.

I always say that our mission is to find ways to help the most dramatically poor of the world – especially those who are forgotten or ignored by other aid organizations. There is no question that the citizens of Niger need our help as much as, if not more than, any others. Poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition, disease… overwhelming challenges that we just can’t ignore.

Thousands of people in the poorest country on earth will have access to vital medicines for the rest of the year thanks to you and your donation this month. Thousands will get a second chance. Thousands of lives will be saved. All thanks to you and $10.

Saving the world, ten dollars at a time,

PS. Summer is upon us. Make sure you don’t head off for vacation without sending in your donations. And make sure you spread the word about our good works at all your pool parties and backyard barbeques in the coming months. We have so much work to do together!

The $10 Club is a nonprofit corporation registered in the District of Columbia.
Contributions are exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

The $10 Club 2040 Tunlaw Rd., NW Washington, DC 20007 (202) 337-3123 adam@thetendollarclub.org