Qatar’s First Humanitarian Org Celebrates 40 Years

Last March 20, Qatar Red Crescent Society or QRCS held a grand celebration of its 40-year anniversary at the Katara Cultural Village in Doha. Attended by the country’s government officials, business leaders, senior officers and volunteers, and other representatives, it was an important event in the field of development and humanitarian advocacy. But it marked even more important achievements.

Established on March 20, 1978, QRCS “boasts of a track record of achievements, lessons learnt and milestones”, it has said in a statement. “These successes have shaped the arena of charitable and social work in Qatar, and enriched the country’s bright image as a major humanitarian player around the world.”

Committed to its slogan “Saving Lives and Preserving Dignity,” the QRCS—as a member of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)—has helped develop zones afflicted by disasters, conflict, and poverty.

“Being Qatar’s first humanitarian organisation, QRCS became a pioneer in its vision, principles and efforts. Now, it serves as an auxiliary to Qatar in its humanitarian policies both locally and internationally. Also, it has become a role model for many NGOs and humanitarian service providers, which follow its strategies and operations,” the statement adds.

The day’s highlights include a special ceremony to honor the organization’s chief contributors and volunteers, the opening to a public exhibit of QRCS’s timeline and history at the Katara Corniche, a showcase and invitation for volunteering opportunities, and even kid-friendly activities.

However, humanitarian advocacy is not only enacted on the organization level, but some powerful individuals constantly do their share, exemplified by other recent milestones in philantropy such as charity auctions for the homeless and benefit concerts for diverse causes. Perhaps even in our smallness, we could wonder about the small ways we could contribute to the giant mission of relieving the suffering of others.

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Auctioned Navajo Blanket Saves Man From Poverty

Hardly is it the case that sheer fate can turn a person’s life around. But after a rare thrift store find sent two high school students to university, it seemed no one was taking any chances. California native Loren Krytzer struck gold when he auctioned an heirloom blanket for $1.5 million.

“It was just hard to grasp,” [Krytzer] says. “I mean, I worked hard my whole life. I was in construction, I never bought anything, I never saved, I always rented. I bought used cars cause that’s all I could afford. I lived paycheck to paycheck my whole life.”

The former carpenter and amputee was living on $200 a month with the help of disability funding.  Krytzer only realized the blanket’s worth after stumbling upon a television special featuring variations of the item. With the help of auctioneer Jeff Moran, Krytzer saw to it that his bank account would receive a healthy refill.

“I firmly believe I’m here because years ago I turned my life around,” he says. “The things I’ve been through, I tell people it’s a strong faith and a strong mind. Without those things you’re not going to make it.”

Don’t get me wrong–hard work still remains the true catalyst of success. But a little bit of luck does taste pretty sweet.

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Indian Startup to Produce Water from Thin Air

These days, the challenge of sustainability elicits many different creative responses: leather out of wine, air purifiers made of algae, even energy from cow and turkey poop. Truly the stranger, the better. A new project from an Indian startup company makes the sun and the wind come together to create water. How does that sentence make sense? Uravu answers our question.

The company’s affordable, electricity-free Aqua Panels use solar thermal energy to convert vapor into usable water – and they should be available to the public within two years. “There’s no need of any electricity or moving parts,” Uravu co-founder Swapnil Shrivastav told Quartz India. “It is just a passive device that you can leave on your rooftop and it will generate water. The process starts at night, and by evening next day you’ll have water.”

The process of producing water from vapor has already been developed and utilized before, mostly for industrial and agricultural purposes, but the outdated versions of this technology had to consume large amounts of energy and humidity—innovative, yes, but not yet as sustainable as the above-mentioned Aqua Panels. Uravu wants their device to suit domestic use.

“Initially we’ll be working with governments and strategic partners, and we want to reach places where there is water scarcity, such as parts of Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh, and rural areas,” explained Shrivastav. “We will be trying to start with a household device and aim at community-level projects.”

Ultimately, the Indian company aims to make the process more simple to make it more accessible for people who lack resources. Sustainability takes many different forms, but surely it is best when it answers to society’s greatest needs.

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Vegan Restaurant Is Donating All Profits To Charity

Most charitable industries will donate a portion of their earnings to those in need. While it’s an admirable feat, some groups work exclusively to provide others with food and supplies. In fact, an organic farm in New York exists solely for soup kitchens across the state. This vegan restaurant is no different.

All the profits from P.S. Kitchen are reportedly being donated to charities with missions to disrupt the poverty cycle… [Owner] DeRossi’s new cocktail bar Coup donates all of its profits to organizations threatened by the Trump administration.

Menu items are, of course, plant-based and dairy-free. The “P.S.” aspect of the establishment’s name also denotes something deeper.

“This is more than a restaurant and the postscript reflects that there is more to the story. PS: We donate all profits to charitable organizations. PS: We hire staff from underprivileged backgrounds. PS: All food and drink is plant-based.”

The concept itself is clever and very promising. I only hope its food can talk the talk and walk the walk.

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Electricity-Free Plastic Bottles Powered By Bleach

The Philippines is one of Asia’s most impoverished countries. However, it is also home to a very resourceful population. Around 12% of Filipinos have no access to electricity, making it difficult to work and study. Liter of Light has since provided nearly a million households with electricity-free plastic bottles that act as lamps.

The bleach-filled bottles… refract the light from outdoors into the house, lighting up much like a lightbulb.

In addition to using the bleach bottle lamps and the nighttime solar bulbs, the group also converts kerosene lamps into solar lamps.

To make the bleach bottle lights, people simply have to mix 3 milliliters of bleach into a liter of water. The concoction lasts for around five years, at which point one can simply switch out the water.

The low-budget project has proved to be simple but highly effective. Making them has also become a source of income for those without regular jobs. All the materials are sourced locally.

Making the plastic bottle lamps is “something everybody can do,” “You have to understand the genius of the poor: People have spun off our ideas into their own backyard solar business. That’s what we want. A nation of backyard solar entrepreneurs, instead of them relying on our foundation.”

As one of the five countries that contribute to half the world’s plastic waste, the Philippines should be commended for taking initiative.

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