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2016 News Releases


August 12, 2016

The Power Of Worm Poop

(This article originally appeared on NPR on August 12, 2016.)

On small farms and in gardens around the world, a legless invertebrate has been quietly helping crops grow — simply by eating and pooping.
That's vermicomposting — using the power of worms for the good of humanity. A growing number of advocates believe this technique can improve soil quality, produce more food to feed hungry mouths and even increase income for some farmers.

It sounds too good to be true. Are worms really poised to take the agricultural world by storm?
Well, not exactly. For a variety of reasons — more on that later — vermicomposting is unlikely to make a dent in large-scale agribusiness. But for subsistence farmers in rural regions, worm-aided farming can change lives, says Kate Schecter, CEO of World Neighbors, an international development organization that works in 13 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. In Nepal and other countries, the organization has helped people save money and invest in worms.

"Vermicomposting is not going to solve the world's food problems, that's for sure," Schecter says. "But I have seen it all over the world now very successfully used by small-scale farmers to create healthier soil and healthier crops." They grow more food for themselves instead of having to buy food, she says, and they can generate income as well by selling their produce.
Vermicomposting, also called vermiculture, has been around since at least the 1880s and is widespread commercially in many parts of the world, including China, Cuba, India, the United Kingdom and the United States. Interest has been growing steadily, says Rhonda Sherman, a solid waste specialist in the department of biological and agricultural engineering at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, and co-founder of the North Carolina Composting Council.

In 1994, Sherman published a fact sheet about how to set up a worm bin at home. Interest snowballed as she fielded growing numbers of calls and emails from people who wanted to know more. In 2001, she held a one-day workshop on large-scale vermicomposting. The latest conference, this June, lasted two full days, involved an international group of participants and included sessions about worm farming to improve soil quality in Mexico and worm fertilizer for the American medical marijuana industry. Sherman says she's now fielded inquiries about vermicompost from people in 107 countries, many in the developing world.

So how does it work?
Unlike traditional composting, which depends on microorganisms to decompose organic matter and create heat that kills pathogens and weeds, vermicomposting requires cooler temperatures to ensure the survival of earthworms, which do all the work.

Inside a vermicompost bin, worms eat both microorganisms and bits of organic material, which can come from food waste, animal manure, aquatic weeds and other sources. Once ingested, those organic materials get ground up by the worm's gizzard and broken down even more by enzymes and microbes in the worm's gut. What comes out the other end is teeming with nutrients and bacteria that are beneficial for plants, along with valuable plant growth hormones and humic acids that enhance plant growth.

Scientists are still working out all the details of what makes worm manure so magical. And they are compiling data to back up its effectiveness. Norman Arancon, assistant professor of horticulture at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, has run tests with tomatoes, strawberries, peppers, raspberries and grapes; he and colleagues have found that substituting a portion of standard fertilizer with vermicompost increases yields by 30 percent. They've published the results.

One believer in the developing world is Ephrem Whingwiri, CEO of Zim Earthworm Farms. With funding from a Dutch development organization called Hivos, his for-profit company is focusing on small farmers in rural communities. For the past two growing seasons, he and his team have taught people in the Hwedza district to use worms to produce fertilizer from the community's own waste. Some farmers in the area use the worm-produced fertilizer to help grow tomatoes, green vegetables, onions, maize and more. They are also breeding worms to sell back to the company, adding to their otherwise meager income. But Whingwiri says it can be hard to persuade people in Zimbabwe to adopt techniques they aren't used to.

Worms aren't universal miracle workers. It takes a lot of little wigglers to churn waste into fertilizer, Sherman says. And initial costs can add up. In the U.S., a pound of worms — that's about 1,000 of them — can cost $25. Depending on the size of the farm, 100 pounds of worms or more may be needed at the outset. The bins that hold them have to be shallow to prevent heat from building up. So lots of horizontal space is needed. "I've had municipalities with really large amounts of organics contact me and say, 'I've heard vermicomposting is a better way of doing things,'" Sherman says. "Quite often, I talk them out of it."

Because the digestive process reduces large loads of waste into small volumes of compost, vermicomposting is likely to make the biggest difference on small scales as one of many solutions, adds Jerry Glover, an agricultural ecologist and fellow at the Leshner Leadership Institute at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C.

"It's a terrific practice for home gardens," he says. "It just is very, very challenging to rely on something like vermiculture to significantly improve highly degraded soils on large scales."

But small-scale farming is prevalent in the developing world, notes Schecter of World Neighbors. And worm believers like Whingwiri remain undeterred. "This will change Africa," he says, "as long as governments take the time to think about earthworms."


July 25, 2016

Are NGOs doing enough to share data?

(This article originally appeared on on July 25, 2016.)

The nongovernmental organizations Jack Cornforth works with don’t have the capacity to generate and use data in constructive ways — let alone share it.

Cornforth, the coordinator for Civicus’ DataShift initiative, has been tailoring capacity building programs based on data problems at civil society organizations in Argentina, Tanzania, Kenya and Nepal for the past two years. Those problems range from a lack of infrastructure — such as internet connectivity — to language translation capacity, to political and legislative barriers.

Despite these challenges, the call for open data and increased data sharing within the development community has never been louder, nor have as many institutions and initiatives been devoted to answering it.

The World Bank’s Open Data Initiative catalogues available World Bank datasets; the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data works to establish trust in the “booming data ecosystems” of the 21st century; and the International Aid Transparency Initiative seeks to make information about aid spending easier to access and understand — to name just a few.

There is a data revolution underway — but whether individual NGOs are “doing enough” to share that data is still subject to debate. Cash-strapped NGOs with limited capacity are working toward more effective data collection and usage, but they’re also likely generating data sets every year that aren't being fully analyzed or shared. Large, data scientist-equipped INGOs are subscribing to increasing calls for transparency, but those in the data space agree that many questions still trump whether NGOs are doing enough to share — like “whose data is it anyway?”

A long to-do list before sharing

Data can’t simply be about technology or databases or data sets or sharing. It’s also always tied to politics, quality and privacy.

When trying to determine why an organization is or isn’t sharing data, a look at the politics in the region is a good place to start, Serge Kapto, United Nations Development Program policy specialist on data for development, told Devex.

Kapto is leading the Data Revolution Ecosystems Mapping project for UNDP, which is examining the national statistical capacity and infrastructure requirements to improve collection and the use of data in Bangladesh, Mongolia, Moldova, Senegal, Swaziland, and Trinidad and Tobago — countries chosen based on their varied range of engagement in the data revolution.

The assessment seeks to extract trends common to all countries, as well as pick out those specific to certain contexts. Many of the common barriers to data sharing echo those found in DataShift’s work: infrastructure and political will.

In Swaziland, for example, where there’s no official recognition of civil society, just acknowledging that the sector could contribute data would be a step forward. Sharing it successfully, then, is still a distant dream.

“You’re not going to solve that from data point of view,” Kapto said. “These are systemic issues within countries that have to be addressed.”

Data quality also comes into question long before data sharing. Official statistics offices are often concerned that other stakeholders, such as civil society organizations, who want to become players in a data revolution won’t be able to meet quality data standards, Kapto said.

This concern isn’t unique to statistics offices. There are inherent problems that come with making “evidence-based” decisions on the basis of data that lacks a clear methodology. Even for the International Aid Transparency Initiative — which has seen the number of organizations publishing data rise from 210 in 2014 to 473 in 2016 — the biggest barrier to increased data usage remains concerns about quality.

“Some people are naturally hesitant about using other data sets,” said Roderick Besseling, former open data coordinator and current digital strategist for Netherlands-based development organization Cordaid. “We can’t just rely on data sets without context.”

The quality of the data reported to IATI needs to improve, he said, and he expects to see this happen as an increasing number of donors make data reporting mandatory. In May, donors and international aid organizations were asked to publish their data to the IATI standard by May 2018 as part of the “grand bargain” on humanitarian action. Two weeks ago, the U.S. Congress approved the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act, which will require U.S. government agencies to improve transparency by publicly sharing data about what’s working and what’s not.

Still, more data or more data sharing alone isn’t always a positive, noted Amy O’Donnell, an adviser on applications of information communications technologies to support programming atOxfam GB.

First, it’s crucial to know how to treat the people that data is about with respect, she said.

In April 2015, Oxfam published its first Responsible Data Policy to identify how to properly gain informed consent — by explaining what it means to have your data or photo shared, and how to collect and analyze data and decide its afterlife in a responsible way.

When multiple organizations are asking similar questions about people’s humanitarian needs in a fragile context, for example, it makes sense to collect the data in similar formats, O’Donnell said.

“But do the community members who are being interviewed by UNHCR representatives, for example, realize it will be shared with different organizations for different reasons? These are the questions we need to be asking.”

So who’s sharing?

While it is a long road to responsible, successful data sharing some organizations are already sharing data or benefitting from open data sources.

“I don’t think groups are holding back data,” Kate Schecter, president and CEO of nonprofitWorld Neighbors, told Devex. “I think it’s more about figuring out how to collaborate with each other, how to utilize each other’s knowledge and unique skill sets.”

As a small organization, World Neighbors “can’t validate data what someone else did, but we can make sure that the work that we’re doing is clean and reliable,” she said. And the same goal touted by the Oklahoma City-based nonprofit — more consistent indicators for their programs around the world, and more streamlined data collection in general — is shared by many others.

“The whole idea of IATI is you publish information, you make it transparent, it’s out there, and in theory an Oxfam or CARE or Save the Children can access and use Cordaid’s data,” Besseling told Devex.

IATI’s 2015 report said that the overall use of the data being published isn’t yet enough to drive development outcomes.

 “We are in danger of being caught in a ‘vicious cycle’ where publishers have no incentive to improve quality because no one is using their data, and users can’t use the data because it isn’t up to scratch,” John Adams, chair of the IATI Technical Advisory Group and head of business innovation at the U.K. Department for International Development, wrote in the report.

But Cordaid and a handful of others are making use of it.

In the past, creating a country analysis would involve research and reading policy papers “to create a static country overview analysis that would be out of date by the time you finished typing it,” Besseling said. Now, Cordaid is using data published to IATI to create dynamic data boards to watch which funders are active in a country, as well as which organizations are active in implementing countries.

This is also where data literacy — and an organization’s confidence in using data— is key, according to both Besseling and UNDP’s Kapto.

“People have to meet each other midway,” Kapto told Devex. “Right now, statisticians don’t understand the language of development … data stakeholders don’t understand the language of statisticians ... they have to come together.”

One way the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data is addressing the data literacy gap is through the Data4SDGs Toolbox, which collects all the resources that members of the partnership have developed, or projects that have worked well, in one place so that a government can chart a road map that outlines exactly how they’re going to effectively monitor the Sustainable Development Goals.

The partnership is also looking at building a data marketplace, expected to launch in September, that would pair government, donors and others at the data “demand” end with groups producing data. It would help address the current imbalance of supply and demand of data and combat the current trend that a lot of “unorganized, wonderful data is being produced but not necessarily used,” Cornforth said.

Still, the NGO community is far from having pieced together every part of the data sharing puzzle.

“I think a lot of emphasis is recently shifting from questions of ‘Who is sharing data?’ to

‘Whose data is it anyway?’ ‘What ownership can they take over sharing and utilization of that data?’ ‘Share for what purpose and with whom?’” O’Donnell said.

Right now, it seems as though many NGOs are sharing data as their capacity and the local infrastructure allows. But take Kapto’s would-be culture of all stakeholders’ widespread embrace of open data sets and place it within O’Donnell’s framework for commitment to privacy and consent practices. Then add Besseling’s vision for an increasingly data-literate NGO workforce. Perhaps then the development community would be on the road to doing enough to share data.



July 19, 2016

Plastic ponds remedy water shortages in rural Nepal

Plastic pond in Kubhinde, central Nepal, June 24, 2016. Surath Giri

(This article originally appeared on on July 19, 2016.)

KUBHINDE, Nepal – On a sultry and overcast afternoon in Kubhinde village, Beda Maya Nepal clears out the twigs and branches lying in her pond. She then takes out a bucketful of water and pours it over her vegetable garden.

Although there is no shortage of ponds during the rainy season, hers is no ordinary water reservoir: it is made of plastic.

In this region of central Nepal where prolonged dry spells threaten crop production, farmers are building plastic ponds to collect rainwater and wastewater during the monsoon.

The plastic stores the water more efficiently than traditional earthen ponds, which absorb most water into the ground. The water is then used to irrigate gardens and other facilities in dry periods.

"The ponds allow us to collect and use water that could have gone to waste,” Nepal said.

World Neighbors, a non-governmental organisation, has jumped on the plastic pond bandwagon and helped villagers build 55 ponds since 2014, which typically conserve 2,000 litres of water at a time.

The organisation teaches communities to build and maintain the ponds – for example by showing them not to mix soapy water with normal wastewater –  and provides them with the plastic material to do so.

The improved access to irrigation allows villagers to double the length of their harvesting season – to seven-eight months (May-December) a year. The extended harvest fetches them an additional income of around 8,000 rupees ($75) on average each year.


A year after a deadly earthquake flattened cities and villages in the region, killing over 8,000 people and injuring many more, families are struggling to make ends meet after losing their houses, land and cattle.

To boost local farmers’ income, World Neighbours also facilitated the creation of savings groups in Kubhinde and nearby villages.

Members deposit 100 rupees (just under one dollar) each to the group's bank account every month and can take out loans when needed. Once per month, they meet to share their hardships and experiences, and discuss potential solutions.

Srijana Thapa, the organisation’s regional director for South Asia, said the groups aim to empower communities to achieve change themselves. “Improved farming techniques and access to finance are just a few ways they can participate in their own development.”

For example, group members have been cultivating “off-season” vegetables – vegetables that are grown beyond their normal harvesting season.

Bina Devi Gautam, a group member dressed in a flowery pink dress, said she didn't use to buy seeds or grow vegetables beyond their normal season. “We’ve learned to preserve the seeds and use them during the off-season – I am now growing tomatoes and chili pepper,” she explained, pointing to her vegetable garden.

Vegetable farming has not only helped farmers in the region provide more food for their families, it has also become an additional source of income, helping to pay for children’s education, among other things.

"When my son asked me for money to cover his schooling fees, I just gave him onions and told to him to sell them and take the money," said Gautam jubilantly.

Thapa added that “being able to cultivate vegetables almost all year round brings more diversity to diets, thus improving people’s health.”


To some villagers, especially the “untouchable” castes in South Asia called the “Dalits”, growing vegetables has meant breaking away from a tradition of relying on others. Superstition dictates that Dalits should not grow vegetables, as their touch would destroy the harvest.

"We never thought we could cultivate vegetables ourselves,” said Sukumaya Bishwakarma, a farmer plucking weeds in her field of chili peppers.

Training provided by World Neighbors on vegetable farming encouraged Bishwakarma and fellow Dalit farmers to overcome their fear and adopt new farming techniques.

These include cultivating grass on fallow land, saving hours that used to be spent gathering fodder for cattle – a task rendered increasingly difficult by growing deforestation.

"We would normally spend a whole morning just looking for grass for our cattle,” said Rammaya Lama, whose husband has polio, leaving her to manage all household and farming tasks alone. “Now it takes me an hour.”

In the past year, World Neighbors has intervened in 11 villages across Nepal, helping 1,555 people, most of them women.

The project’s biggest achievement, however, is helping people lift themselves out of poverty, said Kate Schecter, the organisation’s chief executive. “They are gaining confidence and a sense of their own potential,” she added.



April 8, 2016

The embargo is over but the effects are still being felt: Srijana Thapa

Srijana Thapa, South Asia Regional Director of World Neighbors

(This article originally appeared in Review Nepal on March 24, 2016.)

Srijana Thapa is South Asia Regional Director of World Neighbors, an international development group that has worked in Nepal for 43 years. She spoke with Review Nepal about the trade embargo and its effect on her group’s rebuilding and other work in Nepal.

How are the women in the villages in which you work coping with the aftershocks and the long embargo?

City dwellers felt the largest impact when the unofficial embargo was imposed on Nepal. People in the villages were better off and less affected by the long embargo owing to their self-sufficiency with food and fuel.

Recurring aftershocks are obviously frightening as they trigger the fear of the past two big hits. From the recent visits to our working areas in Kavre, Sindhupalchok and Dolkha, the women in our projects are proving resilient. They quickly resumed their regular agricultural work.

However, there are many questions and concerns. These include single women being excluded from benefits and the distribution of reconstruction grants by the government. There is also concern about the design of rebuilt houses, the availability of wood and the reconstruction of schools damaged in the earthquake.

Can you tell us about the status of farms? Are they able to grow crops?

Fortunately farmland was not damaged by the earthquake and aftershocks. But houses are either completely collapsed or uninhabitable. Ninety five percent of the people in the three districts in which we work are still under temporary shelters.

While the land itself wasn't damaged, last year's rice plants were. But the farmers are resilient and this year they are on track to grow rice, wheat, potato and maize.

In addition to farming, communities we assist are engaged in goat farming, agroforestry, kitchen gardening, wastewater management and community-level organizing. For instance, in Mahadevsthan, Kavre, we helped the community build a plastic pond to collect wastewater to irrigate kitchen gardens. The earthquake closed their regular water source, which forced women to spend two hours a day to fetch a bucket of water. They now have a regular supply for their kitchen gardens, which are an important food source.

These are the kind of low-cost projects that result in sustained improvements in incomes, health and other key areas. We believe community-based development that uses appropriate technology will play a larger role in the future.

Is the unofficial embargo over? Has economic activity returned to normal?

The embargo is over but the effects are still being felt. Availability of fuel is still not easy. Black marketing is still a norm, with prices still high. While the roads are now safe, there are still protests in certain areas that will likely impact travel and other things there.

People have different views, and the right to express them. But actions that disrupt trade and other economic activity for long periods of time end up hurting everyone.

Is World Neighbors still committed to Nepal?

We've been working with communities in Nepal for 43 years. Our CEO Kate Schecter visited twice last year. We think we’re made a difference. We’ll continue to help communities improve their standard of living.


March 8, 2016

Haiti earthquake: $13.5 billion in donations, but is any of it working?

World Neighbors in Haiti
Seedlings at a farm in the community of Moulin in the 7th Municipality Section of Gros Morne in Haiti. (World Neighbors)

(This article originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times on March 8, 2016.)

The magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti in January 2010 killed more than 200,000 people, caused widespread devastation and posed even bigger challenges to the already poverty-stricken Caribbean nation.

Six years later, despite an initial outpouring of humanitarian assistance and $13.5 billion in pledges and donations, Haiti remains vulnerable.

An ongoing cholera outbreak, environmental degradation caused by deforestation and food security are among the most pressing problems. Three consecutive years of drought have “driven people deeper into poverty and hunger” and left about 3.6 million Haitians facing food insecurity, according to a recent report from the World Food Program.

World Neighbors, one of America’s oldest development agencies, works in five regions of Haiti where it has been supporting community-based organizations that focus on key areas of sustainability, including agriculture, water, sanitation, healthcare, savings and credit options.

Kate Schecter, president and chief executive of the Oklahoma-based organization, said the group promotes self-sufficiency over dependency.

How would you characterize the status of Haiti’s general recovery since the 2010 earthquake?

I would say, just from my understanding, that the recovery has not been very successful. In general the city of Port-au-Prince is not doing that well. There is a real division between the haves and the have-nots. And ironically the haves are people who are there to help. There are a lot of these nonprofit NGOs who are in Haiti to help with the recovery and beyond.

When you get out into the countryside, there’s still very deep poverty. After the earthquake, a lot of people started moving back to the countryside because the recovery wasn’t really happening and they needed to grow their own food and recover. You did have this out-migration from the city to the countryside. In part of the towns where we went, people are doing quite well, partly because they got out of the city and went back to their traditional farming.

The people who are living in the countryside, who are working the land and have the means to produce their own food, are doing better than the people who are living in the city.

What has been World Neighbors’ strategy in Haiti in terms of enhancing local capacity for development?

We really are about teaching people to fish, not giving them fish, and really teaching capacity and not giving any kind of technology. They have to have low-tech answers to their problems so that if they need resupply or something breaks down, they can fix it themselves. We really believe in the capacity of everybody to solve their own problems with some help, through training and through developing their knowledge. We don’t go in and tell people we need to do X, Y and Z. We go in and we ask them, what do you think would be the way to enhance your lives and to improve your lives?

One of the first things we do in any new community is help them to do something called savings and credits. It’s different from microfinance in that we help them to develop small groups that save money together, then they either invest in each other or they invest together, or in the community. We start very small. But the other important thing about World Neighbors is that we stay for a long time.

Initially it starts out with these much smaller savings and credits groups. Then as time passes and they really start to amass some funds and invest them … they often create agricultural cooperatives, where they can lend each other equipment and it gets to a much larger level of lending, and that’s when it becomes a more traditional cooperative model.

World Neighbors CEO Kate Schecter in Arcahaie, Haiti.
World Neighbors CEO Kate Schecter with village children in Arcahaie, Haiti. (Credit: World Neighbors)

If the billions of dollars in donations and pledges have had little impact, why should there be confidence in investing funds in programs such as these agricultural groups?

The scale of what we’re spending compared to these large NGOs that are being criticized for spending millions of dollars, it’s just a huge difference. Our investment is so much smaller in terms of cash investment. But what’s important here is the level of change that’s going on. Through these trainings we’re able to have people change without it costing very much money at all. Our entire budget in Haiti for a year is less than $100,000.

In all the countries where we work, we have the same methodology, and we also try to partner with other local NGOs and sometimes international NGOs to make sure that we’re leveraging their knowledge to help the communities that we’re working in. In Haiti we’re working with a group called Clean Water for Haiti and they make very inexpensive water filters. They go into the communities and train people on how to keep them clean. We made an agreement with them where they maintain them and keep an eye on them. Again, incredibly low cost. The initial investment is $20 per water filter.

What have been some of the challenges World Neighbors has faced working in Haiti trying to implement programs?

There’s been an enormous amount of challenges. The climate is very difficult. Getting water that’s clean and not too far from the villages is a huge challenge. People walk for miles to get a jug of water that they have to carry back. The country has been deforested. There are whole areas where people have cut down the trees and burned the wood, so reforesting is a huge effort of World Neighbors. We’re helping them to have seedling nurseries and also to plant trees throughout the countryside. There are challenges to getting people to change their way of living. People are used to doing things one way. It takes time for people to change. That is one of the benefits of World Neighbors. We have time. We’re there for the long haul. Over time people do change.

How do you measure the success of the programs in Haiti? What have been some of the tangible results?

One of the most tangible results is when people start to make money and they have their own ability to not only improve their lives and their food security, in that they are now growing enough food year-round for themselves and their families, but they can start to sell [what they grow]. One of the big signs is improving their livelihoods.

So are the types of programs that you have described the best recipe for Haiti’s recovery and in general for successful disaster recovery?

In terms of the model, there is no doubt in my mind. Not just in Haiti but around the world it’s becoming clearer and clearer that working with farmers and not telling the farmers what to do, working with them to figure out what’s best in their own environment and in their own climate, there’s no doubt in my mind that that is the most effective way to make change.

Follow me @AMSimmons1 for the latest in video & multimedia reports.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

Original publication: Simmons, Ann M."Haiti Earthquake: $13.5 billion in donations, but is any of it working?" LOS ANGELES TIMES. March 8, 2016.

February 24, 2016

Solar Power Spurs Community-Based Development

(This article originally appeared in CleanLeap on February 24, 2016. Kate Schecter, CEO of World Neighbors, is a guest blogger for CleanLeap.)

Can nations in Africa and other parts of the developing world leapfrog over the use of fossil fuels and go straight to renewable energy sources? Understandably, the focus in rural development settings is often on generating centralized electrical capacity through renewable energy.

Many of the gains in solar energy are occurring in small-scale solar installations in rural areas, where agriculture is the primary activity. Through the use of solar powered technologies, rural farmers can live healthier lives, create efficiencies to reduce their hard physical labor and create food security year-round. These innovations are also allowing more poor, rural children to attend school as they are not needed as much for the daily labor on the farms.

In Kenya, World Neighbors is helping farmers increase agricultural productivity using clean and sustainable techniques. At the heart of these four solar-powered devices:

Mobile solar water pump

This device was originally developed for small-scale farmers around Lake Victoria. It is a sturdy unit and easy to move, wheelbarrow style. There is a standard version, incorporating two 80-watt solar panels and two electric pumps, and a half-size version with two 40-watt panels and one pump.

The pumps are generally used for crop irrigation. See the Cleanleap article Watered by Sunlight for more information.

They are also a central piece of more extensive sustainable fish and vegetable production. Here’s how it works:

Farmers dig large plastic-lined ponds to retain precious rainwater. Tilapia and other fish are deposited in the ponds—each pond holds about 1,000 fish.

The water from the ponds, which contains nutrients from fish waste, is used in drip irrigation systems to water multiple crops, including kale. The water is pumped from the ponds using solar powered pumps. The pumped water is replenished from tanks that store additional captured rainwater. The inedible parts of the vegetables, as well as some kitchen waste, are in turn used as fish feed.

Since it uses captured rainwater and solar power, the system has virtually no operating costs. By catching the rainwater, using the sun for power, and feeding the fish with organic waste, the cycle costs the farmers very little after the initial investment of the solar powered pump. The scalable system provides more than enough vegetables and fish for a village. The increased surplus of food and vegetables is sold in local markets. Profits are used in a collective savings and credit program that provides working capital for additional fishponds, pumps, rainwater storage tanks, greenhouses, bee hives, and many other agricultural activities. As an added bonus, the panels can be used during the rainy season to boost a home solar system.

Onyuongo youth group fixes mobile solar pump used for surface irrigation

Solar incubators

Raising poultry requires a steady supply of chicks. These chicks need to be housed in incubators. Unreliable electrical supplies can wipe out a family’s entire investment. A solar incubator helps solve that problem.

A farmer uses a solar incubator to enhance poultry production The incubator comes with an 80-watt solar panel, a charger controller with a 100-amp-hour battery and a main charger. Incubation continues normally during power outages.

Solar vegetable drier

Small-scale agriculture is completely dependent upon the weather. Understandably, the main focus is on how a lack of rainfall depresses food output and can lead to hunger and even starvation.

But even in the good times, the rainy season can cause problems for farmers in countries that lack the extensive private and public insurance and income support taken for granted in developed countries. During Kenya’s rainy season, various types of green vegetables flood the market and prices drop sharply. What is good for buyers can be disastrous for small-scale producers.

An effective solution is solar vegetable driers. The easy-to-use driers increase the shelf life of otherwise highly perishable commodities. This reduces food waste. As important, the dried food can be sold later for higher prices. This allows farmers to earn a sufficient profit to invest in additional equipment to expand output.

Using a solar vegetable drier

The CooKit

The CooKit is a solar powered cooker. It reduces the annual demand for fuel wood by at least four times. With careful use and storage, a CooKit can be used for two years, reducing fuel wood consumption drastically and helping reduce deforestation.

Solar-cooked foods retain vitamins, nutrients and their natural flavours: there is no smoky taste and the foods cook slowly in their own juices. Nutritious, and inexpensive traditional foods (beans, root crops, and some grains) have been restored to family diets.

Without the need to gather firewood or dung, inhale smoke, and tend a fire – all associated with traditional cooking – solar cooking reduces labor, especially for women. A person can cook while at work, at the market, or tending crops. Young girls can attend school instead of searching for firewood.

The smokeless cooking process reduces respiratory diseases and eye irritation. People with illnesses, the elderly, disabled and young all benefit from the efficiency and ease of solar cookers.

In addition to cooking, it can pasteurize household drinking water, making it safe to drink.

Read more about solar powered cooking on Cleanleap Azuri and M-Kopa are taking on the Killer in the Kitchen.

It is in everyone’s interest that, where practicable, Africa and other developing regions leap over oil, coal and gas to generate electricity critical for sustained development.

Those focused on the investments to create this energy infrastructure should also look to small-scale applications appropriate to the current economic needs of millions of people. These applications are not only cheap and clean. When part of a comprehensive community-based development strategy, they can play a crucial role in helping catalyze sustained economic and social change.

Main Image Credit: African Solar Designs


2015 News Releases

October 11, 2015

Being Good Global Neighbors

(This article originally appeared in The Oklahoman on October 11, 2015.)

Recruited for the chief executive position of World Neighbors, Kate Schecter said she admitted to the board when she interviewed that she, until then, had never heard of the Oklahoma City-based nonprofit international development organization.

Kate Schecter - CEO of World Neighbors
Since she joined World Neighbors in June 2014, CEO Kate Schecter has traveled to Nepal, Indonesia, East Timor, Kenya, Burkina Faso, Guatemala, Haiti, Bolivia and Peru. [PHOTO BY STEVE GOOCH, THE OKLAHOMAN]

Moreover, Schecter was perfectly happy with her Washington, D.C.-based development job.

But the more Schecter learned of 64-year-old World Neighbors, the more she knew she'd join the organization, which she did in June of last year.

“Its organizational model spoke to me as the right way to do development,” said Schecter, who works one week every month in Oklahoma City and the remainder in D.C., where the nonprofit has a branch office.

World Neighbors' key tenet is to help people help themselves, she said.


“We're reaching out to the ends of the earth, to people who nobody ever reaches, and helping them develop, manage and sustain their own programs that solve problems and change lives,” said Schecter, who's working with national media to get better name recognition.

For example, in 24 villages in Kenya, World Neighbors is teaching farmers — of fish, livestock, vegetables and roses — to be more than subsistence farmers.

“We're investing in them, through agricultural innovations, health and finance, and they're investing in themselves,” Schecter said.

“Farmers borrow relatively small sums of money to purchase additional fishponds, greenhouses and irrigation systems. This leads to more income and more investment — the classic development cycle,” she recently explained on CNBC Africa and in an article for “World Policy.”

World Neighbors — which has helped 26 million people in 45 countries — stays in a country for an average of eight to 10 years. “When we leave, they're more than capable to teach themselves,” Schecter said.

World Neighbors has skeletal staffs in D.C. and Oklahoma City, where it employs three. Most of its 50 staff worldwide are from the respective rural communities and speak the local dialects along with English.

Schecter oversees an annual budget of $3 million, which includes private family donations and grant money.

From her Oklahoma City office at 333 N Meridian, she sat down recently with The Oklahoman to talk about her life and career. This is an edited transcript.

Q: Tell us about your roots.

A: I've been a world traveler since I was 3 months old. My dad was a foreign correspondent for Time magazine, and we (I'm the middle child of five) lived all over. We lived in Hong Kong for three years; Japan for four; and Russia for three. When I was 12, my family moved back to Washington, D.C., where my father worked as a White House reporter during Nixon's presidency. Later, under Carter, he was a spokesman for the National Security Council.

Q: What do you remember most of your childhood abroad?

A: In Russia — behind the Iron Curtain and under the Communist leader Brezhnev — my siblings and I were the first children of foreign correspondents to go to a Soviet public school. Others sent their children to boarding schools in western Europe, but my parents didn't want to do that. They believed in us becoming part of the world we lived in. It was an extreme experience in a harsh environment. The Soviets believed in everyone being poor together — and meant it. There was deep poverty. People stood in long lines for food and lived in cramped apartments with no dishwashers or washing machines. We had ink wells in our school desks; it was that primitive. We were taught dictation versus encouraged to write essays; there was no freedom of thought. My mother decided we should write a book and my parents forced us to write our own stories/chapters. They paid us a penny a word and we ended up having a good time. “An American Family in Moscow” by Leona Schecter, published in 1975, launched my mother's career as a literary agent when we returned to the states. Twenty years later, under Gorbachev, my family collaborated on another book: “Back in the USSR” by my father, Jerrold “Jerry” Schecter.

Q: Will you share a story that you contributed to the first book?

A: At the Soviet school, the children spent their recess, or free time, linking arms and walking in a circle in the hallways. When I first came, all the children wanted to touch me to feel what capitalism felt like. But by my second year, when I had all new classmates, everyone was told to stay away from the capitalist. Similarly, when we came back to U.S. schools, I was nicknamed “Kate the Commie.” That was a lesson for me: that we're all told stuff that's going on behind the Iron Curtain or in the “Evil West,” and we don't really know what's true unless we've walked in another's shoes.

Q: Where did you work before you joined World Neighbors?

A: Most recently, I worked 14 years as a program officer with the Washington, D.C.-based American International Health Alliance, which establishes and manages partnerships between health care institutions in the U.S. and their counterparts in central and eastern Europe. Prior to that, in the late ‘90s, I worked three years for the World Bank, consulting on development projects in the former Soviet Union. But development is a second career for me. For years, my husband and I were in academia. I taught political science — comparative politics, at the University of Michigan and Tel Aviv University.

Q: Of the 13 countries on which World Neighbors is currently focusing, which have you visited?

A: I've visited nine: Nepal, Indonesia, East Timor, Kenya, Burkina Faso, Guatemala, Haiti, Bolivia and Peru. I've not yet visited Mali, Tanzania and Uganda, because it's so tough to travel to where we're providing aid. To reach the far-flung places I have visited, I've flown on a propeller plane, crossed a suspension bridge over a roiling river, and ridden without a helmet on the back of a motorcycle throughout a jungle with no roads.

Q: Which World Neighbors' efforts have touched you most?

A: I've bonded with women in Nepal and India, who once couldn't leave their homes or talk with other women in their villages. But now they're becoming farmers and their families' breadwinners. One pregnant woman, who has two daughters and lost a leg in an accident, is drying banana chips in her home and selling to 1,400 islands throughout Indonesia. Frequently, people ask me if seeing the poverty I do is depressing. But I'm not at all depressed. Rather, I'm inspired to watch how our experts teach others how to help themselves. And I'm further inspired to then watch the people we've taught teach others.

Original publication: Burkes, Paula. "Executive Q&A: Oklahoma City CEO Tries to Be a Good Global Neighbor in Needy Regions." THE OKLAHOMAN. October 11, 2015.

June 22, 2015

World Neighbors Awarded New Water and Sanitation Project from USAID
Improving Community Resilience in Oecusse Project will raise the quality of life for 25 communities

OKLAHOMA CITY – World Neighbors, an Oklahoma City-based nonprofit founded in 1951, was awarded $1.6 million from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for a new water and sanitation project in Timor-Leste. The Improving Community Resilience in Oecusse Project, which is generously supported by the American people through USAID, will assist 25 communities in 13 villages in the region of Oecusse to better access clean, safe water, improve sanitation and hygiene, and strengthen community organizations to operate and maintain their own water and sanitation facilities. This project will build on the development work that World Neighbors has been conducting in Oecusse since 2005.

Timor-Leste, which became independent in 2002, is one of the least developed economies in the Southeast Asia and Pacific region. Oecusse suffers from low farm productivity, a lack of clean water, and geographic isolation from the rest of the country. Like other upland areas in Timor-Leste, the ecology is fragile, and slash-and-burn agriculture practices make the lack of water resources even more dire. The shortage of clean water sources and poor sanitation and hygiene practices in this area cause serious health problems, particularly for the elderly and children.

“World Neighbors has worked in Oecusse for more than 10 years; and, in that time, we have become increasingly aware of the difficulties many communities face in accessing clean and safe water, as well as the lack of proper sanitation facilities,” said Edd Wright, World Neighbors Regional Director for Southeast Asia. “We are very happy to be partnering with USAID to address these critical issues which we believe will improve the health, and increase the resilience, of these communities.”

The Improving Community Resilience in Oecusse Project will assist more than 4,400 households with protecting their water sources through simple methods, such as planting trees and hedgerows to reduce water run-off, and by enacting and enforcing water protection bylaws. To prevent diseases resulting from poor sanitation and hygiene practices, the project will promote hand washing and maintaining clean water for cooking. In addition, the project will work with civil society organizations and savings and credit groups in order to maintain the sustainability of water and sanitation facilities.

USAID Mission Director John Seong stated, “Water is a basic human need, but for poor communities, using and maintaining access to clean water is not a reality. It is no surprise to us that poor communities lag behind in sanitation. Investing in infrastructure alone would not solve all the problems. It is the communities themselves investing in protecting water; better managing water use, and doing more to promote better hygiene that will help address the problems. The American people, through USAID, are pleased to help provide local communities in Oecusse with improved access to clean water through this new $1.6 million project.”

World Neighbors will partner with three local non-governmental organizations in Timor-Leste and will move into a new office with an increase in staff during the life of this project.

“Oecusse recently become the first special economic zone (ZEESM) within Timor-Leste, established to bring sustainable economic growth and social development. We’re therefore we’re looking forward to working closely with the new regional government in support of this,” said Mr. Wright.

World Neighbors is an international development organization striving to eliminate hunger, poverty and disease in the most deprived rural villages in Asia, Africa and Latin America. World Neighbors invests in people and their communities by training and inspiring them to create their own life-changing solutions through programs that combine agriculture, literacy, water, health and environmental protection. Since 1951, more than 26 million people in 45 countries have transformed their lives with the support of World Neighbors.

April 30, 2015

World Neighbors Response to Nepal Earthquake Disaster

World Neighbors has worked in Nepal during the past 5 decades. Our immediate response has already begun. We have an extensive network of rural communities in at least 11 districts that need our urgent help.

Until now, reporting has been limited to the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu. As we are finding out through initial reports of people on the ground, it is in the rural areas where even greater destruction has occurred.

In the short term, World Neighbors will concentrate on health, shelter, water and food. World Neighbors will remain active in rural Nepali communities when first responders leave. Multi-pronged, participative development efforts will continue as part of the collaborative process of creating independent, sustainable communities.

To strengthen our efforts we need much greater financial support. Please donate. For a Nepal disaster donation, please go to:


2014 News Releases

July 21, 2014

World Neighbors Names Dr. Kate Schecter New President and CEO
International development organization continues commitment to sustainability programs to help others help themselves and end global hunger, poverty and disease

OKLAHOMA CITY -- World Neighbors, an Oklahoma City-based nonprofit organization founded in 1951, announced today that its Board of Trustees unanimously supported the appointment of Dr. Kate Schecter as the organization’s next President and CEO. Dr. Schecter will lead the organization’s international programs that espouse a long-term, holistic approach to help strengthen impoverished communities to overcome hunger, poverty, and disease.

Dr. Schecter’s professional experience includes over 22 years working for various organizations, including an international nonprofit organization focused on global health, the World Bank, a leading foundation and several prestigious universities, including Columbia and Harvard. She succeeds Melanie Macdonald, the organization’s first female President and CEO, who guided World Neighbors for ten years and announced plans last fall to re-­‐establish her executive coaching and organizational consulting practice.

“We have never been so poised for growth as we are right now and Dr. Schecter is the perfect fit to help us reach our full potential as an organization,” says Mindy Roe Galoob, World Neighbors Board Chair and head of the search committee. “With her eagerness to continue the collaborative work with Feed the Children and her focus on increasing our support base, we are poised to deepen and widen our global impact so that more communities around the world can experience the power of our unique, grassroots and transformative work.”

In March 2013, World Neighbors became a subsidiary of Feed the Children, another Oklahoma City-­‐based international nonprofit organization, in a unique strategic collaboration. In an effort to support and expand World Neighbors programs that help build self-­‐sufficient communities around the world, Feed the Children assumed the responsibilities of all of World Neighbors back-­‐office and administrative support functions.

With the appointment of the new World Neighbors President and CEO, both organizations are in a strategically strong position to expand their outreach.

“Dr. Schecter is incredibly well-­‐qualified and a great fit for both organizations from a programmatic standpoint. She understands the need to build a community’s capacity to care for itself, and she believes in collaboration at its deepest level,” says Kevin Hagan, Feed the Children’s President and CEO. “She immediately sees the synergies between both the Feed the Children and World Neighbors programs, and we look forward to taking the best of both organizations to start new programming together.”

Dr. Schecter spent many years of her childhood overseas with her family when her father worked as a journalist for Time Magazine. She attended grade school in Moscow, Hong Kong and Tokyo and has traveled internationally extensively all her life. She currently lives in Washington, DC where her husband, Ari Roth, is the Artistic Director of Theater J. They have two daughters, Isabel and Sophie.

“I look forward to spending time in Oklahoma City and to meeting the many people who have supported the organization over the last 63 years. I will be dividing my time between Oklahoma City, Washington D.C. and our field operations,” says Dr. Schecter. “Over the next two years, I intend to visit the 13 countries where World Neighbors is operating programs. It is important for World Neighbors to have a strong and visible physical presence again in Oklahoma City to remain in touch with our founder’s original vision.”

World Neighbors

Founded in 1951 by Dr. John L. Peters, World Neighbors provides impoverished communities with lasting solutions to hunger, poverty, and disease by offering programs that empower people with training and education. During its 63 years of operation, World Neighbors has transformed the lives of more than 26 million people in 45 countries. Currently, around 500,000 people in 13 countries benefit from World Neighbors programs. Visit for more information.

About Feed the Children

Founded in 1979, Feed the Children is one of the largest charities based in the U.S., with the mission of providing hope and resources for those without life’s essentials. Feed the Children is accredited by the BBB Wise Giving Alliance and has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. Using an integrated approach to defeat hunger, Feed the Children distributed over $344 million in food, essentials and medicine to over 10 million individuals in the United States, and 23 other countries in fiscal year 2013. For more information, visit


2013 News Releases

March 19, 2013

World Neighbors Hosts Second Annual Wine, Women & Shoes Fundraiser
Fashion Retailers and Vintners team up to benefit Work of Women

OKLAHOMA CITY– World Neighbors is proud to host its second annual Wine Women & Shoes fundraising event on Friday, April 19, 2013 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Meinders Hall of Mirrors located at 201 N Walker Avenue in downtown Oklahoma City, where shopping, wine tasting and female camaraderie come together to benefit the Work of Women (WOW!) membership program.

Guests will sip world-class wines from eight visiting vintners, savor delectable bites courtesy of Kam’s Kookery and Nothing Bundt Cakes as they shop their way through a sole-ful evening. Fashion retailers in the multi-designer shopping Marketplace will include Black Optical, Bonfaire, Inc., Closet Moxie, Head Over Heels, Heirloom Shoe, Liberté, Nihsima Jewelry, Plenty Mercantile, Story of Hope and World Neighbors, which will showcase the season’s latest styles in shoes and accessories, while charming “Shoe Guys” tempt guests with must-haves on their silver platters.

The event will also feature a fashion show with professional and community models, an exciting live auction, a wine wall raffle and a Key to the Closetraffle where the winner takes all of the prizes valued at over $10,000.

WOW!, recognized by The Journal Record in 2011 and 2012 as one of 50 “Programs Making a Difference,” is the exclusive beneficiary of the event proceeds, which will go towards their membership program that mobilizes women in support of a better life for other women in isolated villages throughout the world.

Wine, Women & Shoes is the perfect chance to enjoy a girls’ night out while also making a difference in the lives of women across the globe,” champions Erin Engelke, spokesperson for World Neighbors.

Ashlea Briggs, Vice President Treasury Services with BancFirst is Chair of the second annual Wine, Women & Shoes. Sponsors for this year’s event include AT&T, BancFirst, Bob Moore, Colton & Associates, Distinctly Oklahoma, IES, Liberté, Mood, Susan Chambers, Slice Magazine, Lakeside Women's Hospital, Barre 3, Brewer Carpet One, Downtown OKC and Allyson VinZant Events.

Advanced tickets are $75 or the Girlfriends Package is $275 (includes 4 tickets) and can be purchased at Tickets will also be available at the door.

World Neighbors, a subsidiary of Feed The Children, Inc., works with people who are struggling to survive in some of the poorest places on earth. Instead of short-term aid, World Neighbors creates permanent change by working alongside villagers, helping them to identify and solve their own problems. Currently, World Neighbors reaches half a million people in 11 countries. Since 1951, World Neighbors has transformed the lives of 26 million people in 45 countries. To make a difference, visit


February 12, 2013

Feed The Children and World Neighbors Unite
World Neighbors to become a subsidiary of Feed The Children, Inc.

OKLAHOMA CITY– Feed The Children and World Neighbors announced today that as of March 1, 2013 World Neighbors will become a subsidiary of Feed The Children, Inc. The two Oklahoma City based nonprofits will join forces as strategic partners to better serve those in need worldwide.

“We are extremely excited about this union,” said Kevin Hagan, president and chief executive officer of Feed The Children. “This collaboration will expand both organizations’ reach and capabilities to better provide emergency relief and long-term solutions for impoverished communities both internationally and domestically.”

World Neighbors will continue to operate under the same capacity, offering the same integrated programs, while Feed The Children will assume the responsibilities for all administrative support functions, including HR, finance, IT, marketing and communications. Using its successfully proven international development methodologies, World Neighbors will train the combined organizations’ international staff of more than 750 to better build self-sufficient communities across the globe.

“This partnership allows World Neighbors to unite with one of the largest international charities, providing greater opportunity to expand our methodologies and further transform communities,” said Melanie Macdonald, president and chief executive officer for World Neighbors. “As two of the leading international nonprofits with nearly 100 years of combined international relief and development experience, this union is a significant step forward in the longstanding battle against hunger, poverty and disease around the world.”

About Feed The Children
Founded in 1979, Feed The Children’s mission is to provide hope and resources for those without life’s essentials. A BBB Wise Giving Alliance accredited charity, Feed The Children is one of the largest charities based in the U.S., providing more than 350,000 children around the world with a nourishing meal every day. Here in the U.S., nearly 10 million people receive assistance each year from food and supplies distributed through over 1,200 local partner agencies. For more information, visit

About World Neighbors, a subsidiary of Feed The Children, Inc.
World Neighbors, a subsidiary of Feed The Children, Inc., works to provide long-term solutions for those struggling to survive in some of the poorest places on earth. With a focus on sustainability rather than short-term aid, World Neighbors helps to bring about permanent change by working alongside villagers, assisting them to identify and solve their own problems. Currently, World Neighbors reaches over half a million people in 11 countries. Since 1951, World Neighbors has transformed the lives of 26 million people in 45 countries. To make a difference, visit


February 7, 2013

Ashlea Briggs Named Chair of World Neighbors Annual Fashion Fundraising Event

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – World Neighbors, an international development organization headquartered in Oklahoma City, is thrilled to announce Ashlea Briggs will be raising her glass as Chair of the organization’s second annual Wine Women & Shoes fundraising event benefiting the Work of Women (WOW!) program.

Briggs, the Vice President of Treasury Services at BancFirst, has been an enthusiastic supporter of World Neighbors since 2007, lending her talents for community relations and fundraising. A volunteer veteran, she has served as the Day Chair for the Festival of the Arts, teaching teens about banking through the Junior Achievement’s Banks in Action program, and has fulfilled the role of community investment volunteer and tutor for the United Way of Central Oklahoma.

“I am delighted to be a part of this amazing event again,” said Briggs. “Wine Women & Shoes is the ultimate opportunity for women to enjoy a fun evening bonding with their girlfriends, while raising money for the inspirational Work of Women program at World Neighbors.”

25 sip-sational women from the Oklahoma City area will join Briggs to kick up their heels on the committee, including: Ginny Bass-Carl, Jennifer Blackwood, Carol Blackwood, Susan Chambers, Allison Coleman, Rebecca Fellrath, Ashley Fitzpatrick, Rebecca Goza, Julie Hall, Jennifer Hamilton, Micki Hernuport, Katie Kucharski, Holly Livengood, Patsy Lucas, Amy Mitchell, Lisa Munz, Kristi Pointer, Julie Porter, Claire Robison, Angela Russell, Allyson Vinzant, Jami West, Hillary Winn and Linda Zavy.

World Neighbors second annual Wine Women & Shoes fundraiser takes place on Friday, April 19, 2013 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the stunning Meinders Hall of Mirrors, where shopping, wine tasting, a fashion show and female camaraderie come together to benefit the Work of Women (WOW!) membership program at World Neighbors.

For more information about Wine, Women & Shoes and to purchase tickets, visit or call 405.418.0406.

World Neighbors works with people who are struggling to survive in some of the poorest places on earth. Instead of short-term aid, World Neighbors creates permanent change by working alongside villagers, helping them to identify and solve their own problems. Currently, World Neighbors reaches half a million people in 11 countries. Since 1951, World Neighbors has transformed the lives of 26 million people in 45 countries. To make a difference, visit


2012 News Releases

November 6, 2012

World Neighbors Holiday Sale kicks off November 26

Find holiday gifts that give back and reflect the giving spirit of the season by shopping at World Neighbors Fair Trade Gift Shop, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. beginning Monday, Nov. 26 through Thursday, Dec. 20, Monday through Friday. All sales benefit World Neighbors programs, which currently help more than half a million people in rural villages from 11 countries.

World Neighbors Holiday Sale also will open on two Saturdays, Dec. 8 and Dec. 15, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and have extended hours from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. every Monday.

Shoppers will find unique fair trade items such as hand-crafted pottery, home décor, clothing, jewelry, accessories, organic coffees, food and holiday items that have the flair of international cultures. The entire gift shop, located at World Neighbors headquarters at 4127 N.W. 122nd St., will feature a 20 percent discount.

All items are fair trade products, meaning those who made the goods are paid a fair wage for their labor and time. Purchases help World Neighbors programs abroad, as well as promote ethical trade conditions, so as you complete your holiday shopping, you help carry on World Neighbors mission of investing in people and communities.

World Neighbors works with people who are struggling to survive in some of the poorest places on earth. Instead of short-term aid, World Neighbors creates permanent change by working alongside villagers, helping them to identify and solve their own problems. Currently, World Neighbors reaches over half a million people in 11 countries. Since 1951, World Neighbors has transformed the lives of 26 million people in 45 countries. To learn more, visit

Nov. 26 through Dec. 20
Monday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Tuesday - Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Dec. 8 and Dec. 15, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

World Neighbors, Oklahoma City Headquarters
4127 N.W. 122nd St.
Oklahoma City, OK 73120

October 8, 2012

World Neighbors Prepares to Relocate in OKC
Headquarters building in NW OKC for sale

Oklahoma City-based nonprofit World Neighbors has placed its headquarters building, located at 4127 NW 122nd Street in Oklahoma City, on the real estate market. Wiggin Properties, L.L.C. is managing the sale.

World Neighbors is proud to be headquartered in Oklahoma City and has housed its headquarters in the current location since the early ‘90s. The planned move focuses on finding a location that further raises the organization’s visibility and presence within the Oklahoma City community.

“The real estate market within Oklahoma City has improved dramatically over the past few years, particularly in the area where World Neighbors currently exists, opening the door to a cost effective move for the organization,” said Melanie Macdonald, President & CEO of World Neighbors. “We have decades of sweet memories in our current building and are so grateful for the supporters who made it possible for us to make our home here. Now we are excited about what the future holds for us with a new location.”

With the support of key World Neighbors staff as well as former and current board members, possible properties are being researched. The move will occur when it is to the betterment of World Neighbors current and ongoing financial health. Increased visibility for World Neighbors WorldFest shop of fair trade products as well as adequate parking for World Neighbors supporters will also be high priorities.

Headquartered in Oklahoma City, World Neighbors works with people who are struggling to survive in some of the poorest places on earth. Instead of providing short-term aid, World Neighbors creates permanent change by working alongside villagers, helping them to identify and solve their own problems. Currently, World Neighbors reaches over half a million people in 11 countries. Since 1951, World Neighbors has transformed the lives of 26 million people in 45 countries. To learn more, visit

September 4, 2012

World Neighbors to Host 9th Annual WorldFest
Oklahoma’s only international fair trade shopping market

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Oklahoma City-based nonprofit, World Neighbors, will host its 9th annual WorldFest international shopping market on September 22 at the Oklahoma City Farmers Public Market. The event will feature thousands of fair trade unique items from countries all across the world, including gorgeous scarves and jewelry, home décor and kitchen accessories, holiday decorations and coffee and other food items.

“WorldFest truly is the premier shopping event for fair trade items in Oklahoma and we’re proud to host this extraordinary event each year, knowing that our shoppers love the high quality, uniqueness and huge variety of product offered from around the world,” said Erin Engelke, vice president marketing and communications for World Neighbors. “Each item is handcrafted by highly talented people around the world, many of which live on wages of less than one dollar a day, so every purchase made at WorldFest helps the life of another.” 

All of the products sold at World Neighbors signature fundraiser, WorldFest, are fair trade certified which not only provides the artisans who made the products with fair wages but also raises significant funds for World Neighbors programs in 11 countries throughout Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.

“Through education and training, World Neighbors helps communities develop lasting solutions to their problems,” continues Engelke. “Rather than handing out bags of food, money or constructing buildings, we provide the skills needed for the people to fix the root causes of their hunger, disease, poverty and environmental issues.”

WorldFest will be open from 9am to 6pm on Saturday, September 22 at the Oklahoma City Public Farmers Market located at 311 S. Klein. Tickets may be purchased in advance online at or at the door on the day of the event. Tickets are $7 and children under 12 are free.

World Neighbors works with people who are struggling to survive in some of the poorest places on earth.  Instead of providing short-term aid, World Neighbors creates permanent change by working alongside villagers, helping them to identify and solve their own problems. Currently, World Neighbors reaches over half a million people in 11 countries. Since 1951, World Neighbors has transformed the lives of 26 million people in 45 countries. To make a difference, visit

August 10, 2012

World Neighbors Names Jill Lucien as VP Resource Development
Jill Lucien brings 10 successful years of nonprofit experience to World Neighbors

World Neighbors recently hired Jill Lucien Vice President of Resource Development. Jill will lead the team in all major gift fundraising, solicitation and grants and donor services. Jill relocated to Oklahoma City from Dallas, Texas earlier this summer following her hire at World Neighbors.

World Neighbors mission and methodology completely resonated with me before I was offered the VP Resource Development position,” says Lucien. “It is the culmination of everything I believe, combined with all of the professional experience I have acquired over the years.”

Jill’s professional history includes a diverse range of non-profit management and fundraising, along with project and event coordination experience. Her background includes serving as executive director of Rebuilding Together Greater Dallas and overseeing corporate client relations with the NBA, NFL and MLB, director of major giving for The King’s Academy and events coordinator at The Salvation Army. Most recently, Jill held the position of director of strategic relations at CP&Y, an international civil engineering company.

“Jill’s solid experience in the nonprofit sector is essential to building and strengthening our 61 year old organization. We are thrilled to have her on board,” says Melanie Macdonald, President and CEO of World Neighbors. “Jill’s role will allow World Neighbors to continue fulfilling our mission and impacting millions of people around the world.”

World Neighbors is an international development organization striving to eliminate hunger, poverty and disease in the most deprived rural villages in Asia, Africa and Latin America. World Neighbors invests in people and their communities by training and inspiring them to create their own life-changing solutions through programs that combine agriculture, literacy, water, health and environmental protection. Since 1951, more than 26 million people in 45 countries have transformed their lives with the support of World Neighbors.

August 2, 2012

World Neighbors Announces Dignity Award Recipients
Recipients will be honored at the “Journey Around the World” gala, September 21

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – World Neighbors has selected the 2012 Dignity Award recipients to be honored on September 21 at the World Neighbors A Journey Around the World gala. The recipients were chosen from the four following categories: non-profit, for profit, student and individual/couple. Honorees will be presented with a specially designed Dignity Award at the World Neighbors event.

Now in its third year, the Dignity Award recognizes those who invest in the power and potential of others by respecting their dignity and empowering them to greater self-potential – all values shared by World Neighbors. This year’s recipients embody and further those values with their work.

City Care and executive director, Larry Bross, have been honored as the recipients for the non-profit Dignity Award. Since 1995, City Care has been dedicated to helping Oklahoma City’s less fortunate, providing food and shelter to thousands of homeless and impoverished Oklahomans as well as mentoring at-risk, inner-city children through the program, Whiz Kids.

AT&T Oklahoma is the recipient of the for profit Dignity Award. AT&T is investing in Oklahoma communications networks, people and local communities through their environmental and philanthropic endeavors. This organization has impacted the growth of Oklahoma through local support and employment of more than 4,000 employees in 2012.

Five Casady High School students, Madison Utz, Abigail Utz, Laura Joullian, Emily Ellis and Maya Shiff, who founded SOW Love Zambia, will be awarded the student Dignity Award for their work and passion for the Zambia community. These young ladies started this organization following a mission trip to Lusaka, Zambia in the summer of 2010. To date, they have raised $74,000 to help build a five classroom school and hope to raise $64,000 more this year to build a second school for orphans.

The University of Oklahoma basketball coach Sherri Coale and assistant Jan Ross are the recipients for the individual Dignity Award. These individuals have been the inspiration behind the OU women’s basketball team visiting Haiti through the Mission of Hope organization. Sherri Coale began her career as the women’s basketball coach in 1996, and began leaving her legacy in 2003 with the creation of Sooner Stilettos, a program encouraging women to stand out in the community and kick up heels across the country.

These recipients, through their personal and professional efforts, model World Neighbors mission and are inspiring people and strengthening communities.

World Neighbors is an international development organization striving to eliminate hunger, poverty and disease in the most deprived rural villages in Asia, Africa and Latin America. World Neighbors invests in people and their communities by training and inspiring them to create their own life-changing solutions through programs that combine agriculture, literacy, water, health and environmental protection. Since 1951, more than 26 million people in 45 countries have transformed their lives with the support of World Neighbors.

June 13, 2012

World Neighbors and KFOR now accepting nominations for the 2012 Dignity Award

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – World Neighbors, an international development nonprofit based in Oklahoma City, is seeking individuals, businesses, organizations and students who promote dignity in the lives of others to be considered for its 2012 Dignity Award, cosponsored by KFOR.

The Dignity Award honors those who model the mission of World Neighbors in their everyday lives by investing in the power and potential of people and empowering them to greater self-potential. The 2011 Dignity Award honorees were Dr. Robert Long of St. Luke’s Methodist Church; Skyline Urban Ministries’ Community Cupboard, a “choice” kitchen pantry; and Integris’ sponsorship of the Stanley Hupfeld Academy.

Honorees will be recognized at World Neighbors A Journey Around the World Gala on Sept. 21 at the Oklahoma City Farmers Public Market.

The award will be presented in four categories: Nonprofit, for-profit, individual or couple, and student.

Visit to download the Dignity Award Nomination Form. Completed nomination forms may be sent to or World Neighbors headquarters at 4127 N.W. 122nd St., Oklahoma City, OK 73012. The deadline for nomination forms is Monday, July 16.

For more information about the Dignity Award and A Journey Around the World Gala, visit or call Katherine Craig at 405-418-0443.

World Neighbors works with people who are struggling to survive in some of the poorest places on earth. Instead of providing short-term aid, World Neighbors creates permanent change by working alongside villagers, helping them to identify and solve their own problems. Currently, World Neighbors reaches over half a million people in 13 countries. Since 1951, World Neighbors has transformed the lives of 26 million people in 45 countries. To make a difference, visit

January 23, 2012

Work of Women begins new fundraising partnership
World Neighbors Work of Women program hosts Wine, Women & Shoes fashion event

World Neighbors, an international development organization headquartered in Oklahoma City, is pleased to announce its inaugural partnership with the Wine, Women & Shoes fundraising event May 17, 2012, which will benefit its Work of Women (WOW!) program.

Work of Women, recognized by The Journal Record in 2011 as one of 50 “Programs Making a Difference,” is a membership program at World Neighbors that mobilizes women in support of a better life for their counterparts in isolated villages throughout the world. Wine, Women & Shoes is raising the profile of WOW! with a one-of-a-kind luncheon, shopping and wine tasting event at the Oklahoma City Farmers Market, which will feature a fashion show and exclusive shopping with vendors carrying designer labels.

The synergy of WOW! and Wine, Women & Shoes missions make the two organizations a perfect fit to bring together women who enjoy fine wine, great style and female camaraderie – all to support a noble cause.

“We are so pleased to be partnering with Wine, Women & Shoes,” said Erin Engelke, vice president of marketing and communications at World Neighbors. “WOW! elevates the status of women across the globe and helps them realize their potential to positively influence their communities. The Wine, Women & Shoes event will bring together women in Oklahoma who support that cause with a fabulous celebration of wine, shoes and shopping!”

Wine, Women & Shoes has managed more than 100 events and raised more than $8 million for its partners. Susan Chambers, president of the Oklahoma City Chapter of WOW!, is chairwoman of the event.

To learn about becoming a sponsor or reserving your seat at the Wine, Women & Shoes event, please contact Katherine Craig at or (405) 418-0443. To learn more about WOW! and Wine, Women & Shoes, visit

World Neighbors works with people who are struggling to survive in some of the poorest places on earth. Instead of short-term aid, World Neighbors creates permanent change by working alongside villagers, helping them to identify and solve their own problems. Currently, World Neighbors reaches over half a million people in 13 countries. Since 1951, World Neighbors has transformed the lives of 25 million people in 45 countries. To make a difference, visit

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Previous issues

How are World Neighbors programs surviving the economic downturn?
Two courageous sisters protest their arranged marriages
Haitian mason overcomes recent disastrous hurricanes
World Neighbors - Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow
Thank you for a successful year - A look back at 2008
A day in the life of an Indonesian girl
The “Canastas Comunitarias:” Building an urban-rural platform for food security and healthy food systems    
Katalysis: helping Andean farmers survive climate change
One man advances his community by learning to read
Water: A source of change for one village
A father's dream come true
  Mothers around the world