Nexus Global Youth Summit Review

The 4th annual summit on innovative philanthropy and social entrepreneurship, Nexus Global Youth Summit, was held from July 23 to 26 in New York. Nexus has been having these summits across the globe inviting more than 2000 young philanthropists, social entrepreneurs and influencers from over 70 countries working to address societal issues and to improve philanthropy and impact investing. The venue for two full days took place at the United Nations Plaza while the opening and closing events were held at the Times Center. As Atlas Corps has been partnering with Nexus to sponsor in-kind service in exchange for admission tickets that are $500, 15 Atlas Corps Fellows were dispatched as delegates to assist in the conventions for one full day and were allowed to attend all other events as needed basis.


Last year, my sister, who is a practicing member of ‘Soka Gakkai International’ (SGI) since 2006, was finally able to sakabuku (recruit) me. I like to believe she was finally able to convince me to join this practice. For those of you, who do not know my sister, we are polar opposites of each other and have very different tastes and preferences. My parents say ‘ek purab to doosra paschim’ (One is north then the other is south).  I think we are different yet alike, and both of us being members of SGI proves my point on similarities

Ramadan Kareem-Eid Mubarak

3454425607-ae45b1abb4-b-jpgRamadan is the ninth month in the Islamic usual lunar calendar, and it is believed by the Muslims as the month in which the holy Quran was revealed to the Muslim’s Prophet Mohammed (Peace be upon him) by angel Gabriel. The name Ramadan is imitative from the Arabic word ramida, designating concentrated blazing heat and dryness, especially the ground. From the same word there is ramdaa, meaning ‘sunbaked sand’. The belief is that it is so called because Ramadan scorches out the sins with good deeds, as the sun burns the ground.
Being one of the five pillars of Islam, this period is spent by Muslims fasting during the daylight hours from dawn to sunset. Likewise, the belief is that Muhammad told his followers that the gates of Heaven would be opened throughout this month and the gates of Hell (Jahannam) would be closed.
The first day of the next month, is always disbursed in festivity and is perceived as the “Commemoration of Breaking Fast” or Eid al-Fitr.
As a fan and follower of the above dogma, I have been performing and observing this throughout my life history. Although it is regarded principally as a method of spiritual self-purification by cutting oneself off from worldly comforts, even though for a short time, a fasting person gains true sympathy with those who go hungry, as well as growth in his or her spiritual life. Conversely, the fasting is beneficial to health too as it reduces ones bodily weight in most cases.
Now the end of fast is here and this is called the festival of Eid-al-Fitr. Eid meaning ‘happiness’ in Arabic and it explains that for the last month I have been fasting: each day I woken up early, before the sun rises, to eat something and drink some water or juice, and then i do not eat or drink again until it is dark. Imagine what it would be like. Looking hard to do but very easy and holy as it helps one to come closer to God (who we call Allah) and to think about people who do not have enough to eat and drink every day of their lives. The festival of Eid-al-Fitr shows that Ramadan has finished and as the old moon begins to disappear i know that the fast of Ramadan is coming to an end and that it will soon be Eid-al-Fitr.
During the month I have been always asking my family how they will celebrate this special event this time without me in the house. What do they say (eat special food, meet with friends and other Muslim families, go somewhere and take pictures, send card to me, and watch celebrations around the world on television)? The day is always full of all those stuffs.
Eid-al-Fitr is a great time of celebration and happiness and it’s also a time to be thoughtful. For Muslims it is a special time to be thankful to God for helping you through the fast of Ramadan and for helping you to lead good lives.
When I was at home I use to invite my children to sit quietly and maybe to close their eyes if it helps them to concentrate. Ask them to think about the good things in their own lives. Think about the things that they want to give thanks for. Think about the things that make them happy.
Asalam malekum!

Understanding the Murky Waters of Fundraising

If you are like me, a professional working in the development sector, then ‘Fundraising’ is the one of the most dreaded words at your work place.  Even though most of the work in this sector depends on funding from external sources, fundraising often takes a back seat for most of the civil society and community based organisations. This activity is carried out only once the existing resources need to be replenished and are no longer sufficient to support the functions of the organization in contrast to a yearlong activity to raise funds.

What I learned during this year?

It is not easy to give specific answer for this question, but I feel that a lot of things had changed, my everyday habits and way of thinking, I think exposing to different culture help me to be more open minded.  During this year I had more time to look inside my heart and think about who I am?    I become fully responsible for my life; I learnt how to get a head. Also, it is an opportunity to learn how to go beyond my immediate feeling and grow up.

Do not read!

mafalda_mondoToday after reading the entire news report on the Malaysia Airlines plane that crashed in Ukraine with 298 passengers due to a missile attack I left myself drown in anger and depression. Why is it that we live in a world that discharges such rages of hate? As I was questioning this to myself the situation got worse as I started to read the next report on the Israeli bombing on Gaza. Casualties have claimed so far in the last days 200 Palestinian lives and one dead Israeli (and I don´t even want to get started on the deaths of the Palestinian boys). As I kept looking for more information, I came across with the fact that 50 elephants are butchered each day for their ivory trinkets and that we are in the middle of an environmental holocaust with billions of bees dying. Did you know that without bee pollination most plants and 1/3 of our food supply would be gone? Well, I didn´t know that but now I do and if you are reading this now you do to.
Before I started to burst into tears I decided to turn on the TV. The situation didn´t get any better after hearing in the news that there has been 52,000 unaccompanied children from Central America crossing the US border since October 2013 due to poverty and violence in their home countries. As I was turning off the TV the cherry on the top was to culminate the day with the next massacre film thriller.
After all this world reality slapped me hard in the face today I asked myself if I want to live in a world like this? The answer is clearly NO! And I think you don’t want to live in a world where tourist planes are fired down with rockets, where elephants just exist in children books, where bees can’t buzz around us and where kids all over the world can’t run and play free.
In spite of all this happenings I just hope my grain of sand doesn’t get lost in the waves of hate…
Renata Barradas

I Will Remember

One fine April day this year, a disaster stuck in Korea. The definition of “disaster” may come differently to each country, but in Korea, this was definitely one of the worst disasters in our modern history.

April 16th, a ferry sunk down in the Southern Sea of Korea – a ferry that was carrying over 470 civilian passengers and mostly high school students who were on their way for a field trip.

Oak Island

Last month I spent four days of joys and delights; I received an invitation from my lovely friend Carly to spend a vacation at her parents’ house in Oak Island. I was so exciting; it was me first real journey in US, I could not imagine what it would be like.

We decided to start our journey on Frida y night, so we can save one day more in the island. All the way long, we made breaks for dinner and gas, it was a long journey; we spent 9 hours on the way. When we arrived it was almost 2 am, we were so tired and exhausted, but surprise welcoming card and gift I found it on my bed from Carly’s parents, made me feel relaxed, it was welcoming card and gift.

Did you notice that your life in DC is a marginal subsistence?

As a person who studied Economics and Statistics, I realized that last two months I have been hard up for living with limited stipend.

First of all, usually it costs $16 for weekly bus pass in DC. And it has been increased up to $17.5. It means you are spending $6 more on transportation compare to previous month.

Second, one bag of onion was around $2.99 at Giant supermarket (specifically in Columbia heights). Now price of onion is $3.99. It seems living cost in DC has risen sharply.

Social Protection: Why You Should Care

When life happens

When life happens

Prior to 2012, I had never heard the term Social Protection (SP) despite 8 years of working experience in the development sector. I wouldn’t be surprised if anyone reading this might be asking the same question I asked myself two years ago. What is Social Protection and why care?