To celebrate this day of giving at A Mighty Girl, we're highlighting ten incredible grassroots organizations founded by girls and women that we hope you'll consider supporting on this day and throughout the year. From helping orphans in Nepal to providing solar power for obstetricians in developing countries to growing healthy vegetables for people in need in the United States, these groups are making a real difference both locally and globally. Your donations can help magnify the efforts of these inspiring girls and women and ensure that their life-changing work reaches even further!
Dr. Laura Stachel and We Care Solar: Lighting the Way For Childbirth
Photo: Robert Beecham
Dr. Laura Stachel was shocked on a trip to Nigeria when she saw doctors performing an emergency C-section in the dark. In countries without reliable electrical power, midwives and doctors have to use all sorts of makeshift lights, from candles to cell phones, during deliveries — putting mothers and babies at great risk. So she talked to her husband, Hal Aronson, a solar energy educator, about designing a "solar suitcase" to provide light in such situations. Today, their suitcase includes solar panels and high-quality LED lights, headlamps, a cell phone charging unit, and a fetal Doppler kit for monitoring heart rate, all sturdy enough for rugged use. Since 2011, Stachel's non-profit organization, the Berkeley, California-based We Care Solar, has manufactured and distributed 1,900 Solar Suitcases to more than 27 countries.
If you're looking for a great group fundraising project for a school, community, or religious group, you can also sponsor a Solar Suitcase for a health clinic for $3,000 and know that your suitcase is making a huge difference for many women and their babies. As Stachel observed, "My skills as an obstetrician-gynecologist were utterly useless [without] something as basic as light and electricity... I really want a world where women can deliver safely and with dignity, and women don't have to fear an event that we consider a joy in this country."
To learn more or donate, visit the We Care Solar website.
Kakenya Ntaiya and Kakenya's Dream: Education for Kenya's Girls
Photo: Kakenya's Center for Excellence
At 14, Kakenya Ntaiya was facing the prospect of a child marriage and being forced to leave school. Desperate to pursue her education, she struck a bargain with her father: she would submit to traditional female genital mutilation (FGM) if he promised to let her finish high school, rather than forcing her to marry. He agreed, and she graduated and won a scholarship to an American university. But she couldn't stop thinking of the other Kenyan girls who didn't have the same opportunity, so in 2009 she returned and founded a school for girls, the Kakenya Center for Excellence, a primary school that requires parents to agree not to subject their daughters to FGM or to child marriage. She also created a non-profit, Kakenya's Dream, to support the school and other community programs outside the classroom.
Today, her school has educated 370 girls who would likely have had no chance to pursue their educations — all of them avoiding FGM, child marriage, and early childbirth. They also have a new class of 40 joining the school in the new year! The Center has also reached thousands more through their community education programs, including one for teen girls on sexual reproductive health and rights. Ntaiya's student are not only excelling academically, they are also changing their society's attitudes towards educating girls. "[The girls] want to become doctors, pilots, lawyers. Fathers are now saying, 'My daughter could do better than my son,'" Kakenya says. "When [the girls] start, they are so timid [but now] the confidence they have, it's just beyond words. It's the most beautiful thing."
To learn more or to donate, visit the Kakenya's Dream website.
Dr. Catherine Hamlin and Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia: treating Childbirth Injuries
Photo: Joni Kabana
It was 1959 when Dr. Catherine Hamlin first moved to Ethiopia and discovered thousands of women affected by a childbirth injury she had never seen in her home country of Australia: obstetric fistula. A fistula is a medical condition in which a hole or fistula develops in the birth canal area after a difficult or failed childbirth. Most often, the child dies and the fistula renders the woman incontinent. Due to the leaking which occurs and the resulting odor, women are frequently ostracized from their families and communities. Recognizing the great need for fistula treatment, the Hamlins founded the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in 1974 to provide free fistula repair surgery to women in need; since then, the hospital have treated over 50,000 women with fistula injuries, with a 95% success rate. Now established as the global center of expertise on fistula repair, surgeons come from around the world to be trained by Dr. Hamlin and her associates.
Over time, Dr. Hamlin saw that the best way to address fistula was to prevent it, so in 2006 she also founded the Hamlin College of Midwives: in countries where qualified obstetricians are rare, well-trained midwives fill the gaps and ensure that women get the medical care they need. Globally, their skills are solely needed: there are over 300,000 maternal deaths every year, 99 percent of which occur in poor countries, and for every death, at least 20 women suffer severe complications from childbirth. For her pioneering work — and for bringing the issue of obstetric fistula to the global stage — Hamlin has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize twice. Now 92, Dr. Hamlin is no longer conducting surgery, but she continues to drive the organization that bears her name: "We have to eradicate Ethiopia of this awful thing that’s happening to women: suffering, untold suffering, in the countryside," she says. "I leave this with you to do in the future, to carry on."
To support her work, you can donate through the Australian organization, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, or through the U.S. based Hamlin Fistula USA.
You can also learn more about Dr. Hamlin's work in her memoir The Hospital by the River: A Story of Hope or in the collection of stories about people she has impacted, Catherine's Gift: Stories of Hope from the Hospital by the River.
Kennedy Hubbard and Kennedy's Cause: Awareness of Vascular Anomalies
Photo: Kennedy's Cause
Kennedy Hubbard's personal motto is "Let your inner beauty shine," and that's what inspires her as she raises research funds to support people with vascular anomalies. She was born with Lymphatic Malformation (LM) which has caused significant enlargement of her jaw and chin, sometimes compromising her airway. It didn't take her long to realize that few people understood her condition — and that research needed to be done to find a cure. In 2011, Hubbard founded a non-profit organization Kennedy's Cause, and started selling jewelry stamped with the word: "Shine." The proceeds go towards research for a cure, as well as to support families of children dealing with medical issues related to LM and other vascular anomalies.
Since founding Kennedy's Cause, the 19-year-old has raised nearly $100,000 to support medical research. She's also become a visible role model for kids with vascular anomalies; Hubbard regularly meets with other kids with LM and she's now studying social work in college with the goal of helping families when loved ones are undergoing treatment. "From being in the hospital so many times, I've known so many families in need, kids littler than me who have similar medical issues," she says. "I want to give them hope."
To purchase Shine jewelry or donate directly to Kennedy's Cause, visit the Kennedy's Cause website.
Anuradha Koirala and Maiti Nepal: Protecting Survivors of Sex Trafficking
Photo: Maiti Nepal
When Anuradha Koirala suffered through an abusive relationship as a young woman, she had no idea that the experience would lead her to found an organization that would save thousands of trafficking survivors. When her relationship ended, she decided to try to help survivors of sexual violence by hiring them to work in a retail shop, but she soon realized there were more women who needed help than she could employ. In 1993, she founded Maiti Nepal or "Mother's Home," a non-profit organization which has helped rescue and rehabilitate more than 12,000 Nepali survivors of sex trafficking.
Today, she and her staff run dozens of halfway homes for the survivors of trafficking that shelter hundreds of women and children, as well as the main rehabilitation facility in Kathmandu. Koirala -- who is known as "Dijju" or beloved elder sister at Maiti Nepal -- is determined to help as many girls as possible. The massive Nepal earthquake in 2015 made Maiti Nepal's services more necessary than ever — displaced women and children are at particular risk of exploitation — but Koirala is hopeful that she can continue to help all in need. "I cannot say no to anybody," she says. "Everybody comes to Maiti Nepal."
You can learn more about their work on their website at Maiti Nepal and donate on their Friends of Maiti Nepal Network for Good page.
Maggie Doyne and BlinkNow: Helping Orphans in Nepal
Photo: Glamour Magazine Courtesy Maggie Doyne
When she was 19 years old, New Jersey native Maggie Doyne took a year off after graduating from high school to travel the world. While backpacking around Nepal shortly after the end of the Nepalese Civil War, she was struck by the plight of the many children who were struggling to survive and made a radical decision. She asked her parents to wire her $5,000 she had saved from babysitting, purchased land, and with help from the local community, opened an orphanage, the Kopila Valley Children’s Home. Ten year later, Doyne is the mother and legal guardian of over 50 children and has built a community school that educates 350 students. In recognition of her incredible dedication to improving the lives of Nepalese children, Doyne was named CNN's 2015 Hero of the Year!
Since founding the children's home and school, Doyne has worked closely with the local community, saying "it has to come from the community and be a ‘we’ thing." She has continued to expand the breadth of their work over the years, launching a school lunch program, starting a health clinic, and opening a women's center to provide job training and education for local women; a high school for the community is also currently under construction. "It's become so much more than just a little girl with a backpack and a big dream," she says. "It's become a community. And I want to teach and have other people take this example and hope this sets a precedent for what our world can be and look like."
To learn more or donate, visit BlinkNow's website.
Katie Stagliano and Katie's Krops: Youth-Run Gardens that Feed the Hungry
Photo: Katie's Krops
In 2008, then 8-year-old Katie Stagliano of South Carolina nurtured a tiny seedling into a massive 40 pound cabbage. She decided to donate it to a soup kitchen and had a revelation: if kids like her each grew vegetables in their gardens, they could provide fresh food to food banks and soup kitchens across the country. She founded Katie's Krops, an organization dedicated to supporting young people growing food crops to donate, and started teaching other kids how their gardens — no matter how small — could help feed hungry people.
Today, Katie's Krops supports a network of over 100 youth-run gardens across the country — gardens that have donated nearly a hundred thousand pounds of healthy, fresh vegetables. Her goal is to have 500 Katie's Krops gardens growing by the end of 2020. To help young growers get started, her organization also provides small starter grants to kids (the 2017 application cycles ends on December 31). Katie also runs a Katie's Krops Summer Camp where young microfarmers, including all grant winners who receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the camp, can meet up and share tips. "It doesn’t take a huge garden just a pot on your front porch with one vegetable plant can make a difference," she says. "You never know what can grow from just one thing. You could be inspiring hundreds with just one small action."
To learn more or donate, visit the Katie's Krops website.
Sydney Martin and Syd Rocks: Fundraising for Childhood Blood Disorders
Photo: Giving Rocks Foundation
When Sydney Martin was 8, she started selling necklaces made from beach stones and saving the money for "something important." Two years later, she was diagnosed with a rare and potentially fatal blood disease called Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH). While she made a full recovery thanks to chemotherapy, she realized that, for many kids, LCH was far more complicated to treat. Since LCH wasn't a high priority for research funding, she decided to raise money herself and Syd Rocks was born. She sells her rock necklaces, with 100% of the profits going to research on LCH — and today, the 19-year-old has raised over $440,000!
Martin also founded the Giving Rocks Foundation, a non-profit organization that accepts donations to support research on histiocytosis, pediatric cancer, and hematological diseases. Her goal for this year is to reach the $500,000 mark. "I felt helpless going through it all, like my world was flipped upside down. So I just took it into my own hands and made the best of what I was going through." she says. "I'm not giving up until a cure for LCH is found."
To purchase one of the Syd Rocks necklaces or to donate directly, visit the Syd Rocks website.
Veronika Scott and The Empowerment Plan: Empowering Homeless women
Credit: The Empowerment Plan
Veronika Scott was a fashion student at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit when a teacher challenged her class to create a product that filled a need, rather than satisfying or creating a fad. Veronika's design was a coat for homeless people that could transform into a sleeping bag, since in her city, she says, “you are constantly faced with the homeless epidemic." Her coat won awards for design excellence, but Scott wanted to take her idea even further and find a way to help people out of homelessness. So she founded a non-profit called The Empowerment Plan to hire homeless women to make the coats, which could then be given to those who need them at no cost.
Since its founding, The Empowerment Plan has distributed over 15,000 coats — in 40 U.S. states and 7 Canadian provinces — and she employs 22 previously homeless women as seamstresses. Scott says she's particularly proud to see her employees succeed: "Everybody told me that my business was going to fail — not because of who I was giving my product to but because of who I was hiring. They said that these homeless women will never make more than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich — you cannot rely on them for anything. And I know my ladies enjoy proving everybody wrong."
To learn more, donate, or request a coat for someone in need, visit The Empowerment Plan website.
Additional Recommended Resources
- For more books for children and teens that explore different aspects of hardship in local communities in sensitive and compassionate ways, check out our blog post Cultivating Compassion: Books About Financial Hardship Close To Home.
- For Mighty Girl books that talk about social issues both locally and globally, from poverty to educational access to prejudice and discrimination, visit our Social Issues Collection.
- For books to talk to kids about the importance of donating money or time to important causes, visit our blog post Making An Impact: 25 Mighty Girl Books About Charity and Community Service.
- A great way to get kids involved in charitable giving is to encourage them to set aside a portion of their money to donate to a charity of their choice. For two popular multi-compartment piggy banks that help kids visualize dividing their spending, check out the Moonjar Moneybox and the Money Savvy Pig, which also includes a section for investing; both are suitable for age 3 and up.
- For two parenting books that help parents raise empathetic, generous kids, check out The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money and UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in our All-About-Me World.