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About Humana People to People

humanaHumana People to People is a global network of aid agencies from more than 40 countries on five continents. Forged during the upheaval engendered by the system of Apartheid in South Africa in the 1970s, Humana recognized that the end of colonialism and Apartheid in 1994 was not the end of suffering. While they had assisted in winning the fight for equality in South Africa, there were communities in need across the globe. The obvious continuation of their program to help people in South Africa was to extend this aid to the rest of the world. Thus, Humana People to People was born from the struggle for basic human rights for all people.

To call Humana People to People an aid agency is to oversimplify its core guiding principles and its aim when it enters communities. Rather than simply offering aid in the way that one might cover a wound with a bandage, Humana seeks to transform whole communities, giving them tools that will enable them to solve their current problems and guard against issues that might arise in the future. This is a “top down” approach that maintains the only way to aid both people and communities is to fundamentally change the core elements that keep them from succeeding.

Humana People to People involves itself with every aspect of care for its fellow human beings, from basic relief to education to economic empowerment. Humana not only works with individual people, but also opens its resources and communication network to include the wider community and even that country’s government when appropriate.

Solidary Humanism
“Solidary Humanism” is a portmanteau phrase of the two words “solidarity” and “humanism.” It was coined by Humana People to People in order to differentiate and precisely describe their guiding principles.

“Solidarity” refers to Humana’s wish to stand in unity with all people across the globe, regardless of cultural differences, religions, creeds or political ideology. In using this word, Humana seeks to break down psychological barriers that can separate people from each other. These barriers cannot exist if Humana’s goals to transform broken communities into functioning societies are to be successful. Recognizing that our differences are far less in number than our commonalities forges a feeling of ownership over the fate of a community. It can also inspire and energize those who have lost hope in their ability to enact sweeping change around them.

“Humanism” is a term that has long been used to describe a secular philosophy centering on recognizing that all human beings are deserving of equality, dignity and respect. It is a recognition of our common humanity and a dismissal of actions that dehumanize others. At its very simplest, Humana uses the word humanism in this particular way to celebrate the things that make us uniquely human and posits that it is these inherent qualities that will be the answer to the problems facing nations of the developing world. Harnessing compassion, empathy and an inborn sense of the unity and equality of all mankind is the aim of Humana People to People.

Thus, the phrase “Solidary Humanism” is a declaration that innate humanity must and will prevail over the dehumanizing actions of a few, that people must stand shoulder to shoulder if communities are going to transform for the better and that the inherent compassion of people in first world nations will be the key to solving problems in the developing world.

What Humana People to People Hopes to Achieve
Guided by its principle of Solidary Humanism, members of Humana cannot sit idly by as people cry out in need for basic things taken for granted by the rest of the world. Humana hopes to achieve substantial, transformative and lasting change in communities damaged by environmental disasters, disrupted by bad governance or war, and handicapped by other factors that lead to the collapse of a functioning society.

Humana also hopes to enact programs within communities that specifically address the challenges faced by the people there. Whatever the need, Humana seeks to fulfill it with solutions that make sense in that particular context. Recruiting people from within the community ensures that the specific needs of that community will be wholly understood and successfully addressed, and that the tools will be in place to meet future demands. Humana’s hope is that its holistic approach will achieve an end to the multi-faceted conditions that cause poverty to arise and continue for generations.

Humana People to People raises money using the simple method of second hand clothing collection. By placing containers across cities in North America and Europe, Humana is able to collect items that it can then resell in world markets. This is a highly accessible form of soliciting funds, as people are often glad to donate used clothing to a worthy cause. Humana then organizes the sorting, refurbishing and redistribution of the clothing to be sold in appropriate markets in Europe and North America.

The funds derived from these sales are then added to direct donations received from individuals, government agencies and corporations. In this way, Humana is able to simultaneously recycle used items of clothing that are useless to one person into a valuable commodity that can directly clothe people in need or be sold to fund projects that will benefit those in developing nations.

Humana works to identify areas of need within a community. Whether it is a need for properly trained schoolteachers or orphans of war wandering the streets who require basic comforts, Humana seeks to join two disparate entities – aid workers and those seeking aid – into one successful unit that can work together to solve any variety of endemic problems.

In traveling the world, Humana People to People representatives enter communities in Latin America, Africa and Asia, assessing the needs of each location. As the needs of each community can differ widely, it forces aid agencies to remain highly diversified so that the aid can be tailored to each individual community, rather than applying a “one size fits all” panacea that does not adequately address the nuances and subtleties of each community.

As each project to address problems within a community is identified, Humana representatives seek out sources of funding that will match the specific needs of the project. These sources of funding can come from local government agencies, international donations or can be drawn from the funds obtained by Humana’s own used clothing marketplace.

Once funding is secured, a project leader is employed to oversee operations. The project leader may be employed from the local community or drawn from further afield. Often the local community projects entail construction, such as that of schools or housing facilities for displaced persons. The project leader is responsible for coordinating the construction supplies, personnel and equipment to complete the venture successfully.

Activities Within a Community
Every activity undertaken by Humana People to People centers around one basic, fundamental core principle: empowering people within a community to care for each other. This principle takes many forms. Of primary importance is the belief that the adults in the community should be at the center of raising children that have food, security, education and love. Only by breaking the cycle of poverty in this way can communities hope to change things permanently for the better.

When Humana enters a community, it seeks to identify sources of need, such as the young, the elderly and those laboring under temporary or chronic illnesses. If adequate schools are required, then Humana mobilizes the resources to provide an acceptable educational space, books, supplies and qualified teachers who are able to instruct pupils to state-mandated examination standards.

In situations where children are in need, Humana takes the wider view of helping the entire family as a whole unit, rather than just providing temporary aid to the child. As the saying goes, rather than handing a man a fish to feed him for a day, it is better to teach him how to fish so that he can feed himself for a lifetime. Activities to aid children may center around mobilizing parents in the community to construct wells providing clean drinking water, learning alternative methods of agriculture that meet a region’s climatic challenges or receiving instruction in new vocations that will directly lead to sources of revenue. These vocations might entail producing crafts for sale or apprenticeships in areas seeking skilled labor.

To feed, clothe, house and educate children, Humana tackles the problem from the top down. Solve the larger problems of a community and the natural result will improve the lives of everyone, children included. This is not to say that children do not receive direct aid; rather, they receive a helping hand today as well as a strengthened community that can adequately meet their needs in the future.

Humana maintains a scholarship program for promising children or adults that will educate them outside their community, often in Europe or North America, so that they can bring new knowledge, skills and cultural understanding to their community when they return. Humana also maintains teacher training programs that give proper training to individuals who then volunteer to work within the communities in need. All of these programs are a direct investment into the future of a community that will pay dividends for decades.

Humana is also instrumental in placing refugees into safe and nurturing new environments so they can begin the process of rebuilding lives torn apart by war or social upheaval. For those suffering from debilitating chronic illnesses such as AIDS, Humana maintains clinics and outreach centers that seek to include close family members of victims, as well as the wider community, in education about the disease and tools for supporting those suffering from it.

Humana People to People’s Track Record
All programs enacted by Humana are closely monitored from the outset. In the interests of maintaining optimal efficiency and success, Humana believes that its programs need to yield positive, measurable and substantive results. For example, in countries such as Angola and Mozambique, over 90 percent of teachers graduating from Humana’s teacher training program in the last decade are fulfilling duties above the expected standards of performance.

In Zambia, aid for children that includes transforming entire communities has helped to lift the dire living conditions, resulting in reductions of the rates of water-borne illnesses. Violence against women and children has also seen a reduction due to awareness programs in at-risk communities.

In the Republic of Congo, UNICEF reports that Humana’s community-based aid programs have not only transformed infrastructure within villages, but have also contributed to changing societal violence, especially violence against children.

What the Future Holds for Humana People to People
The organization is fully committed to its vision of altering lives for the better. Its road forward includes maintaining all the programs it currently funds that seek to lift people out of poverty in developing nations. As these programs, as well as the methods used to fund them, have been successful, Humana People to People hopes to broaden and strengthen the infrastructure it already has in place. This includes expanding, educating and energizing its volunteer and paid workforce, streamlining its operations for maximum efficiency and empowering project leaders with resources that will enable them to lead with greater foresight.

A greater focus on communication between members of a community and Humana is also one of their primary goals for the future. One way to facilitate this communication is to place project leaders in the position of arbitrator between Humana’s Board of Directors, volunteers, employees and members of the community. As the organization’s communications hub, project leaders can collate information about local projects, mobilize volunteer groups and translate local needs and concerns into the language of the broader world.

In essence, Humana People to People’s vision of the future involves expanding on their already winning strategy for combating the elements that keep people in poverty. With this successful foundational network already in place, Humana hopes to reach into new territories and communities, aiding residents to improve their current reality with the organizational skills, resources and funds that Humana has already proven to work admirably well.

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