Author: Sydney Cooney

Sydney writes for The Borgen Project from Jericho, VT. Her academic interests include English Literature and Language, Creative Writing and Business Administration. Sydney loves foreign languages and community service. She also sings in choirs; having sung in choirs since she was 10 years old. Sydney has even sung in Carnegie Hall before!

LUANDA — Weaving informal markets into the formal economy may be key to lifting African nations out of poverty. According to Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais, founder of the African Innovation Foundation, it’s in these niches that “needs-based and localised innovation [can] thrive.” And Africa has its own unique creativity to fill them. A Country of Entrepreneurs The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor ranks Angola as one of the most entrepreneurial countries in the world. Angola’s millennial generation, shaped by music, social media and new technology, is brimming with ideas to help solve problems in Africa through innovation in agriculture, tourism, healthcare, transportation and…

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SANTO DOMINGO — Anyone would have told Katie Godkin Morales that she was crazy for giving up a position within an internationally-recognized architecture firm in Orlando, Florida. The graduate from Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) could have had her pick of architectural jobs in the country, but Morales was firm in her decision — she knew she was happiest fighting poverty in the Dominican Republic. Morales first experienced the country on a short-term trip with a non-profit after finishing her undergraduate studies in 2009. She began using her love for design to create a new layout for the…

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WARSAW — On the evening of August 11th, 2017, severe winds rushed through western and northern Poland. In the morning, the storms had felled tends of thousands of trees, killed six people and left many more injured, homeless and powerless. Poland’s head forester, Konrad Tomaszewski, called it the worst logging disaster in Polish history—and “perhaps even European forestry.” He predicts that two years will pass before the nation can clear the wreckage from the fallen trees. It will take decades more before the lost natural habitat can return to its previous state. The national foreign agency analyzed that the storm…

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SEATTLE — In the United States, libraries are commonplace. Most schools from beginner to high school levels have their own dedicated libraries, as well as universities and individual towns. But in Cambodia, libraries are a coveted resource that many don’t have access too — or didn’t, up until now. Sipar, a French NGO based in Cambodia for over 35 years, seeks to end this problem and promote education throughout Cambodia. Working with the Cambodian Education Ministry and several other organizations, Sipar has pushed to build more public libraries. Sipar’s executive director, Hok Sothik, claims that public libraries are the key…

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AMMAN — Civilians generally live pretty well in Jordan. According to the World Bank, only 14.4 percent lived below the poverty line in 2010. Today, however, Jordan houses the world’s largest refugee camp, Zaatari. This “temporary refuge” currently holds more than 80,000 refugees, coming mainly from Syria, and has become Jordan’s fourth-largest city. Zaatari is seriously underfunded. UNICEF reports a $3 billion gap in funding for the camp. Providing employment, schooling, healthcare and basic needs for thousands of refugees is a daunting task. Despite the fact that many countries such as the United States, Canada and members of the European…

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ISLAMABAD — Fair trials are almost nonexistent in Pakistan. In a country overrun with corruption and terrorism, it’s hard to tell if the militants or the government pose a more dangerous threat to civilians. The nation’s jails are overrun with prisoners, some of whom are civilians who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Others are simply too poor to afford a good lawyer, and have been stuck in prison for years waiting convictions and executions. Sarah Belal, director of Justice Project Pakistan (JPP), saw the depth of the plights of prisoners in Pakistan. Having completed…

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CAPE TOWN — Buying in bulk is a favored method of saving money across the world. Purchasing more of staple food items helps buyers save their pennies and helps businesses maximize profits through economies of scale. But for low-income earners experiencing severe hunger in South Africa, even bulk purchases can be out of reach. Cape Town also imposes a poverty tax on people who live too far from grocery stores, taking up more of their meager food funds. Ironically, those who need the most food have the least amount of money because they can only afford to buy food in…

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PORT-AU-PRINCE — The Caribbean country of Haiti knows no shortage of hardships. Numerous natural disasters, cholera, social turmoil and political instability plague the country constantly. Even more numerous are the relief efforts, within and outside of the country, that have come in over the years as people around the world wonder how to help people in Haiti. However, in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, which devastated thousands of Haitians, several controversies arose as to what was truly the most effective way to provide aid to Haiti. There is a growing distrust among Haitians and Haitian-Americans for large American charities. Many…

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MAURITANIA — In 1981, marked Mauritania shift to becoming the last country to abolish slavery. The government insists that slavery has disappeared since it got criminalized in 2007, and has created new laws and courts to prevent slavery. However, abolitionist Biram Dah Abeid, a leader of the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (IRA), claims the trafficking of humans for domestic labor and sexual purposes is still rampant in Mauritania. Abeid, who was born and raised in Mauritania, has been speaking out for slaves’ human rights in Mauritania for over 20 years, but says his passion for his…

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BOGOTA — Colombia has significantly developed over the past few years, raising its national literacy rate to approximately 93.4 percent. However, that means that 6.6 percent of the population—roughly 1.6 million people—still cannot read. Most of these illiterate civilians also live in poverty and have no access to education or books in Colombia. It must have been quite a shock when 54-year-old Jose Alberto Gutierrez, a public service waste collector, found books in the trash around the city of Bogota. Gutierrez himself never finished primary school because he couldn’t afford it. Nevertheless, his mother read cartoons to him every night…

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