Looking to do some good globally but want to act locally?  If the answer is yes, then Chapel Hill is the place.  It is amazing how many organizations here can help you “touch” someone’s life in a far-away country while still remaining in Chapel Hill.  And I don’t mean by just writing a check.

Let me give you an example.  My nine-year old daughter, Kristin, and I volunteer for an organization called A Ban Against Neglect (ABAN).   ABAN’s office is on Franklin Street, but its mission, and the heart of its work, is in Ghana. 

ABAN runs a facility in Accra, Ghana, that provides a safe haven, trade skills, and education to 20 adolescent street girls and their babies.  The girls help pay for this apprenticeship program by producing attractive up-cycled products out of littered plastic.  The products are sold in Ghana, the U.S., and online ( http://www.aban.org/products).   Part of the money from each product sold goes into a savings account for the girl so she will have enough savings upon graduation from ABAN’s two-year program to launch her future and that of her child.

How do my daughter and I help?  I help with grant-writing, public relations, and fundraising.  My daughter sells the ABAN products and makes presentations to people who are interested in ABAN’s mission.  We also had a lot of fun collecting baby clothes and sending them to the ABAN apprentices in Ghana.  When we saw the photos of the baby clothes on the babies in Ghana, we felt like we truly had “touched” someone far away.  The photos and the thank you letter from the girls were especially meaningful to my daughter.

How did we get in touch with ABAN?  Well, I learned about ABAN from an article on Chapelboro.com.  Then we looked at their website, sent them an e-mail, and offered to help.

So why is ABAN’s office on Franklin Street?  For several reasons: (1) co-founder Callie Brauel graduated from UNC; (2) ABAN received a $15,000 grant from the Carolina Challenge to launch its  apprenticeship program; (3) ABAN relies heavily on UNC volunteers to run the U.S. side of the organization; and (4) ABAN receives strong support and advice from local professors and professionals.

It is terrific to have an organization like ABAN – which addresses all eight of the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)  – right here on Franklin Street. (To learn more about MDGs, see http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/). 

ABAN is one of many global social entrepreneurships located in Chapel Hill.  Here are a few more you might want to consider:

  • Nourish Inernational (http://nourishinternational.org/).  Nourish International, located on Franklin Street, also won a Carolina Challenge grant.  Nourish is a student movement to eradicate global poverty.  The students raise money during the school year to fund a sustainable development project that they carry out over summer break.  Even though it is a “student movement” doesn’t mean you cannot help.  One quick look at their team shows how much local professionals can help.  http://nourishinternational.org/about-us/our-team.
  • Carolina for Kibera (http://cfk.unc.edu/).  Carolina for Kibera develops leaders, catalyzes positive change, and alleviates poverty in the Kibera slum of Nairobi.  CFK’s US operations are housed at UNC’s Center for Global Initiatives.  An interesting article about CFK can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carolina_for_Kibera
  • Carolina for Amani (http://yleads.unc.edu/carolina-amani)  Carolina for Amani helps support orphaned and abandoned children through New Life Homes in Amani, Kenya.  The majority of the children in the New Life Homes are placed in loving families before their third birthday through legal adoption.  You can help Carolina for Amani by hosting a trunk show of their products (beads, bags, etc.), donating gently used children’s clothes or making a monetary donation to support the UNC interns who travel to Kenya in the summer to work for New Life Homes.  Carolina for Amani’s products will be on sale at Jackson, a new store on Franklin Street above Princeton Review.

So are you interested?  All it takes is an e-mail and the simple question, “How can I help?”.

If you know of other organizations operating here in Chapel Hill with a global reach, please add them in the “comments” section below.