At any one time we are positively impacting and effecting change in 100+ locations across the planet.
The genre and scope of our aid and development activities, past and present, both in Australia and overseas includes:
‘Social enterprise’ uses opportunities presented by market forces to help alleviate social problems and improve human wellbeing. In the developing world, many budding entrepreneurs are deprived of their potential because they often have no access to the necessary capital beyond their own vegetable gardens.
Social enterprise provides a way out of cyclical unemployment by presenting income stream opportunities for community members to get involved as a means of supporting themselves and their family. Not only do trainees build a specialised skillset, but they also learn the auxiliary skills that accompany any venture such as marketing, leadership, literacy, numeracy and financial management. This will safeguard participants from unscrupulous deals whilst also instilling the importance of keeping family finance separate from enterprise funds.
Once established, the ongoing operation of local enterprise will stimulate cash flow, provide employment and diversify service delivery. A household that is built upon self-sufficient provisions is not only sustainable, but also sets an example for others to follow.
Vocational training generates empowerment for the individual and capacity for the community. It brings hope to the destitute and opportunity to the unlearned. Equipping locals with trade expertise and life skills breaks the chain of dependence on welfare and uplifts the poor toward a prosperous future.
Vocational training programs typically involve:
- Establishing a Centre or work site
- Developing a curriculum for the specific trade
- Purchasing necessary tools and equipment
- Promoting the course to suitable applicants
- Appointing and regularly up-skilling training staff
- Creating income streams through product sales or services
- Developing business models or securing work experience/ apprenticeships/ job contracts for graduands
A wide spectrum of vocational skills training programs are currently in operation, including embroidery, welding, computing skills, artisan dyeing, knitting and shoe-making.
Microloans help budding entrepreneurs to bring small commercial ventures to life. Rather than a hand out, they stimulate sustainable businesses by providing access to finances that would otherwise be unavailable. The loan is an initial investment which allows recipients to live beyond their day to day needs and establish a bank of savings from which they can break free from the shackles of poverty.
Beneficiaries of microfinance programs extend far beyond the direct loan recipient. The community benefits from improved service delivery, localised market stimulation and job diversification whilst positive impacts also flow to the next generation through renewed hope of self-determination and empowerment. Where women are recipients of microfinance loans, they commonly receive greater influence and respect within their households.
WRA supports microfinance projects ranging from vegetable farming, chicken raising and dairy production to bakeries, carpentry and dressmaking.
Keeping Girls in School
Women’s empowerment through education is becoming increasingly realised as an effective catalyst for sustainable development and poverty alleviation. Females who attend school have reduced vulnerability to disease, delayed marriages, improved infant and child survival rates and higher economic productivity.
Though much emphasis is now placed on promoting gender equality in education, it is often the onset of puberty that remains to be a significant catalyst for absenteeism and eventual total withdrawal from school in the developing world. Adolescence-induced barriers to female education include:
• Menstrual management and pain
• Expectations to earn an income
• Domestic chores
• Female genital mutilation (FGM)
• Child Marriage
• Teen Pregnancy
Whilst puberty and adolescence is an inevitable fact of life, dropping out of school prematurely does not have to be. WRA aims to keep girls in formal education by raising awareness and facilitating open dialogue on the above issues to bring about attitudinal changes at the community level. In doing so, it is hoped that barriers to everyday schooling will be broken down, allowing females to progress through to high school completion without disruption.
Early Childhood Development
Pre-school and kindergarten education opportunities are rare throughout the developing world, especially to children living in poverty. Evidence collected from across the globe shows that early childhood development is key to overcoming inter-generational poverty as it kick starts the education cycle during the most rapid, critical and influential phase of human growth. Quality group learning programs prepare young minds for formal education through exposure to mentally stimulating environments which enhance cognitive processes and develop essential relational skills.Early Childhood Development
Caregiver participation is often an additional component of early childhood development to highlight the importance of incorporating education in home life and making healthy choices. Information workshops cover areas such as nutrition, hygiene, dental health, immunisation campaigns, child protection and family planning.
Despite primary school enrolment rates now averaging over 90% worldwide, many millions of children are still deprived of vital literacy skills due to poor quality education and a lack of learning resources. In many underprivileged schools, classroom shelves lie bare and library catalogues are non-existent.
Through the use of online technology, knowledge is being made more easily accessible than ever before. Students are able to read, watch and download from a cloud-based library stocked with millions of educational resources at the click of a button. Even in areas where internet is lacking, offline alternatives allow for the continuation of learning from a large store of electronic course materials.
Having successfully passed extensive pilot trials, this state-of-the-art library platform is now being rolled out in schools right across the world. WRA is pleased to be playing a part in lifting education standards through creative innovation.
Approximately 426 million people are living with a disability in the developing world with scarce access to basic health and rehabilitation services. Sadly, these figures are set to climb due to a combination of poverty, conflict, child labour, malnutrition, unsafe workplaces, HIV/AIDS, natural disasters and an ageing population.
Disability is both a cause and a consequence of poverty. For the disabled poor, full participation in community life is hindered by social exclusion and limited access to the basic aids and services that would grant them independence. As a result, the ripple of impact cascades to family members and throughout whole communities as people with disabilities are denied education and employment opportunities to reach their full potential.
In some countries women need specific help to combat the social and cultural barriers that are virtually impossible to break through. Gender-focused and culturally tailored business development programs help women to develop leadership skills and confidence, access information, training, mentoring and finance as well as accelerate the growth and impact of their small business.
Empowerment programs build up women and enhance their decision-making power within households, businesses and communities. This in turn creates positive social and economic impact, bridging the gender gap in business and entrepreneurship.
Literacy programs aim to build capacity in national teachers by supporting them to develop teaching principles and reading materials in their local languages. These materials are used to help students from Kindergarten to Grade 3 develop foundational literacy skills in their local language before also acquiring their national language and English.
Teachers participate in a series of workshops over three years to create reading materials and other literacy resources in the local language. The program supports the provision of stationery materials and access to literacy trainers who can offer technical advice as teachers create reading texts. These materials are then made freely available to other schools, with workshop teachers equipped to train colleagues in using and creating their own texts to enhance student literacy and learning.
Child Soldiers / War Children
The military use of children encompasses not only those who carry a weapon but also those who provide operational support in the form of spies, messengers, informants, trackers or even human shields. Due to their vulnerability to influence, minors are often targeted for recruitment by force or by allurement. Social exclusion is often a common thread which weaves together the broken pasts of many child soldiers in contexts engulfed by poverty, domestic violence and substance abuse.
Throughout their time in armed forces, children are exposed to unimaginable horrors which leave deep psychological scars. Stress, guilt and shame become permanent dispositions, leading many to alcohol, cigarette and drug dependency. Upon leaving the conflict, victims find it difficult to reintegrate into mainstream society because of hateful social stigmas and workplace ostracism.
WRA’s projects support former child soldiers by restoring positive connections with families and social networks, as well as developing personal and professional skills for a renewed future.
Soil erosion, overgrazing, land degradation, drought, deforestation and small land holdings are just some of the many inter-related factors contributing to famine and food insecurity around the world. When combined with homogenous culinary traditions and non-diversified diets which lack essential micronutrients, malnutrition is almost certain to result.
Although climate variables play a large role, a lot can be done to improve agricultural yields and maximise productive capacities in a cost-effective and sustainable way. Together with our in-country project partners, WRA’s food security projects involve:
- Soil conservation
- Irrigation and terracing
- Livestock management
- Crop diversification
- Fish farming
- Tree planting and nursery development
- Greenhouse construction
- Farmer cooperatives
- Community and school gardens
- Nutrition awareness programs
Recent natural disasters and humanitarian crises have left large populations broken and hurting. The far-reaching impacts of these catastrophes have not been limited to their epicentres alone, but have radiated across international borders in a cry for aid, relief workers and the acceptance of displaced peoples.
When destructive earthquakes +/- tsunami strike, in-country teams are quickly mobilised. Aviation specialists tirelessly fly relief packages and personnel to unreached mountain villages in desperate need of assistance. Ground deployments similarly turn their attention to rural communities to conduct needs' assessments, distribute supplies and plan precautionary measures such as water purification and sanitation to prevent further adversity.
Ongoing distress and disorder caused by the Syrian refugee crisis has also triggered an emergency response. Food distribution outposts are hard at work in refugee camps, giving particular prioritisation to infants and pregnant mothers. The provision of door-to-door deliveries, follow-up services and field monitoring ensures families are fed during these turbulent times.
On the opposite side of the globe, cyclones continue to disrupt livelihoods in the Pacific. There, long-term relief efforts throughout the aftermath are focused on regenerating crops, re-establishing water supplies and reconstructing vital infrastructure. Deliberate efforts have been made to educate locals of the threat of disease to keep transmission to a minimum.
WRA recently partnered with a variety of in-country orgs to bring humanitarian assistance to people experiencing devastation beyond belief...turning their 'how can we begin again?' into 'now we can go on.'
Natural disasters, humanitarian crises, civil conflict and corruption cause major stunting to investment in infrastructure and delivery of vital public services. As a result, road networks are often sparse and natural landmarks such as mountains and rivers cause added hindrance to the accessibility of remote communities.
Where ground travel is compromised by safety, reliability or speed, air transport offers an alternative mode to reach isolated communities with lifesaving personnel and resources. With a greater sphere of influence, aviation services provide in-country organisations with enhanced capacity for development and relief operations.
Key services include:
• Medevacs/ medical supply deliveries
• NGO equipment transport
• Government personnel travel
• Aerial searches
• Needs analysis and reconnaissance
• Emergency relief distributions
• Local training
Living in the 21st century, we can no longer make the assumption that dealing with the environmental challenges of our time, namely pollution and dwindling natural resources, can be set aside for future generations.
Rather than being anxious about the challenges we face, here at WRA we feel energised by our creative & innovative partner groups who are working towards a healthier planet through green and clean technologies.
A top priority of green technologies is the issue of sustainability - meeting the needs of society in ways that are able to continue indefinitely into the future without damage or depletion of natural resources.
Fuel Efficient Stoves utilise just 250 g of renewable, harvested firewood - small sticks, branches and coconut husks - to cook 7 kg of rice. The efficiency of these stoves reduces deforestation, erosion and the production of toxic fumes. WRA has facilitated this work, bringing fuel efficient stoves to Zambian communities. Our in-country partners report that in just 6 months entire communities have been transformed. No longer needing to spend the majority of their financial resources on firewood, families can now afford the school uniforms, books and fees associated with sending their children to school.
Green technologies also prioritise innovation - developing alternative technologies that do not damage health and the environment. WRA facilitated the work of in-country partners in Nias as they transformed the humble coconut into an array of useful, planet-friendly products. Biodiesel is a truely amazing product whereby as few as 6 - 10 coconuts are processed to produce one litre of environment-friendly fuel. The production of biodiesel results in
- affordable and renewable fuel
- diesel motors smelling like freshly baked biscuits
- left-over waste useful for animal feed, fertiliser, cooking briquettes and building materials
- local employment opportunities
Green technologies recognise the need for viability - creating economic activity around technologies and products that benefit the environment, creating careers that truely protect the planet. WRA's projects have facilitated the production of another amazing technology, biogas. With an initial investment of approximately $1500, a specially designed digester processes human and/or animal waste resulting in
- destruction of dangerous microorganisms
- the continual production of methane gas for use as cooking fuel
- a left-over, high nutrient slurry useful as fertiliser
Biogas is a component of an exciting innovation called Agricycling whereby the waste products of one venture becomes the input (energy) of another.
- Animal manure is processed into biogas
- Biogas cooks food for communities
- Biogas waste feeds eels
- Eels are eaten - high protein - or sold - income
- Eel ponds water the vegetable garden
- Vegetables are eaten - good nutrition - or sold - income
- Eel pond water cleans animal pens
- Animals are eaten - high protein - or sold - income
- Economic viability is closely associated with these green technologies, bringing transformational change to communities.
Mention the word slavery and images of 18th Century transatlantic crossings come to mind. Although slavery today is outlawed in every country, it is totally shocking to realise that human trafficking is bigger than ever albiet hidden from the modern world.
Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar business that disperses its cargo to every corner of the globe. Humans are a commodity which can be sold over & over again. Victims of this horrific market suffer repeated rape, beatings, forced abortions, mental abuse and isolation. It is estimated that today up to 27 million people are enslaved in the world, MORE than at any other time in history.
Modern-day slavery comes in many different forms: forced labour, child soldiers, sex slavery, debt bondage and illicit organ harvesting. And, while figures are disheartening, hope must not be lost. WRA plays a part in stemming the tide of human trafficking by facilitating projects which speak out and declare that 'no one should be for sale'.
Internally Displaced Peoples
Internally Displaced People (IDPs) are individuals or groups of people who are forced to flee their homes but, unlike refugees, remain within their country's borders.
There are over 1.5 million IDPs in Burma, mostly living in remote jungle locations in their bid to avoid further violation. They are the hunted, constantly on the move to avoid atrocious abuses in the form of rape, forced labour, execution and the kidnapping of children to become soldiers or baggage carriers for the army.
Over 1 million Burmese have fled to neighbouring countries to live as refugees there. WRA proudly facilitate the work of in-country partners as they provide help and hope to those suffering and displaced by one of this planet's most brutal military regimes.
Without a doubt, inequalities in access to education continue to disadvantage children across the globe. Without education, it is impossible to build the knowledge necessary to eradicate poverty and hunger, combat disease and ensure environmental sustainability.
Children most likely to drop out of school or to not attend school at all are often girls, those from poor households and those living in rural areas. Caste-based oppression can be another reason for denial of access to education.
WRA facilitates access to education through many of its partner org's, including our in-country partners in India who focus on developing education centres for the 'untouchable' Dalit underclass.
Approximately 1.2 billion people in the world live in extreme poverty (on less than one dollar per day). Poverty creates ill-health because it forces people to live in environments that make them sick, without decent shelter, clean water or adequate sanitation. WRA is committed to making an impact on global ill-health by facilitating the work of several of their partner organisations.
One exciting initiative does battle with mosquito-borne disease; designed to help NGO's & small communities better address the impact that mosquitos are having on their communities.
Through the application of 5 fundamental principles, namely
- quick diagnosis & proper treatment
Communities are empowered to move towards better health.
Contaminated with disease, human waste, toxic chemicals or heavy metals, unimproved water sources are the only option for quenching the thirst of an estimated 880 million people worldwide. Complicated by the inexorable encumbrances of climate change, annual rains are becoming harder to predict as temperatures rise and water tables drop.
Lack of clean water supplies endanger health as many communities must consume the same water they bathe in. Outbreaks of infectious diseases such as cholera, hepatitis A and dysentery are common, and a lifetime of exposure to harmful toxins can lead to cancers and other chronic conditions. Furthermore, the hours spent on daily water collection demands a heavy toll on productive capacities and can pose threats of danger or fatigue.
WRA’s projects are implemented to improve community resilience using sand dams, rainwater tanks, groundwater wells and filtration units, together with the maintenance training required to ensure sustainability and longevity.