Each summer, Emory MDP students participate in a 10 week Field Practicum experience where the partner with different organizations at work in developing countries. Learn more aout what the Class of 2017 students will be doing in this Video.
For Emory GDSC's February Brown Bag Lunch, we hosted Mariam Cobb the founder of the Empty Frames Initiative and Edison Lin, an Emory Law Students studying the Vulnerability Theory.
Empty Frames Initiative
"We believe everyone is created with a purpose. Our current project focuses on empowering youth aging out of state care in Eastern Europe. We want to provide counseling, training in life skills, and access to a supportive community. We are looking to challenge cultural paradigms, by shifting perspectives and inviting people to take part in filling empty frames." - The Empty Frames Initiative. Find out more here. (PS-Their Web Site is awesome)
Like most of us, Mariam Cobb has her own unique story of what has driven her to do development work. Mariam's story is mostly related to her Christian faith. She feels that God has been putting the desire in her heart to care for the orphans and the fatherless for a long time. This desire especially grew during an internship in Latvia where she worked with youth camps in the inner city. She realized that this is not just what God had called Christian's to do but was what she knew she was called to do with her life. She is now doing her best to meet the needs of orphaned youth that she has so clearly seen. "In Eastern Europe, and around the world, youth aging out of state care are put into vulnerable positions" (Empty Frames Initiative). Empty Frames Initiative seeks to help orphans in Eastern Europe as they face homelessness, suicide, human trafficking, and other challenges by connecting them to community, mentoring them, and teaching them life skills. This is done by connecting them to both churches and businesses. The organization aims to partner with churches both in Eastern Europe and in the United States. The US partnership will be able to provide funding, support, and occasional volunteer hands while the churches in Eastern Europe will also be able to provide support and volunteer hands as well as a stable base for the youth as they re-enter into society. They are still in their early stages of becoming an NGO and are currently working to obtain their 501c3. Currently, their funding mainly comes from individuals and churches. After obtaining their 501c3, they are first going to test out their initiative within the United States before taking it over to Eastern Europe.
The Empty Frames Initiative has seen a generational cycle in Eastern Europe that has the potential to be broken, but first needs to be addressed. They are anxious to address this cycle by impacting the lives of orphans by helping them find love and identity through the love that Christ has for them and by re-purposing abandoned buildings from the Soviet Era in Eastern Europe to be used for the betterment of the community and in the lives of these orphans.
The Vulnerability Theory
Edison Lin is a Law Student at Emory University whom has had the opportunity to study the Vulnerability Theory under Law Professor, Martha Fineman (learn more about her work here). He now seeks to promote the vulnerability theory.
This previous summer, Edison had the opportunity to join a GHI practicum team to Vietnam. The purpose of this project was to work with survivors of domestic violence, gender based violence, interpersonal violence, and intimate partner violence. They worked with CCIHP, a local Hanoi-based NGO, which orchestrated different community development programs such as condemn testing, work with male sex workers, HIV initiatives, teen reproductive rights, community forums, and trainings. The deliverables of their GHI project was a SWT (Strengths, Weaknesses, and Threats) analysis of the NGO, brainstorming different solution types, developing a monitoring and evaluating project, and preparing grant proposal information for the NGO. In this project, Edison was able to implement his study of the Vulnerability Theory.
Vulnerability: What we want from society, from a state.
As part of the project Edison worked to apply this definition of vulnerability to Vietnam's legal system. The report he was able to put together on this topic turned out to be helpful knowledge to the NGO.
Martha Fineman premises the idea that currently we have a trend towards the neoliberal agendas. Our laws and way that we structure our societal resources are based on an idea of an autonomous subject. There is a lacking of "especially vulnerable" language. The vulnerability theory leads to an idea of universal vulnerability and resilience building being a state function. The idea of having a responsive state. Vulnerability theory is aimed to identify differential ways in which we identify and treat these different resilience building functions. The theory assumes that everyone is vulnerable. We all have a dependency. At some point in our life, we may think we are less vulnerable due to wealth, status, etc but everyone was once a child and will one day be elderly. We all have some sense of dependency and vulnerability at any stage of our life. The theory is basically trying to say that everyone as humans is vulnerable and it is the role of the state to try and identify that vulnerability and build resilience to that vulnerability. Currently, the burden of these vulnerabilities are being shifted to someone but are these shifts equitable?
The vulnerability theory is a theory and practice that definitely crosses boundaries.
It's application to the Master's in Development Practice: We can apply this concept of a "responsive state". The concept that a state has proportional presence and does have obligations to situations where vulnerabilities are hindered.
How to implement the vulnerability theory: Priming and incentives (both hard and soft law approaches) are two options as well as conditional mandates.
In summary: The theory, by placing individuals in a universal position of "vulnerable", rather than singling out identity traits that obscure and divide the responsibilities of the state to respond to vulnerability, it emphasizes the obligations of the state to support and equalize access to resilience-building measures. This has practical normative implications in a wide-range of societal issues, from welfare, education, criminal justice, gender relations, and many others.
For November’s Conversation on Development, Emory MDP had the opportunity to hear form Katie Hayes and Hilary King and their work with the Community Farmer’s Market. The purpose of the lunch was to expand our knowledge of development on a local level.
Katie Hayes worked for National Geographic after college and then worked at a KIPP school in DC where she taught a gardening program on the weekends and did fundraising and development. Katie then traveled to India and Southeast Asia before returning to Atlanta and starting to work with various food based programs. Hilary King got involved with development work as an undergrad when she began running a fair trade coffee shop and then had a research fellow where she researched access to market for international farmers. After getting her Master’s degree, Hilary moved to Mexico and did freelance development work for coffee companies. She then decided to get her PhD while continuing to work with local development groups and then doing her fieldwork in Mexico. She is now in Atlanta getting to implement on a local level what she’s done on an international level.
The Community Farmer’s Market is partnering with local civil society organizations to build back better civil society that cares about the issues happening in this community. They focus on food access within our community by entering into the community and reaching people where they live. They have three main aspects to their program: food distribution, educational programming, and financial incentives. They focus on distribution by placing farmers markets in “edge” neighborhoods where there is both a high income and low income population. They are also constantly working towards finding a solution for communities where farmer’s markets wouldn’t work. One solution has been the Marta produce stands. The current Marta produce stand is located on the west side of Atlanta near a food desert and has been a success so far. They are hoping to grow this project in partnership with Marta. In the educational programming, they are working towards enhancing accessibility and ease of preparation. They are uniquely tailoring these programs to their audience and trying to make prepping your own food more attractive and a simpler concept. Overall, the Community Farmer’s Market is working towards their main mission point: that every farmer makes a fair living wage and people have access to affordable food. This is a difficult balance but they have made large strides in this.
The root of the Community Farmer’s Market is that all people deserve access to good food. It was exciting to get to listen to how they are working towards this initiative and pursuing local development here in Atlanta!
To learn more about the Atlanta Community Farmer's Market, visit their website: http://www.farmatl.org/.
October 10, 2015 was the International Day of the Girl. Several students from Emory MDP chose to spend the day celebrating girls with the CARE Walk for Lasting Change in Atlanta.
Why did we choose celebrate girls?
According to Care, it’s “because women produce half the world’s food, put in two-thirds of the world’s working hours, and yet make only 10 percent of the world’s income. That’s not just disheartening, it’s unjust. We fight for gender equality, because righting this imbalance is key to fighting global poverty.”
It’s proven that by sending a girl to school, you can raise her family’s income by about 20% per year. This means you can move her family out of poverty. By educating all the girls in one village, we can move that entire village out of poverty. We recently learned about girl’s education around the world and the awful number of girls without education through the #60MillionGirls campaign. It’s true, 60 million girls don’t have a write to an education.
Unfortunately, the reality is that millions of girls are lacking more than just their right to an education. Millions of girls lack the right to decide when they get married, the right to reproductive health education, the right to basic necessities such as clean water and a healthy diet, as well as many other rights. Girls will walk miles each way to get to school. Yet, school is exactly what can change their reality. An educated girl can be a girl with more rights. A girl who is empowered to change the future of her country. Girls around the world face many challenges that keep them from school, though. The dropout rate for girls is too high, even here in America. In third world countries, girls often drop out of school because they miss too many days due to menstruation cycles or poor health, the family needs them to fetch water and work around the house, the family needs them to get a job and earn money, or they get married at too young of an age.
That is why we walked in Atlanta on October 10th. That is why we celebrated International Day of the Girl. Because millions of girls lack their basic rights and deserve to be empowered through an education. We celebrated this day so that we can start to work towards making it more possible for girls to get the education that will lead to change.
To learn more about CARE and the work they do visit: http://www.care.org/.