For the Love of Giving: A Holiday Gift List that Transforms Lives

The holidays can be a difficult time for survivors of violence and oppression, but this giving season you can make sure your gifts will be extra thoughtful. Whether you buy gifts for families rebuilding their lives or gifts that keep on giving, our partner organizations have an array of options that will fit your giving mantra this season. Here is a list we hope you’ll check more than twice!

Fundación Juan Felipe Gomez Escobar (Colombia) – Grant a scholarship to a teen mother and help transforms her and her child’s future. With this scholarship you help one of our teen mothers to receive vocational training, psychological, nutritional and medical care. By providing them education you are investing in their future and their children’s, enabling them to have a formal job that helps them generate a stable income and to become economically independent woman. Click here to grant a scholarship

Thistle Farms – Their social enterprise employs residents and graduates of their residential program. They operate a natural bath and body product line, the Thistle Stop Cafe, the Studios Workshop and Shared Trade Global Marketplace. Housed in an 11,000 sq. ft. facility in Nashville, Thistle Farms is a supportive workplace where women acquire the skills they need to earn a living wage. They employ 45-50 residents or graduates, and through their Shared Trade partners, another 1,000 women are employed. Click here to view their holiday collection

My Life My Choice – This holiday season help My Life My Choice give their amazing and brave kids the gift of love. Small or big your generosity will put smiles on their beautiful faces. Their holiday wish list provides basic needs for the children in their program who are fighting against exploitation. Click here to view their list

Restavek Freedom (Haiti) – You can transform lives and help to end child slavery in Haiti through a gift to the Greatest Need FREEDOM Fund. They’ll use your gift where it will have the most impact. They have helped to improve the lives of thousands of children and reached well over one million people in Haiti. Click here to access their online store

Save the Children – Help break the cycle of poverty for U.S. children today. Save the Children helps children by providing access to early childhood education, books and reading programs, physical activities and after-school nutrition. You can choose a Book Bag Exchange to boost literacy and future success or Stock a Library in the U.S. to benefit generations of children. And there’s much more to choose from in their holiday catalog! Click here to view their selection

Shining Hope For Communities (Kenya) – SHOFCO’s Sponsor a girl program makes you a key part of the powerful support team behind the students at our free schools. Beyond the cost of a superior education, sponsorship provides for a child’s nutritional, medical and other basic material needs. Through this sponsorship program, you (or your gift recipient) will receive a photo, letter, and update on your student’s progress in school twice a year. Another gift suggested by SHOFCO is their founders new book, Find Me Unafraid, which tells the unlikely love story between two uncommon people whose collaboration sparked a successful movement to transform the lives of vulnerable girls & the urban poor.

Half The Sky
Women’s Resource Center for Domestic Violence – Families transitioning from WRC’s safe house into their own apartments that are rebuilding their lives after domestic violence often do not have the financial resources to make them feel like they’re home. Generous donors can help by gifting dishes, cookware, bedding, other household items and gifts. If you are in the Atlanta area, please call the Women’s Resource Center at 404-370-7670. If you do not live in Atlanta, consider purchasing an item for a family from WRC’s Amazon Wish List
Happy Shopping!

Mayweather vs. Boycotters: The Fight Against Domestic Violence

As this Saturday’s Pacquiao-Mayweather boxing match fast approaches, there has been talk about Floyd Mayweather and his history of domestic violence. Longtime partner Josie Harris says she suffered abuse from Mayweather on six occasions, and former fiancé Shantel Jackson filed a civil lawsuit that include claims of battery, false imprisonment and allegations that the boxer pointed a gun at her. In one case, Mayweather pled guilty to two counts of domestic battery against Melissa Brim, the mother of his daughter Ayanna, and received a suspended six-month jail sentence, a $3,000 fine, 48 hours of community service and two days of house arrest.

Many plan to boycott the fight, but will that really make a difference when so many others are willing to pay to watch the fighting champion? Why not spend your money in a way that you know can aid women who have suffered domestic violence?

There are many things that remain beyond our grasp: the outcome of the fight, the pain that Floyd Mayweather inflicted on his loved ones and his refusal to apologize for it; but there is one thing that is within our control, choosing to boycott the fight. And while Mayweather himself doesn’t care if you do this, there are many other people who do.

We propose that instead of spending $100 to watch the fight on pay-per-view, you use the money to help survivors who can greatly benefit from your generosity.

$100 can go a long way, according to Women’s Resource Center to End Domestic Violence, featured in A Path Appears. It’s the cost of ten hours of coverage for their crisis hotline, a full day of meals for all the families in their safe house, 24 hours of shelter for one woman and two children and ongoing legal advocacy for one woman.

And for $99, you can buy one night in a Women Against Abuse domestic violence safe haven that includes three meals a day, beds/cribs, linens, laundry, toiletries, first aid and personal care supplies, as well as 24-hour security, case management and child care.

We hope you’ll consider this alternative and share it with your friends and family.

Making Way for Sustainable Impact

“If I die BASE jumping,” Bryan Swick Turner wrote in a letter addressed to his closest friends, “Please, and I cannot emphasize this enough, do everything you can to help end extreme poverty by 2030 and do your utmost to achieve sustainable development beyond that. Don’t waste time being upset about my dying; be upset about the seven million kids that die every year and don’t even get a chance to live…”

The Columbia University graduate was only 32-years-old when tragedy struck. Bryan, who died on March 9, 2015 while BASE jumping in Idaho, spent his life supporting anti-poverty efforts. In those 32 years, he achieved great things: leading the largest student movement to end extreme poverty in North America and holding prominent positions at the U.N. and Columbia University Earth Institute. His accomplishments don’t stop there.

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Bryan has been described as “a one-man army saving lives in the most significant way.” Even after his jarring death, he has served as a catalyst for change. His family, friends and the development community have created the Bryan Swick Turner Memorial fund to strengthen the development of a new field – Behavioral Science of Sustainable Development. The fund is set to launch on April 11, 2015 with an initial donation of $20,000. The program will be based at Columbia University, which will sponsor a fellowship, course and summer fieldwork opportunities in honor of Bryan.

Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s book A Path Appears opens with the story of the big-hearted Rachel Beckwith who, like Bryan, moved us to act. On Rachel’s ninth birthday, she asked that instead of birthday presents, guests donate to an organization called charity: water that drills wells in impoverished villages around the world. Her fundraising goal: $300. Rachel didn’t meet her goal at her birthday, but after a tragic car accident took the altruistic 9-year-old’s life, donations for charity: water came flooding in, reaching up to $1,265,823. By requesting donations instead of birthday gifts, Rachel laid out a foundation for change.

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“First, never underestimate the power of inertia,” writes Richard H. Thaler in his book Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness. “Second, that power can be harnessed.” Thaler proposes that simple changes to common policies, like making organ donations opt out rather than opt in, can have large effects on the behavior of individuals. Rachel could have asked for a birthday present, but instead she made donations the new status quo.

A follower of Thaler’s theories, Bryan believed poverty-alleviating efforts could be much more effective by applying insights from the behavioral sciences – making giving the norm, not the exception. Books such as Thaler’s Nudge and A Path Appears show that simple and inexpensive changes often have big effects on the behavior of individuals.

Every day we have the ability to make the same kind and charitable decisions that Rachel and Bryan made to make giving back the norm. And the benefits go beyond dollars raised. As Nicholas and Sheryl wrote, “A path is now appearing to show us how to have a positive impact on the world around us. This is a path of hopefulness, but also a path of fulfilment: typically we start off by trying to empower others and end up empowering ourselves too.”

Click here to learn more about Bryan’s initiative to end poverty.

A Path Appears in the “House”

When A Path Appears premiered on PBS in January, it highlighted the success of early childhood intervention by such organizations as Nurse-Family Partnership and Save the Children. In particular, episode two follows Jennifer Garner and Nicholas Kristof as they visit a West Virginia home with Save the Children’s Tonya Bonecutter and meet Johnny Weethee and his mother, Truffles. As an early childhood coordinator, Tonya helps children with language, social and emotional development and equips parents with the skills to support their children’s growth. With Tonya’s assistance, Johnny was accepted into pre-K, and Truffles is working to break the cycle of poverty, sexual mistreatment and drug abuse.

However, in recent news, West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has just cut funding for programs that help children succeed in school. “These cuts are devastatingly short-sighted,” says Anna Hardaway, state director of Save the Children’s U.S. programs. The cuts came on Tuesday as part of the governor’s $11 million decrease in his state budget. Save the Children suffered a loss of $375,000 in funding set aside for early childhood programs throughout West Virginia counties.

That loss is unfortunate for Save the Children, which touts a successful track record: 88 percent of the program’s three-year-olds score at or above the national average on pre-literacy exams. “There are mountains of research showing that whether a child is reading at grade level by third grade determines the whole course of their future. Our literacy programs are designed to get kids on track so they are equipped to succeed in school, graduate and go on to become productive members of society,” says Hardaway. “Fewer kids in West Virginia will have that chance now.”

On the national level, however, there is bipartisan support for home visitation programs. Last week, the House of Representatives reauthorized the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program, which has already provided more than $1.9 billion to home visiting services since its creation in 2010. The bill would support at-risk pregnant women and parents with young children by providing $400 million of home-visiting funding each year for two years. The case for MIECHV is cemented in scientific research that shows home visits by nurses and other trained professionals during pregnancy and the early years of life improve the lives of families and children living in or near poverty. Essentially, it promotes child development and positive parenting. There’s also evidence that home-visiting programs can save money on public spending such as emergency room visits, child protective services and special education.

The long-awaited outcome of the MIECHV authorization has temporarily been put on hold as the Senate takes its two-week recess. Now it’s up to the Senate to act. Want to help? Contact your senator and ask them to reauthorize the MIECHV program.

Response to Concerns about Kibera

The team at A Path Appears would like to thank you for feedback shared on social media since the broadcast of A Path Appears: Violence and Solutions, the third episode of the three-part documentary series. Some of the feedback raised questions regarding population, rape and public service statistics included in the segment filmed in Kibera. We stand by the use of these statistics, however we decided to revise the episode description on our website in order to remove any ambiguity and offer more specific detail in response to some of the questions.

For clarity, the population of Kibera has been heavily contested over the years. Nonetheless, the most credible external sources (agencies such as UNDP and UN-Habitat) agree the current population is between 700,000 to one million people. The Kibera constituency itself is a large area encompassing both formal middle-class settlements and informal settlements where people live in conditions of extreme poverty.

Several middle-class areas that are considered a part of the Kibera constituency, located outside of the informal settlements, do indeed have roads, power, running water*, and public schools. In the informal settlements of Kibera where A Path Appears was filmed in 2013, there was no formal government power**, roads, running water or public services. Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO), which is featured in this segment, reported that in the past few months the government started to change this through the National Youth Service and plans to upgrade roads, build community clinics and sanitation points, as well as improve community policing and access to police services. While many of these programs are not yet complete, several are in the early stages of development and planning and there is hope that they will be sustainable beyond their implementation.

It is our hope that the current attention to these issues will help provide additional momentum to ensure that in the future, all families and children in Kibera will have access to clean water and working sewage systems. We’ve interviewed dozens of residents of Kibera who have identified the lack of water and sanitation services as one of the biggest needs of their community, and are encouraged by the recent attention the government has given these issues.

The first four kindergarten classes in the Kibera School for Girls reported that 15 percent of students had been sexually assaulted or abused before entering school. In a recent 2014 internal survey, SHOFCO reports a decrease in this number to six percent. This is great news and a testament to the changing attitudes and conditions for the most vulnerable children in the community, the population SHOFCO serves. Additionally, the organization’s gender department in Kibera currently has 41 cases investigating gender-based violence (GBV) that are currently in the court system. SHOFCO is making great strides in providing services, outreach, and community partnerships to collectively address issues of violence against women.

In the period we were in Kibera to film A Path Appears, we were made aware of multiple reported rapes outside of those that were in the film. Many women we spoke to in Kibera talked about the difficulty of coming forward as survivors of GBV, due to numerous challenges, including intimidation, legal and police procedures, and holding perpetrators accountable. These statements point to a real need to provide additional support for survivors of GBV, and we are hopeful that in light of the recent dialogue around the statistics, these challenges will be addressed.

A Path Appears is a journey of hope from Nashville and West Virginia in America to Cartagena in Colombia, Port-au-Prince in Haiti, and to Kibera in Kenya, highlighting the work of organizations creating tangible change within their communities. The segment exploring Kibera reflected the strength and ability of this community to come together in supporting their most vulnerable, while also giving a voice to the people living through some of these challenges.

It is our hope that viewers will humanize the issues of inequality and the burden of poverty facing women and girls through our global exploration, and that they support the organizations making tremendous impact towards social justice. These dialogues are exactly the sorts of conversations we seek to have, to shed light on important issues, and ultimately, lead to action.

*Running water implies that water is piped to homes via a public utility.
**Government power implies power that is not from stolen lines and is accessible to homes.

A Path Appears: Shining Hope

In A Path Appears: Violence and Solutions, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn travelled with Mia Farrow and her son Ronan Farrow to the Kibera School for Girls to investigate the way Shining Hope for Communities is changing the future of thousands of people in their community. During the episode, we met two girls struggling with the damaging effects of gender based violence: Flavian and Ida.

When we met Flavian she could not walk and was suffering a severe infection caused by long-term sexual abuse by a family member. Today, Flavian is thriving. Her education at one of Kenya’s finest boarding schools has been supported through SHOFCO’s programs that sponsor ongoing education for girls who are survivors of gender-based violence. She loves school and is excelling in class. During winter break, Flavian joined the other girls who live at SHOFCO’s safe house (including Ida!) for an amazing leadership trip that took them across Kenya, visiting the Maasai Mara and other beautiful national sites. Flavian’s case will close this year. Her perpetrator is still in jail, and SHOFCO’s legal counsel is confident he will remain there.

Ida’s grandfather called on SHOFCO to help when the police refused to seek justice for his four year old grandchild after she was raped. The case was heartbreaking, especially when it was revealed that her rapist was another child. But progress was made.

Ida finished her first year of Pre-School at The Kibera School for Girls and has just started Kindergarten. She is a ball of energy with a charming smile—playful and blossoming. Maureen, the social worker who helped rescue Ida, has seen an amazing transformation. While Ida used to be so reserved that she was unable to relate to other students, she is now “vibrant, confident, and disciplined.” Just this morning, while Maureen and Ida were washing their hands together, Maureen inquired why Ida wasn’t wearing her school shoes. Ida replied in perfect English they did not fit her anymore. This confident, simple answer impressed Maureen because when Ida was rescued, shyness would have prevented her from answering.

Ida’s teachers report that when she came to KSG she could not sound out letters. Now, she is reading entire books on her own. She has gained immense confidence, which she showed off as one of the stars of her class’ end-of-year fashion show. While counseling has helped a great deal, Ida’s teachers and fellow students have also been instrumental in helping her come out of her shell and overcome her history.

Ida’s perpetrator is serving time at a juvenile rehabilitation center and attending school there. SHOFCO’s gender department is working hard with young boys in the community through its soccer programs to discuss gender-based violence at a young age. Its SHOFCO’s hope that Ida’s perpetrator will turn his life around and serve as an example.

Ida now lives in the safe and loving environment of SHOFCO’s boarding facility, Margaret’s Safe Place. She dreams of becoming a doctor when she grows up. She and Janet are still best friends.



Half The Sky



A Path Appears visited Shining Hope for Communities’ Kibera School for Girls during a pivotal moment. In the fall of 2014, SHOFCO scaled its grassroots model in Kibera to the second largest slum in Nairobi, Mathare, launching with the core of its innovative approach: a free school for girls. The school provides students with the holistic support needed to keep them in school to the completion of their education and with the tools to forge paths out of poverty for themselves and their families.

Meanwhile, SHOFCO continues to grow and deepen its infrastructure in its flagship Kibera site. They are expanding access to healthcare with a planned network of satellite clinics attached to toilets and water kiosks, encouraging the community to use WASH services in conjunction with healthcare. Through a continued focus on early childhood education, they have developed a daycare program with 65 blossoming children. They also take great pride in their oldest students, who rose to the 6th grade in 2015! To nurture these students, the school has instilled a mentorship program that exposes them to female role models and opportunities in the professional realm outside of Kibera.

Donate and support the growth and further impact of Shining Hope for Communities work now and double your dollars up to $100,000.

570 Arrested in Super Bowl Sting Operation

What do law enforcement officials and New England Patriots fans have in common? They both proved victorious on Super Bowl Sunday when over 570 would-be sex buyers (or johns) and 23 sex traffickers were arrested. The arrests were carried out for “National Johns Day,” a nationwide prostitution sting led by Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart that was featured in A Path Appears: Sex Trafficking in the USA.

“Sex trafficking continues to destroy countless lives, and this broad national movement should send a strong message to prospective johns that their ‘hobby’ is much more than a ‘victimless’ crime,” say Dart.


The 17-state campaign was the largest one since Dart launched “National Johns Day” four years ago (2,900 johns have been caught in total), and we are sure it will continue to grow. In the meantime, we can lend a helping hand to the survivors of sex trafficking by donating to organization that empower those at risk of sex trafficking and survivors.

Make a donation and make a difference to the women and girls at My Life My Choice and Thistle Farms.


A Letter of Hope from Haiti

In A Path Appears: Breaking the Cycle of Poverty, Nicholas Kristof and Alfre Woodard met Marilaine, a 13- year-old girl attending SOPUDEP’s free school; this moment forever changed her life. During this first meeting, Marilaine was still a “restavek,” a child domestic slave. She wrote to the team at A Path Appears to share her journey since that day, as well as her hopes for the future.

My name Marilaine; I am 15 years old. I was a restavek. I have now lived in the Restavek Freedom Transitional home since January 7, 2014. It’s been over a year since I first breathed freedom.

My life changed the day when you came to visit me because now I am free. I now think I am the luckiest of all students in school and I thank God every day. I am free; I can smile, visit my family, talk to them on the phone, go to school each day, play, have enough to eat and I now have dreams for my future. None of this happened when I lived with my host family.

At the Transitional House we are sisters and friends, but Rosemyrtha and Nerline are my best friends. I’m in a very good school and they teach me a lot of things, but I like science and math the best. Now I am doing two grades at the same time (3rd and 4th) through an accelerated program so that next year I will finish with primary school.

I have enjoyed everything I have experienced at the Transitional Home this past year. My favorite was when I got to be present at the finale of the Miss Haiti competition, and they even came to the Transitional Home to visit! I asked them questions and they taught me to walk like them. We even had our own contest of Miss Transitional House, and I was second. I love playing with my sisters, teasing Mamie Adeline and Tatie Regine, going to the beach, eating pizza in the restaurant with Mamie Joan and having visitors like Life Church, Calvary Church and others. They are strangers at first, but they love us. I have a lot of fun. When I grow up I want to be a nurse. This will allow me to help others and take care of them as the Foundation and the staff have taken care of me. In the future I hope that the world finds joy and peace, and that all children are equal with all families will be able to take care of their children.

I would advise any child living in restavek to be brave and strong because God has a plan for each of us. There are people put around us, like angels, to comfort and guide the weak and sad; look for them. If I can find the joy of life now, why can’t they.

— Marilaine


Attached this photo of Marilaine at the Restavek Freedom Transitional Home.

The letter came with this photo of Marilaine at the Restavek Freedom Transitional Home.


You can help restavek children, like Marilaine, today by making a donation to SOPUDEP and Restavek Freedom.

Marilaine will remain in the Restavek Freedom transitional home until she is prepared for a job or finishes school at age 18. Restavek Freedom is currently partnering with organizations to provide job training, and they will continue to provide for Marilaine’s education as long as she is interested in pursuing it, whether or not she is living in their house.

Restavek Freedom’s ultimate goal is to unite Marilaine with her mother in the long-term, they are hoping to achieve that by helping her mother build her market business in order to provide for her daughter.

Your donation to Restavek Freedom will help them achieve these goals.

The Journey Continues: Breaking the Cycle of Poverty

In A Path Appears: Breaking the Cycle of Poverty, Nicholas Kristof, Sheryl WuDunn, Jennifer Garner, Alfre Woodard and Eva Longoria traveled from West Virginia to Haiti and Colombia to learn from programs effectively interrupting the cycle of poverty. They discovered that it doesn’t matter if you’re a big organization like Save the Children or a small nonprofit in Haiti like SOPUDEP, the impact you can have is real if you use strategies with proven outcomes. Our work with the organizations did not end after we finished filming; here’s your chance to find out where the characters are today.

Johnny is doing really well in preschool, and, his mom Truffles says, “He is talking like crazy.” That’s a big deal because he was very quiet for a long time, Save the Children reports. “He’s coming out of his shell,” says Tonya Boncutter, his caseworker for Save the Children’s Early Steps who visits the home on a regular basis and in the film. Additionally, Truffles got a new job as a nursing assistant, and is now making plans to buy their own home.

You can support Johnny, and other children in the U.S. struggling with poverty, by sponsoring a child through Save the Children.

Lyn and Cynthia, their children and the others who shared their small trailer in the film, had some very hard times after the crew left. The trailer became infested with cockroaches to the point where it was unlivable. But their lives soon began to turn around. The generous older couple Lyn and Cynthia were living with was able to buy a small house for themselves, and decided to buy another for Lyn and Cynthia, and their families.

For now, they all remain under one roof as they struggle to get the heating running in the second house; nevertheless, they are hopeful about their future. That hope is fueled by Lyn and Cynthia’s little girls who are thriving. Lyn is already asking Tonya all about registering her daughter in preschool next year, and both girls are hitting all their developmental marks despite some previous challenges.

SOPUDEP and Restavek Freedom continue their work in Haiti. Marilaine, the young girl who was pulled out of an abusive home where she was working as a child slave (restavek in Haitian) and brought into a safe and loving transitional home at Restavek Freedom, is still in school and will stay with the organization until she turns 18. She personally shared the impact Restavek Freedom and SOPUDEP have had on her life in a letter to A Path Appears staff:

My life changed the day when you came to visit me because now I am free. I now think I am the luckiest of all students in school and I thank God every day. I am free; I can smile, visit my family, talk to them on the phone, go to school each day, play, have enough to eat and I now have dreams for my future. None of this happened when I lived with my host family.

At the Transitional House we are sisters and friends, but Rosemyrtha and Nerline are my best friends. I’m in a very good school and they teach me a lot of things, but I like science and math the best. Now I am doing two grades at the same time (3rd and 4th) through an accelerated program so that next year I will finish with primary school.

You can support Marilaine, and other girls like her, by donating to Restavek Freedom and SOPUDEP.

The Juan Felipe Gomez Escobar Foundation in Colombia (also known as JuanFe) continues to grow and expand its impact on the life of teen moms. The organization is expanding in Bogota, and the national government has asked JuanFe to also launch their program in Choco, the poorest city in the country, completely financed by the government, yet operated 100% by JuanFe. In addition, the JuanFe model will soon be replicated in Panama.

Sadly, Damelis who was featured in the film is no longer in the program at JuanFe. She made it through the first part of the program, and started the second cycle studying and getting her scholarship to finish high school, but her efforts were eclipsed by addiction. In a rare case, the foundation managed to continue to support her family by working with her mother to provide seed funding for a food business she wanted to launch. JuanFe continues to work with Damelis’s mother who is grateful for the support she has received.

You can help increase the reach and impact of JuanFe by donating today.

Partnering with

A Path Appears works with partners all around the world to increase our ability to create real change. During the broadcast of Sex Trafficking in the USA, we launched a new partnership with

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This partnership has allowed A Path Appears to bring more attention to campaigns across the country, and the world, and provide an easy platform for you to take steps to advance women’s rights. Take a look at the page here:

We have been amazed by the results. The broadcast drove thousands of new people to join campaigns to end practices that oppress and lead to the abuse of women and girls–and the numbers keep growing. Viewers who saw the reality of trafficking through the stories of women like Savannah and Shana have already begun their new journey. Are you ready to join them?

Tonight, we will be launch a new set of petitions relating to poverty, early childhood intervention, education, and teen pregnancy, issues investigated in episode 2 Breaking the Cycle of Poverty. Make sure to look out for the new links on Twitter and Facebook during broadcast.

If you’re ready to increase your impact already, check out the organizations we’re supporting through our Crowdrise page at: