Vulnerable youth are left behind when they initiate high school

Due to the intensive schedule at secondary education the school canteens are no longer in use at midday. For vulnerable students at risk of social exclusion, whose family and social situation remains unchanged, this measure is particularly tough sincethey have been receiving school meal grants during primary school. 

In front of this latent need, the Probitas Foundation has decided to start pragmatic activism with its RAI-ESO program in order to offer a nutritional meal once a day to the most vulnerable children and youth, and a safe environment where they can carry out socio-educational , sports, and school support activities.

During the 2012-2013 academic year most of the high schools decided to adopt an intensive schedule finishing classes at midday. As a consequence, the dining room service was eliminated and the authorities no longer offered free school meals. Such a measure had a particularly negative impact on the most vulnerable children and youth who lost the opportunity to receive a  nutritious meal once a day. Those vulnerable students who benefitted from public grants up to June when they were in primary school, lost this right to awhen they started high school in September. Only about 1.7% of those youth are eligible for this grant, a figure which istoo low considering the high poverty risk  in Catalunya and Spain.    

In 2015 the Probitas Foundation started its own RAI-ESO project with the objective of covering the nutritional requirements of children and young people at risk of social exclusion in the framework of the RAI program.

The program aims to offer a healthy and nutritional meal in addition to a safe environment from 14.00 to 17.00 where adolescents aged 11-17 years can carry out socio-educational, sports, and school support activities

The pilot program has been developed in 7 centers of 6 municipalities (L'Hospitalet del Llobregat, Montornès del Vallès, Canovelles, Terrassa, Sabadell and Salt) with a total of 215 beneficiaries. Probitas has developed the project in collaboration with public high schools, socialorganizations, councils, and social services which have been in charge of identifying the minors who could benefit from the project. When possible, the activities have been carried out in the same schools; if this is not feasible the alternative has been the organization spaces or others provided by the councils. In each municipality Probitas  identify the social organization which could be most suitable for the implementation of the RAI-ESO project, and it is this entity in charge of contracting staff, and catering service.

Apart from providing topupils a full meal, the aim of the project is to offer them an area of protection where they can carry out different socio-educational, sports and school support activities. It should be noted that this pilot program is accommodating so far a maximum of 40 minors in each center and currently various municipalities have a waiting list for the program. Such a demand highlights the need for this nutritional and socio-educational resource for minors at risk of social exclusion in the various municipalities where we are intervening.

An evaluation has been recently conducted using a questionnaire for  educators and monitors who work daily in the RAI-ESO project and a number of conclusions has been drawn:

The educators and monitors rate very highly the joint work with Social Services in detecting  vulnerable minors who need to benefit from the program.

Both principals and  educators agree on the positive impact of the program and have detected an improvement on student's nutritional status, a decrease in school absenteeism and a positive change in their behavior after several months of receiving this support. The pupils appear to be happier, more open to participate in the activities, and with greater group cohesion. The families appreciate the program and a better relationship has been observed between them and the social organizations.

For the 2017-2018 academic year the number of RAI-ESO beneficiaries is expected to increase as we believe that the project is an essential cornerstone of the RAI program and a true need for these vulnerable minors that is not covered by the public administration. The RAI-ESO model, which we call "Eating Together", has been agreat success in the 7 pilot projects we are developing. 

We hope to extend and replicate the project in other secondary schools where we could identify other vulnerable children and youth.   

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International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation, a Human Rights Violation of women and girls

It is estimated that more than 200 million women and girls have been victims of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), 3 million suffer it every year in 30 countries where this practice is still carried out (Africa, the Middle East and Asia). 

In the International Day of Zero tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation, we want to denounce that in the 21st century there are still 820 women who are daily victims of ablation of their genital organs. This practice is internationally recognized as a Human Rights violation, an act of gender inequality which constitutes an extreme way of discrimination against women. 

The Probitas Foundation supports a project carried out by the foundation Mujeres por África (Women for Africa) in Liberia, which aims to prevent and treat obstetric fistulas. These gynecological complications are often produced due to prolonged and obstructive labor resulting from female genital mutilation in young women and girls, which is strongly rooted in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, for cultural reasons.

Each year about 50,000-100,000 women suffer from obstetric fistula, which causes them to have urinary and / or fecal incontinence, social rejection and health problems. It is estimated that more than 2 million women are affected without treatment.

Despite being a preventable condition, the fistula has negative effects in the lives of millions of women in the world, especially in Africa. The complications are caused by the pressure of the baby's head against the soft tissue of the mother's pelvis during prolonged and obstructive labor. Due to the impossibility of giving birth in a normal way, the tissue ends up in necrosis by lack of blood supply and creates a hole (between the rectum and vagina, ureter and vagina, or both). Most of these women are stigmatized in their communities, often being abandoned by their husbands and families. They cannot work and they have to live from the charity of the families that have abandoned them. 

The obstetric fistulas usually affect girls and young women who give birth, as their bodies are not enough prepared and mature for that purpose. The cost of medical services or transportation to health centers is an expense that many families can't afford. Therefore, these women give birth at home without proper care, increasing the risk of complications with no access to quality emergency obstetric care services.

The "Women for Africa" project supported by Probitas aims to contribute to the eradication of obstetric fistula in Liberia. Surgical treatment is the central component of the project, but it is not the only one. It is very important to increase awareness among woman and community leaders to increase knowledge in the communities to fight for the eradication of female genital mutilation. For this purpose, a first surgical mission was carried out in 2016 to attend women with this pathology, and a second one will be approached depending on the achieved results. 

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The 10 most under-reported humanitarian crises of 2016

Most humanitarian crises under passed in front of our eyes, simply because they are not covered by the media. The power of the media, the establishment of the trending news and the media agenda turn us blind, unaware of what is happening around us.

Those humanitarian crises that are covered by the media end up being the ones that receive most of the funding. This situation produce the establishment of a ranking topped by natural disasters or conflicts crises, without taking into account a pattern of seriousness.

CARE international issued a new report highlighting the top ten most underreported humanitarian crises of 2016. The report "Suffering in Silence, the 10 most under-reported humanitarian crises of 2016" features food crises in Eritrea, Madagascar, North Korea and Papua New Guinea, conflicts in Burundi, Lake Chad Basin, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Sudan and last year's monsoon floods in Bangladesh.

There are many disasters around the world that rarely make it into the news and they don't have the privilege of being broadcast by the media. The report aims to shine the spotlight on those humanitarian crises that have been neglected or eclipsed by other events or people who have grabbed the world attention.

Media attention and fundraising for humanitarian causes are closely intertwined. Observed the suffering in the media, especially on TV, causes that many people get involved and make donations. The media has the power to set agendas, hold politicians to account and help raise crucial funds to deliver aid. At the same time, politicians must not act solely based on political interests. Politicians prefer to focus their attention on the most visible emergencies to show their constituencies they are acting. According to CARE, these humanitarian crises are not simply forgotten; they are willfully ignored and neglected by world leaders.

In 2017, the world faces conflicts that are raging longer and longer. Poor families have to cope with typhoons, droughts and floods that are becoming stronger and happen more frequently. The global humanitarian vision of the United Nations for the 2017 estimates that a 22.200 million will be required to help the 92 million in urgent need of humanitarian aid.

CARE researched more than 30 natural disasters and ongoing conflicts that affected at least one million people and analyzed how often they were mentioned in online news articles. The 10 most under-reported were: 1. Crises of hungry in Eritrea caused for the drought call "the Boy"; 2. the violence for a political conflict in Burundi with 3 million people in need of humanitarian assistance; 3. Severe food crisis in Madagascar for the combination of several consecutive years of drought and the actual "the Boy"; 4. Lack of food and consequent food crisis in the Democratic Republic of Korea with 70% of the population does not have enough to eat; 5. An explosive mix of conflict, hunger and displacement around the Lake Chad Basin; 6. 20 years of war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; 7. Floods in Bangladesh with 4 million people affected; 8. The drought "el Niño" in Papua New Guinea "has starved 1.4 million people; 9. Conflicts over natural resources in the Central African Republic affected 2 million people in
need of food and humanitarian assistance. 10. A conflict of more than 10 years in Sudan has caused 6 million people to be on the verge of survival in the country.


* Information extracted from Care press release

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Probitas foundation's School Meal Support Project in Catalonia, Murcia and Madrid

In the current context of one in three children under 16 years living below the poverty line, the Probitas Foundation, under the "Child Nutrition Support Program" (RAI), is supporting more than 15,000 children In Catalonia, Murcia and Madrid with a total investment of over 2.5 million euros.

Given the situation of social vulnerability in which many children live in Spain, the Probitas Foundation starts in 2012 its RAI program with the objective of promoting a comprehensive support to the health of minors at risk of social exclusion with nutritional, socio-educational, psychosocial and health resources. One of the most important projects of the RAI Program is the RAI-school meal support, which aims to reduce the risk of child malnutrition through ensuring the feeding of children between 3 and 12 years old enrolled in primary and secondary education, mainly public high complexity schools. In this way, it seeks to provide a healthy meal a day for these minors at risk, to educate the children and their families in healthy habits,  to reduce the rate of school absenteeism and the early school dropout.

Current situation of school meal support in Spain:

As a consequence of the economic crisis, there has been a substantial increase in the demand for aid, both by families already living in a social precarious situation and by the emergence of new situations in families that until now they didn't need any support to feed their children. Although the grants have increased in number of beneficiaries during the last years, they still cannot cover an important number of pupils at risk of poverty in Spain.

The Autonomous Communities of Catalonia, Valencia, Madrid and Rioja, offer  grants that subsidize in whole or in part the school canteen service, and which depend directly on the aid policies promoted by the Administration. In other communities such as Andalusia, Cantabria, Castilla y León, Castilla la Mancha, Extremadura, Galicia, Murcia, Balearic Islands or Navarra, is compulsary for the administrationto give meal grants for students who meet social and personal requirements. Lastly, the Canary Islands do not grant individual scholarships, but rather only provide them to certain educational centers, while the Basque Country does not provide for any specific regulation  on school meal aid, but is recognized in the scholarship scheme for non-university students.

The legislation for school meal aids is frequently a regulation so severe that the families in need of this aid don´t have a real access to receive it using the common criteria based specifically on family income. This situation causes that the only granted families are those with unemployed or inactive members, leaving behind those families that even  having a job, they have serious economic difficulties and they dedicate a high percentage of their income to afford for their children school meal. Another difficulty faced by these families is the scaleestablished for the granting of aid, which only considers the amount of income of the previous year, which means that families with a sudden situation of poverty or with precarious employment situation can´t access to this grants even if they are living in a situation of great need and vulnerability.

Particular situation of the school meal support in Catalonia:

In Catalonia, the change of criteria for the granting of school meal support grants for this course, has brought out 16,000 new applications for scholarships for children who, at the beginning of the last year, were left behind without any aid and that in this course 2016-2017, due to the increase in the poverty threshold approved by Parliament last March, will benefit from them.

According to the data of last October, the Department of Education has resolved a total of 84,049 favorable files of requests for scholarship meal support grants, with a total of 17,898 scholarships (21%) covering 100% of the cost of the school menu. The complete scholarship has increased by 1,300 users over the past year. The rest of the grants awarded cover only 50% of the grant, with a total of 66,151 grants, an increase of 15,000 beneficiaries comparing with last year. Even so, 13,000 applications remain unresolved by county councils, 2,000 more than in 2015. The Department of Education  is aware that new applications may be received throughout the course, so an open budget will be maintained for situations that arise for families in situations of vulnerability (1).

Despite the new selection criteria in granting meal scholarship, and the increase of beneficiaries for this course, the requirements to be beneficiary of this type of aid do not correspond to the real needs of children who are at risk social exclusion;for example, to become eligible, the economic threshold for a family of two adults with two kids cannot be over 20,300 €.

Probitas Foundation RAI-School Meal Support Program
The School Meal Support Program is carried out thought the granting of aid to children who live in high social vulnerability. The maximum financial contribution it's a 50% of the official price of the school canteen (except in some centers of Madrid and Murcia, which Probitas financed the 100% for the characteristics of the scholarships in these communities). In Catalonia the aid is granted to children who already receivedthe Regional Council aid (50%) but can't copay the school meal, for families who have requested the aid but they haven't received it despite their economic difficulties, or for minors who have not received the aid but the schools detects that they need it. The identification of the cases and the work with the families is done in network, in collaboration with the schools and in agreement with the social services of the municipality.
Specifically for this course 2016-2017, a total of 3,023 children from 148 schools in 32 municipalities are going to be benefit for the aid offered by Probitas. The scope of action is concentrated in Catalonia, Murcia and Madrid. In this RAI-School Meal Support Program more than 1.4 million euros will be allocated to cover the needs of children at risk of social exclusion. 
Regarding the profile of the beneficiaries of the school meal support program, it should be noted that 91% of the beneficiary families requested the grant to the Administration and only 7% didn't. The 59% of beneficiaries are under social services follow-up. The beneficiary families come from 52 different nationalities, and 41% are Spanish . The 22% are single-parent families and 50% of the total are large familieswith 5 or more members. The 34% of the parents and the 28% of the mothers are in an active labor situation. 
In addition, the Probitas Foundation also develops projects to meet other nutritional needs, such as the RAI-Breakfasts (a project implemented mainly in Madrid) and the RAI-Secondary School project, with the aim to offer a nutritious meal a day and a space of social protection for students attending high school who are left behind by the official aid due to the intensive school day and the lack of grants for them. 

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Probitas and UNICEF organized an international workshop to update on prevention, diagnosis and treatment of HIV/AIDS in indigenous populations living in the Peruvian Amazon

From November 8 to 10, the "Workshop on Updating  the management of HIV / AIDS in indigenous populations living in remote and difficult access areas in the Peruvian Amazon" was held in the city of Tarapoto, Peru, with the participation of Local health workers working in these regions.

This technical meeting was carried out in the framework of the alliance between the Probitas Foundation and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), as a continuation of the project started in 2014 with the objective of preventing, diagnosing and treating people affected by HIV/AIDS in indigenous communities living in Amazonas and Loreto regions.

This project is part of Probitas program, called GLI (Global Laboratory Initiative), whose main objective is to strengthen the response capacity of clinical diagnostic laboratories in vulnerable regions around the globe.

The three-day workshop was developed with the participation of three Spanish experts in the subject, Dr. Claudia Fortuny (Pediatrician), Tomás Pumarola (Microbiologist) and José Luis Casado (Infection diseases expert), as well as specialists from Peru arrived from Lima. It was attended by more than 40 professionals from the health networks of Condorcanqui, Datem de Marañón, Atalaya and San Martín provinces.

The training goal was to update on prevention, diagnosis and treatment of HIV/AIDS the health personnel who care for the population of the Peruvian Amazon. The meeting served to exchange experiences on the prevention of mother-to-child transmission, early diagnosis, biological monitoring and the comprehensive care and treatment of adult patients in different contexts.

During the workshop the results obtained throughout the project implemented jointly between Probitas and UNICEF in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health were evaluated. These results include the adaptation of protocols to remote and difficult access areas, the prevention of vertical transmission of HIV with a special attention in breastfeeding and the treatment of mother and exposed child in this type of contexts. 

It was also discussed the practical application of the technical standard of the Ministry of Health of Peru for the care of adult persons with HIV/AIDS, taking into account the existing diagnostic techniques for the biological monitoring, as well as the availability of antiretroviral drugs of great activity (HAART) in the country.

Dr. Jose Luis Casado, Senior Medical Doctor, Department of Infectious Diseases at the Ramon y Cajal Hospital, Madrid since 1994 explained his experience in the workshop:

Do you think that the local health staff will be able to apply the knowledge acquired during the workshop in their daily activities?

"Definitely. I believe that the workshop will be useful for their day to day, I would even say that, in addition to specific clinical knowledge, the workshop gave them general knowledge necessary to spread the message on the importance of education, information and treatment within the population.

What were the most important points for you?

"I think there was discussion in all the basic aspects, both diagnosis and treatment, as well as problems on prevention and the adherence to treatment, either in adults and among children. Perhaps the most important thing was how to apply this general knowledge to the local problems."

What were the most polemical aspects?

"Undoubtedly the problems arising from cultural differences and geographical barriers, which make it difficult for people to understand the problems of the HIV/AIDS and also to increase among population the screening of the disease and the treatment of patients."

What impression did you take of the work that these health professionals carry out in these remote and inaccessible contexts?

"It is remarkable the way how they have to face problems, sacrificing time and family, trying to extend a health program, in this case in the HIV / AIDS context."

How do you think that the project of Probitas and UNICEF has been able to impact on the improvement of the HIV patient management, especially in the indigenous population?

"Probitas and UNICEF have been able to solve and improve the access to laboratory tests and to train the personnel for the correct handling of patients and tests. This fact is basic to be able to offer a comprehensive response to the population, since without them an adequate treatment of the patients can not be reached: information of the importance of the screening or laboratory tests information of its meaning, treatment and follow-up.."

What has it meant for you at the personal level to be able to hold this workshop in Peru?

"For me it has been an opportunity to do a lot of good work in a few days. Even more, because the training of so many staff is what guarantees that the assistance is well covered and the effort is not lost. I could have gone as a doctor, visit 20 patients a day, even 40, but I would never have had as much impact as having trained 40 people who are going to improve care for hundreds of patients."

"So thank you for giving me the opportunity. "

On World AIDS Day, we want to focus on the situation of indigenous communities in the Amazon, which have experienced an increase in the rate of HIV infections. These populations are currently living amidst large migratory processes, illegal extractive activities and the widening of the trade frontier that further aggravates their situation.

The low availability of health services and some cultural practices, are barriers for the population to access HIV / AIDS diagnosis, treatment and prevention. Because of this, the strengthening of the laboratories has been a key support for the population of these regions in the Amazon.

The Probitas Foundation has provided technical assistance in assessing the situation of the laboratories of the Condorcanic network and the Datem del Marañón network. Probitas has also actively advised and supported the simplification of the Technical Standard on HIV / AIDS care and diagnosis adapting them to these contexts and to the indigenous population, working together with UNICEF and the Ministry of Health of Peru.

Thanks to the efforts of these entities, during 2015, 8,360 HIV screenings were carried out. 98 HIV positive cases were identified, of which 62 are currently receiving treatment and can be monitored close to their place of residence. This represents a significant increase on respect 2013, before the implementation of the project, with figures of 5,940 screenings, 105 of them positive, but with only 20 patients receiving treatment.

During its execution, the project has been supported by the Ministry of Health of Peru (MINSA), through the National HIV / AIDS Strategy and the National Institute of Health (INS). Thanks to this, a public policy implemented by MINSA has been promoted for the benefit of all communities affected by HIV / AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections.

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World Diabetes Day: Probitas Foundation supports an innovative project of UNRWA, which fights against the disease among Palestinian refugees in Jordan

The belief that infectious diseases cause more deaths at the global level that the non-communicable diseases, is completely wrong. The increase of non-communicable diseases (NCD) is a fact that keeps warning the organizations that are responsible for the global health. Data indicate that in 2012 the 68% of deaths in the world, around 38 million, were caused by these diseases, which are concentrated basically in four types: cardiovascular diseases, cancer, respiratory diseases and diabetes.

The distribution of mortality by non-communicable diseases is not equitable. The difference between developed and developing countries is huge: despite the common believing, 75% of the worldwide deaths from NCDs occur in developing countries.

At the World Diabetes Day, the Probitas Foundation wishes to place special emphasis in this pathology that is growing up until reaching alarming levels in all countries. According to data provided by the WHO, diabetes is no longer a disease that affects only rich countries, since the vast majority of the 422 million people suffering from this illness in 2014, lived in developing countries.

The number of people affected has quadrupled in just 30 years and the latest data from the WHO reflect 3.7 million deaths from high blood glucose levels of which 1.5 million were directly caused by diabetes. Of these 3.7 million deaths, 43 per cent are under 70 years old, making diabetes one of the leading causes of premature death. The prevalence of the disease has also increased between 1980 and 2014, rising from 4.7% to 8.5%. Especially in developing countries, that in the 80's had low prevalence of diabetes. Currently the mortality rate between 20 and 69 years for reasons associated with high levels of sugar is particularly high, especially in men.

By regions, WHO highlights the incidence of mortality in Africa, the eastern Mediterranean and Southeast Asia, and also points to the western Pacific as the area where deaths most increased between 2000 and 2012 (from 490,000 deaths to 944,000). This increase is due to the difficulty in accessing the treatments, such as insulin, that is much more difficult to obtain and also more expensive in developing countries, where overweight and obesity had also been accentuated.

The consequences of diabetes are a serious public health problem: blindness, renal failure, cardiovascular complications and amputation of the lower limbs are the most serious for those suffering from the disease. For fighting against all these problems and consequences of diabetes, the Foundation supports UNRWA, cooperating in a project based in Jordan that focuses its activity in the diagnosis of the diabetes through the measurement of glycoside hemoglobin, HbA1C. This new procedure facilitates a better control of the disease and patients, with a more reliable diagnosis than on going standard methods.

The project, "Strengthening clinical diagnostic services at the UNRWA health centers in the refugee camps of Wihdat and Irbid, Jordan," apart from early diagnosis of diabetes of the refugee population, also allows a better follow-up of the disease foe those already affected. The project also contemplates among its activities a training for the specialists who work in the project so that they can diagnose, treat and follow up patients in a better way.

The Probitas Foundation is committed for training as a tool for social change and will continue to support this type of projects focused on no-communicable diseases, whose prevalence increases day by day worldwide.


*UNRWA: "United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees"

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More than 4,100 children at risk of social exclusion have benefited from the aid that Probitas Foundation offers in the months of July and August through its RAI Summer Program

The Program offers access to summer activities during the months of July (2,775 beneficiaries) and August (1,339 beneficiaries) to children and teenagers between 3 and 17 years old living in vulnerable situation. The aim is to guarantee one healthy meal and a protection environment where they can participate in socio-educational activities, sports and leisure during school holidays.

From the beginning of the economic crisis, year after year, social vulnerability and poverty of families had been increasing. Currently, 30'5% of Spanish children and teenagers are living in households with incomes below the relative poverty threshold. The communities with the higher rates of poverty risk are: Ceuta, Murcia, Andalucía and Extremadura, exceeding 40% of children at risk. Catalonia has a rate of 25'1%. 
Facing this situation, and since 2012, the Probitas Foundation through its programme RAI (Child Nutrition Support Program) aims to complement the actions undertaken by the local public administration government that do not cover current needs. 
A total of 28 municipalities and 36 entities of Catalonia and Murcia joined the RAI-Summer Program initiative. During the month of July the Foundation collaborates with the activities offered by social action organizations rooted in the different municipalities with 2,227 children benefit. The type of support was different depending on the needs of the organizations, collaborating with individualized scholarships food, meals, and outdoor activities or summer camps. 
Instead, in August, facing a big gap in the availability of summer programs and the continuous needs for the most vulnerable, Probitas combine the funding of summers programs with the collaboration with other social entities reaching 552 beneficiaries and the startingup of 10 own summer programs with 787 beneficiaries. These own summer programs were organized with the councils and were executed by non-profit entities in spaces assigned in each municipality.
The majority of funding for the project (293,400€) has been allocated to the own summer programs doe to its cost of implementation and the type of scholarship recipients, which in this case was 100%. 
This year 4,114 children have benefited from this aid, thus almost doubling last year's quantity of 2,300 beneficiaries. The budget has also increased from 526,566€ in 2015 to 750.000€ in 2016 following the growing line of the RAI program.
Once the summer has passed, the Foundation continues, covering nutritional, social and educational, psychosocial and health care of children at risk of social exclusion. Through: RAI-School meal support, which ensure a nutritious meal a day to the most vulnerable children; RAI-Healthy habits, which promotes healthy habits through activities with children, families and youth; RAI-Cuida'm, which offers medical care and treatments for children with conditions and diseases not covered by the National Health System and that hinders its development. 

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