Imagine you’re without electricity, water or even education. For some people, those are daily realities that affect their survival.
UNT group Future Without Poverty’s mission is to help individuals and communities in need. UNT professor and director of the college of public affairs and community service Stan Ingman helped establish FWP more than a decade ago. Though it is a national organization, it is small and still relatively new. UNT has one of only two college chapters in the nation.
“Future Without Poverty is a 15-year-old nonprofit organization. We operate mainly in Mexico, but also other parts of the world,” Ingman said. “We use the four E’s of sustainability — empowerment, education, enterprise and environment — as our vehicle to evaluate our projects and how well our projects work.”
Chapter president and international studies senior Emily Medina said doing this is all about getting the right knowledge and equipment to people in need.
“We provide these four E’s by complementing the people’s already existing knowledge and skills with new tools,” Medina said. “These tools, such as workshops and farming supplies, are provided to facilitate and assist them in improving their quality of life.”
Empowerment comes in different forms. One project that FWP has worked on is in Villa El Salvador, Peru, where it works with Los Martincitos Senior Citizen Center to provide for basic needs of the elderly. The staff at the center does house visits for the seniors who cannot make it because of medical reasons.
Before the earthquake that devastated Haiti, FWP wanted to help educate the children with a new school. The earthquake hit before it could start, but the organization was able to use the money it was going to use on the school for emergency relief. FWP is in the process of raising money again to build the school.
FWP also works to provide enterprise opportunities to communities through agriculture. It is a way the community can grow its food and provide an income. In addition to agriculture, FWP provides incubators to help start chicken farms. It has found that it works well to combine a chicken farm with a fish farm.
Another ongoing project is helping the environment of the communities through the installation of solar panels at schools. If a school doesn’t have access to electricity, the solar panels are installed to give them electricity. FWP works to provide access to clean water to communities. It builds water tanks to hold the water. It runs pipes to individual homes. A springhouse, community bathhouse, wastewater and greywater systems are among the water that FWP works to provide for communities.
FWP is a small organization and cannot help every community that requests it.
“When we are looking for a community to help, we look for those communities that are in most need,” Medina said. “The location of the communities are also a very important aspect in selecting a community. Because we are not a very big organization, we oftentimes choose a community based on our access to it and the contacts we have for that specific community.”
Graduate advisor Nichola Driver said empowering the communities FWP helps is a key part of the organization.
“Part of our mission is to give communities and families the tools to pull themselves out of poverty,” Driver said. “Our projects don’t give hand-outs, but we try to educate people in ways that they can make their own opportunities and improve their quality of life.”