Conflict Minerals: Impact and Hope

This week we turn our attention to stories that our project work has us personally vested in: the human rights toll of 'conflict minerals' in the DRCongo and how best to reintegrate child soldiers into civil society after they have paid the price in the name of these minerals. 

Here in Chicago, not far from our offices, we were able to take in this exhibit featuring the work of photographer Marcus Bleasdale. In this show, Bleasdale has used his powerful skills behind the camera to document the human costs of protecting mines for the corporate-interests of their owners, in the provinces of eastern Congo.  

As we learned at the exhibit, this part of the Congo is especially rich in gold, tantalum, tin and tungsten essential to manufacturing cell phones, laptops, digital cameras and other electronics in high demand by world markets. In the early 2000s, militias took advantage of the soaring mineral prices and staked out profits from their extraction - often by violent means. Bleasdale's work tells the story in photos and if you are in the Chicago area, we highly recommend seeing it for yourself. Short of that, this link will take you to the photographs featured in the exhibit. 

Related, and offering hope to the many caught up in the violence fueled by the minerals, are plans like this being implemented in the DRC. The kind of real training to former child soldiers outlined in the report, goes beyond just putting the issue in the news - the government's pledge and partnerships with international stakeholders takes a long view towards both ending the use of child soldiers and making sure that former combatants have skills and societal acceptance once they retire their firearms once and for all.

Viewing Bleasdale's exhibit and hearing the news of forward-thinking programs addressing the issue of child soldiers in this part of the world, reminds us that change is possible from the kind of long-term partnerships between local and international organizations. We are proud that our own work in Uganda and Kenya in helping establish National protocols and platforms, has proven to be mirrored by others working towards the same end. 

Associate Alexis Smyser attends the Conflict Mineral Exhibit in Chicago

Fall 2014 Newsletter

It has been several weeks since we've given you an update on what we have been up to. Locally and abroad, much is moving forward and we are excited to share this newsletter with you!

Watch a brief video overview of this newsletter: 


As usual, there is much activity and progress in the Philippines. Access to safe drinking water continues to be a priority for our Global Associate Dr. Susana Anayatin as she and her team install safe water wells in the Mindanao region. We are excited about their progress and would like to share with you our new interactive map which illustrates completed and planned projects. Click on each completed project to get a snapshot of the many individuals who now have access to safe-water. This map dynamically changes as Susana and her team update the data and make plans to service new schools.

  The Goldin Institute Philippines have provided safe drinking water to over 24,000 students throughout Mindanao.  

As in many countries, one step forward can be met with many challenges to our progress. Recently, Cotabato City and the Maguindanao Province experienced severe storms that resulted in flooding. Over 15 villages are under-water and schools are faced with adversity as books, classrooms and facilities are damaged. Despite the flooding and difficult learning environment, students are motivated to learn and teachers are able to work around the challenges and teach strategically. To help provide direct support to the flooded region, please click here. All donations in the month of September will be dedicated to flood relief and are fully tax-deductible.

In addition to flood relief, Dr. Anayatin and her team remain focused on safe drinking water access and are motivated to keep the community united.On Sept. 12, 2014, J. Marquez Elementary School in partnership with the Department of Education, the Philippine Army and the Goldin Institute Philippines launched the Peace Consciousness Month and International Day of Peace with the theme "Nagkakaisang Bayan para sa Kapayapaan," translated to United People for Peace. The activity symbolically paralleled the recent peace process occurring between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Philippine Government. The activity promoted peace amidst a diverse student population and the Mindanao community. Students were instilled with the value of peace by engaging in various activities such as a peace poster contest and a peace jingle contest.


Go Grassroots!

Goldin Institute is excited to announce GoGrassroots, a Tumblr site created as an online forum for those working at the grassroots level. The site supports grassroots movements across the globe. Regardless of their involvement with the Goldin Institute, organizations are able to share ideas, peer review each other's work and learn from each other as grassroots movements continue to positively impact communities in need. Take a look at the site to learn about innovative grassroots work and the skilled leaders who are directing the initiatives.

gograssroots teaser

One innovative leader you may have recently seen on GoGrassroots is Brian Concannon, Executive Director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. The Goldin Institute partnered with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs to host a discussion featuring Brian and Fran Quigley, author of the new book How Human Rights Can Build Haiti. A key message Brian conveyed during the event was that effective change in Haiti begins with the work of those struggling within the country.


[quote]Invest from the bottom-up; those experiencing Haiti on the ground are the voices that know what is needed to help themselves and the country."[/quote]

- Brian Concannon, human rights attorney



GoGrassroots was the brainchild of our intern Alexis Smyser. Alexis has recently completed her 10-month internship with the Goldin Institute. Please join us in congratulating her on a successful completion of her internship. We thank Alexis for all the good work she has done for the Goldin Institute and wish her well on her next endeavor!


Co-founder Diane Goldin and Advisory Board member Mimi Frankel at the Chicago Council for Global Affairs

Next Newsletter

Keep an eye out for our next newsletter where we will highlight the continued work of the National Platform in Uganda.

As always, if you have suggestions of individuals who may want to receive this e-newsletter or stories you think we should tell, contact us at