Project Sheluka

Many Lozi-speaking people of Zambia’s Western Province live in traditional villages, between 100 and 300 individuals, along the vast Barotse Floodplain.  Villages are situated along the edge of the floodplain and the adjacent forest.  Together villagers work to secure resources to live with environmental conditions dictated by annual flooding of the Zambezi River.  As climate conditions slowly change annual floods are less predictable forcing the Lozi Villagers to rely more on the meager resources of the forest for survival.  Regardless of weather conditions traditional Lozi villages find fresh water by digging into the underlying sand.  These open pits (typically two meters in diameter and dug to the water table, two to four meters below the surface) are the sole-source of water for the villages for most of the year.  All water for drinking, cooking, bathing, watering gardens (vegetables) and stock is dipped from the bottom of a hand-dug pit.  This has been the way of life as far as their history can be remembered.

In 2019 a retired US National Park Service hydrologist visited Kalenge Village on the Matebele Plain (a south-western portion of the Barotse Floodplain) and installed five sand-point wells and hand pumps as a proof-of-concept test.  It was determined that these simple tools (a sand-point is a screened section of well casing terminated by a steel cone driven into the ground by well casing) can be easily installed to provide clean reliable water for a traditional village. These wells remain in daily use over a year later.

Project Sheluka, Inc. was established as a 501(c)(3) entity after proof-of-concept was successful.  After consultation with our Zambian hydrologist team member we decided to focus our initial efforts on the Matebele Plain — a floodplain without a permanent stream stretching 100 km westward to the border with Angola.  The Matebele Plain is difficult to reach, and thus its residents are the last to receive help by either their government or NGOs.  These are the people most in need of reliable clean water so these will be the people we serve first.

The David D. Dodge Foundation provided a substantial grant to Project Sheluka at a time when support is most needed.  With this grant we are now ready to build pumps and assemble sand-points in a workshop in Mongu Zambia.  This puts Project Sheluka in position to begin installation of sand-point wells and pumps in June 2021.  It is our goal to install 110 wells and pumps for the 80 villages identified during our Scouting Expedition during July 2020, by October 2021.  Once our work on the Matebele Plain is complete we will turn our attention to the scores of traditional Lozi villages dotting the edge of the Barotse Floodplain. 

We would like to express our deepest appreciation to the David D. Dodge Foundation during this critical moment in our endeavour. To learn more about our work, please visit our website

Many Lozi-speaking people of Zambia’s Western Province live in traditional villages, between 100 and 300 individuals, along the vast Barotse Floodplain. Villages are situated along the edge of the floodplain and the adjacent forest. Together villagers work to secure resources to live with environmental conditions dictated by annual flooding of the Zambezi River. As climate conditions slowly change annual floods are less predictable forcing the Lozi Villagers to rely more on the meager resources of the forest for survival. Regardless of weather conditions traditional Lozi villages find fresh water by digging into the underlying sand. These open pits (typically two meters in diameter and dug to the water table, two to four meters below the surface) are the sole-source of water for the villages for most of the year. All water for drinking, cooking, bathing, watering gardens (vegetables) and stock is dipped from the bottom of a hand-dug pit. This has been the way of life as far as their history can be remembered.

In 2019 a retired US National Park Service hydrologist visited Kalenge Village on the Matebele Plain (a south-western portion of the Barotse Floodplain) and installed five sand-point wells and hand pumps as a proof-of-concept test. It was determined that these simple tools (a sand-point is a screened section of well casing terminated by a steel cone driven into the ground by well casing) can be easily installed to provide clean reliable water for a traditional village. These wells remain in daily use over a year later.

Project Sheluka, Inc. was established as a 501(c)(3) entity after proof-of-concept was successful. After consultation with our Zambian hydrologist team member we decided to focus our initial efforts on the Matebele Plain — a floodplain without a permanent stream stretching 100 km westward to the border with Angola. The Matebele Plain is difficult to reach, and thus its residents are the last to receive help by either their government or NGOs. These are the people most in need of reliable clean water so these will be the people we serve first.

The David D. Dodge Foundation provided a substantial grant to Project Sheluka at a time when support is most needed. With this grant we are now ready to build pumps and assemble sand-points in a workshop in Mongu Zambia. This puts Project Sheluka in position to begin installation of sand-point wells and pumps in June 2021. It is our goal to install 110 wells and pumps for the 80 villages identified during our Scouting Expedition during July 2020, by October 2021. Once our work on the Matebele Plain is complete we will turn our attention to the scores of traditional Lozi villages dotting the edge of the Barotse Floodplain.

We would like to express our deepest appreciation to the David D. Dodge Foundation during this critical moment in our endeavor. To learn more about our work, please visit our website ProjectSheluka.org

Freedom of the Press Foundation

The need for an independent and resilient press is more urgent now than ever. Between the rapidly evolving public health crisis around COVID-19, and the protests surrounding racial and social injustice, press freedom is at the forefront of it all. The world is also experiencing a dangerous surge in authoritarianism and attacks against fundamental freedoms. Today, journalists are routinely described as “enemies of the people,” surveilled, physically assaulted, and arrested—even in the United States.

To protect democracy, we must protect press freedom. Since its founding, Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) has become an essential partner to news organizations around the world, because it does more than merely point out threats — it actively works with news organizations to mitigate them.

At our core, we strive to protect, defend, and empower public interest journalism in the 21st Century. We believe that a thriving free press—one that can change the course of history—depends not only on strong advocacy, but also on actively empowering journalists and whistleblowers to do their job in the face of adversity.

We build secure communications tools used at the world’s top news organizations. We teach journalists and documentary filmmakers how to keep themselves and their sources safe in the digital age. We monitor and document virtually every press freedom violation in the United States. And we engage in public and legal advocacy around critical press freedom issues in the U.S. and around the world.

FPF was founded in 2012 by a group of well known journalists and free speech activists including Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, the late John Perry Barlow, Trevor Timm, Rainey Reitman, and Micah Lee, all of whom are on our board of directors. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden joined our board of directors in 2014.

Generous support from the David D. Dodge Foundation will assist in helping us build the next-generation of secure communications tools for journalists, specifically the ongoing development of SecureDrop, a project originally created by the late internet activist Aaron Swartz.

For five years, FPF has led the development of SecureDrop, an open source whistleblower submission system that enables journalists to communicate with anonymous sources in a safe and secure manner. SecureDrop is currently available in 20 languages and it is used by over 75 major news organizations worldwide (including The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Associated Press, ProPublica, ICIJ, The Center for Investigative Journalism, and many more). It is seen as an increasingly vital tool for all news organizations to offer to whistleblowers, and it has been the source of countless important investigative stories over the past several years.

SecureDrop was designed to meet the needs of news organizations who face the triple threat of hacking, surveillance, and prosecution. In recent years, these threats have grown to unprecedented levels for news organizations and whistleblowers, in the U.S. and around the world. Leak investigations targeting whistleblowers are at an all-time high, and journalists are experiencing targeted cyberattacks like never before. SecureDrop protects news organizations for all these threats, and it’s why virtually every major news outlet in the country relies on it for protection.

To obtain more information about our work, please go to our website: https://freedom.press/.

Southern Poverty Law Center Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative

The Southern Poverty Law Center is a catalyst for racial justice in the South and beyond, working in partnership with communities to dismantle white supremacy, strengthen intersectional movements, and advance the human rights of all people. SPLC envisions a world in which everyone can thrive and the ideals of equity, justice, and liberation are a reality for all.

SPLC was founded in 1971 to ensure that the promises of the civil rights movement became a reality for all. Since then, we’ve won numerous landmark legal victories on behalf of those impacted by exploitation, discrimination and bigotry.

Every day, tens of thousands of immigrants are locked behind bars in the United States. Many are detained for months, even years, far from their loved ones and communities. They’re subject to the same abuses prevalent in the country’s criminal justice system — confinement, low-quality nutrition and medical treatment, and rampant abuse — without the constitutional right to an attorney. Although immigrants with legal counsel are more than 10 times as likely to succeed in their cases, the vast majority of detainees are forced to represent themselves in their proceedings.

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative (SIFI) challenges the deportation machine and safeguards immigrants’ rights. SIFI volunteers and staff provide pro bono help to immigrants detained at five detention centers across the Southeast.

What we do:

  • Protect immigrants’ due process rights
  • Hold law enforcement and detention facility personnel accountable for civil rights violations
  • Challenge the deportation machine
  • Educate the public about immigrants and debunk falsehoods
  • Cultivate and expand attorney engagement

The South, which already has some of the highest rates of incarceration in the country, is the bargain basement of immigration detention. Facilities charge among the lowest per diem rates in the country in order to land Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) contracts that can create jobs for communities, revenue for municipalities and profits for private prison operators, no matter the human cost.

SPLC will continue with its work until the day comes when the ideals of equity and justice will be a reality for all. To obtain more information about our work, please go to our website: www.splcenter.org.

Three Strikes Project

In 1976, Mississippi joined the tough-on-crime wave that swept the country decades ago, establishing harsh penalties for people with multiple felony convictions. Before a law change in 2018, if a prosecutor in Mississippi sought to impose the mandatory maximum sentence through the “Three Strikes Law” and secured a conviction, judges were required to order the statutory maximum sentence without the possibility of parole.

Mississippi has one of the highest per-capita incarceration rates in the world, and like other states across the country, is marked by racial disparity. In Mississippi, habitual penalties like the Three Strikes Law are applied overwhelmingly and disproportionately to Black men. Despite making up 13 percent of the state’s population, 75 percent of the people in prison with 20+ year habitual sentences are Black men. Not only do habitual offender laws cost people their lives, it costs tax-payers millions in unnecessary spending.  Mississippi spent more than $40 million in 2018 to incarcerate people who were sentenced for nonviolent offenses.

SPLC founded the Three Strikes Project with FWD.us in 2018 to provide legal representation and help people eligible for parole navigate the petition process. Not only does the project represent individuals in their petitions for free, but it also provides reentry support and proactively distributes manuals on the petition process to people with less than two years of their sentences remaining. The project aims to help incarcerated people who have received draconian prison sentences under the Three Strikes Law return to their loved ones and become productive members of society, where they can engage in the rehabilitative process outside of prison walls.

Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation – Sports and Recreation Program

Razia Jan, native Afghan and award-winning humanitarian, is the founder of Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2007 that improves the lives of young women and girls through community-based education in the rural district of Deh’Subz, Afghanistan. Built on the knowledge that education is key to positive, peaceful change for current and future generations, Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation provides learning and growth in a safe, nurturing environment, empowering girls and young women through education and resources so that they may work toward brighter futures—in their own villages and beyond.

In March 2008, Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation opened its flagship program, the Zabuli Education Center, an all-girl K-12 school, with 100 students. Today the school is thriving in its thirteenth year of operation providing free, exceptional education and school supplies, in addition to uniforms, shoes, warm coats, healthy meals, and transportation to and from school to approximately 700 disadvantaged girls in a region with one of the lowest literacy rates in the world. Zabuli Education Center students come from impoverished, uneducated households in a society that systemically stifles women’s achievement.

In March 2017, Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation opened the Razia Jan Institute, the first women’s postsecondary vocational school in this region of Afghanistan, adjacent to the Zabuli Education Center. The Razia Jan Institute is a tuition-free, two-year midwifery training program and educational facility emphasizing the importance of maternal and infant health while supporting health-sector employment for Afghan women, and includes classes in English, personal finance, and computer literacy. Building on the success of the Zabuli Education Center, the Razia Jan Institute offers post-secondary education opportunities to graduates of the Zabuli Education Center and other community members, providing them with a clear path to empowered employment as midwives while bringing medical services to a desperately underserved area. The Razia Jan Institute will matriculate 20 to 25 young women every other year beginning with this first class that began in 2017.

In the fall of 2018, Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation purchased a parcel of land adjacent to the existing K-12 school building. A portion of this land was designated for the construction of a playground and sports area. Thanks to the generosity of the David D. Dodge Foundation, in the spring 2019, we built a playground that includes swing sets, seesaws, a climbing structure, and slide. We also created and equipped a space for soccer, volleyball, and basketball—along with a small building for equipment storage and bathroom facilities.

School is the one place where our students actually get to be children, where they can run and play and be physically active without any negative social pressure. By offering a sports and recreation program at Zabuli Education Center we hope to provide our students with a healthy physical outlet, and to allow them to explore and develop their physical fitness. We anticipate that the girls will not only benefit physically from the sports and recreation program, but that we will also see improvements in their social and emotional well-being as well as in their academic performance.

Additionally, in February of 2020, the David D. Dodge Foundation provided a grant to procure new textbooks for Zabuli Education Center, an unexpected expenditure required by the Ministry of Education to replace all textbooks for the upcoming 2020 school year. The David D. Dodge Foundation’s swift generosity allowed Razia’s Ray of Hope to move forward without disruption to the girls’ education.

For more information about Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation, please visit our website: www.raziasrayofhope.org.

The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty’s Justice Powered by Information & Action (JPIA) Program

Research consistently shows that death sentences:

  • Are given based on race instead of the severity of the crime.
  • Have been given to many people who were later proven innocent.
  • Do nothing to deter crime or increase public safety.
  • Cost states millions more than alternative justice would.

The US should abolish the death penalty and invest instead in strategies that are actually proven to increase public safety – those that eradicate racial inequity, support people in conflict with the law, and increase access to good education, living wage jobs, and mental healthcare.

In 2018, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty launched Justice Powered by Information & Action (JPIA) to offer free monthly webinars with experts from across the nation speaking on the death penalty’s flaws and connections with other social justice issues.

The facts in these webinars will shock you, anger you, and make you want to take action with us.

Each webinar includes calls to action that will give you the opportunity to join us in building a grassroots movement of people helping to change public thinking on the death penalty. JPIA will also offer a companion briefing paper and toolkit and a second series of skills training webinars for organizing to replace the death penalty with programs that actually work.

Together, we can get the nation talking about the real purpose of the criminal justice system and demanding that it shift from trying to punish someone whenever a crime is committed to using evidence-based methods that actually reduce crime and increase public safety.

Opposition to the death penalty is already high. When enough of us start talking about it and demanding change, policymakers will act to abolish this heinous practice of racially biased state-sanctioned killing once and for all. Join us at www.ncadp.org

Human Rights Watch San Diego Film Festival

The Human Rights Watch Film Festival (HRWFF) was founded in 1988 by Human Rights Watch, on the 40th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Recognizing the rising importance of cinema, the festival highlights the personal struggles of those affected by discrimination, persecution, state-sponsored violence and oppression.

Using the power of film, the festival helps audiences connect with these issues on a deeper level, while encouraging them to take action and demand justice.

The HRWFF is at the forefront of the global human rights documentary movement, and is the longest running human rights film festival in the world.

It has a rigorous film selection process where hundreds of film submissions from around the world are carefully vetted for the accuracy of their content and the quality of their filmmaking.

A central component of the festival is the post-screening discussion where Human Rights Watch brings filmmakers, film subjects, relevant HRW staff and other experts to respond to audience questions and provide the most recent updates on the issues described in each film.

The festival collaborates with local community partners in the San Diego area in order to ensure that a diverse range of voices and backgrounds are included in the post-film discussions.

Every year, the festival takes place in late January at the San Diego Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) in Balboa Park.

This year, Human Rights Watch has also formed a collaboration with the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty to screen the acclaimed documentary – In The Executioner’s Shadow. The screening, followed by Q&A with national experts, will take place on Wednesday, May 13, at the International House’s Great Hall at UC San Diego in La Jolla.

Tickets are free, but RSVP is required.