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Guest Post: Shawn Rubin 2009 Eli Segal Award Winner

March 23, 2011

Today’s post comes from Shawn Rubin, AmeriCorps Alum and founder of Longitude, which connects visionary leaders with the resources that they need to affect change in their communities.

Human rights, healthcare and education…three pillars of society that allow an individual to live, learn and grow openly and without fear.

As countries with dictatorships and high levels of poverty continue to crumble around the world, a picture begins to form of a world, in the not too distant future, in which these inalienable rights are more available than ever before.

When the dust settles, and the Khadafi’s and Mubarak’s are finally sent packing, who will be the leaders who take up in their stead? The uprisings were led by educated and sometimes organized groups, but for the most part the throngs of people we see cheering on our TV screens at night are the under-privileged who have no access to any of the aforementioned rights.

Who will the undereducated follow? Who will they promote in the wake of these corrupt dictators?

When you look at countries like Ghana or India, who are steps ahead of Libya and Egypt, in terms of democracy and peace, you find that too many people still have no access to human rights, health care or education. The corruption reigns supreme and the people on the bottom suffer.

As the president of Longitude, I have had the privilege of working alongside grassroots leaders who are pushing for and building the very programs that will ultimately flip the disparity that plagues the developing world.

In countries where politicians are openly allowed to flaunt their excess, we believe the empowerment of local leadership is the most efficient and enduring way to decrease the gap between the haves and the have nots.

Using small amounts of money and large quantities of volunteer energy Longitude has been able to equip talented community leaders, in Ghana and India, with the tools and skills they need to increase their impact and efficacy among their people. In just five years Longitude’s partner organizations have grown from small one-man shows funded through meager personal salaries into accountable, locally-run, NGO’s serving hundreds who would otherwise have no options.

Longitude volunteers come from all corners of the world. They are talented individuals interested in using their skills and resources to better the lives of those who don’t have access to education, health care or human rights. Longitude partners these volunteers with leaders who can most benefit from their abilities. We create a win-win situation whereby the volunteer feels positive about their experience and the local NGO is moved further in its mission and outreach.

We are excited about the work we have accomplished, but we understand that in order to truly impact more people we must find more dynamic leaders and more talented volunteers. If you are a skilled individual looking to connect with new cultures , you could be a Longitude volunteer. If you believe that the empowerment of local leaders is the way to combat the corrupt politicians who are holding the developing world hostage, please contact us, so we can work together to connect cultures and change lives.

Shawn Rubin founded Longitude with his wife Laura Westberg in 2006. In addition to running Longitude, Shawn teaches kindergarten at an urban, public charter school. Shawn lives in Providence, RI with his wife, two sons under four, and his dog named Cuddles.

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