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Raising Money for the Millennium Village Project Through Referendum Initiative

In the 2008/2009 school year Students To End Extreme Poverty at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada started a referendum initiative to support the Millennium Village Project. The goal was to add a 6$ levy to the tuition. The student body voted overwhelmingly in favour of this initiative to add the levy to their student union fees. Now approximately 120 thousand dollars a year is going to Millennium Promise to support a Millennium Village in Tiby, Mali.

Sometimes quick and effective action goes a long way. The levy can be any amount, but in perspective for the price of a meal, a latte, a few coffees, a movie pass . . it can save lives. An MVP's supports 5000 people and gives them the tools they need to lift themselves out of extreme poverty.

The MVPs are is amazing project headed by Millennium promise and is breaking ground to achieve the MDG's in Sub Saharan Africa.

Here are some good links for more information:

If you are at University or College and would like to start a referendum of your own, visit STEEP's website at: and click to download a toolkit!!


Greetings Natalie,

I want to complement you and all involved on this initiative. It is great to see young people taking positive steps.

Have you spoken with 'diaspora' in your area who would like to get involved with supporting development initiatives that would have an impact on their former communities back home, but are unsure or distrustful of donating or sending remittances that could assist local development projects until they are sure the money will not be siphoned off or misused?

Natalie Liliane's picture


Greetings William, Sorry this is a loaded question!! I'm not sure I understand perfectly. Is it okay if you clarify this for me?? Thankyou !!

Sorry for the confusion, and didn't mean to ask a loaded question. Indeed, bear with me for a few paragraphs to allow me an attempt at expanding upon my original question to you.

I have been working for the last 2 decades with refugees and internally displaced populations. Almost all the countries I have worked during my career were in immediate aftermath of post-conflict stages. Young people that I often came in connect with were always looking for ways out, either from the country they found themselves in asylum or within their own country, either having returned to their home after displacement, or still not able to return to their home due to internal conflict.

I have followed many of the young people who were successful in leaving - often to western universities. Several have earned at least one degree. A great percentage of these young people I have known end up emigrating and taking up citizenship in the countries they have been educated in. They represent, along with those able to leave their countries the 'diaspora'.

The diaspora send billions of dollars back home annually. There is a growing body of literature on this issue. Rarely have the diaspora, felt comfortable investing in development projects as their former governments and their policies were often responsible for their leaving.

The international community is clearly interested in 'the brain drain'. I am interested in understanding this dynamic, and believe that whenever possible, developing countries should try to include interested diaspora populations in development planning. Why, Because of their strong attachment to the issues and problems in their former countries, particularly those that relate to family still residing back home.

Why is this of interest to me? I am a volunteer co-chair with the American Red Cross National Capital Region (around Washington, DC metro area) of the Measles Initiative. Check out At the end of July, I was fortunate to attend a 2-day meeting of the Measles Initiative partners. More than 100 global expert health professionals that were both HQ and field based. The assembly included the World Health Organization (WHO), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), the United Nations Foundation, the Sabin Vaccine Institute, UNICEF, representative from across the Red Cross International Movement and MSF. It was certainly a meeting of geniuses.

I have a rather significant personal goal of raising a million USD by the end of 2011. Your post was highly relevant to me. What I was working on at the time I read it was a paper about diaspora. Frankly, my observations over the last 2 decades are that development aid very rarely gets to the most vulnerable. This web platform is an excellent
venue to attempt to gain momentum to make the changes required to move the debate and more importantly policy change along paths that might prove more effective and efficient.

So what I was asking you was for your observations about foreign students at your university, and whether they might be interested in helping overcome development challenges back home. If they were, did they feel their efforts were helping to achieve successful MDG outcomes? Keeping the MDG Challenge requires considerable improvement in government infrastructures, and the ability to successful overcome corruption using democratic principles.

Thanks for listening....

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