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La Jolla student starts Web-based philanthropy campaign

Cindy Berman, a senior at La Jolla Country Day, has been leading philanthropy events using Web fund-raising for various organizations in the Middle East and Latin America. Her passion for helping Latin America has fueled her interest in International Relations.

Q: How did you begin working with Emergency USA?

A: I interned in New York City.

Q: What is Emergency USA?

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A: It’s an affiliate of a prominent European philanthropy organization. They help civilian war victims by creating a sustainable medical infrastructure by places hurt in combat. Landmines in north Iraq from the Iraq/Iran war are destroying innocent people, and they have nowhere to go. These places have great need. They deserve the same equipment and treatment we have. Emergency USA sends over high-quality equipment with the money raised and trains doctors. Ninety percent of the staff is indigenous to the country so that they create a group of individuals who can continue to help the country.

Q: What did you do for them?

A: I developed a fund-raising strategy. They had been using direct mail and phone calls, which was not very effective. I introduced them to an Internet software company called Kintera. I created a content Web site. I also revised grants for foundations, because a lot of the time they were translated from Italian to English.

Q: What inspired you to do that?

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A: La Jolla Country Day really opened me up to the world, through my history classes. I have been learning about social problems in Latin America. I wanted to help.

Q: What subjects do you like best?

A: I really like all subjects. I like history and Spanish a lot. I studied in Spain for three summers.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: I do a lot of community service. I started the first micro-finance project at La Jolla Country Day.

Q: What is that?

A: The project is called Project Concern International. It is a humanitarian project. It gives small loans, about $50 to $100, to entrepreneurs in poverty, so they can start a business. We send loans to Guatemalan coffee farmers, women. I wanted to do something in Central and Latin America. There is such a big difference between the upper and the lower class there. Project Concern International has a good success rate, they just need money.

Q: What did you do to raise the money?

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A: I go to classrooms and explain about poverty and the problems these countries are facing. We’ve had a bake sale, ice cream sale, and then I created a Web site where students can e-mail family and friends to fund-raise and educate them about what’s going on in the world. Country Day had never done an on-line fund-raiser. We raised $2,000 in one month.

For more information or to donate money, visit www.emergency.kintera.org/africanprogram or www.pci.kintera.org/amigos.


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