Nuru International works to end extreme poverty by focusing on empowering people through programs in agriculture, education, and healthcare, as well as water and sanitation. In the Kiswahili language of Kuria, Kenya, the word Nuru means light.
Ending Poverty to Eliminate Terrorism
Nuru was founded by Jake Harriman, an ex-Marine platoon commander who, after 7 years of military service around the world, observed a strong connection between poverty and the increase in world terrorism and war.
Jake Harriman served over seven years as a platoon commander in both the Infantry and an elite unit of Marines called Force Recon. After completing two tours of duty in Iraq (receiving the Bronze Star for actions in combat) and fighting the war on terror all around the world, Jake came to the realization that the only chance we have of ending terrorism is to end extreme poverty. Jake left his career in the Marines to start an organization to end extreme poverty. He enrolled at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, and with the help of his classmates, professors, and some Silicon Valley venture capitalists, Jake formed Nuru International.
A Mightier Military
It’s appropriate that there be an independent civilian non-military initiative such as Nuru, to raise awareness about the effectiveness of humanitarian aid as a means to ending and/or preventing war.
Others in the military have also seen the connection between poverty and war. For this reason, official branches of the U.S. military, such as the United States Southern Command, are focusing on humanitarian aid.
In November 2009, the US Southern Command delivered over 370,000 pounds of food, water, medical aid, and other supplies to El Salvador as part of a humanitarian aid effort called New Horizons:
Humanitarian assistance exercises such as Neuvos Horizontes (New Horizons) involve construction of schools, clinics, and water wells in countries throughout the region. At the same time, medical readiness exercises involving teams consisting of doctors, nurses and dentists also provide general and specialized health services to host nation citizens requiring care. These humanitarian assistance exercises, which last several months each, provide much needed services and infrastructure, while providing critical training for deployed U.S. military forces. These exercises generally take place in rural, underprivileged areas. USSOUTHCOM attempts to combine these efforts with those of host-nation doctors, either military or civilian, to make it even more beneficial. [source]
As millions and even billions of dollars are redirected toward civilian and military initiatives focusing on humanitarian aid and relief, we will get better results (in terms of world peace) for the same money spent. In the future, defense budgets may increasingly be spend on building schools, health clinics, and assisting with agricultural development rather than blowing people up.
Video Shows Nuru’s Beginnings
Below is a video with Jake Harriman sharing how Nuru began.
Other Forms of Terrorism
There are two other major causes of terrorism other than poverty:
Ideology. In addition to the terrorism that rises out of desperation of poverty, there is also terrorism that is driven by a violent ideology of hatred, bigotry, superiority, and intolerance. These people are not motivated by the presence or absence of money. They are driven by a wide-spread mental illness that causes them to indiscriminately destroy anyone not like them. The war with such people is one of ideas. We do not need bigger guns, we need bigger ideas that are more appealing than hatred.
Retaliation. People who feel they’ve been unjustly targeted or attacked will sometimes commit acts of terrorism as a response to what they feel is injustice. This can be a reaction to a specific event, or a response to oppression, military occupation, unwanted nation building, or other forms of exploitation that take place over a longer period of time. Such conditions can result in retaliatory actions which take the form of terrorism. The remedy is to right whatever wrongs may have been done, and stop doing them. For example, indiscriminate drone wars harm many innocent people, those who are left behind are bitter, angry, and want revenge. Military actions need to be evaluated very closely before being implemented. They must have specific justifiable goals, and narrowly defined outcomes with little or no collateral damage.