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ACORN India came into existence when in March 2005 the stage was set by the work Community Organizations International was doing in partnership with the FDI Watch campaign in India. ACORN India FDI Watch seeks to scrutinize and challenge Foreign Direct Investment in the retail sector in India. ACORN India seeks to prevent large multi-national companies like Wal-Mart from entering Indian markets unless they guarantee protection of communities they affect; ensure stability of the existing small businesses and ensure livelihoods of small traders; guarantee fair wages, just working conditions and a right to unionize to all their employees; and ensure that a significant portion of the supplies comes from the Indian markets.
Since the economic liberalization in 1991, India has been on a trajectory of accelerated capitalist development with fast growing middle class consumers, which presents multi-national retailers and corporations with tempting opportunities for establishing presence in the Indian markets. India has not allowed, so far, vehemently anti-union, anti-worker corporations to establish their control over the market. But one of the last remnants of the Nehruvian socialist legacy is now in danger from the onslaught of the march of global corporatism. Countries like India are the next frontiers of significant market expansion for multi-national corporations; and these corporations are now starting to apply extreme pressure on the government of India for unfettered access. Indian market is facing an onslaught of both foreign and domestic corporate retailers, the most notable of which is Wal-mart.
Since 2006 we have built key relationships with leadership of political parties, trade unions, hawkers and farmers’ groups, peoples’ movements and the media. Over last two years ACORN India has built a coalition with community organizations, trade unions, peoples’ movements and NGOs, thus engaging progressively in poverty alleviation and urban development.
Through grassroots mobilization, documentation and research, and media advocacy, the India FDI Watch campaign has succeeded in bringing the negative effects of corporate retail expansion to the attention of state, national, and international media—and authorities.
This past year, ACORN India has broadened its focus to include concerns outside of corporate retail. One such concern has been the problems that face waste-pickers living in Delhi and Mumbai, whose lack of recognition from the government leaves them without social protections such as healthcare and education. One of the major constituencies with which ACORN India is establishing work are the waste pickers. It also puts them at the risk of harassment from security forces, civilians, middle men who sell their goods, and private recycling companies.
Waste pickers are workers who scavenge through the city’s garbage to sell it to the recycling industry. ACORN India is in the process of building a membership base amongst these workers so that they can secure protections of their livelihoods and persons. Community Organizations International has 1400 members among waste pickers.
ACORN India is also demanding that the Government of India agree to a Universal Health Plan to include the unorganized workers. We are proposing that our members can be covered by this policy using part of their membership dues as the premium.
With our initial successes in mind, ACORN India is eager to continue to grow its membership and to conduct larger-scale campaigns around all of the important issues that our members face—poverty; discrimination based on caste, gender, and religion; poor provision of services, and lack of government accountability.
ACORN Canada is the nations largest community organization of low- and moderate-income families, with over 30,000 member families organized into 19 neighborhood chapters in 4 cities across the country.
ACORN Canada’s goal is to represent and champion the interests Canada’s low- and moderate-income urban communities on the critical issues of social and economic justice.
Since 2004 ACORN has taken action and won victories on issues of concern to their members. Their priorities include: better housing for first time tenants, living wages for low-wage workers, more investment in our communities from banks and governments, and regulation of payday lenders.
ACORN Canada achieves these goals by building community organizations which win changes — through direct action, negotiation, legislation, and voter participation
ACORN members participate in local meetings and actively work on campaigns, elect leadership from the neighborhood level up, and pay the organization’s core expenses through membership dues and grassroots fund raisers.
ACORN Canada’s website is available at: http://www.acorncanada.org
Our first chapter in Mexico, ACORN Tijuana, was organized at the behest of Mexican ACORN members in San Diego. With their help and encouragement, we launched ACORN Tijuana in 2005, and immediately began working on issues that affected BOTH Mexico and the United States. One of our first campaigns focused on the industrial waste created by Maquiladora factories near the US/Mexico border, which was dumped very close to where our members were housed. Through a collective effort, we secured guarantees from the Maquiladoras to properly treat industrial waste, repair leaks, and dump it in a secure area far from residents’ homes. We also secured green spaces and regular neighborhood cleanups for our members who were living in Maquiladora housing, which was surrounded by concrete and burdened with enormous heaps of accumulated waste.
After three years of organizing in Tijuana, we expanded to Mexico City in January 2008. Thus far, our fledgling office has conducted several small scale campaigns around security issues. Our most important work, however, has been building alliances that will allow us to conduct great campaigns in the future. For example, right now ACORN Mexico City is in the process of negotiating with local doctors at the University of Xochimilco, a highly regarded university with a great community health program. With their help, we are devising a community health worker training program that will serve low-income members by providing care AND engaging in advocacy around healthcare issues. We are developing a similar model for other ACORN International offices as well.
With our initial successes in mind, ACORN Mexico is eager to continue to grow its membership and to conduct larger-scale campaigns around all of the important issues that our members face–problems that can only be combated by a well informed citizenry that is willing and able to collectively demand accountability on the part of the governments that serve the. ACORN Mexico is using the strength of an organized majority to create real improvements in their neighborhoods.
ACORN Peru’s mission is to empower low- to moderate-income communities by building a multi-ethnic, multi-regional and multi-issue organization, uniting all Peruvians around their common interests.
The founding office of Community Organizations International, ACORN Peru was born in 2004 in Lima. After 4 years, ACORN Peru now has over 3,000 members actively campaigning for equality and human rights.
Our major successes include:
A campaign against privatization of Peru’s national water system in partnership with the Peruvian Water Worker’s Union (FENTAP) which helped keep the water systems public in a dozen states in the country.
In keeping with our commitment to ensure water access to the poor, ACORN Peru has also worked to bring potable water to the 1-million strong squatters settlement of San Juan de Lurigancho. By negotiating with housing authorities, as well as with the public water company SEDAPAL, we were able to guarantee water access to a section of the population. SEDAPAL has agreed to install stand pipes at appropriate locations, reduce the price of installation and per-family charges, and significantly expand the coverage.
Access to water is directly linked to housing. In this regard, we have worked in collaboration with COPOFRI, a subdivision of Peru’s housing authority. The work with COPOFRI has included educating people of the possibility of gaining formal ownership of their houses. Formal ownership is a key step for household water connections. Water connections have traditionally been denied to people who do not own homes, and also who are hesitant to pay for sewage and pipes because their housing situation is unstable.
Through our collaboration with COPOFRI, ACORN Peru has been helping its members with the complicated administrative process of attaining legal housing tenure. ACORN Peru has also addressed issues of housing through its campaign for fair taxes. Corruption within Peru’s Tax Administration Services caused seizure of several low-income families’ homes. Due to the pressure from ACORN Peru members the Tax Administration Services have created more equitable payment plans and prevented further home seizures.
Finally, ACORN Peru members are campaigning for an independent government for the district of San Juan de Luringacho, a megaslum of 1 million low-income people living on the outskirts of Lima. If San Juan de Lurigancho becomes its own district, all of the tax money that residents contribute will be reinvested in their community, rather than going straight to Lima, and they will be given more control over the way the money is spent. ACORN Peru is campaigning for the full provincialization of SJL and working hard to inform residents about the new rights they will have should the law pass.
In the future, ACORN Peru will continue mobilize communities in Lima and San Juan de Lurigancho to fight for basic needs like housing, clean water and sanitation. ACORN Peru will also continue its work for access to health care, social justice, and security.
ACORN Argentina is improving basic rights in its capital city of Buenos Aires, including the rights to public housing, education, clean air and water by fighting for protection from health hazards caused by traffic pollution and cellular antennas.
ACORN International mobilizes members to take control of their own destinies; Choose their own issues and campaigns, and win or negotiate on their own terms, thus creating amongst them a strong sense of leadership and empowerment.
ACORN Peru’s mission is to empower low- to moderate-income communities by building a multiracial, multi-regional and multi-issue organization, uniting all Peruvians around their common interests.
ACORN International wants to help form solidly rooted community organizations that help historically disadvantaged communities to become powerful actors in their democratic systems.
ACORN International needs your help to keep its offices abroad going strong!
We are doing great work organizing low-income members to demand improvements in their neighborhoods and to achieve improvements on important issues such as housing, healthcare, security, and education.
A dollar may not go a long way here anymore, but in Argentina, Peru, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and India; ACORN International can stretch it to make a difference. $300 would pay half of an organizer’s monthly salary. $150 would pay half a month of rent for our office. $60 would pay for a month printing and copying at our office. Even $10 or $20 would pay for an organizer’s monthly transportation.
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Community Organizations International (formally ACORN International) is a community-based non-profit organization working in a growing number of countries across the world. ACORN International already has an impressive range of achievements across the world.