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JustWorld International: Riders jumping for a just world

By Laetitia Bataille and Nelly Valère.


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JustWorld International is a non-profit organization and works through the international equestrian community. JustWorld International’s Rider Ambassadors raise awareness and funds to provide basic needs to children with little opportunity to receive support from other sources.
As Equita’ Lyon has gotten very involved and has brought JustWorld in as its charity partner, Cheval Savoir met Founder and Executing Director Jessica Newman.

Studies worldwide show that education is a key to breaking the cycle of poverty. While many non-profit organizations focus primarily on providing short-term assistance to developing countries, JustWorld’s goals are long-term.

Jessica Newman and Kevin Staut
Jessica Newman with Kevin Staut, a famous Ambassador of JustWorld. © Sportfot

JustWorld International acts as a catalyst for positive change in the developing world by working with local partner organizations to provide basic education, nutrition, health, hygiene, and vocational programs for children in impoverished communities in Honduras, Cambodia, Guatemala, and Brazil.

JustWorld International works through the international equestrian community, and JustWorld International’s Rider Ambassadors raise awareness and funds for the programs.
Currently over 500 JustWorld Ambassadors from nearly 40 countries pledge their “time, talent, and treasure” to JustWorld on an ongoing basis to give thousands of children a leg up to a brighter future.

Technical Official Ambassadors represent JustWorld as they carry out nationally and FEI internationally accredited roles such as course designers, judges, stewards, and technical delegates.

An interview with Jessica Newman

By Nelly Valère.

Cheval Savoir : Jessica Newman, how did you come to create JustWorld International ?

Jessica Newman : I competed on the international show jumping circuit, from the time I was sixteen until I was 22, and then I decided that I wanted to go into a humanitarian work: I lived such a privileged life that I had to do something to give back to others. So I stopped competing and I went to Honduras to help the victims of hurricane Mitch in 1998 and that was the first time I was exposed to poverty. It shocked me and also inspired me that I knew I had to dedicate my life to doing something that is helping others, because I wouldn’t be able to live with myself knowing that there is such injustice in the world and not doing anything. So that’s how I got interested in humanitarian work. I worked in the field for several years learning the ropes and in 2003 I funded Just World with the mission to help children in developing countries, working with partner organizations in those countries, local organizations to implement education projects, nutrition, vocational training, health and hygiene for children living in poverty, garbage camps in Cambodia, slums in Guatemala, Honduras, Brazil, all with the goal of helping children become more educated and have a chance to a dignified life.

I don’t miss competing myself : I gave 110 % when I was competing and now I give 110% to A JustWorld

Being from the horse world, I knew that equestrians don’t have much time to do charity work, because it’s such an intense and consuming lifestyle. So I wanted to find a way that equestrians could be involved in these projects without having to really leave the sport, that they could do it within their own environment… this way there is really no excuse that you can’t do it because we are present at an equestrian event and within the equestrian world. So whether you’re a professional that gives a percentage of your prize money or gives time to do benefit clinics, and doing different things to raise the awareness and funds, or organizing fundraising events within the context of a competition or their schools or different things: you are still within the equestrian world and its equestrians, all over the world that are coming together for A JustWorld.

Jessica Newman with Nathalie Johnson
Jessica Newman with american rider Natalie Johnson. © JWI

C.S. Did you have any background that got you interested in such matter? Either family, religion…

J.N. No, I just had a really strong feeling in me that I had to do something and being in a very fortunate situation, my father left me with enough so that I could work 100% for Just World without taking a salary so that I don’t cost anything to the organization… So if people like me, who can, don’t do it, who will ? So I just felt a need within myself to justify my own life by doing something for others. It is true that my father’s family and my father himself were very much involved in a guild for the blind, and my mother has always been fond of sharing with people and implemented strong values of treating everyone equally.

C.S. Your family agreed to that, then?

J.N. I didn’t leave them much choice! My father died 7 years ago, my mother helps a lot. She still competes, in Amateur classes, while I stopped and dedicated my life to A Just World. I don’t miss competing myself: it was a conscious choice : I gave 110 % when I was competing and now I give 110% to A JustWorld.

Philippe Rozier
French top-rider Philippe Rozier is a JustWorld Ambassador. © Nelly Valère

C.S. What are the main difficulties in this? Getting A JustWorld known?

J.N. To have it known is not such a difficulty, because people across the equestrian world are so willing and want to support. The big challenge is always the fund raising, because even if you take into consideration that feeding a child costs less than one euro a day, when you have more than 3,500 children to support, that’s a lot of money at the end of the year, it’s a lot of money.

C.S. Why does A Just World operate so much in South America?

J.N. There has been a recent increase in latin America because it has an equestrian industry that is significant enough that A JustWorld has become part of the movement in those countries where the equestrian community in that country can support a JustWorld partner project in their own country and make it sustainable. But my vision is to develop it in across the globe.

Jessica Newman
Jessica Newman : « If you are interested in getting involved, contact us! » © Nelly Valère

C.S. There are no programs in France for instance?

J.N. No, our programs are in countries that are developing, Third World countries. Of course there is poverty everywhere but the poverty in these countries is so extreme and a dollar or euro goes so much further and can help so many more people in these countries.

C.S. Is it easy to find ambassadors?

J.N. We don’t recruit anybody, they come themselves! It’s by word to mouth; there is a whole application process. Our job is to communicate about JustWorld, what we do and the opportunity for equestrians to become Ambassadors and get involved. After that, its up to them to approach us if they are interested.

C.S. What is your job?

J.N. I am Executive Director. I set the vision of the organization and and make the dots connect! I make sure that everything runs smoothly with our 4 1/2 person staff: when managing funds, you have to be very professional and be sure where it’s going.

Jessica Newman
Jessica Newman and Evrard de Spa during the second leg of the Deauville Grand National. Evrard de Spa is the Président of the Polo-Club de Deauville and gives regular support to A JustWorld. © Nelly Valère

C.S. Is France a good country for your organization?

J.N. We have just re-launched A JustWorld in France ! The official launch was at the 5* Chantilly show in July, and the pre-launch was at the Deauville Grand National show. The Gstaad Polo Tournament also organized a great fundraiser in August raising 20,000 swiss francs for our Cambodia project. And now Equita’ Lyon has gotten very involved and has brought JustWorld in as its charity partner. It is important to us since we are known at the top level, and our goal is to be more known at the national level and rally everybody that’s related to the equestrian world, not just the elite. We strive to really be a grass roots movement.

C.S. Anything else you would like to add?

J.N. That we always need support! So if people want to make a donation it is always appreciated because these children need so much help and can’t even imagine what world we live in. So if you are interested in getting involved, contact us!

Becoming a JustWorld Ambassador

Equestrians of all ages, riding levels, and disciplines are welcome to become JustWorld Ambassadors.  
To be an ambassador means you wish to represent JustWorld by wearing the colors of JustWorld in the show ring and acting as a spokesperson to raise awareness for JustWorld among your friends, local community, at horse shows, and in the media.

Ambassadors pledge a portion of their winnings or an annual donation, and/or volunteer their time. There is no minimum amount an Ambassador is required to pledge.  

JustWorld International is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization in the United States and a registered Association 1901 in France. JustWorld International has no political or religious affiliation.
http://www.justworldinternational.org

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Published 27-10-2012

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