Bharat Wankhade (India)
“Anu is an 8 year old girl who was born in Bhangi community, Bhangi means manual scavenger. It is a caste based work to clean the public toilets but you have to understand that they have to crawl into sewage pipes inorder to clean the toilets. Many died because of gas and poison. Anu was fortunate that her parents sent her to school but the teachers started to treat her differently when came to know about her background. They asked Anu to sit and eat separately as well the teachers did not want to touch her notebooks. Because of this she stopped going to school and started to go to school at the age of 14.”
India’s caste system still exists in many areas, and children deemed as “untouchables” have poor access to quality education. Bharat’s first-hand experience of marginalization prompted him to envision an integrated learning environment where the marginalized can be empowered through quality education, and children from all caste backgrounds have equal opportunities to learn.
Learn more about Bharat at www.muditaschool.org
Kakembo Galabuzi Brian (Uganda)
94% of people in Uganda are still cooking using firewood and charcoal. This is still common in many of the developing countries in sub Saharan Africa.
However it is also the reason behind 3.5 million trees being cut down in Uganda; 80% of these trees are used for cooking in institutions like schools, universities and businesses like hotels and restaurants. They are making a lot of money at the expense of the environment, at the expense of the farmers and at the expense of youth and women.”
Brian started WEYE - Waste to Energy Youth Project to help low-income families access clean energy for cooking as well as tackle youth unemployment in Uganda. Young people are equipped with practical skills to produce briquettes from organic waste, which reduce the harmful effects of commonly-used firewood and charcoal. They will also acquire entrepreneurial skills to start their own business.
Learn more about his project at http://www.ecorehabafrica.org/
Cavin Odera (Kenya)
“In Homa Bay county, many women and depending on fish within fishermen community and fishermen are exploiting them every day and this is how HIV spreads and deaths occur. According to the recent statistics every 1 out of 4 persons is HIV positive. Many are dying, like my mother and sister leaving orphans behind.
So what we can do about this? We have to turn the tables around. Women have to get direct access to the resource; fish. Therefore I started Wa-Wa, a fisherwoman academy where we are going to train women and teenage girls from the age of 18 and above in fish farming, boat building and fishing.”
When Cavin’s parents and oldest sister died of HIV/AIDS, he was mocked and discriminated. This experience eventually triggered his passion to empower girls and young women, to equip them with skills to earn sustainable livelihoods without falling victim to “sex for fish”, which is rampant the Lake Victoria region.
Learn more about his project at http://www.wa-wakenya.org/
Dave Oduor (Kenya)
“According to the world water development report of UN in 2018, it is projected that by the year 2050 the number of people who do not have access to clean water or facing water scarcity will reach up-to 7 billion. The majority of people who would be suffering from this are situated in Africa, Latin America and Asia because the rivers and lakes in these regions are getting polluted from 1990 and is not getting any better. “
Dave is an artist and environment activist. His mission is to restore Lake Victoria which is being destroyed by illegal sand harvesting, pollution and fishermen’s conflicts. He founded NAAM Festival, an organization where young people use arts to promote the conservation and restoration of the Lake. NAAM also offers skill training for young people to find alternative means of income to ease pressure on the water resource.
Learn more about his project at http://www.naamfestival.co.ke/
Francis Gikufu (Kenya)
“Due to loneliness and hunger I joined other street children and together we started going around the houses begging for food. Whenever we were not lucky, we used to go to a dumping site and would collect anything which was eatable to fill our empty stomach. Even today children of Mukuru slum are going through these situation day in day out.”
Gikufu‘s story is not uncommon among those who grow up in the slums in Nairobi, Kenya. Many are denied access to formal education, live in poverty and end up indulging in drugs, crimes and end up living on the streets. Having overcome stigmatization and now empowered, Gikufu’s dream is to provide mentorship, media and film training for children and youth from the Mukuru slums. Not only will they be able to tell their stories in creative ways, they will be able to make a living and develop a positive mindset on life
Learn more about his project at http://www.mukuruangaza.org/
Icchya KC (Nepal)
“In Nepal, single women don’t have a space in the society. People often ask about who will take care of them once they are old. Nobody trust their capabilities and independence. Now what about single blind women like me? Not many have believed in us and we are facing multiple forms of discrimination.”
Icchya has been active in advocating for the disabled in Nepal. She sees the need to empower single women with disabilities like herself. She wants to establish a safe space that offers psycho-social, legal and rehabilitative support mechanisms to single women with disabilities, to help them overcome discrimination and find their own voice in society.
Learn more about her project at http://www.pahichan.org
Nurul Kabir (Bangladesh)
44% of the people in Bangladesh are illiterate and because of lack of education and knowledge it is believed that disability is contagious. They stigmatise not only the youth with intellectual disabilities but also their families and they believe that the family is cursed. The population of Bangladesh is 160 million and among them, 4.8 million people have an intellectual disability. The most common forms of intellectual disabilities are autism spectrum disorder, down syndrome and different kinds of learning disabilities.”
Kabir’s dream is that his brother, and all persons with intellectual disabilities and their siblings will not be side lined at playgrounds because of stigmatization and inadequate sports facilities. Through his organisation, Oniruddah Bangladesh, Kabir's vision is to create a Bangladeshi society that thrives on solidarity and empathy towards people with disability and their family members.
Learn more about his project at www.oniruddahbangladesh.org
Kerlinda War (India)
“Cerebral palsy is often associated with the tightness in the joints which requires regular manual stretching exercise. If this is not done at the right time, it will develop into contracture which requires surgery intervention. If this is not done, the situation will get worse and develop into permanent disability of deformity. This is the later stage where it not only affects the child’s body but it also affects the relationship with other people within the family and society. But sadly, the family and community members do not realize this and they delay steps of actions.”
Kerlinda found joy and satisfaction in her years of work in rehabilitation of children with slow growth and physical impairment. Kerlinda started an early intervention centre for children with disabilities in the rural areas of Meghalaya. The centre provides training on early identification for the rural population, referral services, and prepare children for schooling and socialisation.
Learn more about her project at www.marvellingroots.org
Lorena Julio (Argentina)
In Latin America, there are 85 million people with disability. They suffer exclusion and lack equal access. The biggest barrier that people with physical disability face is access to public spaces such as hospitals, governmental offices, schools or work places. Transportation, roads, parking, toilets etc. are not accessible. Nowadays everything happens online and we use internet as the first source of information such as Facebook, Whatsapp and Twitter. But the reality is that 90% of the content available on internet is not accessible for blind people, visually impaired and the deaf community. This means that a blind person cannot access relevant information such as governmental information, job opportunities, online learning platforms or day to day matters like internet banking, online shopping or reading the newspaper.”
Lorena is the founder of Fundación Comparlante, an online accessible platform where people with disabilities can access quality products and services. Her wish is to bring a positive change in Latin America where persons with disabilities are often excluded, vulnerable and invisible.
Learn more about Lorena's project at http://www.comparlante.com/
Limbi Blessing (Cameroon)
“The world is burning, fire in California, floods in Kerala, typhoons in Japan and China and hurricanes everywhere. All of these natural disasters are because of deforesting in one way or another. We can thus say that deforestation is a global environment problem. The situation is especially alarming for forest dependent communities. It immediately threatens their habitat, it reduces family income and lower the chances of girls getting education.”
There are many negative effects of over-timber-harvesting of the forest in Cameroon.
Limbi trains local women adding value to non-timber forest products like seeds, fruits, barks and leaves, to reduce dependence on timber-selling. This will increase family incomes and increase the opportunities for local girls to get quality education.
Learn more about her project at http://www.ecobalances.org/
Ashu Marlyse (Cameroon)
The majority of children in Cameroon do not have space to develop their creativity. We all know about the frontal learning system that turns us into rubbles.
The education system of Cameroon is limited by an overcrowded classroom, a rigid training system, unqualified teachers and a boring curriculum. Text books used for our students in Cameroon are made for children in the UK. Our realities are not taken into consideration. Marlyse lost interest in learning when she constantly received low grades at school. After battling to regain her self-esteem, she now helps children and young people in Cameroon who have the same struggle. She believes that low graders also deserve scholarships and good job opportunities. She is on a mission to helping children discover their passions and realize that their dreams are valid.
Learn more about Marlyse project at www.wokome.org
Navina Gyawali (Nepal)
“According to Garud Purana, if you have done any hideous crime in your previous life, you will be born as a disabled person. When I went to the school for the first time there were other blind children, we constantly bumped into each other. On that day I understood what it means to be blind and for the first and last time in my life I cried and hated to be blind because I was embarrassed and felt useless in society. I overcame the situation.”
Navina was born blind, and her experience of inequality probed her to work to reducing the gap between people with and without disabilities. She believes that sensitizing the public about equality and human rights will lead to more equal opportunities for the disabled in education and employment. Navina's goal is to empower blind people through the creation of a cooking and catering service.
Learn more about her project at http://www.sath-nepal.org/
Odunayo Aliu (Nigeria)
“The education system in Nigeria is based on top down teaching and a generalized curriculum that does not nurture individual capabilities. Also parents have to pay at least 14 dollars every term for the above mentioned education system. Many parents are looking for alternatives and send their children to costlier private schools that are said to offer better education. But in reality, the quality of the education is almost as poor as in public schools. Real top schools in Nigeria with quality education charge about 5000 US Dollar every year.”
Facing a difficult and very challenging childhood inspired Odunayo to start "Love Letters Child Support Initiative", an organisation that provides free and quality education to children from socially and economically marginalized communities in Nigeria. Additionally she will start an alternative learning platform that promotes creative and critical thinking in rural children, and empower them to become agents of transformation in their own circles.
Learn more about Odunayo’s project at www.bramblenetwork.org
Omona Innocent (Uganda)
“In my village there are over 180 HIV/AIDS orphans and 40% of them are school dropouts. This is because of the stigmatization, discrimination, poverty and self-stigmatization. Many of them have become street children and even thieves. There are many organisations and also the government have taken measurements to overcome this challenge but there is a long way to go. Because the psychological support for these children are not taken care of, many of them feel lonely and they don’t have anyone to guide them in their life.”
Omona’s father passed away due to HIV/AIDS when he was a child. His mum was accused of bewitching his father and was chased out of the community. This left Omona alone. He understands the discrimination and lack of access to healthcare and education that orphaned children and youth in rural Uganda are facing. His is setting up a social entrepreneurship centre that provides skill training for orphans to generate income. He also wants to provide scholarships and medical services for his beneficiaries. Learn more about Omona’s project at http://www.lighta.org
Pragya Raut (Nepal)
“A severe earthquake of 7.8 magnitude hit Nepal on 25th of April 2015. It was greatest of the century in which more than 9000 people died, 20,000 people were injured and more than half a million houses were destroyed. Now 4 years later 30,000 families are still living in temporary shelters and the reconstruction of the affected areas through the country has been really slow because of various geographical and political reasons.”
Pragya was trained as an architect but sees the limitations of the current architectural practices in Nepal. Her vision is that architecture should not only be a commercial tool, but a tool for creating socio-economic impact. Pragya focuses on earthquake-hit areas where many have become homeless and unemployed. Her organization aankura.org offers entrepreneurship training for youth.
Learn more about Pragya’s project at www.aankura.org
Ruangtup Kaeokamechun (Thailand)
“I remember once, I and my parents went to the book shop together. My parents were not rich but they gave the opportunity to select one children’s book. This is not normal in my country, parents prefer to buy video games more than children book. So after my father’s death I thought a book can help me, so I went to the book shop and I bought one book. When I read that book, I felt the character in the book was the same like me, a girl who lost a parent.”
Topics like death, divorce, and sexual orientation are considered taboos in Thai society. Ruangtup eventually found console through a fiction book about death. Since then, she made it her mission to create children’s books that openly discuss ‘sensitive’ topics and help children face the realities of life.
Learn more about Ruang’s project at http://www.hinghoynoy.org/
Satya Illa (India)
“According to the National Fatality report, every year there are 10,000 electrical accidents happening in India. Reasons are lack of unawareness, simple negligence and poor electrical infrastructure. Every hour in some part of India, at least one person is losing his life by plugging a mobile charger, by switching on a refrigerator or a farmer trying to operate a water pump.”
Having witnessed his friend being electrocuted when his kite got stuck in overhead power lines, traumatized Satya for many years. India has one of the world’s highest numbers of fatalities due to electrical accidents, especially among farmers. Satya founded kaanthi, a social enterprise that addresses the lack of awareness and response preparedness among villages in Telangana. Through practical training on safety, Satya has been able to save the lives of many farmers and prevent unnecessary accidents.
Learn more about Satya’s project at www.kaanthi.org
Selassie Tay (Ghana)
Men are strong and women are sensitive, men go to work; women stay at home. This type of thinking limits the potential of both men and women but mainly of women. According to the National data Ghana, men form the highest percentage of being employed, except self-employed, contributors to family businesses and domestic employees. In fact, all the said three categories of work are in informal sector which has its own problems like lack of structure, low income and poor conditions.”
In Selassie’s community in Ghana, women for the majority of the population and the informal livelihood sector. They often become objects of abuse or are considered witches at old age. Through his organization Eyata, Selassie’s vision is to create a population of economically empowered women by providing technical, vocational and entrepreneurship skill training and microfinance to enable them to generate their own income and start formalized micro-enterprises."
Learn more about Selassie’s project at https://www.eyata.org/
Trevor Molife (Zimbabwe)
“Do you remember the 6th of September when the gays in India finally stopped being ‘criminals’? That was a great step forward but how many steps do we need to take to change the mindset of the society?
Zimbabwe is ranked 19 in the world when it comes to death by suicide and most of the people committing suicide are LGBT people. Because they do not have family support in most cases and the community doesn’t accept them.”
Trevor is the founder of Purple Hand Africa, an organization that supports LGBTQI youth in Zimbabwe, through access of psychosocial support; vocational and entrepreneurship skills development. His dream is that LGBTQI youth will be empowered and society will recognize them as contributing citizens.
Learn more about Trevor’s Project at http://www.purplehandafrica.org/