Color My Dreams Africa: an Organization Spreading Literacy and Hope

by | Jul 15, 2022 | Heartivist Of The Week

Edith Cherotich Ndiwa was born in a small village in Kenya to parents who both attended school and it is their education that would come to play a major role in charting the course of her life. Her father, a fan of Stephen King and other authors, invited her to expand her perspective while visiting the incredible worlds found in books and movies. Edith grew to love stories such as Akeelah and the Bee and Matilda; each character was a friend that helped her to become the person she is today. Literacy and education is what protected Edith from forced marriage and Female Genital Mutilation which is considered mandatory in her community and ultimately, inspired her to create Color My Dreams Africa and the Library Manyatta Project.

After high school, she volunteered with a local organization that was fighting FGM and forced marriages when a volunteer using a model of the female genitalia illustrated the different stages of FGM and its effects. Edith was shocked beyond words and began to cry. All her life she knew about FGM but nothing prepared her for what she learned.

“I was literate and I saw that illiteracy was the cause of most social ills in the society. If the girls and women in my community could read and write, they would be empowered and make empowered choices in their lives,” she said.

The next day, Edith gave a powerful presentation – everyone was in tears as most had no idea about FGM – and Color My Dreams Africa and the Library Manyatta Project was born.

“It was born from a place of pain but also from a place of hope, hope for the future. Hope for that small girl somewhere in a village far away who hopes that the world still holds a place for her, a place full of opportunities to chase her dreams. That day, I became a bridge of hope,” she shared.

Color My Dreams Africa is a grassroot organization that promotes literacy and built a library in West Pokot county to ensure that every disadvantaged child has access to the books and information they need to reach their full potential. The library, which was built by the local women, lives in the heart of Lokna, a small village occupied by the Pokot Tribe. According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, illiteracy in West Pokot stands at 67 percent and knowing that she needed to change that, Edith reached out to The Pollination Project.

“In communities where there are only two or three schools, one toilet between multiple families, where people are illiterate, girls are dropping out of school due to FGM and boys leaving school for initiation ceremonies, books are not a luxury. In this situation, books are even more essential and critical. In order to change the status of the next generation of children in West Pokot, they have to be literate, they have to be educated and learn how to read and write. For this to happen they need to have access to books and information. We need to bring books to children. They need to be nothing less than best friends,” said Edith.

Though they only have one library, they were committed to reaching nearby villages, so Edith and her team created a mobile library which provides services on weekends. Moving from one village and herding field to the other, they set up reading hubs. Using drums and songs in the local language, they inspire the children to join in and conduct read-aloud sessions, along with drawing, coloring, spelling bees and storytelling. On average, 100 children and teenagers gather to take part in the activities.

Imagine that just like borrowing a book from the library, you could borrow a person and learn from them. That is what Edith has created with The Human Library sessions which are designed to engage parents and local leaders in gender sensitization sessions and create a safe space for discussions. The goal is to use literacy as a weapon to fight FGM and forced marriages.

Now, they are working to create little tree libraries. These small hut-like structures will be built in schools and nearby villages. As Edith wants to assure that books will be readily available and the reading culture will continue without having people have to come to the library, these will serve as the dropping and collecting points for the teachers and children.

As Edith looks to the future, she imagines having a dog and a house truck that allows her to  spend her life on the road moving from one village to the other, one grazing field to the other, promoting literacy, sharing information, and raising the next cohort of young leaders from West Pokot County.

Visit Color My Dreams Africa’s website to more and get in touch.

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Call for our Spanish speaking followers 👇

🐮🐷🐔🐣 ¡Te invitamos a unirte a la octava edición del Retiro de Meditación para Activistas por los Animales! 🧘🏻‍♀️ Este evento gratuito, dirigido a activistas hispanohablantes, se llevará a cabo los días 4 y 5 de mayo de 2024 a través de Zoom, y estará guiado por nuestro facilitador, Tashi Nyima.

❔ ¿Por qué participar? Sabemos que muchos activistas por los animales enfrentan desafíos emocionales que pueden afectar su capacidad para seguir adelante. 📣🆘

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¡Ayúdanos a difundir esta invitación entre tus contactos comprometidos con la causa! 🌱💚

#activistas #animalistas #meditacion #derechosanimales #animalrights #animalactivism #heartivism
🌟 Empowering Through Play! 🌟

Nature Trust (Tamilnadu, India) launched the project, "Enhance the Skills of Children with Disabilities through Play," supported by one of our seed grants 🎉✨ Timed with World Autism Awareness Day 2024, this initiative resonates with the theme of "Empowering the Autistic Voices."

In particular, the grant allowed Nature Trust to provide specially curated play materials to 20 remarkable children with diverse disabilities. These tools were thoughtfully selected to ignite their development and unlock their potential. 🧩🎨

At the distribution event held on March 31st, the atmosphere was filled with joy as children and parents expressed gratitude for the newfound importance of play in their lives. 💖👦👧 The presence of local leaders underscored the significance of inclusive initiatives like this one.

Beyond distribution, Nature Trust volunteers engaged with the children, creating lasting connections and memories. 🤝 

Through the power of play, Nature Trust is fostering a more inclusive world where every child has the opportunity to thrive and reach their full potential. 🌈 

Let's continue spreading joy and empowerment through play! 

#EmpowerThroughPlay #InclusiveCommunities 🌟 
#childrenwithdisabilities #autism #supportchildren #kindness #heartivism #India
It's Volunteer Month! 🌟 🌟 🌟 Today we celebrate our grant advisors working on Economic Development focus area.

By meticulously selecting projects for our seed grants, they're not just funding ideas—they're empowering communities and sparking transformative change. 

Join us in celebrating their invaluable efforts and the positive impact they're creating together!

🔸 Eric Anorrey (Ghana)
🔸 Mariam Nakiryowa (Uganda)
🔸 Jean-Marie Zihalirwa (DRC)
🔸 Emily Logiron Asekon (Kenya)
🔸 Georgia Bernbaum (USA) 
🔸 Herve Tsoala Kuete (Cameroon)
🔸 Jackson Bizimungu (Rwanda)
🔸 Okumu Dickson (Uganda)
🔸 Samuel Litunya (Kenya)

@ericanorrey 
@mayanja_mariam 
@g.bernbaum 

#volunteermonth #volunteer #heartivism #economicdevelopment #change #empoweringcommunities
The Green Earth Initiative (#Cameroon) is a project dedicated to educating and empowering students about climate change, sustainable development, and environmental challenges, that has received a seed grant from The Pollination Project in 2023. With a focus on fostering environmental protection and conservation, the initiative establishes Eco-clubs and Environment Clubs in schools, providing students with the tools to learn, engage, and take action in their communities.

Since receiving the grant from TPP, the Green Earth Initiative has expanded its reach, now encompassing 9 additional schools across two regions/cities, surpassing its initial goal of 5. 
This expansion was made possible by the overwhelming interest from school authorities and the growing number of volunteers and team members.

Through the support of TPP and other partners, the project's environmental education programs, awareness campaigns, and initiatives have impacted over 8000 students in two cities of Cameroon. Additionally, the initiative has planted over 600 trees, launched 5 Environment/Eco Clubs, and distributed over 150 adapted waste bins produced from recycled plastics, contributing to proper waste management practices.

The seed grant from The Pollination Project has been instrumental in catalyzing the growth and success of the Green Earth Initiative, enabling it to make a tangible difference in the lives of students and communities, while fostering a culture of environmental stewardship and sustainability. 

@isec_cameroon 
#environmentprotection #seedgrant #heartivism #environmentaleducation