Fighting for a Just World: How Worldwide Activists Begin With Their Neighbors

by | Jan 23, 2019 | Seeds: Our Blog

Here are some of the marginalized communities that are the focal points for our latest round of grant-making: Disadvantaged youth in Liberia, Uganda, and India; low-income families in Rwanda; and girls and women in Nigeria and Kenya. For the do-gooders around the globe we have been honored to connect with, we have learned the true value of thinking globally and acting locally.

Addressing poor waste-management in Liberia

In Liberia, activists Victor V.S. Willie and Fatu M. Kaba are working tirelessly to empower women and disadvantaged youth by addressing poor waste-management and deforestation. Together, the pair launched Eco-Fuel Liberia, a social enterprise that produces an affordable and clean energy fuel used as an alternative to conventional charcoal. Victor, a high school teacher, explains the harsh toll that charcoal takes on Liberia: “Our trees are cut down on a daily basis to produce charcoal for homes. The next problem is that the streets in the major towns and cities are polluted with garbage of all kinds; this also cause sicknesses, due to the pollution.” But Eco-Fuel converts garbage into an eco-friendly product called Eco-coal. With the funds TPP provides, Eco-Fuel Liberia will both educate the community about the destruction caused by charcoal, and then will work to produce the environmentally sound alternative. “It will surely work, he says, “because of our passions and desires to succeed.

Providing life and career skills in Uganda

For those of us who rely on coffee in the morning, we might proclaim that our lives depend on that cup. But for a small community in Uganda, a program revolving around coffee can indeed change lives. The Kishayo Coffee Demonstration Farm works to help the area’s young people to acquire practical skills in growing coffee so that they can become self-reliant, thus helping to solve the growing problem of unemployment. TPP’s funds will be used to purchase additional land for the project, as well as organic manure, seedlings, and gardening tools. Founded by Katushabe Annet Tibey and Tumuranze Victor, the aim is twofold, as it also works to end persistent soil erosion in Kishayo Village. “I intend to train more youth on the advantages of planting coffee in and around the community,” says Katushabe. “Empowering the youth with skills will help them make their own related projects in the long run.”

Combating childhood malnutrition in Rwanda

The high levels of childhood malnutrition in Kamonyi, Rwanda is intense. The Strive for Against Malnutrition Project (SAMP) is addressing this hands-on, focusing on making plant-based produce accessible through a shared community garden that is available for everyone. “My project is needed, because targeted groups do not have financial means to buy even cheap vegetables, legumes, and fruit, and do not know how to prepare a complete diet for getting meals containing essential nutrients,” explains the organization’s founder, Emerance Nyanzira, who delivers the garden’s high-quality produce to low-income families as well as trains them on health and nutrition. Her goal is to fight malnutrition that specifically impacts kids ages six months to twelve years. “I will be happy and delighted to achieve my goals of helping vulnerable people,” she says.

Ending gender-based violence in India

It is not every day—though perhaps soon it will be—that a group of young women who have spent much of their lives being discriminated against for their gender and caste are able to ban together to fight injustice. The Raahi Youth Network is just that; a network of youth leaders across the Mumbai and Thane Districts in Maharashtra, India are taking responsibility for inclusive development in their areas.

This undertaking is an answer to the severe discrimination, violence, and lack of development opportunities faced by these long-marginalized communities. It is based on a proven model of grassroots youth leadership implemented by the visionary young leader, Deepa Pawar. Along with Deepa, the self-led group of women are laser-focused on using their first-hand experience to put an end to violence. “We started working in the social development sector from a young age, some of us as young as 14 years,” explains Anubhuti Mumbai. “We worked with at-risk, poor, marginalized, abused youth—while being young ourselves—and, with them, overcame societal injustices. We have seen the potential of youth leadership in attaining social justice in our own lives, and wish to mentor other youth to similarly take charge and fight for their own, and for other vulnerable groups’, rights.”

Young people who experienced deprivations themselves can, by their own leadership, solve these problems best—as well as lead change in the fundamental socio-political issues which caused the problems in the first place.

Educating girls on reproductive health in Nigeria

My years of growing up as an adolescent girl was challenging,” explains Queen Israel, the founder of a Nigeria-based project entitled Menstruation Management Education, “and I know the majority of adolescent girls go through this same experience: not knowing what menstruation is, how to maintain personal hygiene, reproductive health, HIV/AIDS prevention, or how to focus on setting goals for themselves and say no to peer pressure.” The goal of Queen Israel’s project is to deliver comprehensive menstruation-related information and educate girls in secondary schools about reproductive health, HIV/AIDS prevention, and life-building skills. This will in turn boost the girls’ self-esteem, giving them confidence about their bodies so that they can reduce unintended pregnancies—thereby reducing the rate of school absenteeism—as well as breaking down reproductive taboos by encouraging girls to feel comfortable speaking about reproductive health topics with their peers.

Providing economic stability to young mothers in Kenya

The goal of Mombasa, Kenya-based Hola Hairdressing and Tailoring Center is bold, big, and achievable, thanks to powerhouse founder Phoebe Ouma, whose passion for supporting young mothers is palpable. “Living in an area where most parents prefer educating boy children, and the girls are left out, inspired me to start a project that empower girls so that they are economically stable and independent,” she says. “Most girls find themselves in early marriages, while some engage in prostitution in order to sustain themselves and their children. The project has therefore been like a rescue to these women, as they can now gain the technical skills needed to run their own enterprises and improve their livelihood.” Through this initiative, young women are provided with skills in hairdressing and tailoring to enable them to start their own business or find employment. The Pollination Project grant will help Phoebe purchase sewing machines and hairdryers to help graduates start their businesses.

Stopping the cycle of malnutrition in Kenya

“Being raised from a humble family, I really understand the hardships that less fortunate communities go through on a daily basis.” These are the words of Sammy Kinyanjui, an activist in the Visoi Ward of the Rongai sub-county in Kenya, whose project, Inuka na Gunia, increases vegetable production and develops kitchen gardens by adopting conservation agriculture farming techniques. Many of the members the group works with are affected by HIV/AIDS and are advised by nutritionists to prioritize eating plenty of vegetables in order to build their immune system. This will ultimately reduce cases of malnutrition and death rates within the community. “I am ready and willing to channel all my energy, knowledge, and experience to ensure that my childhood dream is achieved,” says Sammy. “Please join me in my fight for a just world.”

Written by Milena Fraccari