Seeds: Our Blog

Welcome to our blog! We use it to tell our grantee’s stories and to share more about what we are learning here at the Pollination Project.

Youth Are Rising in CA

In the midst of today's political turmoil, numerous California youth communities are taking action to generate community health, justice, and resilience. Through our newest program, Youth Rising, we are supporting powerful youth on the ground like the Semillas collective in Salinas, CA and Brayan Cruz in Riverside, CA to realize their dreams on the ground. These youth come from communities that suffer extreme health and education inequities but that has never stopped them from doing the work that makes them come alive. The Semillas (seeds) collective has been planting seeds of awareness and inspiration through their pop-up nutritious juice bars where they facilitate creative dialogue around issues of health and agriculture, while sharing poetry and interactive games that break the

A Grantee Love Story

Have you ever been so frustrated with a person or situation that you thought your mind would explode? We can’t do this work alone. No one can live this life alone. In this day and age, in the state of such a chaotic, and unbalanced world, everyone needs someone. We all need venting time, an ear to listen, and a nonjudgmental, empathetic, and nonthreatening space to just “be”. To be heard, to be felt, to be understood, to be accepted, to be loved and to be encouraged to press on. For you, it could be your mentor, mom, favorite aunt, or best friend. For me, that person is grantee, La-Ty Banks- fondly known as TY, who just happens to be

Seeding Change in Kisumu, Kenya

It is 9 pm in Kenya, my phone rings and it is Franciska on the other end. She is one of the recipients of the 'flow fund' grants that I made through the Pollination Project's East Africa Hub. She asks how I am and proceeds to inform me that she is away for 3 days looking for mats made of papyrus reeds to sell in her village. With the poor maize harvest this season, Franciska and her group are diversifying their income sources by selling locally made papyrus reed mats. How amazing it is to see how people hither to considered helpless can be so creative and think outside the box when connected with the resources they need to create change!

Born Barefoot

The Summer Olympics are in full swing. American swimmers & gymnasts, Jamaican runners, and Irish rowers have all won gold. Eyes will be fixated on Rio until August 21st. The Olympic opening ceremonies were spectacular; could be the best ever. Of all the highlights in the opening ceremonies, one stood out to me the most; The Laurel Award. This is the first year this award has ever been presented. A man in a suit came running in with children dressed in white and they were flying white kites. The music playing sounded heavenly and created a sense of peace. The Laurel Award was created to honor a person who has used his or her accomplishments in sports to make achievements in education,

Why women are the first to suffer but the best to rebuild after a disaster.

Kathmandu destruction On April 25th, 2015, the worst disaster to strike Nepal in over 80 years came as an earthquake. Measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale, the earthquake lasted nearly a minute and its magnitude was even felt in surrounding China and India. Over 8,000 people were killed, over 16,000 people were injured, and nearly 3 million people were displaced. Just when it felt like things could not get any worse, a second earthquake struck Nepal a few weeks later. With continuing aftershocks striking daily and landslides cutting off many affected villages, panic and instability ensued. While most of the media focused on the collapsing temples and buried bodies of Kathmandu, a much more hidden disaster was unfolding.

David Omondi, An Advocate for Girls in Kenya

Born and raised in a Western Kenyan slum, grantee David Omondi knows first-hand what it’s like growing malnourished, how it feels living in a single room with his whole family, and the difficulties of trying focus on completing school work in a crowded and often unsanitary environment. Despite these challenges, David graduated from school then went on to earn a scholarship to pursue a Medical Biochemistry Degree from the University of Nairobi. Upon completing his education, David chose to take his gifts and skills back home, to make a difference for those less fortunate-those barely surviving, but still hoping for a better life. David started Akili Library and Information Technology center in fall of 2010, and Akili Preparatory School for

Made with a Dash of Love Always

Shari Jones is a bright young lady with a good head on her shoulders and a passion for giving back to young children in her community. She is committed to her two young girls, and making sure they get their needs met, which motivates her to help other young girls in her community have the same opportunity. Kids seem to be drawn to her warm smile and welcoming demeanor. Raised in South Central, Los Angeles, by a hard-working single mother, Shari had to learn how to take care of herself at an early age. As a result, she turned to cooking and baking as a way to cope with the growing pains of life. I met Shari at Lou Dantzler

Hayu Dyah: Back to the Roots – Community Health in Indonesia

Beginning in the 1970s, Hayu’s home country of Indonesia experienced great interest from multinational food producers. These firms sought to drastically increase food yields so they could supply a burgeoning global market. For example, genetically modified seeds for rice, known as I8 rice, were one of the experimental mechanisms that began during this time that led to 30% more rice yields.

Keeping Girls in School: Meet Lila Kiwelu and Mdada

How does a seed grant grow and sprout into sustainable, and fruitful impact? Travel with us to Kenya, where a lot of young girls are missing days, or months of school because they cannot afford it. Grantee Lila Kiwelu and her project Mdada, strives to keep girls in school by helping them pay school fees. What’s so impressive is the creative change in their business model, from initially selling fashion items themselves to raise money for school fees for girls, to now teaching girls how to make personalized, eco-friendly bracelets to earn their own income, enabling them to contribute to their own school fees, and academic success. In their final Grantee report, Lila noted that they were challenged with their

Introducing Our Hub Team – Suzan Wilmot

Suzan Wilmot grew up straddling the line between poverty and privilege, a foot in each world as her father struggled to raise her single handedly while doing odd jobs for wealthier families. These contrasting experiences gave her the chance to determine what is truly meaningful in life. The history we go through shapes our future and determine what we can become in life, and Suzan didn’t let this situation stop her dreams.

Introducing Our Hub Team – Jimmy Amone

In 1994, when Jimmy Amone was about 7 years old, he and his parents left the village to settle in the City of Kampala due to the civil war in Northern Uganda. While living in the city, he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Information Technology from Nkumba University. Upon completing his degree course, and with the spirit of volunteerism and compassion that he possessed towards life, he wanted to use his new acquired knowledge, skills and experiences gained in Information Communication Technology, leadership, debate, and sports to help his community. So, in 2010, he returned to Northern Uganda and settled in Kitgum village.

Introducing Our Hub Team – Sitawa Wafula

Women never cease to amaze me. I am in awe of the superlative dedication they put in to whatever they do. Every time I read about people changing the world, I am introduced to strong-willed women who would give their life to make the world a better place. As a 2016 Fellow with the Pollination Project’s East Africa Hub, I have met an incredible woman who is transforming the world of mental health, one blog, video, or training session at a time.Sitawa Wafula is a rare bird. As a rape survivor living with a dual diagnosis of epilepsy and bipolar disorder, she has dedicated her life to providing people in Kenya and Africa with the vital information and support that they need to handle mental health conditions and deal with everyday life.

Introducing Our Hub Team – Vincent Atitwa

The story of the Pollination Project is one that is often best told through the stories of its grantees. This is certainly the case for Kenya, and a good place to start is with the story of Vincent Atitwa.Born as the 11th child in a family that survived largely on subsistence farming in rural Western Kenya, Vincent grew up with little access to basic needs like food and education, and even suffered from malnutrition throughout his childhood. As a young man, Vincent realized that “for many people in the world, no matter how hard they choose to work, they cannot achieve the same level of security and access to resources.”

Healthy Heart, Healthy Habits

Admit it: Sometimes as adults we are just not in the mood to eat our vegetables and become bored of the same old salads. In inner city Los Angeles, how do you get kids excited and willing to eat GREEN and healthy when there is a McDonald’s or other fast food option on every other corner, and places like Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s are miles and miles away? You teach them how skipping breakfast is not cool, and how in 5 quick minutes they can transform 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk, 1 cup frozen peaches, 1/2 cup frozen pineapple, 1/2 banana, 2 cups kale and 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed into a tasty, Peachy Green Smoothie! Ar’Lisa Foster and

Listen Up, Parents! The Keys to Developing a Rock Star Kid

At the age of 4, Kim Ponce’s son, Thomas, said to her that he wouldn’t eat anything with a face.  At age 5, Thomas would go online and google about his interest in animals – and he found Peta Kids. In Kindergarten, a teacher suggested to his mom that he start watching more Dora the Explorer, and other typical children’s TV shows, rather than his preference of Animal Planet (they didn’t listen to this teacher). At this age, he would state that helping animals was his life’s purpose. “This is what I am supposed to do. That is why I was put on this earth.” Around age 10, Thomas learned about the National Animal Rights Conference in Washington, DC and asked his mom if they could

Can You Be “Drawn to Help”?

Are you amazed when someone actually does something to help others? I mean, how many times do you wish you could help the world but you go back to your routine and forget about it?  Steve Barr lost several people he knew to cancer, watching as they struggled, and wished he could help - and actually did something that changed his life and the lives of many children who have come in contact with him. Liz, from The Smile Project once asked Steve: give me a “Happiness is!” and Steve said: “Happiness is leaving a six-year-old pediatric patient’s room and hearing her say, “Thanks for drawing with me and giving me free art supplies, SANTA!” That’s right. Doesn't Steve look a little bit

Stephanie Klempner: the Founding Cheerleader of The Pollination Project­­

I recently sat “virtually” with ­­­­Stephanie Klempner, co-founder of The Pollination Project­­ (TPP). The first thing I notice about her is her cheerful smile that is just simply contagious.  Rarely you meet someone who smiles with her eyes and her lips and she was able to hold that for more than an hour. By the time I was done, I was feeling pretty uplifted! Stephanie is the sister-in-law of TPP’s founder, Ari Nessel.  She described their relationship as best friends, soul friends. She looks up to him, got into animal activism because of him, and it was Ari who inspired her to become a vegetarian! You may be as curious as I was to learn how TPP came about.  Ari and Stephanie were

The Ties that Bind Us: Mary Justine Todd

After nearly three years of thoughtfully and tirelessly working through regional, cultural and political challenges, Pollination Project grantee Mary-Justine Todd has just opened a full scale crisis center for victims of domestic and sexual abuse in the Middle East. Trained to recognize signs of abuse by Todd’s organization, Women’s Crisis Care International, hospital staff in Manama, Bahrain are able to alert a team of around-the-clock volunteer counselors. Within minutes, a WCCI counselor arrives and offers, Todd said, “emotional support for the victim, as well as logistic support and information for the future, we connect her with long term counselors, attorneys, get her locks changed, housing assistance. Whatever it is she needs.” WCCI is just the latest effort in Todd’s desire to

Helping Fiji Weather the Storm: Rebuilding, Resiliency & Returning Home

On February 20th 2016, Tropical Cyclone Winston hit Fiji. The strongest storm ever to make landfall on Fiji, this category 5 cyclone caused devastating damage to communities all over the islands. Efforts to rebuild have already begun, and in this guest blog post we hear from The Pollination Project grantee, Janet Lotawa, about the impact of the storm on the communities in which she works. For ten families in Tukuraki village, in the western region of Fiji's main island Viti Levu, cleaning up after Cyclone Winston is a discouraging and all-too-familiar experience. Twice within just five years, Tukuraki residents have felt the devastating effects of climate change disasters. Tukuraki village was one of several Yakete District communities hit by epic