For young people coming of age around the world the search for new opportunities to support themselves and their families often leads them away from the communities in which they grew up. From rural America to northern Nigeria, communities with few jobs and under-resourced schools struggle to raise connected, hopeful young people who have the skills needed to succeed.
Yet around the world seemingly ordinary people are taking action. Determined in their efforts to create thriving, functional, and optimistic communities, they are addressing needs that would likely have gone unnoticed if it were not for their efforts. From literacy programs to vocational training, from music programs to efforts to bring together young people of different cultures, these visionaries are redefining their communities and the future of the young people who live in them through hard work, relationships, and courage.
This kind of community oriented, community led work that starts from the ground up is exactly why we are here and why we support grassroots changemakers. Imagine a world where each of us found at least one thing that we wanted to change for the better and set ourselves a goal of making it happen. The 14 projects below have each taken that step and we invite you to be inspired by them, learn from them, and possibly to even join them in changing the world.
Bao Le – EDUCOA Innovation for Life Skills Teacher Training Workshop
Three in five young African workers do not have the skills or opportunities necessary to secure gainful employment. This skill gap emanates from persistent challenges in the education system. Passionate about contributing to the wellbeing of others through education, Lisa Lau founded EDUCOA to cultivate lifelong learning skills in sub-Saharan African youth to enable them to succeed in the global market. By introducing affordable, student-centered, and ICT-based educational and training programs, EDUCOA has reached 8 schools, 65 teachers and 1200 primary school students in Ghana alone. This grant will enable EDUCOA to deliver a teacher training workshop in two regions in Ghana to continue this virtuous cycle of learning that will enable even more students to productively engage in the global economy.
Arcades Education Center
Judith Odhier founded the Arcades Education Center, located in the Obunga Slums of Kisumu, Kenya. The project supports vulnerable and marginalized children from the slums and helps then access affordable educational opportunities. Funds from The Pollination Project will help in constructing classrooms that will be able to accommodate more youth.
Shinyanga Active Women in Nutrition – Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato Project
The Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato Project aims to combat hunger and malnutrition by providing foods rich in vitamin A for the Shinyanga, Tanzania community. This project will involve the farming of orange fleshed sweet potatoes, with the production enhancing the income generation opportunities of women in the community. This work is a direct result of the participation of local change agents in a bio-fortification workshop that was conducted in 2018. Funds from The Pollination Project will secure plant vines, which will be planted on a local farm that in managed by the female participants throughout all the stages, from planting to harvesting.
Fundacion Comparlante – We Feel
Led by Fundacion Comparlante in La Plata, Argentina, We Feel – Sentimos – is a photo exhibition that portrays persons with disabilities carrying on different activities in fullness. This exhibition offers a real approach to the daily life of persons living with disabilities when they love, enjoy, create, dance, paint, teach, live. We Feel aims to break negative stereotypes towards persons with disabilities and promote equity.
Joanna Lin – Resonate
Resonate is one of the first organizations of its kind dedicated to spreading music and passion to rural students. These young adults have very limited exposure to music, frequently having to travel for 1-2 hours to the nearest town for musical resources. Created by Joanna Lin, a high-school Midwestern musician, for young Midwestern musicians, Joanna learned about this little-known problem when speaking face-to-face with rural students on a summer trip. Resonate combats this through musical masterclasses: inviting small chamber ensembles of college musicians to travel to a rural school, perform, explain their interpretation of music, and act as long-term mentors to the students for questions about music and college. This grant will allow for some of the very first masterclasses to take place, the first step in inspiring the next new generation of musicians and creators.
Fari Africa Slum 2 School
Reading is a fundamental skill for all learning, as it allows children to maximize STEM, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, education. Ogheneruona Onothoja and his team, Oyeyemi Marvellous Grace, Agwu Victor and Esther, are committed to grooming an independent reading culture in children from poor communities while supporting their primary/secondary education financial needs. Their vision is to open the doors to economic opportunities and lifelong learning. Receiving a grant from The Pollination Project will enable them to register as an NGO with the Nigerian Government and to scale their work to Northern Nigeria – the region in West Africa with the highest number of out of school children. Together they want to support vulnerable children who have suffered educational setbacks because of the Boko Haram terrorist insurgency.
Alexander Kedje and Priscilla Akorfa – Shape Lives Vocational Skills Training Center
In Hohoe in the Volta Region of Ghana many school dropouts, orphans, girls and young women do not have access to equipped facilities for training in valuable trade skills. As a result, they are deprived of various learning and income-earning opportunities that could improve their social status and living conditions. That is until Alexander Kedje and Priscilla Sraha of Shape Lives Team came in to design the Shape Lives Vocational Skills Training Center, a program designed to help these vulnerable population find their livelihoods by fighting discrimination and violence through education, skills education and employment opportunities. The grant will be used to purchased 10 hand sewing machines for training these less privileged girls in the community.
Consuelo Conu, Susana, Claudia, Hugo – Ritmo y Sabor
In San Rafael, Santander de Quilichao, Colombia it is known that young people need to occupy their time in activities that keep them busy, and at the same time, creating cultural conditions of commitment with the ethnic group that resides in the region. Consuelo Conu, Susana Oronda, Claudia Peña, Césare Cruciani, Ana Rita Rodriguez, Angélica Mezú, Julio César Mezú, and Hugo Rodriguez are aiming to achieve this through their initiative Ritmo y Sabor.
The purpose of the project is the acquisition of traditional dance dresses and musical instruments for the preservation of the dance and musical ancestral customs of the African-descendant ethnicity by bringing together members of our community. Their motivation lies in the fact that the cultural and artistic roots of their African-descendant ethnic group are being lost in the community, and that these traits must be maintained throughout history. The importance of this project is to leave a cultural legacy in the Afro-descendant community where they reside. With a TPP grant, they will be able to provide dance traditional dance dresses and musical instruments appropriate to dancers and musicians group.
Yohani Kahungu, Norman Malatjie, Shereza Sibanda – Indigent Refugees Support Project
Founded in 2002 by a group of concerned volunteers, Group of Refugees Without Voice (GRWV) is a registered non-profit public-benefit organization that supports refugees and asylum-seekers who are unable to meet their or their families’ most basic needs. They primarily work with indigent and destitute refugees and asylum seekers who are in legal or administrative limbo, distressed or dejected, without shelter, experiencing post-traumatic stress and/or lack the means and know-how to fend for themselves.
The organization connects them to public interest lawyers, decision-makers, social services, temporary homes or shelters, therapeutic counseling services, and vocational training and sustenance opportunities. These interventions are meant to assist them to improve their living situations, get integrated in local communities, and become productive and active members of their respective local communities. The team supports all deserving refugees and asylum seekers living in Central Johannesburg, South Africa, irrespective of their race, gender, nationality, religious affiliation, country of origin and political affiliation.
Dike Clement – Civic Engagement through Civic Skills and Photojournalism
The Civic Engagement through Civic Skills and Photojournalism project helps young people to engage in civic leadership in Nigeria. Dike Clement, the Executive Director of Africommunity Technology Development Center will coordinate this project along with professional trainers. The aim of the project is to promote civic participation among 100 school children through photojournalism, civic leadership, storytelling, and social media skills, leading to a book donation to 100 students that will improve community awareness issues. Dike realizes the relevance of this work as everyone these days uses social media, making them a citizen journalist.
Temwa Luhang- Thazima Soya Milk Production
After a visit to Nyika National Park, Temwa Luhanga was inspired to raise awareness on animal milk production and the effects it has on the animal, person, and environment. It was here where Temwa learned that the park is losing 26% of its animal population due to poaching. Furthermore veterinary departments in the Mzuzu community record that 40% of domestic animals are slaughtered by the heads of household, 25% are used for rearing, 25% for farming practices, and 10% die from diseases. These numbers helped Temwa establish the Thazima Soya Milk Production so that individuals in the community can access proteins from soya.
Davie Sato – Young Women for Technical Skills Development
Young Women for Technical Skills Development is an initiative created by a social scientist, Davie Sato, to social-economically empower young women at Group Village Headman (GVH) Bwanaisa in Phalombe District of Malawi. The targeted young women are primarily single mothers, many of which face financial challenges. The project will provide technical trainings in designing and tailoring school uniforms to less privileged pupils in the community. Davie is inspired by his passion of initiating self-employment in women for economic independence as a way of contributing to sustainable social-economic development of Malawi and the world at large. Grant funds will supply core financial capacity for the implementation of the whole project, such as sewing machines.
Senta Nronsi – Sustainable Support Initiative for IDPs in Bamenda
In Bamenda, Cameroon, Senta Nronsi works alongside a team of volunteers to provide life skill training and support to internally displaced vulnerable people. Her project – Sustainable Support Initiative for IDPs in Bamenda – supports beneficiaries in the production, processing, and marketing of mushrooms as a tool to generate income, improve familial nutrition, and fulfill other basic needs. This work is in response to alleviate poverty, malnutrition, and hardship among those whom have been internally displaced, particularly widows, single mothers, and young girls as a result of the crisis in the north and south west regions of the country. Senta shares that her motivation stems from her childhood, “…I lost my father at a very tender age and my mother was left alone with five children. Things were so difficult that most us had sponsor ourselves through secondary school. Based on the hardship I went through, I am move to serving the poor.” With support from The Pollination Project, Senta and her team will provide counseling to IDPs along with training female individuals in mushroom farming and business management.
Francis Sarkodie, Rosina Donkor – Hope for Rural Teenage Mothers
Hope for Rural Teenage Mothers is a project in Gyankobaa, Ghana that provides 15 teenage mothers with skills training in bead making along with educational seminars on reproductive health. The Center for Integrated Rural and Child Development (CIRCDev) is implementing this work as result of the high unemployment among teenage mothers in rural communities. CIRCDev is inspired by the world goal of ending poverty by 2030 as a means of ensuring employment opportunities for all. Funding from The Pollination Project will enable the trained teenage mothers to start their business after the training and become self-reliant.