What was your childhood dream? To travel through space? Or maybe you dreamt of becoming a global superstar? What ever happened to that dream?
As children, we tend to dream big, believe anything is possible. We believe we can change the world. But very few of us grow up and turn our dreams into reality.
Daphne Nederhorst had a vision. At the tender age of seven, whilE growing up in Tanzania, she dreamt of living in a world free from poverty. Daphne grew up but never let go of her dream. She is now an Ashoka Fellow and the founder of Sawa World; an NGO globally recognised for its unique approach to uplifting 1.2 billion people out of extreme poverty with their own solutions.
Solutions from within is Daphne's motto. Having travelled to remote and poverty stricken areas of the world, one thing was clear in Daphne's mind; every community suffering in adversity, has inspiring changemakers. These selfless leaders are often just themselves living in dire poverty, but they use their hearts, mind and hands to develop innovative solutions that work to improve livelihoods in their communities. Daphne and the Sawa World call them Sparks.
Sawa mean 'equal' in Swahili. A Sawa World is an equal world, where the current population of 1.2 billion living on less than $1.25 dollars per day can shape their own destiny to a brighter future. Sawa World is not about fueling the popular debate on whether international aid works or not. They focus their efforts on solutions that are home grown in poverty stricken communities – solutions that have proven success. Sawa World amplifies these solutions by giving large-scale access to other people living in extreme poverty.
So how exactly does it work?
Sawa World hires unemployed and very often marginalised youth (Sawa Youth) in the world's poorest countries. These youth are trained to spot Sparks (champions in their communities) who have come up with practical ways to improve the livelihoods of people living in extreme poverty.
The Sawa Youth are also trained in video journalism so they can make “How to” videos of these proven local solutions. The solution videos are shown to vulnerable youth in their communities with the aim to inspire the instant replication solutions leading to self employment and improved livelihoods. The Sawa Youth also share the solution by selling education merchandise and offering regular training courses.
These solutions can increase income levels from $1 per day to $2 to $4 per day. This is significant and life changing for youth living in extreme poverty. Their increased income lifts them from dire poverty to making basic necessities affordable and having a greater sense of self-worth. Sawa World mainly targets youth in secondary schools and dropout youth from slum settlements.
So what are the solutions, and who are the Sparks?
So far, solutions have included: using recycled paper to make jewellery; growing edible gardens in throwaway trash; making sopa with corn flour; and using grass and polyethylene sheets to make a fuel saving basket.
Meet Sawa World Spark Irene and see her solution of how to make wallets and bags using banana fibre. All of the Sawa World videos are produced by Sawa Youth.
Sawa World has already identified 63 local solutions to eradicate poverty and aims to present at least 100 in 2015 at the United Nations in support to the Millennium Development Goals commitment that Daphne made to global leaders and heads of state in 2010 in New-York.
In the last seven years, Sawa World has worked in 11 of some of the world's poorest countries including Haiti, Solomon Islands and Senegal. It currently focuses its program work in Uganda. In the next three months alone, Sawa World will impact over 10,000 vulnerable youth from across East Africa. They will be hosted at the second Sawa World Day in Uganda and in partnership with the Sheraton Kampala Hotel.
The event will showcase the successful solutions and is becoming a popular and much talked about exhibition. In one day, 10,000 youth will be given free access to practical and locally created solutions and ideas that, when implemented, will result in instant self-employment.