Born and raised in a small city in Georgia, I had never seen life outside Tbilsi. Since a young age, I had wanted to do something for my country, but I never imagined that my project could become a spark that would spread to hundreds of other people – not only inside Georgia, but internationally as well.
The project began in a very simple way – whilst watching a show on YouTube where children with cancer talked about their aspirations and dreams. I felt a strong desire to help those children somehow, but at 14 years old, I had no idea what to do for them. I was aware that financial donations would be difficult for me to obtain, so I began to think of alternative ways of supporting the people that I had heard about. Eventually I decided to gather all my friends and ask them if they would try to bring “colour" to the lives of cancer patients by dancing, singing, playing games and painting.
Our initial event was so effective that I knew that we had to continue ”painting the world” of not only children with cancer, but of everyone who needs those colours. Within orphanages, retirement homes and hospitals all around Georgia – my friends and I built a movement that aimed to connect young people with the idea that everyone can make a change no matter where they come from.
Starting with just a couple of friends, we soon got members from schools all over the city, and later expanded to the whole country. Building on our success, we decided to turn our movement into an NGO so we pitched to gain financial support from companies worldwide. Soon “Painters of the world” were giving interviews on local television, filming a BBC “Paint the World” episode, and we were beginning to build a movement that mobilised young people to create social impact.
The next step for me was to attend UWC Atlantic College, an Ashoka Changemaker School. I met people from all around the globe, and told them the story of “Paint the World”. Everyone was excited to hear about the movement and wanted to join! The second Paint the World branch was created by Aziza Aznizan in Miri, Malaysia, in December 2014, it now has more than 800 members from three different states.
The international UWC network of schools was the best place to start the process of expanding my NGO. I was able to incorporate “Paint the World” into the curriculum as a part of the CAS program (Creativity, Action and Service) in our College, supporting all students to become changemakers through their work.
In my first year I also managed to organise a project for UWC students in Georgia, working together with members of the Parliament of Georgia. We were supported by the Minister of Youth and Sports, Levan Kipiani, and the Vice Speaker of Georgia, Gubaz Sanikidze, and we also had the honour of meeting the Patriarch of Georgia, Ilia II, who blessed us and supported our movement. It was with great pride that “Paint the World” was showcased on a primetime Georgian television show.
Currently, Paint the World has organised events in Malaysia, Belgium, France, The Netherlands and Russia. We are working on expanding to Australia, China and Japan… and this is only the beginning!
For me, the story of Paint the World is proof that young people can lead the change that they wish to see in the world. We are all changemakers, we just have to have the right support along the way.
-By Lika Torikashvili (18). Lika was born in a small town in Georgia, Caucasus. At the age of 14, she and her friends organised a spontaneous event in one of the local hospitals, which, eventually, turned into a movement. Soon afterwards Lika received a scholarship to attend the Ashoka Changemaker School, UWC Atlantic College. Paint the World has become an international movement with branches in five different countries. See Facebook pages here and here for more information.
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