This week The Pollination Project honors people around the world who are helping their communities address some of their most basic needs. From a women-run business in Nigeria, to school gardens in Tanzania and Uganda, and a creative rebuilding effort in Gaza, Palestine, these grantees are showing us how small local initiatives really do make a difference. Join me in congratulating our grantees this week!
School Garden in Rural Uganda. The Nakanyonyi Primary School sits atop a hill overlooking Lake Victoria. Unfortunately, the school is unable to provide a substantial source of nourishment to the 2,500 students who are currently in attendance and often go hungry during the day. Peace Corps volunteer Vanessa Soto is working with local educator, Bagatya Robert, to mobilize youth and volunteers to create a community garden on the school grounds in order to feed thousands of hungry students. Vanessa and Bagatya plan to establish rain collection sites that will be used to irrigate a wide variety of crops, such as moringa fruit, greens, carrots, and amaranth.
Fashion Design in Warri, Nigeria. After a lifetime of struggling with her own disabilities, Joy Oleabhie is making a difference in the lives of disabled women through the Cajoy African Fashion Home Founded in 2013, Cajoy African Fashion Home provides instruction in textile design and manufacturing to women with physical disabilities, helping them become self-reliant and combatting stigma. Between 2015 and 2016, Joy plans to train 10 participants to design, create and market of their own personal clothing designs. The proceeds will be used to help participants buy their own equipment.
Rebuilding Farms and Local Food Sources in the Gaza Strip. Working in collaboration with Grean Palestine, Alice Gray is helping Gazans rebuild their lives after years of living under occupation. Alice's project, Rebuild Gaza Sustainably, specifically targets displaced agriculturalists living in Maghazi, Gaza to help them rebuilding farms destroyed during the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. The project will bring architects from the Al Ottol consulting firm together with local youth volunteers in order to strategically rebuild residences and bolster local food production and sustainability. The project aims to reinvigorate local agriculture in order to feed Gaza's residents, while also providing invaluable training in design and construction to participating Palestinian youth.
Using the Arts to Empower Women in St. Louis, Missouri. Dail Chambers is the founder of the Yeyo Arts Collective in St. Louis, Missouri, a network of artists, social workers, art therapists, personal trainers, and entrepreneurs dedicated to the use of art as a means of empowering women and their families. In their newest initiative, Creativity + Healing Art, Dail plans to create pop-up style workshops targeting women and single mothers throughout the City. Project participants will receive instruction in writing and fine art skills, as well as meditation-based inspirational practices that will build self-esteem, promote public health and well-being, develop community leaders, and provide them with social support networks.
Youth Art Therapy in the West Bank of Palestine. Working in conjunction with Awareness and Prevention Through Art (aptART), Leah O'Bryant and Samantha Robison are working with over 50 Palestinian youth living at the SOS Children's Village in Bethlehem. They are using art as a means of helping Palestinian youth cope with the realities of living in a war zone. Participants will explore issues such as hope, community building, the importance of education and non-violent communication.
Community Gardening in Pahoa, Hawaii. Wendy Baker's Garden to Grinds program at the Hawaii Academy of Arts and Science Public Charter School (HAAS) addresses global hunger and the growing need for nutritious local food sources in the Hawaiian Islands. Since 2011, Wendy has been teaching her students at HAAS how to prepare soil, tend crops, compost, and harvest and process ingredients into delicious, nutritional recipes. This year, Wendy is organizing community outreach events and garden parties to expand existing gardens and incorporate community members into garden planning, upkeep, and harvesting.
Empowering Young Women in the Slums of Nairobi, Kenya. John Muganda Chavasu is the founder of the Otto Benecker Development Foundation, a Kenya-based non-profit that aims to empower single mothers and teenagers in the slums of Nairobi. This year, John and a dedicated team of volunteers are working to address high rates of female unemployment, gender-based violence, and teen pregnancy in two of Nairobi's slums. Since May of 2015, over 30 young single mothers have received fine arts training that will ultimately provide them with supplemental income.
Community Food and Pollinator Gardens in Central New Jersey. Christy Evers is the founder of Everybody Eats: Community Food and Pollinator Gardens in New Jersey. Christy plans to build a network of community gardens and pollinator habitats that will simultaneously increase local food security while supporting endangered pollinator species. Christy is currently planting her gardens on both public and private property, focusing on providing food access to vulnerable social groups like single mothers, WIC & SNAP recipients, victims of domestic violence, children, and the elderly. Once completed, she also plans to hold youth and family gardening workshops within the spaces she creates.
School Lunches in Tanzania. Pastory Mrosso is using the nutritious amaranth grain to provide daily lunches to hungry school children in rural Tanzania. Although the Tanzanian government has mandated the provisioning of school lunches, in rural areas of the country, many children still do not have access to food during the school day. Throughout 2015, Pastory will plant amaranth gardens at 5 different public elementary schools in his region. He will also provide students with training on the planting and harvesting of the plant, as well as using the produce from the garden to feed hungry children.
Football to Address Gender-Based Violence in Nairobi. Veronicah Njeri Mwangi's project Preventing Sexual & Gender Based Violence Through Sports, aims to help impoverished women struggling with domestic and/or sexual violence in one of Nairobi's many slums. Veronica and her team of volunteers plan to use the traditionally male-dominated sport of football as a platform for teaching young women important life skills, the value of teamwork, and building their self-confidence. Additionally, Veronica will use the football classes as a means of providing participants with education on their legal rights while empowering them to take a more active role in preventing and responding to sexual and gender-based violence.
Since I began giving a grant a day in 2013, the Pollination Project's team of Daily Givers has provided over $1 million in seed funding to projects in 57 countries. Daily Giving is a rewarding practice that I encourage everyone to do. Learn more about the Pollination Project's Daily Giving Community, and join us!