For years, the media’s outdated perception of poverty has defined how the world has understood international development. But young people across the globe are changing that. This International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, we hear the stories of Bibek, Josh, Sukanya, Emmanuel and Felix.
Bibek - supporting women farmers
Nepali volunteer Bibek Pandit volunteered with VSO in Lamjung in rural central Nepal in 2012. Agriculture is a huge part of the country’s economy, but limited knowledge about farming methods often holds people back.
Bibek set up a programme training 75 mostly women farmers from the marginalised Chepang tribe in Taakthali to become more independent. He taught them more about agriculture and helped them learn about production, saving and investing – and what crops they can farm all year round.
Mushroom farming? They’re now doing it, meaning a new source of income. Compost manure? They’re now using it, meaning less pesticides and more money in their pocket. And the women are now forming a co-operative as a result of what they’ve learnt.
“Previously we were limited,” said farmer Goma Chepang, 22. “This is the first time we are able to get training in our own village which has taught us our capacity and helped us to earn more.”
Josh - engaging ICS alumni to support enterprises
When Ugandan volunteer Daaki Joshua finished his placement with Balloon Ventures ICS in Mbale in 2015, he was so inspired by the way his team came together that he came up with an initiative to keep the huge network of in-country Ugandan volunteers working to fight poverty.
Involving over 40 ICS alumni, he went back to the communities where Balloon volunteers work, helping reach more than 500 people and giving entrepreneurs business advice as well as setting up a scheme where alumni re-visit the businesses they worked with.
“A lot of young people were brought on board, many ICS teams were involved, local stakeholders became part of the cause and many connections with media were formed,” said one ICV alumni.
“More awareness was created about how young people can pioneer peace through business, being active citizens and advocating for what is right.”
Sukanya - creating empowering spaces for teenage girls
Pravah ICS volunteer Sukanya Sinha’s placement in Ajmer, a major city in the northern Indian state of Rajasthan inspired her to be a passionate advocate for gender rights. After returning from ICS, she was awarded an ICV Alumni Grant to create empowering spaces for teenage girls in urban areas.
Her idea? A five day handicrafts workshop to help public high school girls create and sell their own crafts. In turn, they gained confidence, the ability to talk openly about their futures – and, with the profits from the crafts being reinvested – understood the practicalities of running a business.
Her project has had a far-reaching impact. In one of the schools she worked in, her sessions are the first time that life skills education has ever made it into the curriculum.
“There was a shift in the girls’ awareness about their rights,” said Sukanya. “They were able to come out of their comfort zones and talk about things that matter to them. It was heartening to see the girls coming forward to voice their opinions.”
Emmanuel - supporting refugees into their new life
Rwandan in-country volunteer Emmanuel Nshimiyimana joined Tearfund’s ICS programme in 2014. Inspired by his experience tackling poverty, he partnered with three ICS alumni to start the ‘Green Saves’, a project supporting Tanzanian refugees in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, to begin a new life.
From introducing self-help groups to supporting refugees to save money, to teaching them how to use these savings to resolve their own problems and start their own small businesses- even helping them set up vegetable gardens – these four volunteers put their all into it.
Following the success of the project and national media attention it received, Emmanuel was inspired to continue to make change. His next challenge, MyStory, is a platform of inspiring stories from across Rwanda. They’re representing Rwanda at the World Festival of Youth this month.
Felix - giving schoolgirls the menstrual education they deserve
For girls in primary and secondary schools across Kenya, menstrual and sexual health education isn’t always top of the agenda. But in-country VSO volunteer Felix Owino is determined to change this. He set up The Cup project, delivering health sessions to an incredible 1,780 young women.
With many girls missing schools due to a lack of menstrual products and education, Felix and his team partnered with another NGO to deliver free reusable menstrual cups to these school girls, while trained female health workers gave sessions in schools on the importance of hygiene.
They set up a confidential hotline number for the girls to contact if they had issues using the menstrual cup and organised face-to-face follow ups with the girls after two months.
“We empowered women and girls in the community,” said Felix. “We ensured they had access to sustainable reproductive health facilities, instilling self-confidence in these women and ending discrimination from community members around menstruation myths.”