It makes us very happy and proud to see our former Fellows start and expand their own initiatives, social businesses or projects after having participated in one of our D&F Programs. Here are some of their initiatives.
Campaigning for biodiversity - Diego, Chile
(Engage in Conservation Project, Hamburg)
Formally educated as an environmental engineer, during his time at the D&F Academy in Hamburg, Diego learned more about the critical importance of biodiversity. His dream was to protect the endemic species on the Juan Fernandez archipelago, off the coast of Chile which is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and has a great deal of indigenous species that are threatened by invasive plant and animal species. Supported by the DreamLab, Diego developed his Dreamplan: a national campaign, Let’s Rescue Juan Fernandez, for the protection of the islands that would target youth and the general public but also specific actors such as the Chilean government and military.
After returning to Chile, Diego built up a network of support for his campaign. He launched a website to educate the public and used social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter to increase the general awareness of the need to protect Juan Fernandez. The campaign found thousands of supporters and followers while Diego and his team also educated youth at several schools and universities through lectures and events. But it did not stop there. In fact, Diego went all the way to the President of Chile with his petition to protect biodiversity on the remote archipelago. He also organized a scientific seminar with conservation and biodiversity experts where they exchanged lessons learned in other regions of the world and developed strategies how to protect biodiversity on the archipelago.
Diego and his team are now working with the Office of Social Responsibility of the Chilean Armed Forces to conduct clean-up actions to protect the critically endangered species and Let’s Rescue Juan Fernandez, is the official intermediary between the Chilean Armed Forces and Chilean National Forestry Service so that they can all work to protect it together.
Diego was recognized as one among the 100 most important young leaders of Chile (2012) and will continue to engage in biodiversity conservation in the future.
To find out more or donate to Diego’s campaign visit:
Making CSR matter - Caro, Ecuador
(Engage in Conservation Project, Hamburg)
After coming to Hamburg as a Fellow of the Engage in Conservation Project, Caro started to create a DreamPlan that would help protect the Ecuadorian Cloud Forest in the Western Andes through community education and creation of economic alternatives. Back in Ecuador, Caro founded the non-profit organization Vivamos el Bosque and a local Roots & Shoots group while starting a full-time job as a CSR officer with a large computer firm.
Implementing her DreamPlan, Caro faced one of the most common challenges that many Fellows face: Now that I have my DreamPlan, how do I make it a reality and work on it while maintaining myself financially? Caro’s solution was combining her job and DreamPlan. She was able to bring her firm in as a partner, educated the staff about the importance of protecting the Cloud Forest, and actively integrates the protection of natural resources and awareness for the country’s amazing biodiversity into all her work. Caro has successfully registered Vivamos el Bosque, implemented environmental education activities with communities in the Ecuadorian Cloud Forest and conducted photography workshops in the forest to educate urban people about biodiversity and revive the existing environmental education center in the forest. She has also conducted a social entrepreneurship training for a group of youth from one of the communities.
Now that the Fellowship year is over, Caro is still working hard to further her dream and protect the Cloud Forest. Having found a way to bring in her job and her passion, she has been able to improve both and make her DreamPlan even more sustainable.
To find out more or donate to her venture visit:
Empowerment through education - Baker, Uganda
(Teaching Project, Hamburg)
Baker started of as one of the Fellows of the Teaching Project with the dream of empowering members of his community through education that would yield employment as the best way out of poverty.
Back in Uganda, after a full 10 weeks of refining his ideas in the DreamLab, Baker founded the Invisible Talents Education Foundation as a non-profit. Baker is working full time to show that every youth has talents that can be made visible through education. He has secured a location for his training center, developed a curriculum and advertised his services locally.
Supported with a grant from the Ann-Kathrin Dekeyser Fund by the Dekeyser&Friends Foundation, Baker has opened his vocational training center and welcomed his first computer skills class of 20 young people in November 2012. Currently, he is developing more courses including hair-dressing and sewing to reach out to more young people. He is also working on creating connections with Ugandan enterprises to offer placement for his graduates.
Business for a better environment - Liza, Moldova
(Engage in Conservation Project, Hamburg)
Having grown up around her parents’ beehives in rural Moldova, Liza is passionate about honey and the overall importance of bees for our ecosystem. Her dream was to turn her parents’ beehives into a profitable business that creates rural employment while at the same time campaigning more broadly for bee protection with farmers and the general public. Local and natural honey from Moldova can now be purchased from her under the Dulce Plai brand and Liza has spread the word about bees’ relevance for our survival at various events she organized to promote her brand and message.
Liza has always been a great self-starter, yet one of the most important lessons she learned through her Fellowship was working in a team and that you do not have to do it all alone. After returning from 10 weeks full of teamwork at the Academy, one of the first things Liza did was finding other local youth interested in beekeeping who do not strive to seek employment in the city. Together with them, a couple of volunteers, and a starting loan from the Dekeyser & Friends Foundation, she was well positioned to start her business.
Having just graduated from the DreamMaker Fellowship, our alumna Liza is now supported by a national Moldovan women’s mentorship program - the right environment for her budding business to flourish even further.
Liza organized her Final Event for the young women and their mentors who also are in the program. She presented an annual report and projections for the next years, but more importantly, she was able to share her success and learnings and inspire others. Liza’s Dulce Plai is still growing and she hopes to announce that her honey will be sold internationally soon!
To find out more visit:
A New Home - George, Uganda
(Rehousing Project, Cebu)
Based on his experiences during the Rehousing Project, Cebu, George from Uganda developed his DreamPlan to establish the Pader Support to Extremely Vulnerable Initiative (PASEVI). Years after the end of the war in Uganda, several hundred thousand people still live in refugee camps under terrible conditions. The goal of PASEVI is to re-house people from these Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camps back to their home villages in Northern Uganda. Vulnerable groups, particularly widows or those infected with HIV have little financial means to rebuild their former homes in the countryside. However, because almost every Ugandan owns land, they have the chance not only to have potential home but also subsistence through agriculture.
Georg's NGO PASEVI finances and builds basic homes and supports access to drinking water and sanitation. The beneficiaries of the project pay back for their house over a period of five years, thereby allowing George to run an evolving fund and build new homes.
The D&F Academy supported George in starting PASEVI by providing an initial start-up donation and also by connecting him with a mentor who organized a fundraising tour for him in the United States. George was able to collect funds and get in touch with important donors, such as USAID. As a result, PASEVI continues to thrive, not only with regards to building homes but also by identifying income opportunities for project beneficiaries.
For more information visit: www.pasevi.org
Opportunities For Street Children - Shubangi, India
(Dance Project, Istanbul)
Prior to becoming a D&F Fellow, Shubangi started a small initiative in Mumbai teaching street children. With her DreamPlan, Shubangi developed her organization, Hamara Footpath, into an official NGO that regularly offers classes for Mumbai’s street children and is now run by a full-time employee.
Today Hamara Footpath offers classes in sports, games, and lessons for about 30 children in central Mumbai every day. The goal of the classes is to motivate the children to see alternatives to living on the streets and to motivate them to sign up forschool and learn a profession. Hamara Fotpath cooperates with a variety of initiatives. One such initiative offers free doctors' visits to children.
Through the support of her mentor, an Indian Ashoka Fellow, the NGO looked over its strategic future development and the organization of regular fundraising events. Hamara Footpath has gained wide recognition in India through coverage in TV and major newspapers.
For more information visit: www.hamarafootpath.org
Stories of Hope - Meagan, Canada
(Dance Project, Istanbul)
Meagan is a journalist from Canada who followed her DreamPlan to become a documentary filmmaker. Supported by the D&F Media Fellowship, Meagan toured the world to meet inspiring personalities and inspire young people who want to make a difference. Her dream was to shoot her first documentary movie.
Supported by her mentors, filmmakers and producers from Switzerland and Germany, Meagan had the chance to meet Grace in the Philippines. Grace is a thirteen-year-old girl who lives on a garbage dumpsite in the city of Cebu and who has to scavenge for recyclable materials to help sustain her family. Meagan portrayed Grace's fight for her big dream – to be able to go to school and get an education.
The resulting short documentary, "Grace", Meagan’s first film, has been shown in eight movie festivals, winning awards in Monaco and Los Angeles. Meagan uses the film to participate in talks and discussions to highlight the situation of children living on dumpsites. On top of that, Meagan started The Gift of Grace, a non-profit organization that raises money to send children living on garbage dumps to school.
For more information visit: www.thegiftofgrace.com