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Unsung Heroes

Changing Uganda’s Public Health Landscape One Flash Mob at a Time

By Elizabeth Futrell

In 2011, a group of Ugandan public health students at Kampala’s International Health Sciences University began learning to salsa dance in their free time. When they mastered salsa, they learned other dances, over time becoming some of the best dancers in Kampala. In a small room on campus, across the courtyard from the hospital where their classes were held, these students escaped the stresses of school and city life by losing themselves in Uganda’s dreamy beats. The music and dance were intoxicating, the energy infectious.

When the aspiring public health practitioners began working on initiatives to raise awareness about critical health issues like contraception and HIV/AIDS in local communities, they knew music, dance, and performance art would attract the attention they sought. Six years later, this informal group of amazing dancers and dedicated students has matured into Public Health Ambassadors Uganda (PHAU), a respected and rapidly growing youth-led public health organization that uses music, dance, poetry, and drama to communicate health messages and connect communities with vital sexual and reproductive health information, services, and products.

I met PHAU founder Segawa Patrick in Bali, Indonesia, when I interviewed him for the Family Planning Voices initiative at the International Conference on Family Planning in early 2016. Several months later at the Women Deliver conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, I watched as Patrick organized and led an international flash mob — a focal point of the conference and one of PHAU’s signature approaches to public health messaging. As dozens of young people from around the world danced through the convention center in Copenhagen, my colleagues at the Knowledge for Health (K4Health) Project and I knew that PHAU was an organization we wanted to get to know. In late 2016, we flew to Kampala to share storytelling and knowledge management techniques and learn more about PHAU’s unique approach to entertainment education, or “edutainment,” for public health.

I was warmly welcomed to Kampala by Public Health Ambassadors Uganda staff. Clockwise, from top left: Elizabeth Futrell (me), Amase Diana, Kasaija Joseph, Segawa Patrick, Guntesse Catherine, , Gimugu Daphne. Photo credit: David Alexander, CCP/Family Planning Voices

Public Health Ambassadors Uganda has focused their boundless energy on addressing several pressing sexual and reproductive health issues in Uganda: menstrual hygiene management, the lack access to which keeps contributes to millions of school absences in Uganda each month; HIV and AIDS, which afflicts 7% of Uganda’s adult population; and access to contraceptive information and services, a pressing need in a country whose fertility rate is nearly six children per women and whose maternal mortality rate is 24 times that of the U.S.
Whatever the health issue, common threads in PHAU’s work include passion, creativity, and an uncanny ability to connect with their young audiences. After all, the oldest person on PHAU’s staff is in his early 30’s, and the majority of the PHAU staff are in their mid-20’s. During our visit, I watched their youthful energy, magnetic personalities, and knowledgeable professionalism attract community members of all ages to the health information and services they were offering. In the short amount of time they’ve been operating, they’ve made a difference in thousands of lives, and they’re just getting started. Here, six Public Health Ambassadors Uganda staff members tell their story.

Segawa Patrick, Founder and Program Coordinator, Public Health Ambassadors Uganda (PHAU). Photo credit: David Alexander, CCP/Family Planning Voices

Patrick: I have three sisters, and I was raised by a single mom. It’s a big source of motivation that I have to make sure I work hard and support them, especially those young sisters of mine — make sure that they finish school and they have better opportunities as well so that they can take care of themselves…. We have a strong focus on young women and girls, in terms of reaching them with the right information on sexual and reproductive health and HIV…. If you find a 15-year old engaging in risky sexual behaviors, then it rings a bell that even your sister who is just 15 could be going through the same.

Amase Dianahritah, Project Officer and Administrator, PHAU. Photo credit: David Alexander, CCP/Family Planning Voices

Diana: My brother died of HIV, but we did not know until we grew up, and then they told us, “Ok, yeah, he died of HIV.” There was a time when we were in school, and he was bedridden — that was in 2002, actually. We were still very young, and they brought us from school, because they wanted us to see how HIV kills. It was such a painful thing. We did not know the disease, but afterward, they told us, “If you mess up, that’s how you will end up.”

Mubuuke Felix, Monitoring and Evaluation Consultant, PHAU. Photo credit: David Alexander, CCP/Family Planning Voices

Felix: I come from a humble background. Most of what I am doing is shaped by what my home setting is or was. My father is a judge. My mother is a midwife, so there was a mixture of careers at home. My simple story was that our home had two mothers and so many children in that home. We were forced to be able to survive for the fittest, meaning whatever resource was available had to be shared by so many of us, and we had to ensure that we struggle to become persons of importance in the future…. Today I don’t have so many children from my home or from my body, because I don’t have so much to share. That’s why I advocate for family planning, and I also advocate for healthy families…. If you don’t have so much in your home, you can use the little that you have in your home to make you better and make you also be able to better your future family. Simple as that.

Kasaija Joseph, Program Manager, PHAU. Photo credit: David Alexander, CCP/Family Planning Voices

Joseph: I was a peer educator while I was still in college. People still call me from my college for information about sexual and reproductive health. They always tell me, “When are you bringing us condoms?”… At college, people have a lot of sex. Many of them have unprotected sex. For example, when they’re coming from clubs, having fun, sometimes they are too drunk or too tired. They just pick up a girl and go back home, and in the morning, they are like, “Oh my God, what happened?” … They’ll call me like, “Hey, where are you?” They meet me, and we talk.

Patrick: I studied at International Health Sciences University in Kampala, and I was very passionate about music, dance, drama. With a couple of guys who were my colleagues, we started a dance club. We were teaching people how to do salsa and Latino, those kinds of things. Usually we’d have classes on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Guys would come after classes, you know, after those boring lectures, or on weekends when they have nothing to do, they come and they dance, you know, we sweat….

One time, we had a production at university. It was called The Twist. The Twist was a play that was focusing on sexual and reproductive health — in particular, issues of male involvement. Have you ever imagined what it would feel like if a man became pregnant? That was the “twist”! The other side: What if a man became pregnant? Because usually, in African settings, men love giving birth to boys. So he’s always on your case: “I need a boy. I need a boy.” Now, just imagine it’s your turn, asking him to give birth to a boy. We managed to incorporate that kind of acting, so we got the skills. We started mixing the dancing and the acting.With time, we started conducting community outreaches, using that component of music and dance.

Guntesse Daphne, Program Manager, PHAU. Photo credit: David Alexander, CCP/Family Planning Voices

Daphne: We started with nothing. We were just students in school. But if we were able to come this far, I can only talk to the people out there who have this beautiful idea, and they have the knowledge of how they think it can be done, and they’re just afraid to bring it out because of resources. I can just tell them, “Go out there, work hard, and things will fall in place somehow. You just have to work hard and climb well and bring your idea to the table, and things will fall into place, and you’ll be able to impact a life.”

Diana: [When] I started, they just wanted to pay me not even a single cent. But I said okay, because I love it…. We cover just a little percentage — it’s just like a drop in the ocean, the people we reach out to. Uganda has over 100-something districts, but we work in only two districts. With the other one we just got, three districts. And in those three districts, there are very few people…. But every person matters, so we try as much as possible so that the world will be a better place.

Patrick: If you compare the time of inception, where we had only one grant worth $1,000 to a point where we have been about to attract funding from different international donors…at this moment I should say that the annual income for Public Health Ambassadors Uganda is up to around US$50,000, which is quite an impressive achievement since 2014. It’s just a span of two years, but there is a lot of growth that has taken place.

Felix: I’m the oldest staff of Public Health Ambassadors Uganda…. Our staff have exposure to projects, but they might not have experience reporting to different donors, so I love it most when I’m giving feedback after the day’s activity, after quarterly reporting, or after we have won proposals, when they are attentive and they are noting down a few issues that worked well for the project, for the activity, and, of course, the challenges.

Joseph: Being in the field is part of getting the chance to do what I love most. For example, I love being with young people. When I’m at the office, I’ll be doing the paperwork, but when I’m in the field, I get a chance to meet the people I love so much…. You can’t do behavior change when you’re just in the office. When I get a chance of going to the field, I get a chance to interact with people and try to find a way of enhancing them or influencing them to have positive behavior change for their health.

Kitzo Ruth, Program Manager, PHAU. Photo credit: David Alexander, CCP/Family Planning Voices

Ruth: We’ve conducted some outreaches, we’ve taught people how to use condoms, and we’ve distributed condoms to prevent STIs and unwanted pregnancies. I was shy at first because it is something that society looks at differently. They look at it as a private thing. So coming out to demonstrate causes questions. But they have to get the proper information so that they can use them properly. Doing it over and over again gave me the courage to continue doing it.

Felix: I used to accompany my mother to do her family planning visits. Back then, she had a job title of Village Health Team Member. She was given a bicycle, and she would carry me to accompany her to the villages, and we would find the women in the shade and the men, and she would talk about family planning, sex, and HIV…. I loved the way she talked to clients. Her talk didn’t stigmatize those who were positive. It would have those who haven’t yet gone for testing rush to go and test to be able to know what their status is. That has made an impact on me. When we were in Luwero for our outreach, several clients came out for a test but were scared of what the result would be. My info to them was, “It doesn’t matter if you’re positive today as long as you can live for tomorrow and be able to raise your children and be able to fulfill your plan.”

Daphne: There is a project called Ensonga, for menstrual hygiene management. And I cannot speak enough about Ensonga. I see these girls who go through what I go through, and I used to think it was just normal, but it is not.

Diana: I heard a story of a girl in some district in Uganda that was in Mukuno who said she in order not to buy those pads, she preferred to get pregnant for nine months to save that time. That hit me badly, and I was like, “Yeah, this is something to talk about.” … When you’re pregnant during the nine months, you’re not menstruating, so it’s like someone is saving [money] for the nine months instead of buying pads every month, every month.

Daphne: I listened to this one girl — she’s called Patricia…. Patricia lives with her grandma, and she has siblings who also live with her grandma…. Patricia told me, “You know, grandma struggles to put us in school, to make sure we have something to eat.” It was very hard to ask her for pads every single month. She was getting frustrated, because she wouldn’t ask her grandma, because her grandma did not have enough.

When her grandma couldn’t provide, she had to use cloth — pieces of cloth. And she has few clothes. What she has is precious to her, so cutting it to fend for this monthly thing that she knows is going to come back another month was frustrating to her. She didn’t know what to do. And, you know, the pieces of cloth she would get were not absorbent enough, so she would use them, but she wouldn’t be confident going out, so she would have to stay indoors or around home…. She said she flows for at least six days and at most seven. So she would miss a lot in school, because she said she would not go to school because she always stained — she always soiled her dress, her school uniform…. And it happens every month, so imagine you’re missing school seven days a month.

Reusable AfriPad. Photo courtesy of David Alexander, CCP/Family Planning Voices

You should have seen the smile on her face when she got [the AfriPads]. She was very happy. She kneeled down. In Uganda, we kneel down to show a sign of respect or appreciation. She kneeled, down, and we were like, “No, no, don’t kneel down,” because in school you don’t really have to kneel. But she kneeled down, and she was like, “Thank you very much,” and she was telling me how she was going to keep them, and how she was going to get somewhere to keep them safe, how this is a life-changer. And we only gave her a pack. It was a small token from us, but the smile we brought on her face — she had a lot of hope…. She knew she would continue in school without missing, and she knew her grades were going to get better instantly…. I saw the smile on her face, and I saw hope.

Patrick: One thing that I want people to know about Public Health Ambassadors Uganda is basically that whatever they see us do — we do it because we love it. We are passionate about it, and as public health practitioners, we always want to make a difference in the communities where we live. And we always want to leave an impact in a fun way. Not these conventional lectures or the normal status quo. We want to always do things in a unique but youth-friendly manner. We love what we do, and it’s what we have been doing that has given us various opportunities to reach where we are. It gives us reason to move. It has provided a sense of purpose…. I’ve never figured out what would I be doing if I wasn’t doing this.

This blog first appeared on The Exchange and has been reproduced here with permission.
*Elizabeth Futrell is a Global Health Writer. You can follow her on Medium.

The Exchange is a K4Health publication. The Knowledge for Health (K4Health) Project is supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of Population and Reproductive Health, Bureau for Global Health, under Cooperative Agreement #AID-OAA-A-13–00068 with the Johns Hopkins University.

The contents are the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the U.S. Government.



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Collective Good

How Not For Sale Uganda is Fighting Human Trafficking

Human trafficking, a criminal activity that is often described as modern day slavery, has become a world-wide industry, incorporating millions of people annually, and generating an illegal annual turnover of billions of dollars.

According to the Uganda 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report presented by the US Department of State, Uganda is a source, transit, and destination country for women, children and men subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically conditions of forced labor, child labor and sexual exploitation.

On record, there are about 837 reported cases of human trafficking according to the National Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Office under the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Raymond Kagumire and his team are trying to fight this status quo through Not For Sale Uganda, an organization that has set out to build a strong network of advocates to fight against modern day slavery.

Raymond (In white) together with his team during one of their recent outreach awareness campaign. (Photo credit: Not for Sale)

“My story begins when we were having dinner about 4 years ago at home and mentioned to my sister that one day I would love to market a beer. She later introduced me to a Swedish technology executive, Ulf Stenerhag who had a desire to expand his beer brand “Not For Sale Ale” that donates 100% of the profit to Not For Sale organization to fight human trafficking.” Raymond states.

In July 2014, the team kicked off after the Founders of the Global Not For Sale Campaign based in USA David Batstone and Mark Wexler chose the name “Not for Sale Uganda” to start fighting modern day slavery most notably, Ugandans being trafficked to the Middle East.

“At Not For Sale, we understand that root causes of human trafficking or commonly termed as human trafficking is poverty and we build scalable, design driven social business solutions that can help us to inoculate communities susceptible to human trafficking as well human trafficking survivors.” Raymond says.

Not For Sale during one of their public awareness campaigns. (Photo credit: Not for Sale)

Not for Sale combines the best elements of social programming and business in its proven, 3-step process. The first step is social intervention where it partners with local experts, community leaders, and business people to understand the root causes of slavery in the region.

The group then provides food, shelter, education, and healthcare to people affected by modern slavery. This supports it when it goes to research and development to investigate the local economy asking key questions like, “why are people here susceptible to slavery? What could we do to create economy for them?”

“Our  third step is to partner with entrepreneurs who have a vision to build an economic engine for the project. These businesses feed revenue back into the project, so that we can give them jobs, stable income, and fund more social intervention.” He explains.

Raymond (left) with his team ready to inform locals about human trafficking

To date, Not for Sale has built a team of dedicated ambassadors/volunteers working to eradicate school going children/students and communities. Given varying objectives and differing understandings of how to conduct more effective outreach, the group targets different populations in its anti-trafficking efforts.

“We have also been able to provide informative community based lessons about the crime of human trafficking and the advice available to the survivors of the crime and remain focused to task various organizations to fight this crime. It is not simply about finding and advising the survivors, it is about creating a self sustaining economy and a society which is more alert to the crime.” Raymond states.

Building a dedicated team of ambassadors committed to do good in their respective communities remains remarkable to Raymond, something he prides in.

Currently, Not for Sale conducts a school/community out reach program “The Not For Sale Campaign” to raise awareness against human trafficking in schools and communities.

“In January 2018, together with our mother organization, Not For Sale in partnership with Coburwas International Youth Organization to Transform Africa (CIYOTA) will launch a million dollar project to help refugee children to access quality education and amplify their entrepreneurial skills through seed funding opportunities for innovative solutions in Kyangwali refugee settlement on Uganda/Congo border.” Raymond says.

Not for Sale conducts a school/community out reach program “The Not For Sale Campaign” to raise awareness against human trafficking in schools and communities. (Photo by Not For Sale Uganda)

Seven (7) years from now, Raymond and his team wants to be able to answer the question; “What are the reasons that contribute to people being trafficked and communities being at risk of human trafficking in our country?”

“That’s the question that fuels the vision of Not For Sale Uganda and is the key factor in our next 7 years because while we provide answers, we understand that the lifestyle of the people in the 21st century is ever on a change and new methods will be designed by the traffickers.” Raymond explains.

It’s in this essence that to achieve their vision, Not For Sale has a dynamic road map and will remain committed grow self sustaining social projects with purpose-driven business to end exploitation and forced labor.

“I would say, energizing would even makes stronger and find innovative solutions in our anti-trafficking efforts.” Raymond concludes.

We all agree that modern day slavery is on the rise and all efforts can’t keep but Not For Sale understands and has proven scalable, innovative business concepts and desire to do good to change the world and we can inspire others to create a world where no one is for sale.

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Unsung Heroes

Food, Education, Clothes & Shelter: Ddiba’s Way of Rehabilitating Street Children

Joseph Ddiba 28, is the Founder and Team Leader of Ba Nga Afayo (Act like you care) Initiative Uganda, a youth-led charity organization providing assistance to former street children, orphans and families struggling in terrible poverty in Uganda.

Ba Nga Afayo literally means “act like you care”. Which according to Ddiba means that if it is too much to ask that someone becomes part of solving a problem, can they at least act like they care. This itself would require action.

“It is all about restoring lives and equipping less fortunate children with the knowledge and skillsets necessary to discover and live out their true vocations, thereby creating the opportunity for them to lead successful and fulfilling lives.” Ddiba says.

Over the past three years, the initiative has been providing shelter and basic care to homeless children and orphans as well as providing children from surrounding community with free care, counseling, school supplies and education scholarships. Many of these Children come from broken or poverty stricken families and the center is a haven for them, whenever they need it.

And it started with one story. “It all began with just one abandoned child. She was dumped and left to starve to death by her unknown parents. My mum being a nurse, she brought the little malnourished kid home, I believe the kid had like a week to live. So about two years later when I was out of University, this little kid had completely recovered and my mum said there were many cases where this one came from.” Ddiba remembers.

Her recovery inspired Ddiba to go save more himself. “ I remember I was hoping to help one or two children but unfortunately the number of cases was overwhelming and the root cause was poverty” Says Ddiba.

Ddiba is providing children and community with free care, counseling, school supplies and education scholarships

That’s how he started a movement among his friends and family to “Act like they care” and donate something to help these children survive.

For the last two years, the initiative has been able to place 45 children into school who would otherwise be without a family or education. “I have not only witnessed the lives of children being transformed through sponsorship, but have furthermore become convinced that Uganda can be restored through education of these less fortunate children.” Ddiba says.

One of touching stories out of the initiative is a story of a beneficiary called Ezesa (in English Esther). Eseza was born out of incest, a relationship between a niece and her uncle. In their tribe she was an abomination. She was thrown away at birth and no one wanted to be near her.

“We met this girl when she was three years, never been breast fed, never been loved and always fed on left overs. She slept in the bush and she was hairy.” Ddiba says.

Eseza is now 6 years and she is going through recovery. “seeing her run around playing with other children makes me wonder where she would be if she was never found.” He says.

“Her story really touched me. I no longer have any choice but to acknowledge the heavy reality of it all: These children don’t just need our help–their very lives depend on it. It is mostly her story that keeps me going every time I think of giving up. I believe God brought her into our lives for a reason.” Ddiba says.

For the last two years, the initiative has been able to place 45 children into school who would otherwise be without a family or education

This however does not come off easily. His biggest challenge is that there is a lot of need and yet very limited resources. One incident he cites is a story of “Sula” one of the beneficiaries who got a sponsor and after just a few months, lost touch with his sponsor. “That right there is my worst moment. Until now, we have never told this child the bad news we don’t want to see that glow fade away.” Ddiba says.

One way how he is however fighting these challenges, is through partnerships. The initiative is currently working with Individuals, private companies, and churches in Canada, USA, UK, Romania and Argentina even though he is still working on creating a few local partnerships.

He also does not do this alone. He commends his team for being part of his journey. “Maria our manager, Sylvia our manager for child sponsorship, Deborah our community coordinator, Hope our manager for child relations and all house mothers who act as mother figures to the homeless children.” He lists them.

Some of the volunteers at work during one of the initiative’s Back to School Charity drive

Six years from now, Ddiba sees BaNgaAfayo growing as one of the major players eradicating Poverty in Uganda with more branches all over the country bringing real and lasting change to families and children living in poverty.

Ddiba wants to be remembered as someone who set an example and left a footprint in humanity. He hopes that the work he does at BaNgaAfayo Initiative will live past him and continue to touch a life here, a life there.

“Keep this verse in mind, Hebrews 10:24. And let us consider how we may spur one another on in love and good deeds.” He concludes.

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Collective Good

This organization is building sustainable solar programs and changing the future for thousands of children

At age 16, All We Are founder Nathan Thomas started taking change in his own words. Collecting used computers from friends, family and his local community, he started sending them to villages in need of technology, laying the groundwork for All We Are’s continued focus on educational access. Eight years later, he has built a team that is creating sustainable Projects that are locally supported in Uganda and built to last. He had a chat with This Is Uganda team and we bring you the interview.

Let’s start with the name- “All We Are”, Why did you choose that?

I was lucky to, at a very young age, discover that the best version of yourself is the person you truly are. For many of us this journey of fulfillment is one that spans a lifetime. All We Are is the hope that by living a fulfilled life we can take our talents, passions, and all that we are to help others realize their true potential. We believe that “it starts with us.”

What inspired you to start All We Are?

The belief that if you get to a certain point of your life and decide that now is the time to start giving back, you took too much. I was a 16 year high school student living in Findlay, Ohio USA who wanted to do something to change the world. I luckily found several people who believed in me. Eight year later, I lead a platform of over twenty young professionals in America who volunteer their time to our mission, and an incredible team of employees on the ground in Uganda who implement our work.

Let’s now talk about your work. What are your focus areas?

By the end of 2017 we will have equipped 20 schools in Uganda with electricity through the design and installation of solar power. We are scaling a women’s empowerment project to educate and provide female personal hygiene products that allows girls to remain in school. This year we have also launched a pilot water program to provide access to clean water to these partner schools.

As young change makers, All We Are’s focus is on responsibly building infrastructure for schools in Uganda. We focus on sustainability and putting money into the local economy with an emphasis on stewardship. Every member of our USA team is a volunteer and is personally investing in All We Are’s mission, which enables us to put 100% of public donations to use on the ground in Uganda. We believe that development is only successful when it is fueled locally by the communities. We work with the Rotary Club of Nateete-Kampala to conduct needs assessments for our projects. They are the face of our projects on the ground.

And the communities, where do you work in Uganda?

We have worked in Kampala and the surrounding area in the past eight years. This year we are pushing into more rural areas where there is no access to Umeme and the existing schools’ infrastructure is much weaker. We will be working in Rakai, Luuka, and Kakumiro to name a few Districts, and hope for further expansion in the near future.

At the end of the day, what are you trying to achieve?

A world in which we all have the right to dream. A world where every child receives an education because it is the young people who are the future of our countries.

What has been All We Are’s impact in Uganda so far?

We have spent the last eight years in Uganda helping build educational program in and around the Kampala area with the hope that we are having a positive impact on the schools we partner with. We have also been able to positively impact the lives of many members of the All We Are family on the ground in Kampala through job creation and by providing them with a means to support their families.

In a week we are launching our largest solar project to date. This project will bring electricity to nine rural schools in Uganda.

All We Are’s focus is on sustainability and putting money into the local economy with an emphasis on stewardship (Photo credit: All We Are)

Any particular impact story you can single out?

One of my favorite stories is a spotlight we did on Nambuli Rogers, Headmaster of Mackay Memorial Primary School in Kampala.  We electrified this school in 2016 and also partner with them on our women’s empowerment project. The school’s motto is, “Temudda Nnyuma” and we believe that perfectly describes the work we trying to accomplish.

With development work comes a lot of uncertainty and questioning whether the solutions we are providing are impactful. In February 2017 we were in Kampala and visited Mackay Memorial. I will never forget getting out of the bus and walking up to the HM’s office to be greeted by a big hug from HM Rogers. It is in moments like this that we remember why we do what we do. (Read the full story here)

Where do you see All We Are 5-7 years from now?

In 2015 we set an ambitious goal of electrifying 50 schools in Uganda by 2025. At the end of 2017, just two years later, we will already have 20 schools in the All We Are family. In five to seven years it is very possible that we will have realized our planned goal of 50 partner schools. As we scale our work, we will expand our women’s empowerment program and clean water initiative. We are committed to a problem not a solution. The problems we address surround  education. As we progress as an organization, and as new technologies and opportunities become a reality, we will continue to innovate and refuse to stop challenging ourselves.

Through All We Are’s sustainable program, electricity costs go down by up to 80%, and student performance improves as much as 22% in a year. (Photo credit: All We Are)

Let’s talk about personal inspiration. Which people inspire you in everything you do?

It is easy to draw inspiration from people who live fearlessly. I draw inspiration from those who fear less. From my parents who moved from the comfort of friends, family, and what was normal in India to America before my brother, sister, and I were born. To members of the All We Are team who are so passionate, and so willing, to go far beyond what society deems “millennial engagement” to be.

If someone wants to get involved in All We Are, how do they get in touch with you?

We are always looking to engage with like-minded individuals who want to be a part of the global conversation on change. Take a look at our website at and our social media platforms. If what we are doing interests you, send me an email at Remember that the best way to start is by simply getting started.

Any last words or piece of advice to someone doing a similar initiative like you?

Share stories of success with your networks and ensure that you do so with cultural sensitivity. At All We Are we gravitate towards empowerment versus charity. You will not find images that exploit the dignity of the communities we serve, or “voluntourism” opportunities. Instead you will find a group of young people dedicated to positive change that is tangible. The key to achieving this is patience. Take the time to develop a solid foundation for your work.

All We Are’s Founder Nathan (middle) is passionate about empowering young leaders all over the world and works to help people realize their potential. (Photo credit: All We Are)

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