Gender Campaign Updates! Gender Network Leaders Tanyaradzwa Chinyukwi & Thabu Mugala

Update from Tanya Chinyukwi

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"Access to education is a right of every child in Zimbabwe but of recent, poverty has become a major challenge to the education of the girl child. This is because female children are seen as a source of income to sustain their families through early child marriages, child labour such as prostitution and being maidservants for the richer families. The high cost of education has also seen some of the girls dropping out of school as the poor families prefer sending the male child to school to sending the female child. Thus the number of girls dropping out of school has been increasing for the past two years and hence the need to address this situation before the country loses its future Oprah Winfrey or Maya Angelou.

Therefore, the Girl Power Initiative Campaign seeks to ensure that the girl child has access to basic education and livelihood skills training which empower her to reach her full potential and become an independent woman in the society. Through the MCN global webinars, I have managed to get some skills on how I can organize the campaign with the help of other people. So far, I managed to connect with some University students in Zimbabwe and together we have formed a mentorship group for the girls who are going to benefit from this campaign.

Furthermore, I connected with some young lady entrepreneur (Ruramiso Mashumba) who has volunteered to give skills training workshops on various agriculture projects and also one of the local female artists (Cindy Manyavi), who would be focusing on personal development workshops.

We shall also be working closely with Girl and Women Empowerment Trust, which is a local organization that focuses on empowering the girl child both socially and economically. For now, all the ground work has been set and what still remains a stumbling block is funding which we hope to get in the future.  Upon getting funds, we hope to get broiler chickens for the families of the girls so that they can start a poultry project which helps them generate income in order to send the children to school.

Through the MCN global webinars, we managed to connect with other African student leaders who are also interested in empowering the girl child and women in their respective countries, so in the future we hope to transform this campaign into a regional program where girls and women will also have an opportunity to participate in seminars, workshops, trainings on education, health, entrepreneurship initiatives etc. This is aimed at improving girls’ self-awareness and decision making skills as well as equipping them with skills that uplift their social status. At Girl Power Initiative Campaign, we believe that the change Africa needs now lies in the hands of the girl child so let us then join hands together and transform her life!"

--Tanya


Update from Thabu Mugala

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"My name is Thabu Mugala; I was born and raised in the northern part of Zambia. I am currently studying Agricultural sciences at EARTH University in Costa Rica. Since I was young I have watched how hard my Cousin (guardian) worked to put food on the table for my nieces, nephews and I, always waking up early and coming home late. He has always been a big inspiration to me. He taught me the importance of education, and it’s because of him that last year when I realized people of my community think that child marriages and prostitution are solutions to poverty but in the actual sense they are probably the main cause, I came up with a campaign which was recognized by the Millennium Campus Network for the X-factor prize.

The campaign “Child Marriages and Prostitution Are Not Solutions to Eradicating Poverty” started as a give-back project which aimed at reducing poverty in my community by empowering young women with various agricultural and entrepreneurial skills. With my background in agriculture sciences and natural resource management, I really have a deep understanding of food production which is vital in this campaign, I am also very passionate towards advancing sustainable techniques of agriculture to create food security for all especially to the women of Mpyana Bwalya. Mpyana Bwalya is a small community in Chinsali, Zambia where I actually live.

Living on a farm led me to loving agriculture and also the processes involved in food production, hence most of the activities for this campaign are agriculture related. Among the many activities are: posts on the importance of women empowerment on different social medias, empowering women on different entrepreneurial skills, and outreach to communities. The chicken project is a cardinal component of the campaign; its purpose is directed towards raising enough revenue to give loan to the women with an already established business plan and with entrepreneur and agriculture skills, in order for them to start a business. They later give back the money with interest enabling other women to also have the chance to borrow. Hence keeping these young women busy and making them avoid early marriages and prostitution.

Some of our short term results are to expand the campaign by partnering with different stakeholders who work for the common good, which is women empowerment; we hope to have at least 100 women empowered by 2018."

--Thabu

MCN Alumni Highlight: Meet Gabriel Conners!

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We recently asked our MCN alumni to complete a survey raffle and out of 127 survey submissions, Gabriel Conners was the selected winner! To celebrate we are launching our FIRST EVER Alumni Highlight!!  

Please allow us to introduce you to Mr. Gabriel Conners! Read his interview below: 

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Hello Gabriel!

Hello! I am Gabriel Evan Conners, I am from Chicago, Illinois currently attending the Illinois Institute of Technology. I am majoring in Social and Economic Development Policy, which has afforded me the opportunity to do applied studies, which has included working with a local coffee shop and chamber of commerce to improve their mission of teaching local sustainability. I have also started a multi-departmental initiative within Illinois Tech to more effectively understand and engage with the local Bronzeville community.

Tell us about your experience with MCN, how did it impact you?

I attended the MCC at Lynn University in 2014 with Illinois Tech's Engineers Without Borders cohort. I brought back methods to aid in translating ideas into action, inspired passion to do more with my time toward social justice causes, and a vision for a student organization that  I later launched in spring of 2016. The group is called the ideaXchange and is designed to bring students together in collaboration to solve for challenges of shared interest.

What was most valuable to you about MCN programming?

he community of like-minded individuals. There is an undeniably infectious spirit that I discovered and carried with me after by brief weekend stay during the Millennium Campus Conference. Without realizing it at the time, this experience served as a catalyst, awakening me to the possibilities present when roups of people are gathered around issues of common concern. Such possibility is the conditions for our collective epic to thrive. This is what my work is all about.

What work are you currently involved in?

The Grassroots Social Enterprise Institute is newly incorporated in Illinois this year as a non-profit. I am one of three co-cofounders of GSEI, owning the title of Fellowship Program Director. I started the institute alongside a longtime academic (Raed Elaydi) and lifetime social justice advocate (Marc Loveless) 5 months ago. As a whole, GSEI exist to strengthen the social enterprise ecosystem in Chicago through research publications and by delivering support services to entrepreneurs who are rooting their businesses in Chicago's most vulnerable neighborhoods. The fellowship program, which I am in charge of designing and operating, is being constructed to serve young adults of minority backgrounds who are committed to long term impact on their home communities. The program will consist of self-discovery, mentorship, design thinking, networking, prototyping, and launching new enterprises that provide jobs, increase access to needed resources, build local wealth, and solve for other challenges of south-side and west-side Chicago communities.


Any advice for current students?

My advice to current students is to stop wasting time. Lean in to your passion and don't be afraid to take risks. I'm kidding. In part. You all are students, quite possibly early on in your journey and may have no clue on Earth about what your passion is, or if passion is even a thing. I don't expect you to know. I do want you to understand something, though. Within all of us is a creative seed (or many seeds). In short, these are the things that we enjoy doing, when we do them we "come alive!" 

Soooo many people are trapped in cycles of work and responsibility that throttle them from exploring the world and possibly stumbling across these seeds. I see it all around Chicago, where folks run from job to job to family just to keep the lights on. Globally I see it where folks who may even have the time don't have access to resources for learning, discovery, and growth. (let alone health to live long enough).

No one is safe from this desert of discovery. Privileged or not, we all can fall victim to the narratives that shut down our willingness to explore and lock us into fear-based pursuits of life, AKA taking the "safe way." Whether you do or don't believe in passions as guiding forces for your life, I charge you to not be a victim of exploration-paralysis. Be bold and especially take advantage of these years as a student when you can dabble, risk, and fail with incredibly little backfire. Don't underestimate the vast amount of resources at your disposal. Everything from mentors to student groups to potential founding partners and 3rd degree connections to seed funding. It's all in your lap; just play around and don't take yourself too seriously.

MCN Launches at Regis College! Welcome to our new Millennium Campus!

We are so overjoyed to bring news that our global leadership network continues to grow! As of last week we added on another Millennium Campus to our network - Regis College! 

“Regis has been at the forefront of social change in Boston, Haiti, and far beyond. It is in the social fabric and DNA of this institution,” said Vaghar. “We are honored to welcome Regis into the MCN community and I look forward to meeting with students and learning about their passions.”

Our Executive Director Sam Vaghar kicked off the partnership at a forum at Regis on February 28th at 6 pm in the Upper Student Center. His speech titled: “From Res Hall to the White House: Launching Your Career with Impact,” spoke to social impact and student leadership, and inspired great discussion on project models and grass-root beginnings. We can't wait to continue this partnership and to grow along side Regis College! Welcome to the Network!! 

Fellowship Update: Speed Networking!

Our Fellows were overjoyed this past Thursday evening, Feb. 23rd, to welcome in new speakers as part of our Career Networking Series! The evening focused around Speed Networking, and allowed our Fellows from Boston and Miami to hear from those representing organizations such as Peace Corps, City Year, Harvard Divinity, Cornell Law, Partners in Health, the UN Association of USA, OLCDC, MIA Ventures, and the Tangency Foundation - just to name a few! 

Want to get a birds eye view of the productive evening? Flip through the photos below! The Boston slideshow is first, with the Miami slideshow second! 

Boston Fellowship: The Donor Perspective!

 

February 16th was MCN Boston's second Career Networking Night! Our Boston Fellows had the immense opportunity to discuss the Donor Perspective with Mr. John Abdulla and Mr. Joshua Cramer-Montes! Both esteemed speakers represented Oxfam America, and each engaged in discussion about the importance and cultivation of Donor Relations with our Fellows.

Mr. John Abdulla is the Web Content Manager at Oxfam America, he has specific interest in the intersection of communication and activism. You can read up more about him and his work here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/johnabdulla/

Mr. Joshua Cramer-Montes is a Global Sustainable Development leader in his own right having spent 18+ years in cross-sector development work. You can read up more about him and his work here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jcramermontes/