What is your dream job in politics or advocacy?

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Activist? Youth advocate? Case worker? Lobbyist? Politician? Tell us about your dream job. Is anything standing in the way? Or, if you already have your dream job, tell us about your journey to get it.

Stories

Image for A Journalist turned into a social entrepreneur.

A Journalist turned into a social entrepreneur.

My name is Débora and I’m a Brazilian visual journalist, currently based in California. I’m passionate about social issues and topics related to Latin America, which is reflected in most of my work.

I think curiosity brought me into this field; being from Brazil, a country with its share of challenges and complexities, I’ve always wondered, “why is there so much social inequality in the world?” It is often hard for me to leave out my emotions before I produce my stories. For most professionals, I think that a story ends once a segment is published, read or viewed. Sometimes for me, that is just the start of my journey.

I recently traveled to Colombia on a fellowship project, where I had the opportunity to produce a couple of video stories related to the five decades long conflict between the government and the guerrillas groups.

One of the stories that resonated with me was a story about two teenage siblings, 14 and 16 years old, who were sexually assaulted by a group of armed guerrilla combatants. Each had to helplessly witness the others’ rape, they told me. Both girls experienced premature pregnancy and gave birth to their children on the same day. Following the birth of the babies, the girls dropped out of school to make time for work and childcare. The girls would eventually flee their home to an unknown area in order to protect themselves from the guerrillas.

Their lives drastically changed after the incident: from a calm, rural lifestyle in a farm, where they were able to grow their own food ¬¬– to a lifestyle of near homelessness, where finding food was a daily struggle.

When I met them in March, they were living in a city thousands of miles away from their hometown. They had no jobs, no food and no hope. This family could barely afford their rent and lived in constant fear of eviction. Their mother sells lottery tickets on the streets and makes less than one dollar a day. The younger girl, now 16, is involved in prostitution; she recently gave birth to her second child.

During my reporting project, I came across some depressing data. Colombia has one of the highest rates of internally displaced people in the world – second only to Syria. Almost 6 million people are reported as displaced due to the ongoing-armed conflict. In addition, the country is home to almost 500 thousand victims of sexual violence. Sadly, the sisters, characters of my story, represent both groups.

I came back from this reporting trip knowing that something more than just a story needed to be done. My goal is to use my material to raise awareness about this issue, but also to raise funds to help the displaced and rape survivors in Colombia. I also believe that any form of help should be sustainable as opposed to a cash donation. To that end, I am studying ways to assist people like the sisters in my story with job-based skills training that can make a lasting difference in their lives.

(my video stories can be found at www.debsilva.com)

souzadeby Fresno County, California, United States of America

Why Write?

I write to live. I live to write. Back in kindergarten, I was taught to write the basics: the ABCs and the 123s. (I believe, we were all taught to do so) But never in my playful mind have I thought that such a typical childhood task will play a gigantic role in my everyday living. When I reached high school, writing became complicated yet fulfilling. Writing movie reviews, book reviews, essays, short stories, and poems was a tough exercise of the mind. Sometimes, my creative juices got drained like that of a withered plant in a deserted place. I do not know where to begin with nor how would I be able to finish my masterpiece. In the end, I survived. Perhaps, those defining moments have awakened my senses, challenged my aspirations to take the road less traveled.

Come college, I pursued a communications-related course. Some said that the degree might not work for me given my quite laid-back personality. Others spelled high hopes on me, believing that I will be able to run the race. My heart screamed, “I want to write and this is my legacy”. The clocks ticked. I embraced writing religiously. Pens and papers became my great confidantes. I delved into the vastness of words, life-changing stories, moving pictures, ideas, vulgar opinions, and bloody hell scenarios. Truth be told, these were difficult to deal with. Then again, “What else is not difficult to understand”? I knew that something like this is worth my time and effort. I knew that this endeavor will be fruitful. And yes, it became fruitful beyond measure. You see, I was never a writer. I just love scribbling down my crazy thoughts in a piece of paper.

Hushbury Liz Iloilo City, Iloilo, Western Visayas, Philippines
Image for My future job is to empower african women

My future job is to empower african women

Acting to live in a well being will influenced and make people famous through leading,helping,coaching and serving others in order to inspire the next generation. For about five years I spent in University of Lomé, I am passionate to promote women equity in my community. I am committed with my activities in my country, in Lomé as mentor of other young women by counseling them to work hard to continue their education for their empowerment and the development of our nation

My future plans

I am SABANKO Homgouyeda,a young Togolese lady of 25 years old passionate by leadership and entrepreneurship. Currently student at the University of Lome,at the English department,my dream is to become a great entrepreneur in Africa and for the rest of the world.My vision is to make sure that every Togolese girl who attends school should become a leader in order to participate actively to the development of her community. So I am hoping to create a social enterprise working with capable women and supporting women to get education through sensitization,mentoring, scholarship and leadership activities.

As a young lady it was difficult for me to complete my studies because of financial means and the social context in my country where young ladies were not allowed to go far away in studies because of our patriarchal society. But thanks to the Karren Waid scholarship program from 2003 to 2011 and the NGO Pathways Togo that gave me a scholarship, a mentor and made me a great leader from 2012 to 2014. Through our annual conferences and many leadership activities I built up my capacities as a leader and now I can say proudly that I am a accomplish leader ready to bring solutions to problems in my community. The reason why I was recently selected to take part in the Young African Leaders Initiative (cohort 3) program in the west Africa Regional Leadership Center in Accra(Ghana) where I met 104 young leaders from others west african country who shared their experience with me.

I am now creating a platform of Pathways Togo Alumnus in order for us as young leader to decide on what we can give back to our society which is the main aim of an ethical leader. Through this platform many activities such as mentoring, coaching, leadership training, sensitization, awards and scholarship programs will be set up in order to empower women education in our country and later on in Africa.our vision is to complete women emancipation in Africa.

Image for Inspired Dreamer

Inspired Dreamer

Hi. I am Fatima Nicole and I am from the Technological Institute of the Philippines. And I’m the type of person who lives the simplest of life but dreams the scariest of dreams. I am so motivated to do and achieve things which are beyond my limitations. And there is this one thing that really keeps me going – inspiration. This is the one word that caused millions of spectacular ideas that caused great plans that caused creative movements that caused dreamers, such as I. I am so driven that I have so many plans in my life. Today I study for my profession as a Civil Engineer but I don’t want to limit myself from dreaming other jobs. I mean, I want to be a cook, a teacher, a flight attendant, a preacher, and of course, a prestigious interior designer. And I will be, all of those, someday. Our capabilities are endless. Proven that we are imperfect, mean that we just keep on learning and growing endlessly. And the more we do, the more we realize that we really can be whatever we want to be, and the more we want to encourage other people to be driven by that same thought. The thought that nothing, as in nothing, is impossible.

But perhaps, if the person was never fed by that kind of thinking, it might be the very hindrance that will stop them from pursuing their dreams. I personally, sought the biggest problem I have ever been through with regards to achieving my dreams, and that is the lack of inspiration. Nothing in this brutal world, as big as it is, can ever really desist us. Every day I witness other people go through this same problem. Our system lack of teaching students that even if we are aided academically and even financially, the most important element, still, is our mentality of being driven and being inspired.

And so, my dream job is to be someone that will encourage people, especially the youth, those within my reach, to become inspired dreamers.

Image for Menstrual Health to Systemic Social Change

Menstrual Health to Systemic Social Change

Techno music streamed from local bars into the dimly-lit streets, signaling the awakening of Portland nightlife. I sat shivering on the cold concrete stoop of an abandoned office building, waiting for the next bus to take me home. Beside me lay a homeless woman swaddled in a pungent sleeping bag, her head cradled on a pillow of plastic bags. I just wanted to get home, but I was only halfway through my two hour commute from school.

Three weeks before, when my younger sisters and I were called to dinner, we found suitcases and boxes stacked about the living room. We laughed at the ridiculousness of the sight, but stopped when we saw our mother’s face: her eyes were swollen and tears traced her cheekbones. She solemnly nudged us to our seats and over baked broccoli and polenta, explained that we could no longer afford our home. Four days later, our belongings in storage, we moved into a friend’s attic across town. My life was reduced to a backpack and a single suitcase. Suddenly, in the spring of my freshman year, I found myself “legally homeless.”

Sitting on the cold concrete step in Old Town Portland that night, with five homeless shelters within a two-block radius, I felt confused: Was I really homeless, even though I had somewhere warm and clean to sleep? Though I attended an exclusive private school on scholarship, I had no legal address. I had to give up dance and piano, take a job to cover expenses, and spend four hours a day on buses. Though I worked harder than ever before, I witnessed my grades dip and social life suffer.

In an ironic twist, my sophomore year began with a history class that focused on quality of life. It explored the relationship between privilege and happiness, and how financial stability, health, and social relationships contribute to wellbeing. The class made me reflect deeply on the wizened faces of homeless women as I travelled to and from school. As days passed, I started talking with these women as they visited social services and shelters downtown, or with those I served volunteering at a local soup kitchen. I learned that though I was legally “homeless” like them, unlike them, I was blessed to have physical safety, a supportive family, and an educational community. Most significantly, I was shocked to discover an unaddressed need of the homeless female population: menstrual hygiene. These women told me of using paper bags, discarded clothing, and toilet paper during their monthly cycles, all strategies that carry a high risk of infection and toxic shock syndrome. I began to purchase feminine hygiene products with money I earned through work to hand out to the homeless women I encountered.

My despair at my family’s living situation slowly transformed into a determination to address this social need. As my family regained stability, I founded Camions of Care, a nonprofit organization that strives to address the natural needs of all women.

Camions of Care is now a global youth-run nonprofit that strives to manage menstrual hygiene through advocacy, education, and service---through the global distribution of feminine hygiene products and development of youth leadership through campus chapters. In the last year and a half, our network of 1,700 volunteers has distributed over 12,000 care packages of feminine hygiene products to 32 nonprofit partners in 10 different states and 6 different countries, and is expanding our chapter network from 24 established at university and high school campuses around the US.

In observing and facing prejudice, and working to understand the roots of discrimination, I am filled with motivation to create sustainable systemic change in my life that works towards a more equitable and just future. What stands is my way is connecting with larger audiences for my advocacy platform, and continuing my learning process as a growing adult. My life mission and goal is to create positive sustainable social change and I believe the best way to enacting this change is through changing the system itself--which points me in the direction of politics and advocacy.

nadyaokamoto Southwest 6th Avenue, Pearl District, Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon, 97204, United States of America
Image for Paying forward

Paying forward

Inspired by the passion of the staff of the ABK3 LEAP Project to help child laborers and their families in their community, 14-year old Jacqueline Bautista's dreams of becoming a social worker or a teacher someday. She wants to be able to give back to the children in her community the same help she was given through the project.

Jacky has been an assisted child of ABK3 LEAP since 2012. She used to work in a sugarcane plantation in Batangas until the project came to their village. An active student in their school, she is very much involved in various activities of ABK3 LEAP in their province. Jacky is the BCA President in their barangay and a Committee Chairperson of the Municipal Federation of BCA in Nasugbu. She is also member of the Board of Trustees of the National Federation of Children’s Associations in the Philippines (NaFeCap) in 2015. Jacky is also an active BESt (Barangay/ Bulilit Educators and Storytellers) member and BCPC (Barangay Council for the Protection of Children) child representative in their barangay. Additionally, she is involved in the Children Talk to Children (C2C) initiative of Save the Children.

The eldest among her siblings, Jacky hopes to achieve her dream so she can also help her family. But because of poverty, she anticipates that the daily expenses of going to college may be too much for her family to handle. The cost of getting a college degree in the Philippines is expensive, especially when you live from farther villages. Without a stable source of income for her parents who are laborers in the sugarcane plantations, she would need to find financial support elsewhere through scholarships.

ABK3_LEAP Sico, Batangas, Calabarzon, 4218, Philippines

On Dream Jobs, Obstacles, and Privilege

I cannot say right now that I know what my dream job is. When I was a child, I would tell people that my dream was to become a lawyer. In many ways that dream was determined by what my limited experience as a 7-year old deemed as the best job to have—a job that involved reading, could potentially earn me a lot of money, and make my family proud. I have always been an analytical (ahem, argumentative) person and my parents would tell me time and time again that law was the best career suited for my talents. While attending protest events with my father in the early 90’s I saw that the lawyers were usually the most revered people in the room.

As time progressed, I realized that my interest was not to work in law per se, but to engage in careers that focused on improving society. This interest, combined with my international travel experiences, namely spending a large amount of my childhood in my parents’ native country of Guyana, has led me to a career in international development. While I am still new to the industry, I feel as though I am on the right path.

I’ve experienced many obstacles throughout my journey—mainly indirect race and class discrimination. I believe that one obstacle that I and many others face is correctly identifying and navigating social cues to facilitate entry or progression in a career. Sometimes phrased as “institutional culture”, these social norms/cues are cloaked in privilege, be it race, class, or generational.

We like to teach young kids that they can achieve anything through hard work, effort and persistence. While hard work, effort, and persistence do play a role, it would be extremely naïve to ignore the ways privilege impacts individual journeys. A large reason for where I am today is shaped by privilege: as a youth I attended a rigorous academic program that led to attending one of the top private schools, and later, universities in the United States, allowing me to learn the social cues I mention above.

I believe that a lot more can be done to improve inequality around the world, to reduce poverty and improve access to quality education and jobs. No matter where my journey takes me I will continue to work in the advocacy of the less fortunate – using the gifts, talents, and opportunities given to me to help others.

tnorton Durham County, North Carolina, United States of America

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