"My name is Gwendolene Mugodi and I am a writer and the founder of Paivapo Storytellers, a movement that aims to provide better access to local, good quality literature to the children in Zimbabwe--and eventually beyond. Our work would not be complete without the help of local artists like Abel Zvorufura who I met through the National Gallery of Zimbabwe. As two different artists we spent about a month and a half going back and forth on this book until we got to a place we were both happy with. I look forward to sharing that full book in a few months, but for now here's a little bit about Abel and why he does what he does."
Beating the Burnout
I found myself in a small Zulu village perched on top of a hill in the middle of the Drakensburg. I had driven there in a pick-up truck with my hosts, and after being introduced to the chief of the village, I started walking between the huts, absorbing the stark poverty through the naiveté of my fifth day in the global south. As I walked, little kids started poking their heads out their doors and windows, from behind corners, smiling shyly at me, and then hiding again. I had my camera with me, which interested enough of them to gather in a small group around me.
I looked down at them, and they looked up at me, neither of us able to speak the other’s language.
I said, “Football.”
Two kids disappeared behind a fence, retrieved a flat soccer ball, and we played.
I was blown away. I had found a universal language—the beautiful game. This became the pivotal moment, the answer to “why do you do what you do?"
More than a year has passed since that day, and as explained in my previous blog post, I won’t be returning to that original community that instilled in me such a desire to do good. But, I’ve been lucky enough to relocate to another organization in South Africa for my remaining time here, and my short stay in this new place allows me to be a bit of a third party observer.
I see many of the same issues my original organization was facing: leadership struggles, team management, communication gaps, not to mention the real-world problems they aim to address, like post-apartheid social exclusion... Not to mention the people doing the grunt work, the day-to-day push towards a brighter future (which sounds important and exciting but sometimes means spending the day updating a Twitter feed or trying to teach a bunch of Xhosa toddlers how to play duck, duck, goose) getting continuously discouraged when the back-breaking work they are putting in does not yield the results they hope for.
My question: How do you prevent the burnout? We’re halfway through the summer—slumps are inevitable. Even from a completely objective point of view, coming to a new organization and seeing the same problems, the same internal tensions in the midst of huge external problems in the community, has been somewhat dejecting.
My potential solution: Connect back to why you do what you do. I may not see those Zulu kids ever again, but I believe in the boys here that I coached at soccer practice today, I believe in the power of this game to bring people together, and no matter how many disappointments happen day-to-day, there is still a vision for a better future, and that means there’s still good to be done.
August 11, 2016
June 13, 2016
Lauren Maunus '19 is starting a bold new venture.
Its goal: To help eliminate food waste and bring healthy, affordable food to "food swamps" in Rhode Island and beyond.
March 15, 2016"If little girls like me were saying Barbie is the pretty one and the brown one is the ugly one, that's a problem."
Yelitsa Jean-Charles studies Illustration at RISD with a a concentration in Gender, Race & Sexuality. She identifies as a visual activist, and believes that artists have a responsibility as society’s image-makers. Her doll company and book series, Healthy Roots, combats internalized racism and colorism by getting to the root of the problem: altering beauty standards and cultviating self-love for young girls through education, diversity, and positive representation.
March 12, 2016An Excerpt
Mina is a Brown-RISD Social Innovation Fellow. She traveled to her home in Iran last summer and brought back a cultural souvenir: the book she wrote, Taste of Culture. She explores Iranian families, streets, stores and the stories and spirit embedded in the recipes of Iranian food. She hopes to start a conversation about the benefit of knowing cuisines of different cultures to connect societies.
This year's class of Brown-RISD Social Innovation Fellows have just begun their yearlong foray into the world of social entrepenuership. Check out their projects here.
December 16, 2015
Ria is a 2015 Social Innovation Fellow and co-founder of No Country for Women (NCFW), an internationally-recognized gender education initiative that aims to combat systemic gender-based discrimination in India. Ria and her co-founder, Shreena Thakore ’16, who grew up in India, were awarded the Projects for Peace fellowship and used this grant to launch the project in May of 2014. NCFW was set up to educate the people in India on gender, rape culture, and misogyny through a series of workshops and initiate informed discussions about social change.
I was inspired by Ria’s story because she was determined to start a conversation about an issue in a country that fights hard to keep such issues silent and hidden. We reflected on Ria’s experiences, her interactions with young people, most of whom had never thought about this obvious form of discrimination before, and her moments of self-doubt and extreme conviction.
October 2, 2015