Empowering Students, one SEED at a time
Editor’s note: Prior to March 11′s devasting earthquake and tsunami, the Toyama International Charity Show Committee had planned on donating some proceeds of the show to the educational charity Students for Education, Empowerment and Development (SEED). However, after witnessing the destruction of the earthquake and tsunami, we decided to shift focus and contribute to charities helping with relief efforts in the Tohoku region.
But SEED is still a very worthwile organization in need of support. In hopes of teaching others more about SEED’s mission, we asked Toyama ALT Alison Bruni to write a guest post about her experience in Kenya with the charity. To learn more about the organization, including information on how to donate, please visit http://seedcan.net/.
Shock, joy, guilt, emptiness, fulfillment, awe, sadness, and hope: during my six weeks in Kenya this past summer, all of these feelings were engaged within me, in various combinations, and in very close succession. To be totally cliché, it was a roller coaster ride of emotions, thoughts and revelations. The shock of experiencing life in slums for the first time was closely followed by a feeling of intense guilt for all that we have in our privileged lives. However, these negative feelings quickly became ones of awe, as the locals that led us through our journey demonstrated qualities of thankfulness, determination, hope and positivity unlike anyone I have ever met before.
SEED (Students for Education, Empowerment and Development) is an NGO that was started by my sister and a few of her friends at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Though it is only a few years old, SEED has accomplished incredible feats. By providing educational scholarships to primary and secondary students (and now, a limited number of post-secondary students) in Kenya and Zambia, SEED’s primary goal is to empower youth through education. We believe that at a grassroots level, most issues in the developing world are linked to education: female empowerment and family planning, health, sustainable living, and of course, employment opportunities. Access to formal education provides young people with so much more than just a certificate: it gives them critical thinking skills, knowledge about the social issues that affect them, a meal to fill their stomachs each day, and most importantly, the ability to recognize their own potentials and the ways in which they can initiate change within their own lives and communities. Education fosters development at the most sustainable and grassroots level: with young, local individuals themselves.
What I love most about SEED is that it’s voluntarily run for students, by students. Canadians have recognized the quality of their own education, and through appreciation for this, have sought to increase access to education in parts of the world that need it most. As the organization is still developing, we are in a state of constant self-reflection and assessment, recognizing our limitations in development and working to improve our strengths. Breaking life down to the raw basics, as we did in Kenya, makes one realize what is truly essential and what isn’t. Though many there live in a constant struggle to survive, they do so with a positive outlook and an incredible sense of determination. Education can provide the means for young people to practically apply these attributes, improving lives and conditions from the bottom up.
-Guest post written by Alison Bruni
April 23, 2011