Projects of our Scholarship Holders
All our scholarship recipients commit themselves to a manageable amount of non-profit work when they accept our scholarship. We also expect that SBW Berlin scholarship recipients develop and implement their own social non-profit project. But what does this mean?
Here we are introducing some projects of our scholarship recipients as inspiration to future applicants:
- Project „STEM WHIZZ“ focusing on STEM-subjects (Kagure M., Kenya)
- Project as part of the organization Green Crusaders (Titas G., India)
- Project focusing on mentorship program for young people (Norah K., Kenya)
- Theater project „Between Chairs“ (Student of Acting, Syria)
- Peace Project (Diana T., Colombia)
6. „Enrique Schmidt Scholarship“ (Abraham D., Nicaragua
1. Stem Education Project STEM-WHIZZ Kagure Mugo Kenia An initiative to promote education in STEM subjects in Kenya (by Kagure Mugo).
In Kenya, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) training in schools and universities are riddled with inadequacies such as poor access to training equipment. With effect, this discourages many students from pursuing STEM courses and careers, which are highly regarded as economic drives for success and growth for many countries globally. Therefore, one of our SBW Berlin scholarship recipients, Kagure M., is involved with her project “STEM WHIZZ” which strives to change this through simple and understandable use of language to make STEM field education more accessible to students in Kenya and elsewhere. Using short videos, her project discusses various STEM topics – such as thermal insulation – in the form of interesting “DIY” experiments and thus calls attention to problems and challenges within these regions.
Education is an important topic because STEM subjects permeate every part of our lives: from medicines developed to treat life-threatening diseases to innovative approaches to protect the environment.
An even more important aspect in teaching STEM subjects is to spark students’ imagination and creativity through practical, real-life applications. In one of the videos, Kagure explains how oil can be separated from water, thus vividly showing how oil pollution is removed to get clear and clean water. This is particularly helpful and worth knowing for schools in Kenya’s rural areas, which otherwise have few opportunities to illustrate the teaching of STEM subjects and to arouse students’ curiosity for STEM subjects.
What are some of the challenges teaching STEM subjects in Kenya?
Kenya, like most African countries, continues to face immense challenges in STEM subjects at all levels of education in terms of student numbers, requirements, and existing gender inequalities. This is due to inadequate government funding, high poverty rates within communities, lack of student interest due to poor learning materials and numerous strikes by underpaid teachers, among other factors. Kagure Mugo herself successfully completed a degree in a STEM subject in Kenya, but she too faced many challenges, such as frequent teacher strikes and poor laboratory facilities, starting in primary school to her graduation from university.
What is STEM-WHIZZ? With the “STEM Whizz” project, Kagure therefore aims to help alleviate these problems and provide school-aged children, especially in rural Kenya, with learning aids that introduce them to STEM subjects and are necessary for learning them. “STEM Whizz’” wants to show that simple everyday materials such as batteries and plastic bottles can be used for small experiments, and that expensive equipment is not necessarily needed. It also addresses real-life situations, such as the issue of flooding, which is very common during the rainy season, and shows how innovative and scientific approaches available deal with the situations. Kagure’s project not only sets out to spark students’ interest in STEM-related concepts, but also encourages them to pursue a career in a STEM subject, thereby addressing current issues in their communities (access to clean drinking water and sustainable energy) and ultimately result in positive changes in their regions.
How can you support the project?
This project wants to provide science-experiment-kits (with materials to learn advanced topics such as robotics but also thermal insulation) to several schools in rural Kenya in the future. For this purpose, “STEM Whizz” is looking for donations and sponsors who would like to actively support the project and, for example, cover the costs of the materials for the experimental kits or even provide the materials themselves.
2. Project within the organization Green Crusaders (Titas G., India)
Titas Ganguly is one of our scholarship recipients at SBW Berlin and he is currently volunteering for and developing different social projects in West Bengal.
Bengal was the capital of the British ruled Indian empire until the early twentieth century and a ground for different colonial politics that affected its ecology. With the Himalayan Mountain range in its north and the delta-swamplands in the south (Sundarbans), the global climate crisis had also an impact on the people of this Indian state. Titas’ work has been calling attention to environmental issues in different communities in India since 2015 and thus, focuses on their socio-environmental causes. In his work he aims to improve people’s lives and to protect the environment, in general. In addition, Titas advocates the importance of a clean world, educates communities about climate change, develops campaigns about eco-friendly transportation, and connects communities to job opportunities.
He is also involved with the development and operation of a school built by Patharpratima Runners, the William Carey Pathshala, where children without access to basic education are provided lessons in various topics like science, history, literature, the environment alongside extra-curricular activities. Ever since he became a scholarship recipient at SBW Berlin, he has been busy designing posters (concerning sustainable use of natural resources especially water, soil conservation) and making videos that can be used as teaching supplements. These are supposed to be displayed inside the school premises once normalcy resumes and the schools reopen. The general motive is to create a greater consciousness about the environment through educational and cultural activities and campaigns.
Since Titas started to study at the FU in Berlin, he has been continuously supporting Green Crusaders and developing his project through extensive utilization of communication avenues; creating a website that coordinates and publicizes all projects that Green Crusaders is currently involved in. Free access to educational content and online store for green products made by villagers will also be available on the website shortly. Sustainable development, minimalizing pollution and accessible education remain the triads of his attention. In the pipeline is the creation of an internship program for young volunteers who want to be part of the development of the website’s content.
Also, he has been involved with the development of a sewing project called “Sewing lives”, where women, who have lost their jobs during the pandemic, get a new opportunity to bring back financial stability to their families in these difficult times. Responding to the surge in Covid-19 cases across the state since April 2021, he is also creating illustrations for the Covid awareness program at Junglegheri village that will be displayed on streets and on social media.
More recently, he initiated the celebration of the World Environment Day, simultaneously in Kolkata and Berlin. Campaigns on planting saplings, remembering the martyrs of the Green Movement, and no-plastic awareness posters characterized the event. Evidently, Green Crusaders like him march on, to tackle the crisis that threatens our habitat.
3. Project EAGLE Youth Mentorship Program (Norah K., Kenya)
Interactions with the young generation highlight one major problem – the lack of guidance and careful listening to their problems. In this fast-paced world where parents are too busy with their careers to properly instruct their children and teachers are overwhelmed by the curriculum to pay much attention, peers tend to steer their fellow young adults in the wrong direction and most end up falling through the cracks of life, never to rise again.
Aside from the lack of guidance and peer pressure, most of the youth in Kenya and other developing countries in general, face a great deal of challenges growing up including high levels of poverty, lack of opportunities, and an underdeveloped educational infrastructure that hampers the efforts of this young population to develop their lives through education.
As a result, the aspirations of young students to pursue their dreams as well as a career of their choice and to improve their living conditions remain just a pipedream.
Therefore, our scholarship recipient Norah Kirimi developed a social project aiming to help the youth and especially focuses on high school and university students. The social project is set up in form of a mentorship program called the EAGLE Youth Mentorship Program (EYMP) where students from all walks of life can get free and unlimited access to academic and non-academic advice relating to school life, social life, etc. The key objective is to have open and life-changing conversations on topics such as: drug abuse, discipline issues, girls’ issues, career choices etc. The mode of access is currently online with additional sessions being held live via Zoom.
Aside from the above, EYMP also assists students to find scholarships and funding opportunities to further their education. Additionally, the program provides an avenue where teachers and other stakeholders can partner with the EYMP team to have a variety of services and products delivered to students in various institutions of learning. For more information on the program and partnerships, you can visit their website: https://eagleyouthmentorship.com/
4. Theater Project „Between the Chairs” (Acting student, Syria)
Many SBW Berlin scholarship holders implement their own Social project during their studies. I decided to premiere the play “Zwischen den Stühlen” (Between the Chairs), which I had written, in Berlin. It is based on the novel “I Will Betray My Homeland | Delirium in Horror and Freedom” by Syrian writer Mohamad Almaghout.
“When I moved to Berlin in November 2019, I was full of hope that I would be able to stage my play here, even though I had hardly any relationships in Berlin – neither with theaters, sponsors, other migrants, nor the press. Of course, I also lacked the financial means to finance the production.”
The Syrian director, with whom I wanted to stage my play together, suddenly felt that we needed a dramaturge to revise my play, and both had fee ideas that were not financially feasible.
So in the spring of 2020, I was empty-handed: no budget, no director, no fellow actors, no stage.
Fortunately, my drama school stepped in: The school administration of the bsfs (berliner schule für schauspiel) agreed to integrate my play into the lessons as a school project and to stage it on the school’s own studio stage. This was a real breakthrough, because the school made many of its resources available for the production. Nevertheless, a funding gap remained, because I wanted a production that involved Germans as well as refugees and migrants living in Berlin. Since the rehearsals were part of the classes, a sponsor for their classes had to be found.
As a result, SBW Berlin decided to subsidize the project and take on some of the public relations work.
The direction of the play is now taken over by the director and bsfs lecturer Karin Mikityla – with the support of another bsfs lecturer. Under her direction, a professional performance is being developed.
The premiere (world premiere) is expected to take place on Friday, December 11, 2020 on the bsfs studio stage. Additional performances are planned there on December 12 and 13, 2020.”
5. An initiative for peace in Colombia (by Diana Torres)
“Colombia is a country that has been suffering from the effects of an interior war for more than 50 years. According to official Colombian institutions, the number of victims of this armed conflict in Colombia already amounts to 8,447,047.A transitional judicial system was set up in Columbia in 2005 to negotiate solutions for the armed conflict. This institution should not only punish those responsible for the paramilitary group AUC. Above all it’s intended to shed light on what happened during the armed conflict. Over 68 verdicts have already been issued. These verdicts and numerous testimony records contain important information about the causes and consequences of the paramilitary conflict in Colombia. Some of the records even contain videos about the reconciliation of victims and perpetrators.
Although this judicial truth-finding process is accessible for the public, the results of the investigation are hardly known within the Colombian population. This lack of knowledge means that large sections of the civilian population are not aware of the causes and consequences of the armed conflict in Colombia.
Therefore, my goal is to create a website where Columbia and international readers can find out what really happened during the armed conflict. For this purpose, the following information shall be gathered on the website:
- The complete verdicts and a summary of key information
- Audio recordings from the testimony of the victims
Video recordings with scenes of reconciliation between victims and perpetrators
With this national and internally public website, I intend to facilitate the search for information about the armed Columbian conflict. The website is intended to be a digital tool that can also be used for history lessons at Columbian schools and universities.
I am convinced that the civilian population needs to know what really happened during the armed conflict to achieve the goal of peace in my country. It is an important step to prevent that the war crimes and crimes against humanity that have shaken my country for decades continue. ”
6. The „Enrique Schmidt Scholarship“ (Abraham D., Nicaragua)
Back in 2014 two Nicaraguan friends who were living in Germany and I had the idea of sponsoring economically disadvantaged but motivated teenagers to pursue a university career in Nicaragua. The idea came up after realizing the existing need and after being aware that education was a key to overcome major obstacles. Following several conversations to shape the idea we decided to put our efforts into it. This was our way to return the favour for our good fortune and to contribute to the development of our country.
Initially it was difficult to raise funds without a legal representation. Therefore, during the first year some Nicaraguans living in Germany would organize fundraising events to sponsor the first candidates.
Eventually, a first collaboration with a German association in 2015 seemed to have solved the legal representation limitation problem, but there were some limitations to it since this organization would only collaborate with one municipality, where the first applicants came from.
Fortunately, in 2016 during an event in Göttingen that coincidently involved Nicaraguans living in Germany and Germans who had volunteered in Nicaragua, some of the members of the initial Enrique Schmidt project and some members from Puente Nica met and discovered the similarity of their initiatives.
Although at first glance a collaboration did not seem possible, after almost a year of constant communication a meeting was finally arranged in Berlin to determined ways to cooperate. During the first year the collaboration was challenging because there were different project mindsets between the two groups, but we were united by the joint idea of a better Nicaragua. A solid union was finally formed in 2017.
In 2014, I was the only Nicaraguan of the group that still lived in Nicaragua. Therefore, I was the sole representative of the initiative. My role was to visit the school in the municipality of La Paz Centro to present the scholarship to the teenagers that were about to graduate from high school. I was also in charge of receiving the applications and working out a summary of the applicants’ information in a spreadsheet to easily share information with the other Nicaraguans living in Germany. Finally, I was the main contact person for doubts and inquiries.
I engaged in that volunteer job until 2015 when I decided to focus my time into looking for scholarships for graduate school and unfortunately untied almost entirely from the Enrique Schmidt initiative. After a couple years of researching I found the Master’s program of my dreams, coincidently in Berlin and did not hesitate to apply for it. In 2018 the Hochschule fur Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin (University of Applied Sciences Berlin) accepted me. My program would start in April 2019 and I still needed to figure out how I was going to sustain myself since working aside would be challenging.
Conveniently in January 2019, I read about SBW Berlin and its scholarship program. After applying and successfully gaining the scholarship, I presented the Enrique Schmidt initiative as part of my scholarship project proposal. As such, I have been in charge of the expansion of the Enrique Schmidt Scholarship through improving the application process. As an official member of Puente Nica, I am also in charge of the communication with the current scholarship holders, recording their financial situation, and I am part of the committee that selects future scholarship holders. The work performed gave place to an official long-term partnership between Puente Nica and SBW Berlin who will fund two Enrique Schmidt Scholarships.“
Initiate your own Project!
You have an interesting project idea, but not the possibilities to realise it?