What’s your reason for hope?

As a grassroot leader with a commitment to learn and partner with my neighbors to transform our lives, this question becomes more critical in challenging times. Times when my society is beset with climate related disasters in Northern Tanzania — taking over 63 lives and destroying homes. Times when education, public health, and infrastructure fail to meet the aspirations of people. And, when global efforts, such as COP 28, struggle in translating agreements into action.

In the face of such disappointing realities, finding solid reasons for hope becomes a survival mission for me. I believe the meaningful actions I take today have the potential to inspire others to act together for shared progress. I am lucky to be working with the Goldin Institute, whose mission of building grassroots partnerships for global change, allows me to participate in cultivating more reasons for hope.

Between June and November this year I participated in creating a space for 20 grassroot leaders from 19 countries to learn and work together on addressing tough issues experienced in their communities. They gathered from Albania, Bangladesh, Burundi, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Kosovo, Malawi, Mali, Nepal, Nigeria, Philippines, Senegal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, United States of America, and Zimbabwe.

“I realized that we have a oneness in our aspirations. One common dream to make our communities better. We are united in that. Learning from everyone’s work in their communities was very impactful.” — 2023 Goldin Global Fellow from Nigeria, Godson Nwanko

For 22 weeks we explored the GATHER curriculum, which is designed for people who want to build on the talents of their neighbors and the assets of their communities to make real and lasting change. We reflected on a set of big ideas for promoting community driven social change. We tested each idea locally with our learning partners and reflected on the outcome of applying each set of ideas at the weekly roundtables. This process gave rise to peer-to-peer learning and further enriched our collective learning experience. Furthermore, this approach opened doors to collaborative possibilities—an outcome which led to some real collaboration taking place.

Goldin Global Fellows, Tarun Masapeta from India (left) and Jill Langhus-Griffin from Arizona (right), met to continue planning their collaboration for an online financial literacy program involving trafficking survivors.

While the learning space was virtual, each learning outcome was complimented by practical applications of the ideas and concepts in the real world to strengthen organizational skills and hone new outreach techniques. Grassroot leaders involved adapted themes like Asset Based Community Development and Community Visioning Summits to find solutions specific to the context of their countries.

In the photos below, grassroot leaders from Bangladesh, Burundi, Nepal and Sri Lanka led an asset mapping exercise to identify gifts, talents, and resources found in their communities. They engaged respective community members in the process and together reflected on the connections and emergent possibilities existing assets can reveal in meeting shared aspirations.

 

“I have already started applying what I learned during the Gather program. In my hometown, we now use the Asset Based Community development method to approach our social issues”—2023 Goldin Global Fellow from Albania, Nensi Dragoti

From the asset maps developed, the grassroot leaders hosted visioning summits inviting members of the public, especially those living closest to the issues and often missing from official community meetings. Together, they expanded the scope of their asset maps with the help of new ideas from community members. They applied the Appreciative Inquiry technique to come up with new visions for their communities. Visions that inspire neighbors to voluntarily work together to bring the change they want to see.

On the 22nd of November 2023, these 20 grassroot leaders from 19 countries finally graduated from this year’s cohort—making it a fifth cohort since 2018. They are now joining a community of practice of the Goldin Global Alumni Network composed of 212 grassroot leaders from 53 countries. The mission of the Goldin Global Alumni Network is simple:  promoting shared learning through expanding the Gather curriculum and deepening relationships to create collaborative opportunities.

I invite you to learn more about my 20 reasons for hope by reading each of the 20 grassroot leaders I had the privilege to learn and work alongside this year on this article, meet the 2023 Goldin Global Fellows. While it is easy to lose hope in the face of ongoing conflicts in Ukraine, Gaza, etc. I invite you to look at what talents, gifts, and connections you have in your local community. See if you can invite your neighbors to explore the connections between these assets  and the possibilities that could emerge if you collectively tapped on those assets to address issues that matter the most in your community. You also have the power to be the source of hope!

“I hope to become a more unbiased, effective and efficient leader and role model for others, making more impact for a more equitable world.” —2023 Goldin Global Fellow from Arizona, USA, Jill Langhus-Griffin

Get in touch with us to learn more, connect and partner with individual grassroot leaders to support their work. Sign up here to receive periodic news from the Goldin Fellows in 52 countries. You can support our community of practice —Goldin Global Alumni Network—at this donation page. Become the reason for hope, the world needs more hope!