What can we learn from Twende?

Every Monday morning the S4TP team can be found in a virtual meeting discussing actions and priorities for the week ahead.  Whoever is chairing that week starts the meeting with something for the team to think about and reflect upon or discuss.

This takes various forms – sometimes it’s an article, a TV programme, a video clip, a quote, or it could even be a picture, a poem or a song.

Sometimes it’s enough for us to simply listen, absorb and reflect silently.  Other times it starts a discussion and an exploration of thoughts, ideas, and actions. 

We’ve decided to start sharing some of these with you on the website in our Monday Meeting Musings section – we hope you find the topics interesting, enlightening, encouraging, inspiring and sometimes even challenging!

Last week I shared the following video clip with the team, about Bernard Kiwia and his Innovator School Twende (http://www.twende-tanzania.org/ ), in Tanzania:

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/video/watch/bbc-innovators-inventing-for-africa/vi-AAAc3p1 which is connected to this article: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-44553215

There were a few points that came up in our discussions:

  • It was a great example of the ripple effect – how one person’s actions can ripple out, affect their neighbour and, in turn, their community.

This is true of everything people do – sometimes problems seem so big, and we can think ‘I’m just one person, I won’t make a difference,’ but one person CAN make a difference.  It’s one of the points we make on the Big Ideas programme – young people may feel that their voices won’t be heard, or that what they do won’t change anything – but we’re here to show them that the opposite is true.

  • “In Africa I feel like we are very close to our problems, and we know exactly what we want.” “I hope Tanzanians can make their own technology and solve their own challenges.”

In the piece, it was very clear to see the desire to come up with their own solutions to their problems that work for them. Perhaps sometimes there is well-intentioned desire from outsiders to provide a solution, but we need to consider how we balance this support alongside coming up with a solution that works for the people using it. It really brings home the importance of knowing your customer, and of collaboration, as well as looking at more local problems.

  • Talking of collaboration, the clip showed the value of the co- working space.

Where people are doing projects in the same room, if you have a problem you can reach out to anyone there and you can find the solution: the sharing of ideas happens naturally just by being in same area. It could be a challenge for a remote working team like S4TP to facilitate that sharing of ideas, and that’s why having the structure of weekly Skype and/or phone meetings, as well as regular face-to-face meetings, is important.  The young people on our programme are actively encouraged to collaborate, and to make contact with others that could help them – experts, mentors, other teams or organisations.

 

  • “Those who have the ideas to innovate, they don’t have the means.”

Does having fewer material possessions and less money actually make us innovate more? We see so many incredible stories of innovation coming out of disadvantaged areas of the world, it feels like innovation thrives when it is driven by necessity.  But, as the quote above indicates, materials, money or support for their ideas are not always readily available.  That’s where collaboration comes in again.

  • “I want to inspire other people. You inspire by showing.  Practice what you preach.”

Practising what you preach can be more challenging when we have more resources and options at our disposal.  We will be looking at this when we get together for our summer Team Away Days next week – how can how can we at Solutions for Planet practice what we preach, bearing in mind that there will be times where we have to use cars and planes instead of public transport and bicycles, for example?  Individually, the members of our team do a lot to lead by example, and it is part of our organisation’s ethos too – we have to look at what we can achieve, and how we can balance the situations where necessity means we can’t live up to those ideals.

I hope the story has given you, as it did us, plenty to think about.  For me, my brain is spinning with thoughts on how we can get some of the schools we work with to twin with schools for innovators abroad like this – and how we can launch the Big Ideas Competition in Tanzania!!  I may be getting slightly ahead of myself with that last one….

https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/help-tanzanian-youth-make-tech-to-help-themselves/

I leave you with two great quotes from Bernard Kiwia:

“Sometimes you fail, so you do it again,” he says. “But by the end you come up with something good.”

“I hope the children will learn, first, that they can solve a problem; that they can make things; that they can get empowered….and….they can change things.”

I hope they learn that too, Bernard – both your young people, and ours.

 

Written by: Sarah Milburn, S4TP Programme Coordinator & Communications Lead, West Midlands

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solutions for the Planet Ltd.


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