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Upcycler in Nigeria weaves colorful livelihood

Do you know what happens to the leftover fabric when your clothes are made? Esther Uwem Etim, 25, from Nigeria wanted to keep valuable materials from going to waste, so she started collecting unused textiles and turning them into beautiful rugs.

As part of the Village Weavers Project, Esther doesn’t upcycle by herself. She’s trained more than 100 low-income women to make the rugs, which are now being sold all over the world. The project isn’t just good for the environment, it provides a livelihood to those in need.

Listen to the report by Nonye Aghaji in Abuja, Nigeria:

Esther brings together beauty and practicality in her work (Photo: N. Aghaji)

Esther brings together beauty and practicality in her work (Photo: N. Aghaji)

Esther has instructed dozens of women on how to weave the rugs (Photo. N. Aghaji)

Esther has instructed dozens of women on how to weave the rugs (Photo. N. Aghaji)

Ruth Zhumbul helps sell the rugs to customers abroad (Photo: N. Aghaji)

Ruth Zhumbul helps sell the rugs to customers abroad (Photo: N. Aghaji)

 

Date

Tuesday 10.06.2014 | 11:05

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On two wheels out of poverty

Johannes Wolf from Germany is passionate about cycling, but he knows that bikes aren’t just a good way to get some exercise. In developing countries they can be crucial to running a small business and delivering goods. So he decided to start collecting used bikes from all over Germany in order to repair them and then ship them to African countries where they can be put to good use.

Listen to the report from Gaia Manco and Ronny Arnold in Dresden:

Johannes (left, standing) and his team in front of a container used to ship bikes to Ghana. "Bikes for Africa" already shipped around 800 bikes to Ghana this year (Photo: Ronny Arnold)

Johannes (left, standing) and his team in front of a container used to shipping bikes to Ghana. “Bikes for Africa” already shipped around 800 bikes to Ghana this year alone (Photo: Ronny Arnold)

Once the container reaches its destination, it is often transformed into a bike shop and repair station. Copyright: Johannes Wolf

Once the container reaches its destination, it is often transformed into a bike shop and repair station (Photo: Ronny Arnold)

Nurses and doctors can now reach more patients in a day than they would do on foot. In case of an emergency, a bike can turn into an ambulance (Photo: Ronny Arnold)

Nurses and doctors can now reach more patients in a day than they would do on foot. In case of an emergency, a bike can turn into an ambulance (Photo: Ronny Arnold)

Mr. Howecka (pictured above) is a gardener. He used to walk, but according to Johannes Wolf now the bicycle is his business vehicle. Now he can reach more customers and take clients who live farther away. Copyright: Johannes Wolf

Mr. Howecka (pictured above) is a gardener. He used to walk, but according to Johannes Wolf now the bicycle is his business vehicle. He can reach more customers and take clients who live farther away (Photo: Ronny Arnold)

Johannes tries to visit one bike project a year. Here he is in Namibia, where he got the idea to start the project Bikes for Africa in the first place. Copyright: Johannes Wolf

Johannes tries to visit one bike project a year. Here he is in Namibia, where he got the idea to start the project “Bikes for Africa” in the first place (Photo: Ronny Arnold)

 

Date

Tuesday 06.05.2014 | 15:20

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Lifelong learning for kids in rural Nigeria

Simon Patrick Obi from Nigeria built a library at a school in the rural region of Ketti just outside the capital, Abuja, during his time of national youth service. But even after his obligation was finished, he went back because he saw that more needed to be done to support not only the kids’ education, but also their health.

Simon found that just building a library wasn’t enough – he is now making sure it’s being put to good use so the students there get an education that will lead to a brighter future. But that’s not all – he’s also inspiring the next generation of youth to go on an make a difference too.

Listen to the report by Nonye Aghaji in Abuja, Nigeria:

Simon says most of the students come from farming families and he feels education can make a huge difference in their lives (Photo: N. Aghaji)

Simon says most of the students come from farming families and he feels education can make a huge difference in their lives (Photo: N. Aghaji)

 

Date

Tuesday 15.04.2014 | 10:32

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Love first for Cameroonian charity founder

On a trip to South Africa a few years ago, Jesse Carlton Ndongo, 21-year-old student from Cameroon, was touched by the large number of children he met who’d been orphaned by HIV/AIDS. He saw first-hand the pain and anguish they  face, but also noticed that they seem to be neglected by the rest of society.  He felt that he had to do something about it. So three years ago, he founded the Carlton Smile Charity on Easter Sunday.

The charity is already active in five African countries – Cameroon, Nigeria, Gabon, South Africa and Zimbabwe – and has plans to expand even further. Carlton tries to stand out from other organizations in that he doesn’t focus first on giving the kids material goods. Instead, his first priority is to show them love.

Listen to the report by Ngala Killian Chimtom in Yaoundé, Cameroon:

Carlton says the kids he meets in orphanages are often closer to the things in life that really matter (Photo: N. Chimtom)

Carlton says the kids he meets in orphanages are often closer to the things in life that really matter (Photo: N. Chimtom)

Carlton has a team of volunteers who work in orphanages across five countries (Photo: N. Chimtom)

Carlton has a team of volunteers who work in orphanages across five countries (Photo: N. Chimtom)

 

 

 

 

Date

Tuesday 28.01.2014 | 14:22

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Gabon’s blind street poet

He may be blind, but 20-year-old Eric le Fleur is determined to see change in his homeland of Gabon in central Africa.

Eric makes his living by singing rap songs, which he makes up on the streets of Libreville, Gabon’s capital city. He plays by ear, integrating the discontent he hears into his texts.

He sings to escape his reality of sleeping rough on the streets, but also to awaken his fellow Gabonese to the social injustices in their country.

Listen to the report from Gaia Manco in Libreville, Gabon:

Gabon’s blind street poet

 

Crowds watch rapper Eric, 20, during one of his street performances

Eric comes to Mbolo, a market district of Libreville, almost every day. Everyone there calls him “le petit,” which means “the little one.” Some help him with a bit of money and food. “Even if he’s blind, he sees things clearly,” one fan said. (Photo: G. Manco)

A close-up of Eric singing

Eric doesn’t know how to write. To compose the texts of his songs, he puts together what he hears from people on the street. That is why corruption, poverty and unemployment are recurrent themes. (Photo: G. Manco)

Reporter Gaia Manco with Eric and his family members

Reporter Gaia Manco meets Eric’s niece and mother. Eric’s mother, center, doesn’t have the means to take care of him. Eric is temporarily staying in a one-room shed with his brother Aubrey, but he is eager to get a job and support himself. “I don’t want to be dependent on the state or my brother, I want to work,” he says. (Photo: G. Manco)

Date

Tuesday 05.11.2013 | 13:19

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Turning Kenya’s trash into treasure

Plastic can take hundreds, even thousands of years to break down in the environment. In Kenya, communities are struggling to cope with the thousands of tons of waste being generated each year.

Despite having grown up in a slum littered with trash, 28-year-old Lorna Ruto developed a passion for taking care of the natural environment. 

Now her passion has become her business, turning plastic waste from the city of Nairobi into something useful – fence posts. Her goal is not only to grow a successful company, but also to provide her community with much-needed jobs.

Listen to the report by Andrew Wasike in Nairobi, Kenya:

Turning Kenya’s trash into treasure

Lorna Ruto

Lorna Ruto was tired of seeing trash in her neighborhood – so she came up with an efficient way of cleaning it up (Photo: Andrew Wasike)

Employees sorting plastic

The first step is gathering and sorting reusable plastics (Photo: Andrew Wasike)

Employees manning the machines

Then the old plastic is processed in Lorna’s factory (Photo: Andrew Wasike)

Plastic poles

Here’s the result: sturdy and sustainable fence posts (Photo: Andrew Wasike)

Lorna and Charles

Charles Kalama, pictured here with Lorna, is a co-founder of Eco Post (Photo: Andrew Wasike)

Lorna at work with client

Lorna not only makes the fence posts, she then has to sell them; she’s pictured here with a client (Photo: Andrew Wasike)

Date

Tuesday 15.10.2013 | 14:39

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Changing lives through dance in Kenya

Dance can changes lives. This is the philosophy of volunteer Amrei Krings. One-and-a-half years ago, she started planning a dance workshop to empower sex workers in Kenya and founded the organization Maua in order to realize her idea.

This summer, her dream became a reality. While the dance workshop was a success, the project wasn’t easy for Amrei, who had to learn some tough lessons about trust and cultural differences.

Listen to the report by Falk Steinborn in Naivasha, Kenya:

Changing lives through dance in Kenya

Visit Amrei’s organization, Maua, on Facebook.

 

Amrei Krings

Amrei Krings was responsible for everything behind the scenes, so didn’t have much time left to dance herself (Photo: Falk Steinborn)

Maua dancers

Dance instructor Charles practices with the women and a group of young men that came twice to help out. On Fridays the workshop was open to everybody in Naivasha in order to integrate the sex workers into the community of the villagers. (Photo: Falk Steinborn)

Maua meeting

Amrei has some stress with the partner organization on location (Photo: Falk Steinborn)

Maua dancers

The dancers are getting prepared for the final show (Photo: Falk Steinborn)

Amrei Krings

Amrei’s aim was to give the women a new sense of themselves (Photo: Falk Steinborn)

Maua participants

After the workshop in the morning, Amrei leads a meeting in the afternoon in order to prepare the final show (Photo: Falk Steinborn)

Benedetta Reuter

Dance teacher Benedetta Reuter gives some instructions to the women to make bigger and braver movements (Photo: Falk Steinborn)

 

Date

Tuesday 10.09.2013 | 13:14

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Dance for unity in Nigeria

In Nigeria, country with many languages and ethnic groups, Thomas believes that people shouldn’t be judged on their background. He’s now bringing thousands of young people together with a unique unity dance.

Listen to the report by Nonye Aghaji in Abuja, Nigeria:

Dance for unity in Nigeria

Thomas Eba coming out from performance

Thomas draws out the traditional elements of Nigera’s ethnic groups (Photo: N. Aghaji)

Thomas performing

Thomas in action (Photo: N. Aghaji)

Unity dancers

Thomas has brought the unity dance to thousands of young people in his community (Photo: N. Aghaji)

Date

Tuesday 30.07.2013 | 11:56

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Cape Town violinist blasts stereotypes

In the townships of Cape Town, playing the violin or the cello has been something for the few people who could afford the expensive instruments and regular lessons. But now one young man, 23-year-old Siyathemba Nteta, is challenging the stereotype that classical music is for rich white people. He teaches children in his township how to play the violin – and even holds lessons in the local language, Xhosa.

Listen to the report by Kim Chakanetsa in Cape Town:

Cape Town violinist blasts stereotypes

Siyathemba Nteta

Siyathemba Nteta says people were surprised when he started playing the violin – but that didn’t bother him (Photo: K. Chakanetsa)

Siyathemba Nteta with violin student

Siyathemba teaches in Xhosa, the local language (Photo: K. Chakanetsa)

Siyathemba Nteta with violin students
Siyathemba’s students are discovering the joy he found at age 13 (Photo: K. Chakanetsa)

Siyathemba plays in the Cape Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. Here’s their Facebook page.

Date

Tuesday 02.07.2013 | 11:04

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Morocco’s street circus for the people

A four-meter tall camel made of old flour and potato bags – that’s not something you see every day. It’s part of a street festival in rural Morocco with drums, acrobats and larger-than-life puppets, like the camel. The festival plays on local traditions and pays tribute to the region’s cultural heritage. But it also integrates young people from the area without many opportunities: school dropouts, unemployed, orphans. The guy behind it all is 22-year-old Azeddine Aabar.

Listen to the report by Elizabeth Grenier in Tahanahoute, Morocco:

Morocco’s street circus for the people

Azzadine Aabar

Azeddine, 22, has been involved in several grassroots social projects to promote political participation and democratization (Photo: E. Grenier)

Puppets at Eclat de lune

The puppets used by the Eclats de lune circus collective are larger than life (Photo: E. Grenier)

Camel at Eclats de lune

The camel is a highlight at the Awaln’art street festival (Photo: E. Grenier)

Awaln’art street festival

The puppets at the Awaln’art street festival bear the traditional features of the people living in the mountainous region around Marrakesh (Photo: E. Grenier)

Awaln’art street festival

Both performers and spectators are proud of their local roots (Photo: E. Grenier)

Drummers at Awaln’art

The street festival integrates school drop out, unemployed youths and orphans (Photo: E. Grenier)

More on the Awaln’art website.

Date

Tuesday 14.05.2013 | 12:56

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