#MeWeInternational Global Sprint: 140 youth leaders across 5 countries

“Who is ready to step into their story and unleash their voice?”

Silence.

What seems like an awkward silence is actually the noise of battle taking place internally among young leaders wrestling with their limitations, fears, and self-doubt.

#MeWe International, in partnership with Ashoka, the U.S. State Department, and U.S. Embassies across five countries are using storytelling to break arrested narratives among youth communities.

Why? So that youth potential is no longer anonymous under the veil of silence and fear.

After a few seconds of silence, a young leader walks up to the front of the room. She is nervous, and taking deep breaths. Then, something miraculous happens: she begins to connect her mind and heart with her breath in order to unleash ideas, feelings, and thoughts. This is her first time speaking in public, and opening up about gender based violence. Once one person does this, almost always others follow suit.

“This is the first time in life I am expressing myself like this,” says the young leader from #MeWeTajikistan.

Thousands of miles away, a young Honduran girl says, “ I did not ever think I could do this.” For the first time in her life, she shares what migration has done to her family and community, and how she wants to stop this from happening to more young people.

Further north, a young Mexican participant during the #MeWeMexico trainings shares an epiphany to the room of 40 young leaders.

“This program, I am realizing now, is not a workshop but a form of leadership therapy. As leaders, we are not looking after other leaders, nor taking care of ourselves,” he says.

Since January 2018, more than 400 young leaders across 5 countries applied to #MeWe International’s storytelling for changemakers workshops, made possible thanks to support from Ashoka’s Youth Venture, and ‘The Collaboratory’, part of the State Department’s Education and Cultural Affairs Office.

In April 2018, more than 140 young leaders were selected by the U.S. Embassy and local NGO partners across the 5 pilot countries of Tajikistan, Moldova, Ecuador, Mexico, and Honduras.

Once selected, young leaders from each country experienced an interactive three-day training to understand the power of words and communication as tools for healing, community building, and empowerment.

Throughout the #MeWe trainings, young people explored the science of storytelling, learned about story structures for social impact, and exercised internal communication as a foundational step towards effective public communication. The program’s exercises involved mindfulness practices, communications strategy-building, public speaking, creative writing, and video making.

After the initial three-day trianings with youth leaders, small teams formed around a set of self-defined social issues. Since May, more than 15 youth teams have been initiating their own pilots for shifting mindsets in their communities by applying what they learned in #MeWe International Inc.’s communications methodology.

In our storytelling work as #MeWe International, our hypothesis is that arrested narratives among young people fuels arrested development among youth, and their communities.

Below are snapshots of the changemaker stories and community events that young leaders from each of the five country pilots are initiating. Click on the links below to stay up to date to the changemaker magic unfolding from the #MeWe global sprint.

#MeWeTajikistan (#MahBaMo) | CVE

MARCH 27- 1 APRIL 2018 | Local partners: Y Peer Tajikistan and Beyond Conflict| U.S. Embassy Dushanbe

60+ applicants for 30 spots | 30+ youth leaders successfully engaged | 5 youth teams activated | More info: http://bit.ly/2MbbCRU

Youth social media post :YPeer Tajikistan and #MeWe trainees leading storytelling and debate sessions focused on gender inequalities

Over the course of 3 days, young people from both rural and urban areas of Tajikistan explored ‘they why?’ driving their leadership aspirations, and exercised ways to communicate choices and alternatives to their peers when it came to violence, gender inequalities and gender discrimination. With the help of Beyond Conflict, much time was spent on understanding how stress, anxiety, and fear — triggered by violence or abuse — impacts the brain and one’s behaviour.

Powerful moments in the training included young girls coming together for the first time in their lives to open up about the prevalence of gender inequalities and violence in their own communities, and then communicating with one another effective solutions to navigate their challenges.

Youth social media post: #MeWeTajikistan trainees at Dushanbe American Spaces leading their own community empowerment sessions after the initial #MeWe trainings
Youth social media post: #MeWeTajikistan trainees at American Spaces leading their own community empowerment sessions after the initial #MeWe trainings
Youth social media post :#MeWeTajikistan youth team producing and distributing a #MeWe video about education as a tool for change.

Since the initial direct #MeWe International training in April, Youth teams activated in #MeWeTajikistan (#MahBaMo) have already led 3#MeWe community events, including 1 public debate session on the topic of gender inequalities. Youth teams successfully engaged more than 60 people, approximately, in their own locally organized #MeWe events where they transferred their learnings and insights from the #MeWe training to their peers in the community. Two other #MeWeTajikistan youth team produced and edited 2 short videos on education and gender inequalities.

#MeWeMoldova | ANTI-CORRUPTION

9–13 APRIL 2018 | Local partners: CDA | U.S. Embassy Moldova

50+ applicants for 24–30 spots | 25 youth leaders successfully engaged | 5 youth teams activated | More info: http://bit.ly/2vZWjk3

Local promotion of #MeWeMoldova community planned for September, 2018

#MeWeMoldova teams are launching a public event this September, with local partner ADC. At the community event, youth teams will present their #MeWeMoldova stories and share insights from their community projects which have been targeting corruption in Moldova.

Youth teams have already produced more than 3 short videos, 1 blog series, and are currently mobilized dialogue spaces at more than 3 local libraries where teachers and youth are actively discussing how to redefine and reframe society’s understanding of the term ‘corruption’.

Youth social media post: #MeWeMoldova youth trainees activating their community projects, and initiating change arounf the issue of corruption.
Youth social media post: #MeWeMoldova youth teams partnering with local libraries to form spaces for community dialogues on the topic of corruption.
Youth social media post: #MeWeMoldova youth teams partnering with local libraries to form spaces for community dialogues on the topic of corruption.
Youth social media post: #MeWeMoldova youth teams producing a 3 part #MeWe video series on corruption, and mobilizing community dialogues on the topic of corruption.
Youth social media post: #MeWeMoldova youth teams producing a 3 part #MeWe video series on corruption, and mobilizing community dialogues on the topic of corruption.

#MeWeMoldova youth teams have successfully engaged more than 40 people, approximately, in their locally organized #MeWe events, not including the upcoming event in September.

#MeWeEcuador | Gender Based Violence

APRIL 19–22, 2018 | Local partners: Ashoka Andean Region, Esquel, and Plan International | U.S. Embassy Quito

120+ applicants for 20+ spots |24+ youth leaders successfully engaged | 5 youth teams activated

Snaps of #MeWeEcuador training in April

#MeWeMexico | CIVIC ENGAGEMENT

MAY 18–21, 2018 | Local partners: Ashoka Mexico | U.S. Embassy Mexico City

70+ applicants for 50–60 spots | 44+ youth leaders successfully engaged | 6 youth teams activated | More info: http://bit.ly/2vE4MtB

The largest of all the #MeWe country pilots took place in Chapultepec park in Mexico City. More than 40 young leaders from across the country participated in 3.5 days of intensive training on communications for social impact. ‘Civic Engagement’ was the theme for the #MeWeMexico pilot, led by #MeWe International and Ashoka Mexico. Young leaders formed collaborative relationships and workshopped ways they wanted to combat apathy and lack of trust in civic institutions among young people in Mexico today. Community distrust and was particularly prevalent due to persistent challenges since the devastating earthquake last year and rising gang violence in recent years. Issues of discrimination against the LGBTQ community also were addressed among youth leaders in the program.

#MeWeMexico team initiating #MeWe community projects reaching more than 300 people at a local university
#MeWeMexico trainee mobilizing women and girls in her community to experience some of the #MeWe storytelling methodology as a tool for women’s empowerment.
#MeWeMexico trainee forming new parnterships and mobilizing women and girls in her community to experience some of the #MeWe storytelling methodology as a tool for women’s empowerment.
#MeWeMexico team initiating a#MeWe community project reaching more than 25 young people

To date, #MeWeMexico youth leaders have launched more than 4 community events, targeting youth civic engagement, gender violence and discrimination, and community building. After the initial training #MeWeMexico teams have reached more than 400 people in their own communities by replicating key exercises from the #MeWe International methodology.

#MeWeHonduras | MIGRATION

MAY 25- 27 2018 | Local partners: OYE, CCS San Pedro Sulas | U.S. Embassy Tegucigalpas

100+ applicants for 20–30 spots | 20+ youth leaders successfully engaged | 4–6 youth teams activated | More info: http://bit.ly/2KOv1m9

#MeWeHonduras youth teams produced and launched a video series on migration

Migration and gang violence dominate the national and international narratives of Honduras. Young leaders in #MeWeHonduras wanted to tackle this misrepresentation by giving voice and visibility to the talent, creativity and resilience within Honduran youth.

#MeWeHonduras training
Virtual mentorship sessions between #MeWeInternational and #MeWeHonduras youth leaders

During the #MeWeHonduras trainings, young leaders, many for the first time in their lives, broke their silence around how violence and migration have broken their families and communities; and expressed ideas and pathways to reframe their losses and tarumas into opportunities for empowerment, collective problem-solving, and healing. For these youth, migration is not limited to leaving to the U.S. for work. Instead, migration is a threat to the health of family and community dynamics of an entire nation, and they want to reframe the narrative of how Honduran youth view and engage with their own nation.

Youth social media post: Snaps from #MeWeHonduras community event hosted by local parnter CCS San Pedro Sulas
Promotion for #MeWeHonduras youth team’s community event

Since the pilot training in May , #MeWeHonduras youth teams have launched more than 4of their own community events, targeting youth, migration, and broken families. After the initial training #MeWeHonduras teams have reached more than 100 people in their own communities by replicating key exercises from the #MeWe International methodology, and have produced a social media video series on migration that has reached more than 1,000 views on Facebook. The national news televised their locally organized #MEWE event in August, reaching thousands more households across San Pedro Sulas.

Local TV news crew covers #MeWeHonduras event and interviews youth leaders and U.S. Embassy parnters.

Measured Impacts

Throughout 4 of the 5 #MeWe country pilots, we are obeserving significant qualitative and quantitative evidence that communications development is a crucial piece of programming that enhances leadership development, creative collaboration, and community building led by young people.

On average, the #MeWeInternational storytelling methodology activated 4 small team projects per country, with an average of 2 small teams-per country remaining active in the months following the initial trianing. On average, #MeWe youth teams launched more than 2 #MeWe community events per country, and these took place in the months following the direct trianings. Most the community showed young leaders training others on #MeWeInternational’s methodology.

(1) Honduras, (2) Moldova, (3) Mexico, (4)Tajikistan, and (5) Ecuador represent the top performing #MeWe youth teams — in order of impact— who achieved all of the following: released a video series, published blogs, and mobilized multiple community events targeting a social issue.

Across all countries, youth particpiants reported significant growth when it came their leadership and communications abilities.

Over the course of the Latin America #MeWe pilots, Ashoka and #MeWeInternational executed a pre and post assessment among youth leaders. The results are quite encouraging.

Data across the three #MeWe Latin American countries — Mexico, Ecuador, and Honduras — shows that more than 90% of beneficiaries self-reported the program enhancing their leadership and communication skills.

90% of beneficiaries reported that they would recommend the training to their peers and community.

NOTE: The #MeWe projects across Latin America, in Moldova, and Tajikistan were sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government, and were designed and administered by #MeWe International Inc. and Ashoka’s Youth Venture, with support from Beyond Conflict.

#MeWe going international!

Screen Shot 2018-02-23 at 9.34.50 AM

I am pleased to announce #MeWe International Inc. is now registered as a non-profit C-corporation, and is in process of filing for 501C3 status!

Much else has also been going on. Too much to share here, so below are some highlights!

Some quick highlights:

#MeWe International Inc. are launching small country pilots in partnership with the U.S. State Department and local orgs:

March: Tajikistan, with Y Peer Tajikistan | April: Moldova, with CDA | April: Ecuador, with Esquel and Plan International | May: Mexico, with Ashoka Mexico | May: Honduras, with CCS and Oye. Stay tuned for more….

#MeWe accepts OPEN IDEO award from Australia DFAT and Innovation Exchange

Screen Shot 2018-03-24 at 5.52.24 PM

In February we were in Australia to accept the award for the #EIEChallenge, or education in emergencies challenge. This award will able #MeWe to boost our refugee-led network, and build in new tools. While in Australia, we were trained by Open Ideo on  human centered design principles and built new prototypes to improve our work. Stay tuned…

New article on VICE Impact and more insights published on UNHCR Innovation’s Year in Review!

Read our latest article for Vice, here.

Screen Shot 2018-01-05 at 1.13.02 PM

Read our latest article for UNHCR Innovation, here.

Screen Shot 2018-03-24 at 5.50.23 PM

 

#MeWe speaks at Wilton Park Forum on Mental Health, hosted by Save the Children and DFID

Screen Shot 2018-03-24 at 5.58.47 PM

 

We working hard, and need you!

Donate directly to #MeWe. We need your support to keep our teams active, and to keep spaces growing for healing and community-building. Thirty percent of your donation will go towards personnel support, and seventy percent will go towards a fund to support activities of #MeWe hubs for healing and community-building in 2018-2019. You will receive personal updates from #MeWe founder, Mohsin Mohi Ud Din. Donate securely on pay-pal here: 
Donate Button

We have been hard at work and traveling non-stop in order to finish our year strong. In the past 12 months, we have trained more than 50 Syrian youth facilitators across 8 cities in three countries on our storytelling innovation through local implementing partners DARB and Questscope, and their partner orgs in the region. Our Syrian changemaker teams have replicated the program to and reached more 700 youth and caretakers.

Screen Shot 2017-10-21 at 3.33.18 PM

Below are some rapid updates, and demonstration of the extraordinary we are making through #MeWeSyria:

December: Open Ideo Award | UNHCR Innovation Article | #MeWe back in Turkey

Open Ideo Award

We won Open Ideo’s innovation competition, funded by the Australian Govt.! Out of 100s of applications, and more than 70 shortlisted finalists, Open Idea, MIKTA, and the Australian Government have identified #MeWeSyria as the winner of their ‘Education in Emergencies’ Challenge. Read more

Screen Shot 2017-12-22 at 6.27.05 AM

New #MeWeSyria article published on UNHCR Innovation Services

  • Our latest insights just published on UNHCR Innovation, click here 

Screen Shot 2017-12-22 at 6.22.10 AM

#MeWeSyria training with core team of Syrian peace-builders in Turkey 

  • More than 8 Syrians from of our core team came together in Turkey for new training sessions focused on knowledge-sharing across the different hubs they have activated, and capacity building on new modules focused on mental health/psychosocial support, particularly related to interoception and goal setting, co-created with my partner and neuroscientist Michael Niconchuk. The 4 teams formulated refined local action plans to reach another 180 youth in Turkey over the next 5 months.

Screen Shot 2017-12-22 at 6.35.16 AM

November:  #MeWe back in Lebanon | World Children’s Day w/ ODI 

#MeWeSyria training in Lebanon with core team of Syrian youth replicators

  • Similar to Turkey, more than 16 Syrians from our core team in Lebanon came together for new training sessions focused on knowledge sharing across the different hubs, and capacity building on new modules focused on mental health/psychosocial support, particularly related to interoception and goal setting, co-created with my partner and neuroscientist Michael Niconchuk. The 8 teams formulated refined local action plans to reach another 188 youth in Turkey over the next 5 months.

Screen Shot 2017-12-22 at 6.39.55 AM

Screen Shot 2017-12-22 at 6.45.10 AM

The Overseas Development Institute invited #MeWeSyria to present its innovation for a #WorldChildrensDay event

  • Watch the panel at ODI here...

Screen Shot 2017-12-22 at 6.43.08 AM

Donate directly to #MeWe. We need your support to keep our teams active, and to keep spaces growing for healing and community-building. Thirty percent of your donation will go towards personnel support, and seventy percent will go towards a fund to support activities of #MeWe hubs for healing and community-building in 2018-2019. You will receive personal updates from #MeWe founder, Mohsin Mohi Ud Din. Donate securely on pay-pal here: 
Donate Button

Back in Zaatari Refugee Camp

I’m back in #zaatari refugee camp, where #MeWeSyria began 4 years ago with just 1 camera and twenty-five refugee youth. Today, the refugee youth-led program has reached more than 700 refugee youth across 8 cities in 3 countries.

This week, I am in the camp with my partner and friend, neuroscientist Michael Niconchuk, co-creating youth spaces for healing, communication, and community building through my #MeWeSyria methodology.

You and me may see only concrete walls and barbed wire. But these Syrian refugee youth see a call to build spaces for healing & changemaking in the harshest of places.

This week we will be engaging with 12 of our refugee youth replication teams from Questscope on further co-creation, capacity-building, and improving the overall localization of the program. We will tackle concepts of media literacy, self-care, brain science and communications, and our mental health and psychosocial support pedagogy.

The replication teams will target 144-180 refugee youth, ages 15–25, over the course of 6 months.

 

Honored and happy to co-create w/ these heroes.

 

MiT Solve partnership + VICE Impact!

Lot’s been going on since #MeWeSyria won Solve MiT at the United Nations in May.

Here is the scoop:

After winning for our pitch on #MeWeSyria at Solve MiT at the United Nations, we presented to partners and allies at MiT. In our presentations we highlighted how our unique methodology leverages the process of storytelling/inter-personal communications    as a tool for mental health/psychosocial support, social/emotional learning, and community-building.

#MEWESYRIA @ MIT
#MEWESYRIA ON STAGE WITH PRESIDENT OF MIT

 

Vice media released a short mini documentary on #MeWeSyria’s pitch at the United Nations. WATCH HERE:

#MEWESYRIA @VICEIMPACT
WATCH VICE FOLLOW US ON OUR JOURNEY TO PITCH OUR INNOVATION TO SOLVE MIT AT THE UNITED NATIONS

 

We now have an important relationship with VICE IMPACT to help give visibility to our program and the refugee changemaker voices within it. READ AND WATCH our recent publications on VICE:

 

#MEWESYRIA FEATURES NEW MESSAGES AND STORYTELLING CONTENT FROM REFUGEE YOUTH TEAMS ON VICE

 

#MeWeSyria @ MiT!

IMG_9131.JPG

Back in March, #MeWeSyria was officially recognized at the United Nations as a ‘Solver’ by Solve’s MiT, an initiative founded by MiT’s president.

In the coming days, we will be at MiT as a featured ‘Solver’ to present further on our impact and share our needs for scaling and growing upon our refugee-led successes. We are excited to collaborate with potential funders, engineers, neuroscientists, and companies.

Our main needs at the moment are…

Funding | Purpose: We need a strong backend to keep powering-up our methodology and network. We first want to tune up our existing MeWeSyria network in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan then scale up to more cities in these countries and add on new countries such as Germany, France, Brazil, and Canada. This would require more master facilitators to run our innovative training of trainers sessions with refugee teams, more equipment, capacity-building sessions with our refugee replicators, and refinement of the pedagogy and curriculum.

Technical support | Purpose: Build a flexible, virtual team of clinical psychologists, neuroscientists, app developers, translators, curriculum developers, multi media specialists who would help us build a holistic program yielding long term results for youth.

What we know

Over the past several years, we know have a methodology powering up a brave network Syrian refugee youth influencers across 3 countries.

Our recently deployed psychometric scale is showing the behavioral growth our program sparks in young refugees completing our program:

MIT MAY SLIDES.005.jpg

Click on the get in touch tab if you want to support us in funding our mission to scale and globalize our innovative work to activate refugee youth as Changemakers.

Follow updates from MiT this week @mohsindin and @mewesyria.

#MeWeSyria at MiT/United Nations

What a surprising week. Solve MiT selected #MeWeSyria as a finalist to pitch our innovation at the United Nations, and we won!!! We are honored and excited at the prospect of connecting with the resources of MiT, other Solvers, and private sector partners and companies. This win could help us scale and globalize this year. If you are interested in supporting our network, please get in touch with me in the [get involved] section.

This is a victory for our brave and beautiful Syrian changemaker teams in Jordan (with Questscope), Turkey (with Darb_Syr), and Lebanon. This program is built on their hard work and dedication to fighting spaces of darkness and hopelessness each and every day. These are the invisible wars that threaten social and emotional development, and thus threaten our world. We should celebrate and support Syrian youth changemakers everywhere. Congrats to all our refugee teams!! Here’s to the next big steps!! We head to MiT in May!

You can watch our winning pitch at the United Nations below:

MiT Solve invite #MeWeSyria to UN | March 7th

MiT’s Solve have selected #MeWeSyria as a finalist to pitch at the United Nations on 7 March. This could be a big opportunity for our innovative program and refugee-led teams. The event will focus on solutions for refugee education. Follow @MeWeSyria for live updates and also PLEASE VOTE FOR US HERE!

img_8401