Meet, Diva, one of our changemakers who made a profound impact on educational inequality in Liberia. Her team designed and created a series of colorful educational posters for classrooms in Liberia. The team worked closely with the principal and teachers of the school to identify what subjects and topics were needed, and raised funds through The Changemaker Project to have all the posters printed and shipped to the school.
Can you start by telling us about the process of coming up with your Changemaker Project idea?
In the beginning, our group had another project idea to be conducted. It was about creating compost stations at school since all of the members are very passionate about the environment. However, our school got closed down by the COVID-19 situation and we had to return home. So we figured that the first project idea was not going to work. We then started to brainstorm and just write down all the things we came up with.
At some point, I suggested the idea to create visual materials for a school or a youth group somewhere. Since we live in Norway, posters are not needed because most of the schools are very well-equipped already. So we reached out to our friends from other countries and one friend was willing to help connect us to a school back in her village in Liberia.
So things weren’t always straightforward, and it seems like you had some other ideas at first. How did things get started? And what inspired you to work on this particular project?
The project started with none of us knowing how to create the posters. So we spent many months under AnnaLise's guidance researching and learning the best way we can do this. I would say something that inspired us to come up with this project is the fact that when we look around we realize how lucky we are to be able to access many different things and see real pictures to better our understanding at school. However, not all students in the world have the opportunity to do that. So the inspiration just came from a moment of realization and reflection on our privileges and how we can use them to make a change.
Wow, it’s impressive how you were able to take an idea and turn it into your project. What were some of the biggest challenges with your project and how did you overcome them?
I would say some of the biggest challenges that we faced were learning how to design the posters by ourselves, finding a way to print the posters cheaply so we can print more, and, last but not least, time. We started the designing process with none of us knowing what we were doing, so we had to learn a lot. Then we also figured that it would be very costly if we were to print the posters here in Norway and get them shipped to Liberia. We decided to find local companies that were not only cheap but trustworthy. We spent quite a long time researching for that until we got help from the principal of the school where he recommended one of the closest companies so we went with that. The last one was time. We started the project while doing online school in our exam season, and the syllabus structuring and poster designing were the most time-consuming ones. However, we overcame it by setting small deadlines for ourselves so we can finish the tasks little by little until the big deadline comes. Honestly, this is one of the best group work [projects] that I have ever participated in.
School in Liberia (Before)
It seems like you have learned a lot since you first started working on your project. If you could go back in time to when you first began your project, what advice would you give yourself?
I would say I wouldn't give that much advice but rather tap myself on the shoulder for being a good team player and contributing my knowledge efficiently to the project. Other than that, I would also like to acknowledge the fact that I learned so many new skills from participating in The Changemaker Project.
It sounds like your team had to persist to reach your goals. That's so inspiring! Speaking more broadly, what does community service mean to you?
Community service to me personally means doing my part in helping people around me. I see community service not only through charitable actions but also by using the knowledge we acquired through our privileges in creating innovative, creative, and lasting solutions to tackle the problems around us. To me, the size of the service does not matter, as long as the actions bring about change or inspire other people to do the same. I also view community service as a starting point for young and innovative future leaders to use their ability and creativity to better the situation in their surroundings. It is also a learning process through the many different challenges that happen throughout the journey of service.
School in Liberia (After)
Diva's project has now been passed onto a group of younger students at their school who are continuing to expand this project to other schools. Check out their website where you can learn more and donate to their project to help fund posters for even more schools: https://posterproject.surge.sh/index.html