If you give a child a pillow they’ll dream for a night... If you give a child the chance to experience their own self-worth, they’ll never stop dreaming
Getting on the plane I reached for the barf bag in front of me. I had an idea. I couldn’t shake it. I couldn’t close my eyes without seeing it. I had just spent weeks in Tanzania, teaching HIV/AIDS education in schools and communities while tutoring street children. During those weeks, I looked into the eyes of the children I was around and saw all the potential in the world for them to change their own lives. I felt they just needed a place to do it.
The idea quickly evolved from the draft on a barf bag to a full business plan. Creating trade schools where anyone could become a teacher; street children could teach each other skills and community members could share their expertise, was what filled that first plan. After research, planning and coffee, after coffee I realized this was nothing new. Trade schools were not going to add anything to world – not anymore than they already had at least.
I knew on my brief trip to Tanzania that I had only experienced a speck of extreme poverty and lack of education people in this world endure. There were billions of people, most being born into this world with nothing. Nothing ever changed. I filled a legal pad with ideas of how I felt this cycle could change and what I could do about it. Finally it hit me, I can’t change the past, nor make a huge impact on the present but we could change the future. Changing the future meant a model based solely off enabling youth, like those who inspired me in Tanzania, capable of changing the very world we live in.
The idea evolved again. I thought all we would need is to develop collaborative areas where youth can spark ideas and create positive change. When we’re young we see things change, things being built and projects being completed but how often are we a part of them? Moreover, how often do we lead them? I thought surely being given the chance to be a part of a life-changing project would ultimately change the lives of those around and taking part in the project. I imagined being a child. Simply being given the chance to be a leader, following through on your own idea with your peers and being a part of a movement bigger than yourself. I envisioned a model that did just that! A place where children could realize their own potential and use it as a springboard toward bettering their own future and the future of those around them.
Believing so much in this idea, I decided to jump on a plane to Tanzania to test it, before writing it in ink. I wanted to experience the plan to the fullest, learn from actual mistakes and live the mission. In four short months, we proved the model worked and it was incredible. During one of the last days of my trip, I was looking for prices on vehicles, land and buildings so that I could develop a proper budget to fund our first center. When all of a sudden it just hit me. The people and the communities around me were alive, always moving, always changing – our model had to be able to adapt. Our model had to be able to make an impact on the lives of any child, in any community, within any country around the world. The only way we could make such an impact was by taking our model mobile. From this last day in Tanzania our model came to life and our purpose as an organization was realized. R.I.S.E. Worldwide finally fit its name.
Never stop dreaming,
Alexander M. Wilson
Founder of R.I.S.E. Worldwide
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