Since an early age, every February I have taken time to reflect and review the previous year and all the things I am appreciative of. It’s the perfect time – not too far into the New Year but memories of the year that just past are still fresh in my mind. This year, I found myself thinking about Asia Initiatives in particular. It is hard to find an organization that can positively impact your present and future aspirations in many ways, however, I have realized that Asia Initiatives does so for me.
AI is made up of impressively dedicated and driven volunteers, donors and leaders who have shaped and challenged the organization today. As a result, AI has been able to achieve remarkable goals, some of which our President, Geeta Mehta, discussed in her December post titled On To Another Year of Accomplishments. These accomplishments and individuals have inspired me to rise up to challenges and push my own personal and organizational skills in order to continue to grow and thrive within Asia Initiatives as well as in my academic work.
I would like to share with you AI’s 14 Outstanding Achievements of 2014, to show you what truly inspires me to grow and succeed everyday. I hope that you will be inspired as well and share my excitement for AI’s many more future achievements.
- In January, Dr. Geeta Mehta visited Kisumu, Kenya, to work with the team from Millennium Cities Initiatives to discuss how the concept of Social Capital Credits (SoCCs) can incentivize women in the neighborhood of Manyatta to take charge of improving their own neighborhood and lives, while earning credits that can be used to improve their health and livelihoods. This project has now been finalized, and will start this month.
- In March AI Tokyo donated tablet computers and software to a school in Pune to support and enhance their learning. They are also supporting a SoCCs project in Kolkata, where women are earning SoCCs they can then use to pay for their training in nursing and other skills.
- AI-Singapore was officially launched in March 2014, with the formation of their core team. They are helping with the SoCC-preneur project in Mumbai as well as the Old China Town neighborhood project in Kolkata.
- Geeta Mehta, along with AI volunteers and supporters visited projects in India in March, August, and November. AI’s goal is that all team members learn first hand about projects, and visit the sites as often as possible.
- In April, the concept of SoCCs was presented by Dr. Mehta at the UN Habitat’s World Urban Forum in Medellin, Colombia.
- In May 2, AI held a reception and exhibition of the portfolio “Modern Masters of Photography”, which was created to raise funds for AI, and featured the work of the most well known photographers from Japan.
- AI Board and Advisory Board met on May 3 to develop strategies for developing Asia Initiatives from a funding organization into a knowledge organization
- On July 11th, AI-Tokyo held its Annual Event at the Indian Embassy, where Dr. Geeta Mehta and Mr. Chandrani presented AI’s work.
- In September, SoCC-preneur Megha Gupta launched her business Dharavimarket.org. helping local craftsmen to keep a bigger share from the sale of their products, while also improving their community through SoCCs. By October, the Dharavi market hit the Rs$1,000,000 sales mark.
- On October 2, the Vaigai River Restoration Project began, where residents living along the river will earn SoCCs for becoming custodians of the river. This project is being undertaken by AI in partnership with Dhan Foundation and Earth Celebrations,
- On October 12, Prof. M.S. Swaminathan came from India for AI’s annual Gala. Indra Nooyi received the M.S. Swaminathan award at this event. She said she was “blown away” by the concept of Social Capital Credits that AI has pioneered, and made a personal donation.
- Mayor Edgar Mora Altamirano, Mayor of Curridabat in Costa Rica came to work with the AI –NY team to discuss the progress of SoCCs in his town, as well as about him becoming AI’s SoCCs Ambassador in expanding the concept to Mexico.
- Sweta Jhunjhunwala, a member on the AI New York Board, is leading the project to build the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) so SoCCs can be transacted and tracked online any where in the world. By December, two talented designers Caitlin Marinelli from Mumbai and Juliana Azem, had completed the design that is now being coded.
- In December, Asia Initiatives was invited by Women Strong International to implement SoCCs in their projects in Haiti and Washington D.C.
– Maya Daver Massion is a Junior Board Member of Asia Initiatives and student at Barnard College of Columbia University