Tools For Empowerment
Providing youth with the tools they need for success - this is the goal of ASAP’s new Tools For Empowerment (TFE) project. The project will bring hope to thousands of Haitian adolescence and provide job skills & volunteer opportunities for youth in Georgia. Plus, TFE will promote financial literacy, increase access to capital and foster cross-cultural understanding.
In Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, 55% of the population lives on less than $1 per day. Here the Salesian Missions of Don Bosco (SMDB) provides quality vocational training and education, providing skills to needy youth. Yet young job seekers too often become disillusioned. Jobs are so scarce and employers usually require workers to provide their own tools. Through a partnership with ASAP, the TFE project will provide trade tool kits to SMDB graduates so they can put their skills to work to generate income or access employment.
In Georgia, tool kits for trades such as carpentry, metalworking, plumbing and electrical will be assembled from donated new and recycled tools and equipment by volunteers and shipped to Haiti. Each tool kit will also include training materials on how to establish and manage Savings Groups (SGs), which are formalized clubs where self-selected groups meet regularly to save and lend small amounts of money among themselves. SGs are a hugely successful (over 8.4 million SG members world-wide) method for the economically active poor to access funds to operate their informal income generating activities. ASAP has been providing training in SGs since 2001, helping over 85,000 families access capital through SGs. With TFE tool kits, graduates will be able to put their newly acquired skills to use and access start-up capital to earn a living.
Alleviating poverty for youth in Haiti is only half the story. The heart of the TFE project is in Georgia. The volunteers, both young and old, that come-together to recycle tools and prepare kits, gain cross cultural understanding and insights into the real face of poverty. Some will discover the importance and value of recycling, while others will rediscover a sense of purpose. Young volunteers gain soft skills and learn hands-on skills shared from older volunteers. TFE provides a chance to pass on existing skills, make new friends and gain a sense of connection and service to the local and global community.
So you are probably saying, this sounds too good to be true – surely someone has done this before. Well, UK based Tools for Self-Reliance (TFSR) has been providing donated and refurbished tool kits that transform lives in Africa, since 1980. During 2012 alone, 764 volunteers worked together to gather, refurbish and ship 44,590 tools to Africa. ASAP is very passionate about setting up TFE in the US because from 1995-2005 ASAP was TFSR’s Zimbabwe-based partner. We at ASAP witnessed first-hand how each tool kit brought so much promise for a better life and saw the pride of ownership and accomplishment in the face of each artisan, as tools were put to use to make a living, gain self-reliance and build self-esteem.