Empowering young people in developing nations

A Peacemaking Project by Mahika H.

What is the injustice we are solving?

Far too often, young people are left out of decision-making on issues affecting their communities. Rather than creating short-term solutions based what we think developing communities are in need of, AYANA International empowers youth living in these areas, who truly understand the issues in their communities, to create and implement the solutions, ensuring long-term sustainability of these life-changing projects. We work with partnering NGOs in developing countries to customize and implement our Youth Innovation Lab programs, week long workshops designed to empower youth to create solutions to benefit their local communities using design thinking to analyze a specific issue and understand the population which it affects. Then, we work with the partnering organization and the project designer to make selected project ideas a reality; we provide the design insight, brand strategy & materials, and other logistical support to make projects as impactful as they can be.

Our Compassionate Solution:

To solve this injustice of issues surrounding poverty
we will address a lack of youth involvement in designing solutions
by holding innovation workshops and working with young people to design innovative solutions

Our Project Plan:


  • Reach 100 Youth Through YIL Programs
  • Run the Program in 5 Countries
  • Fund and Implement the WASH Station
  • Fund and Implement the Mobile Library

We will increase my / our compassion by...

How will you show courage?

How will you collaborate with others?

How will you know you are moving in the right direction? (What are specific ways you can measure your impact?)

Key Steps

  • Reach out to potential partners
  • Collect feedback after each workshop
  • Fundraise to be able to implement more projects!

Our Updates:

Majengo School WASH Station | Moshi, Tanzania

Mahika H. 11 December 2017 10:10 Almost half the Tanzanian population lacks clean water. So, it's no wonder that, during our Youth Innovation Lab workshops, with all participants under the age of 18, one participant decided to choose the issue of a lack of sanitation and water treatment facilities as their focus.

At the conclusion of our first two Youth Innovation Lab programs in Moshi, Tanzania, we had several incredible ideas, but a few in particular stood out. Bringing students' ideas to life means improving the lives of the community members while also changing stereotypes, particularly maintained in developing countries, of youth as helpless to create change.

Disney and YSA agreed with our methodology on harnessing youth innovation in developing countries to create sustainable, localized change. Through the Be Inspired grant, AYANA worked with our partner, Tanzania Rural Empowerment Organization, to fully fund a project that would support the principle of WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene): The Majengo School Hand-Washing Center.

In Tanzania, 38% of water points are not functional. Hygiene Behavior Change is critical to achieving the benefits of improved WASH system; moreover, sustainability depends upon proper planning, stakeholder involvement, and understanding of the need and processes for maintenance. So, how have we covered all those bases? This project was designed, implemented, and used by youth. This is the future of sustainable problem-solving!

This hand-washing center is an incredible improvement from the previously used system of the Tippy Tap (a stick laid on top of two other sticks, with gallons of water tipped by a pedal at the bottom), which. While effective in areas where more innovative, effective systems of hand washing would not be available, certainly had room for improvement.

We've been hard at work this past month to prepare materials to brand the center, prepare budget plans, create models prior to construction, and more! But this week, students at the school began using the purchased materials to begin construction of the center. Full completion of the building is expected within a few weeks. But it doesn't end with construction.

Consistent with the philosophy of "Kuosha Mikono Ni Kwa Kila Mtu" ("Hand-Washing Is For Everyone"), young people will be instructing their peers and members of their communities on proper WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) practices. 

These students are so excited about getting clean water (therefore avoiding illness that can keep them out of school) and they've helped in all stages of pushing for a project like this and building it. Therefore, we at AYANA know that this isn't just short-term. It's a model for a series of projects across the globe that involve real community members in the ideation, implementation, and maintenance processes. 

Youth Innovation Lab Program Implemented in Moshi, Tanzania

Mahika H. 11 December 2017 10:14 On the first day, 10 staff, trained previously in youth program facilitation to effectively lead the program, participated. Mr. Thadei Msumanje explained the process behind design thinking: inspiration, ideation, and implementation. The participants were encouraged to use the 5 Whys to understand their problem. Youth identified major problems in their local community, including:


Poor livelihoods especially for youths and children

Lack of social services in their living areas

Most of youths cannot support themselves due to their parents background

Women are leading in poverty and they can support their family


The facilitators decided on a project mission to accomplish the following: "To encourage youths to know their important and how they can participate in community development, so as to bring workable ideas that can help the community and to themselves. The facilitators went through the students identify their problem and encourage them to note their major problems, its causes, who are affected, how long the problem exist and which people affected in term of age, and/or gender."


RaulPF C.
12 February 2018 10:29

Hi Manika,
Thanks a lot for the additional information. It does sound like young people are playing a great role in the development of the ideas.
We will love to continue being engaged in finding ways to continue supporting your work.
Have a great week!

Mahika H.
10 February 2018 11:54

Hello Raul! I am copying a little bit of the project description to answer your question “We work with partnering NGOs in developing countries to customize and implement our Youth Innovation Lab programs, week long workshops designed to empower youth to create solutions to benefit their local communities using design thinking to analyze a specific issue and understand the population which it affects. Then, we work with the partnering organization and the project designer to make selected project ideas a reality; we provide the design insight, brand strategy & materials, and other logistical support to make projects as impactful as they can be.”

Almost 100 youth have participated in this program. In South Africa they chose to address a lack of music and art programs in the school that led to drop outs. In Tanzania one girl designed a mobile library that would go to different schools in the KAHE (Kilimanjaro) region of Moshi in rural Tanzania, delivering books. So then after that I did some research and found a local library and the partner on the ground did some research to make the project a reality in the next few months. All the projects need to have a youth volunteer involvement angle so they’re not just making the idea but also are involved in the project. They love being part of the construction to make each of the solutions a physical reality, and local professionals ie carpenters have been kind enough to volunteer and oversee to make sure everyone in safe. For the WASH station, I received videos of all the kids holding the supplies and thanking me by name - and they were so excited to build the first source of running water and then dig the pipe to the hand washing station. This was all made possible through a grant from Disney that made the project possible and then the local government pitched in some money because they loved the concept of having youth come up with the solutions. and this whole idea was by a 14 year old girl! But that wasn’t it. Then, a few of the youth decided they would start a school club and hold events around WASH (water sanitation and hygiene) at least once a month, both in their school and other school. I emailed over a few posters by UNICEF on WASH that were in Swahili that they printed out and will use at the first workshop. So these are just two projects. Other projects that they thought of include a community garden and demonstration site, adding first aid kits to the classrooms, hydroponic farming, a fruit orchard, and more! This is pretty long and not well written but I just wanted to summarize. I’d love to talk more via email!  

RaulPF C.
9 February 2018 9:02

Hi Manika,
As part of the Peace First Challenge, we provide feedback to all projects around their compassionate insight. I think your insight around the lack of youth involvement is really strong. I was hoping to learn a bit more about how you connect the lack of youth involvement with the issues surrounding poverty and what types of issues are you hoping can be addressed by using this approach.

I worked in the past with groups of young people to find innovative solutions to address issues affecting their lives. Some of the solutions we found and were implemented by youth included:

- Running workshops to teach youth how to build bamboo bikes to get to school faster
- Teach youth how to build fog traps to collect water to support farms during the dry season.

We would love to help in any way we can!


Amani A.
15 December 2017 14:58

Hi Mahika, I just sent you an email!  

Mahika H.
13 December 2017 22:14

Hi Amani! Great to hear from you. I look forward to working with you to scale and grow AYANA for more impact.  

Amani A.
13 December 2017 11:16

Hi Mahika,

This is Amani; a Peace First member and I will be your mentor. I am really amazed by your idea and how far you want to go with your project to impact more communities, ensuring that youth are the leaders in creating solutions for their own communities! I will review AYANA and be in touch with you soon.  

Fish S.
13 December 2017 8:58

Hi Mahika! Thanks for posting this project and sharing about your work. What I really love about this project is the fact you recognize that young people know their communities best -- and want to empower them to design their own solutions. It sounds like that's been going well so far!

What's next for this project? Have you built a team of young people around you?

Here's the most important question: How can we help? We've already matched you with a mentor, and can provide mini-grant support once you've submitted your plan. And, of course, we're excited to connect you to other young people working on these issues.  

Mahika H.
12 December 2017 15:47

Hi there! I’d love to learn more about your team & project. We love partnering with like minded individuals & organizations to hold programs to encourage innovation, entrepreneurship & community service. I’ve been wanting to expand to Uganda!  

Adio C.
12 December 2017 14:52

Can my team in Uganda benefit from AYANA?  

Mahika H.
11 December 2017 10:08

Hi! You can visit our website to learn more - www.ayanainternational.org. We've held workshops for over 100 youth, funded a handwashing center at the Majengo School (ayanainternational.org/wash) that was innovated by a 14-year-old, and are in the process of prototyping other models, including a mobile library (ayanainternational.org/kili-mobile-library). I'd love help refining the curriculum, and also with fundraising. I had the idea for AYANA in August 2017, started reaching out to establish partnerships in September 2017, held our first workshops in October 2017, and funded the first project in December 2017. Through mini-grants, our budget is big enough for 3-4 projects but given that we're expanding and holding workshops via our partners in Haiti & Rwanda early next year, there will be lots more projects we'll want to fund.  

RaulPF C.
11 December 2017 8:42

Thanks for posting your project, Manika! Can you share a little bit about what you have done so far? How can we help?