How Young Leaders Are Responding to COVID-19

We have always known that young people can make positive and long-lasting change in their home communities, but it is in times of distress when their leadership begins to take on an increased significance.

In 2017, Resolution Fellows were some of the first responders in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana.

Over the past few weeks, as we all come to terms with the realities of this current global pandemic, we are seeing—yet again—that young leaders are stepping up to the fray in cities and countries all around the world, from Mumbai, India, to Chepareria, Kenya, to Vancouver, Canada.

Some Resolution Fellows are responding to the pandemic through the work of their ventures, others are pivoting their work to focus on disaster response, yet others are mobilizing their communities to provide direct relief to those who need it the most.

Here’s a list of COVID-19-related work from Resolution Fellows thus far. We will continue to update this list as we receive more information over the coming weeks.

  • Andrew Aboujaoude, Alexis Ghersi, and Jennifer Carvel of Hearts for the Homeless work to support underserved people experiencing homelessness in many cities across the USA, including cities in Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina, as well as an international chapter in Brazil. In the lead up to the crisis, they distributed sanitation items to over 300 homeless people in seven US cities, while also setting up handwashing stations. They are currently fundraising to feed the homeless populations of these cities as food pantries and shelters have shuttered.
 
  • Vivian Tsang’s venture, H.O.P.E. for Success, is a mentorship program aimed at easing the transition from high school to university. In response to COVID-19, Vivian has initiated a student mobilization response program to help physicians on the front lines with everyday tasks. They are offering basic childcare, grocery shopping, trips to the pharmacy, pet care, and general errand support. So far, 650 students at the University of British Columbia have signed up to volunteer and they have personally helped over 100 physicians.
 
  • Hannah Dehradunwalah’s venture, Transfernation, is a food redistribution service based in New York City. When restaurants were forced to close as a result of government regulation in New York, Transfernation stepped in to redistribute all of the leftover food from these businesses, and in just three days, moved over 8,000 lbs of food to soup kitchens. They were recently featured in the New York Times for their work. Resolution recently introduced Transfernation to José Andrés’ NYC partner to meet the food needs of NYC’s homeless shelter system with fresh meals daily—Transfernation will be making those deliveries.
 
  • Wahid Hossain’s venture, Tiger Bow, works with female artisans in Bangladesh to handcraft bow ties made from unique cultural fabrics. Wahid launched a program to feed 88 artisans and other day-wage earners who are unable to earn a living under the current Covid-19 lockdown. He is also helping artisans shift their production practices to making masks.
 
  • Christelle Kwizera’s venture, Water Access Rwanda, provides clean, piped water to hundreds of households around Kigali, Rwanda. ⁣Recently, she contacted her family and friends to ask for their help in feeding 135 households in her village. So far, she has received two rounds of supplies, enabling her to feed 72 families for a whole week.
 
  • Suman Kumar’s venture, Team Gyan, rebuilt schools after the 2015 earthquake in Nepal. Suman has now been chosen by the National Innovation Center of Nepal to lead the creation of a ventilator manufacturing program (after 3 failed attempts by the institution). Resolution recently connected him with MIT’s E-VENT Program to help make sure he has access to the experience he needs to be successful and save lives in his home country. 
  • Caleigh Hernandez’s venture, RoHo, empowers female artisans in Kenya through socially-conscious fashion. In response to COVID-19, RoHo is now offering Kitenge (African fabric) surgical masks for sale on their website. 100% of the profits from the masks will go to the RoHo Food Security Fund that Caleigh has created to provide food staples and healthcare to the artisans she works with. As a result of mask sales so far, RoHo is able to supply enough food for the whole month of May. 

  • Samir Goel’s venture, Esusu, helps individuals save money and build credit through their financial technology platform. Samir and his Co-Founder, Abbey Wemimo, recently crowdfunded $25K to launch a rapid-response emergency rental assistance fund for renters
  • Sumati Joshi and Urvi Talaty’s venture, Mission SanScar, promotes good health and hygiene for women in India. In response to the recent crisis, Mission SanScar realized access to critical products such as sanitary napkins and contraceptives had become an even bigger problem. In collaboration with an on-ground volunteer group, Sumati and Urvi organized the delivery of sanitary napkins and groceries to 500 households. They are now consulting with a large foundation to scale their efforts and distribute over 350,000 sanitary napkins to the hardest-hit areas of India.

  • Jorge Isaac Iglesias Bloise and his venture, Education in Progress, provides infrastructure, technology, training, and much-needed supplies to neglected schools in rural Panama. In response to the crisis in his country, Jorge organized the delivery of food and clothing to 35 adults, 15 children with disabilities, and 100 homeless people. Jorge was also recognized by His Excellency, the Minister of Education of Panama for his proposal to help the more than 800,000 students who had been affected by school closures in his country. 
  • Whitley O’Connor’s venture, The Curbside Chronicle, is a monthly magazine created for and sold by people experiencing homelessness in Oklahoma City. As a result of recent events, Whitley has launched a website to sell his magazine online which will enable Curbside to continue to provide support to homeless vendors in Oklahoma City. They are also facilitating food deliveries to out-of-work vendors.
 
  • Ying Zhang and Jiahua Chen’s venture, Pomme de Terre, is a food bank operating in Guangzhou, China. Recently, they hosted a challenge on WeChat for members of their food bank, who posted photos of the various ways they are making food using surplus ingredients while under quarantine.
  • Neelika Chakrabarti and Sagar Menon of Citta are working to combat the prevalence of mental health issues for young people in Mumbai, India. Citta are now in the process of moving their mental health trainings online and are increasing their presence on social media, where they have seen an uptick in activity as a result of a partial lockdown of Mumbai.
 

  • Celia Breuer’s venture, Siku Njema Kesho, provides access to quality education and shelter for underserved children in the outskirts of Nakuru town in Kenya. Over the last week, they have paid their staff advances to ensure they have the necessary resources in case of self-quarantine or a hospital visit. With schools expecting to close soon, the children they support (who are mostly at boarding school) will return home to their families. Over the weekend, Siku Njema Kesho met with family members and provided them with sanitation kits as well as training on virus prevention tactics.
 
  • Andy Chen and Leonard Kilekwang’s venture, Tecnosafi, disseminates public health information to the residents of Chepareria, Kenya, using a text message list-serve. In response to the current pandemic, Tecnosafi will send out information based on WHO guidelines, including educational material about virus-prevention and slowing the spread.
  • Anh-Thu Ho’s venture, Ladon Technologies, is a document and real-time remote translation service for non-English speakers in the USA. Ladon has recently launched a campaign to help translate pandemic-related documents for their clients who may not have a translation budget approved in time for emergency situations. Ladon will offer some of their services for free to help ease any financial concerns their users may have when communicating with non-English speakers—including when communicating with healthcare providers.
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