This "Outstanding Persons" series was curated by Gideon Lovell-Smith. Gideon spent this fall working as a games keeper on an estate in Scotland, joining World Connect this past winter. Gideon is currently working in Grenada for the non-profit Cocoa Future Farmers Initiative as a farmer. Gideon plans to attend the university of Edinburgh this fall and study Archaeology. Gideon lives in Walpole, New Hampshire.

Yacine was pregnant with her first child, but that did not stop her from cleaning up the city of Tambacounda and turning trash into something useful. In this Eastern Senegalese city, trash was everywhere. Plastic bags and wrappers littered the streets. Trash to Treasury, a women-led initiative, was set up so that women in the community could collect and disinfect the plastic bags, and then turn them into artisanal goods to sell at the local market. More than 30 women joined the project, but none were more enthusiastic than Yacine.

"Yacine shone during the project. She was always smiling and energetic, quick to ask questions and chime in during discussions, and caught on quickly to pattern-making. She affected the project by being a natural leader - she was optimistic and happy, and was quick to dive in and pick up sacks from the ground even when others were hesitant, which was a wonderful sight; an energetic pregnant woman who still cares enough about this work to dedicate all of her energy to it. She affected me as an individual because I found her to be quite inspiring. The Pulaars are traditionally very conservative and it is unusual for a female to be involved in any sort of income generating project, yet here she was." - Ivy, Peace Corps Volunteer

Ferdous is a 14 year old girl living in Tameslouht, Morocco, twenty kilometers outside of Marrakech, near the Atlas Mountains foothills. As in broader Morocco, youth comprise a significant proportion of the population. Traditionally, Tameslouht has thrived as an artisan hub and agricultural center, depending heavily on the tourist market in Marrakech for revenue. Most men find employment as artisans, working in pottery, weaving, metalwork, sculpture, and painting, or in hospitality in the tourist hub of Marrakech. The majority of women do not work; however, among those who are employed, the majority work as artisans, producing fabrics, Fesi embroidery, machine embroidery, embellished baskets, jewelry, and clothing. Unemployment and lack of education are the two biggest problems facing Tameslouht, with unemployment rampant throughout Morocco as a whole, affecting rural populations the most. Women especially are not encouraged to stay in school or to seek jobs outside of child-rearing and other domestic obligations.

Ferdous wants to start her own business. We know this because she was an outstanding participant in the 10-day Creation Camp, an artisan and business workshop supported by World Connect in collaboration with Creation Tameslouht, an association of adult women artisans Creation Tameslouht. Thanks to the Creation Camp, young girls in Tameslouht and the surrounding region can now work within Creation Tameslouht to make artisanal goods to sell in the local markets. Ferdous became a leader among her peers at the Creation Camp and encouraged others to do the same. In her own words:

"The artisan camp was a really great experience. I hope to continue making these crafts in the future and teach my own kids how to make them as well. It is an important part of Moroccan history and culture that needs to be carried into the future."

Learn more about the project here:

Joel is a thirteen year old student living in Hone Creek, Costa Rica. He lives in the poorest neighborhood of the city in a one room cement house with his whole family. Joel had history of skipping class and neglecting schoolwork until he began to work on World Connect's educational Organic Gardening Project. He showed tremendous personal initiative in the school garden, participating during school recreation periods and after school. Joel has established a leadership role among his peers in the project, giving him a forum in which he can proudly boast his knowledge and constructively use his incredible energy.

Learn more about the project here:

Meylin is the leader of a cooperative of 20 women who, with the help of World Connect, have established the first women's group in the town of Brasilia. The town struggles with poor infrastructure (unpaved roads, deteriorating bridges), lack of proper waste management, and a poorly diversified economy. A majority of the community members have expressed a need to create new sources of income for women, so Meylin is working with World Connect to lead her women's cooperative in the development of a beauty salon. The goals of this project are to provide participating women with stable monthly income in order to provide for their families and to strengthen female entrepreneurship through business education. There are many single mothers in the community who lack the experience and qualifications necessary for most employment or for starting a business. The group hopes to use their experience starting a business as a case study to educate more women in the community, and hope it will lead to more confidence and investment in women-led businesses.

"I am so thankful to World Connect for helping my partners and I realize our dreams of owning our own business. This project will be an inspiration for other women in my town, for my children, and my whole family." - Meylin

Learn more about this project here: