Do what you really are! BOOKBRIDGE believes in the impact of their Alumni after the completion of our Capability Programs. Doya took part of the 14th Capability Program in 2019. She is part of Friends of BOOKBRIDGE, a Swiss association founded by Alumni.
Doya, why did you decide to join Friends of BOOKBRIDGE?
After taking part in the Capability Program in 2019, where we set up a self-sustaining business in Mongolia, I knew that my journey with BOOKBRIDGE hadn’t come to an end yet and Friends of BOOKBRIDGE stood out to me. It’s a way in which we can still create an impact, despite being on the other side of the world.
About Friends of BOOKBRIDGE
Doya, could you explain us more what is this Alumni initiative about?
Friends of BOOKBRIDGE is an association founded in Switzerland and administered by Alumni of BOOKBRIDGE Capability programs CAP5, CAP10 and now CAP14. Friends of BOOKBRIDGE collect funds among BOOKBRIDGE program Alumni and the Bridgebuilder Community in order to help fund scholarships for those students who need it most. We want to make education accessible for all, and currently fund scholarships in Mongolia, Cambodia and Sri Lanka.
What is the main focus of the association in 2021?
If you would have said a year ago that 2020 would look like it did, no one would have believed you, and with the BOOKBRIDGE Social Enterprises growing year on year, more students need our help, more now than ever before. Going into 2021, we want to continue providing access to education whilst continuing to adapt to the world around us.
Not all families – especially those living in rural areas – can afford to send their children to one of the BOOKBRIDGE Learning Centers. As a result, these children often cannot attend the courses and thereby have no access to additional education such as English or IT. In order to provide opportunities for these children the association Friends of BOOKBRIDGE was set up with a goal of helping to fund scholarships.
Over the past few years, we have supported 60 children in Mongolia, Cambodia and Sri Lanka, and we don’t want to stop there. But with this year, came COVID-19 and the BOOKBRIDGE Learning Centers had to adapt to different ways of teaching in order to secure an income. For example, many of them have taken to online teaching, so that students can learn from anywhere, not just in the local community. However, despite this new way of learning, there are still many young people who don’t have the means to undertake online learning. That’s why we want to ensure we can provide scholarships, so that when these centers fully reopen, adhering to new guidelines, these students can access this education.
One great instance of adapting is Kim, the Community Hero of the Smile Academy in Cambodia. He began online classes during lockdown, and then on a field visit in July, both him and the student’s parents came up with the idea to have a common internet access point for the whole group. The reason for this is because they could not afford to pay for monthly course fees as well as for top-up phone cards to access the internet. Therefore, Kim purchased three mobile WIFI modems and distributed them in three different villages. Volunteers were then assigned the responsibility for the maintenance of the modems. As a result, the students can now gather together and follow the English classes with their Smartphones connected to the WLAN.
As we know, COVID is staying put for the time being, and so being adaptable is key. And whilst the Community Heroes work hard to provide teaching in this ‘new normal’, we can play our part too. Friends of BOOKBRIDGE usually offers a membership to our donors, but like everyone else we are adapting and therefore we have a new ‘Give What You Can’ scheme. Whatever the donation, it will help to support a scholarship for a child; let’s ensure learning never stops.
How do you ensure that the Social Enterprises continue with their entrepreneurial freedom?
Firstly, the board of Friends of BOOKBRIDGE have meetings with the Community Heroes to see if they have any children in mind for a scholarship, or whether they are going to promote it. The scholarships are then decided on with an application process; we do this to get the full story of a student and if they can commit time to studying. Also, we limit the amount of scholarships per social enterprise, we do this so that the learning centers do not become financially dependent on these funds.
How can Friends of BOOKBRIDGE be contacted?
Thank you Doya for your engagement! We are proud that you are part of our BOOKBRIDGE Family!