At the beginning of August 2017 in London took place The Positive for Youth Awards ceremony which recognized and rewarded outstanding youth contribution to the Three Global Goals of Educational Innovation, Empowering Everyone and Environmental Rejuvenation. We are more than happy to present you Shwetal Shah who won The Environmental Rejuvenation: Beyond Sustainability Award. Shwetal is an outstanding individual demonstrating real leadership qualities in her daily life. Her eagerness and the will to make a positive change accompanies The Ubele Initiative through various initiatives and projects.
Below you find Shwetal’s story that she shared with is. It focuses on her journey leading up to The Positive for Youth Award involving the people she met and who helped her get there.
From a young age I have always questioned my privileges, born and brought up in Mumbai, surrounded by poverty around me, not being in poverty myself always made me uncomfortable with the opportunities I had in life as I could’ve been on the other side of life.
Why was it that 10 year old me got to attend a private school, but 10 year old ‘’other’’ child was beaten and forced to beg on the streets? The reason for other being in quotes is that the average India of my demographic has become desensitized to poverty and does not consider it as their problem to solve or help the other out. I however wasn’t immune to this, and it was the driving factor behind all my goals in life to give back in different ways.
Starting at age 10 I organized a small fund raiser with 2 of my friends and we sold each other crafts we made and then donated that money to the homeless, I started donating clothes at an orphanage on every birthday, on my 18th birthday I donated toys at the TATA Memorial hospital for cancer patients with the profits from making and selling perfumes to friends, with the my first salary at age 18 I also donated funds to a girls orphanage and to a 10 year old in need of cancer treatment. Beside starting to teach English to kids on the streets. My long term goal is to educate a girl child and build a school for underprivileged girls in India, in order to achieve the goal of building a school and starting an enterprise programme for women from disadvantaged backgrounds I decided to go abroad and train myself up, moving to the UK I enrolled in a masters in International marketing and also volunteering with UK charities to learn how they manage social issues
I volunteered at the Scottish Youth Parliament and Youth Employment UK, I also started Explore Science which organized free public lectures in London to showcase women scientists work and made a documentary on Women in STEM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWQBUhwLtPg&t=1s,to showcase them as role models for girls around the world, I enrolled in 2 leadership programmes one of them led me to meet Helle Thorning Schmidt the former PM of Denmark and learn about women empowerment. I am now working on a project to tackle social exclusion in London and a video game to teach coding to kids, especially girls between 8-14 and establish coding clubs in England, India, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Malawi later on.
None of this would have been possible without the support of some amazing people and organizations I met in the UK, starting in Scotland where Scottish Youth Parliament, TEDx Strathclyde and YEUK were my first entry into the world of change making, politics, alternative education and the Strathclyde Entrepreneurial Network along with 3 day start up organization that got me into developing entrepreneurial skills leading to attending and organizing hackathons
Moving to London after graduation, getting a job at a software consultancy, due to the lack of women in STEM and being the only and youngest female at my current company I started an award winning organization http://www.explore-science.com/ (I won the o2 Think Big Best STEM award, Business Launchpad Female Entrepreneur of the year Award, was listed on the Social Enablers Top 100, I am on number 30).
Due to this project I was named the Code First Girls One's to Watch Under 25 and was invited by the Mayor of London Team to help with their STEM initiatives, I made a documentary on Women in STEM, featuring women from IBM, Facebook, Mayor of London offices getting speakers from UN Women and US Embassy. The Event had 200 sign ups and a great platform for connections.
All of that was possible due to my involvement with and support from organizations like Uprising, Patchwork (meeting the former Prime Minister of Denmark and United Kingdom due to them), Vinspired, Peabody Trust, o2 Think Big, Round Table Global, Culture Makers, The Ubele Initiative that brought various opportunities in my life, to being getting interested in volunteering in the first place due to Each One Teach One, Toybank and Hamara Footpath in India.