Toolbox Competition

Our first Toolbox Competition is now over! The projects have been conceived and submitted, and the jury has made its decision. Three creative and very different projects have been selected as winners.

Before presenting the winning projects, Pen Paper Peace and especially the Future Lab would like to thank all participants. A special thanks goes to the three groups that were selected for the project conception and the method training and are therefore already winners.

It was a great pleasure and honor to accompany you in the development and implementation of the projects. We hope that you will continue your work and look forward to further projects and cooperation. 

The following texts were written and designed by the participants.

1st Place: Blankets for Bicycles

Dumela - Welcome - Good day

The Madikwe Rural Development Program (MRPD) is a non-profit organization located in the Northwest Province of South Africa. MRPD's aim is to support people in the Madikwe region in their development. The main goal is to improve the quality of life of the people in this poorer and rural area.

Among other things, Qhubeka brand bicycles have been assembled by workers from the region in the bicycle factory for several years. Since 2017, MRDP has had a project called "Blankets for Bicycles". Women are given the opportunity to crochet blankets and receive a Qhubeka bicycle after they have crocheted three blankets. With the help of the bicycle, they can better manage the long distances in their daily lives in this rural region, for example, to get to work, go grocery shopping, or to the mobile clinic. Another possibility is to sell the bicycle to make a living. Qhubeka donates the blankets. The value of the bicycle can be compared to the time spent crocheting.

Since the end of April, two volunteers doing voluntary service at MRDP,

have started giving young people and young women who are no longer in school the opportunity to knit blankets and earn a bicycle. The basic idea was to knit the blankets with the help of a knitting bench, as this is much easier and faster to learn than crocheting. The volunteers built the knitting bench themselves from existing wood and nails. It has a width of 1.30m. This means that the width of the blanket is directly predetermined and does not have to be sewn together from individual parts.

In the meantime, three young women have started knitting with the knitting bench, two of them switched to crochet after a short time. Another knitting bench is waiting to be used. They can decide for themselves whether they prefer to knit with the knitting bench or crochet. The three of them understood knitting and crocheting right away and are very quick. The volunteers are in constant contact with the three young women, support, motivate and are available for questions. It is clear from their progress, from what they have already knitted/crocheted and from their conversations that they enjoy it very much and that they are highly motivated to achieve their goal. As soon as three blankets are finished, the young women can proudly receive their own bicycle. This is a step towards independence and self-reliance as well as an increase in self-confidence. At the same time, it brings recognition and contributes to improving the quality of life.

In the future, an attempt is being considered to also carry out this project with young men. There are many boys in the area who would like to have a bicycle. The aim is to enable several young men and women in the Madikwe area to participate in this project to promote self-reliance and independence. This activity could improve the quality of life, especially here in the countryside.

For more information about the project and the non-profit organization, please visit the MRDP website here. 

2nd place: Decolonized Community Voices (DeComVo)

We, the Decomvo initiative, were founded as part of Pen Paper Peace's Toolbox competition. We have created a website on which we want to offer young voices a platform to exchange ideas on socio-political issues. We want to promote the diversity of these voices and offer everyone the opportunity to educate themselves.

In doing so, we want to connect voices with similar goals globally and challenge the Eurocentric narrative. 

How do we want to achieve this?

We want to use awareness-raising and educational work to draw attention to colonial structures that still exist and to highlight their problems.

Our website serves as a platform on which different topics are presented, approaches to solutions are presented and further sources are provided. The group wants to give a voice to all people, regardless of their personal backgrounds. Here, experience in writing is secondary; more important is respectful debate-promoting interaction and verifiable content. 

The aim is to connect interested people and encourage them to exchange ideas. Everyone who is interested should have the chance to learn more about colonialism, racism, white saviorism and the structures behind them.

Our first action: Let's Talk About... colonial structures in exhibited art (Action Humboldt Forum) 

Our first action aimed to get interested people and visitors of the Humboldt Forum talking about colonial structures in exhibited art in general and the art in the Humboldt Forum in particular. For this purpose, we have written an article on our website about colonial art in the Humboldt Forum, which serves as an introduction for those who are new to the topics of colonial structures (especially in Berlin), as well as the problematic of these, especially in art.

For this Decolonizing art action, we spent a few hours in front of the Humboldt Forum talking to visitors to the Forum and passers-by about colonial structures in art. We had printed flyers with links to our website and other information. In addition, we projected our question onto the Humboldt Forum with a beamer in the evening hours. On this day, we were able to have many interesting and informative conversations with people. We are now even more motivated to draw attention to colonial structures and our responsibility to deal with them in the future in further actions or in contributions on our website. Because in the end, coming to terms with colonialism and dealing with it is an active process in which we find ourselves that must be engaged. It is important for us to seek a common conversation and to bring the topic and the debate closer to everyone.

If you are interested in the topic, if you would like to educate yourself or if you would like to actively draw attention to the unjust colonial structures, feel free to visit our website here or write to us. We can always use help and look forward to motivated supporters!

3rd place: Deposit bottle collection campaign

Our school, the Max Weber School in Freiburg, supports the association Pen Paper Peace e.V. financially by collecting returnable bottles.

The whole thing is a beautifully simple and effective principle:

We have set up two yellow sacks in our assembly hall with a pinboard behind them on which information about the organization, the current donation status and, of course, the call for deposit bottles are displayed. The bags are placed in such a way that everyone who leaves the school walks past them and has the opportunity to donate their empty bottle as they pass. These bags are then regularly replaced and taken away by the SMV. All the proceeds are then given to the head teacher who passes the money on to the organization. The money then goes to children in Haiti so that they can go to school. In addition, there is the positive effect that fewer plastic bottles are left lying around, so there is a little less rubbish at the school.

This project is a simple and effective way to passively raise money and support children without taking a lot of time and effort. This fact also leads to our goal of spreading the project to other schools. Every school can easily help many children with this small effort.

Everyone has empty returnable bottles, and it is easier to donate them on the way out of the building than to take them away or throw them away.
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