A network of microphilanthropy that supports Middlebury students.

Rural schools in Swaziland take care of approximately 200,000 orphaned and vulnerable children in the country. They perform this immensely important task with a limited budget and inconsistent government support. Since the introduction of the Free Primary Education policy in 2010, more and more classes are getting cramped and cannot afford expensive traditional desks. Platforms for Hope will help provide a much more affordable alternative that students can carry back and forth between home and school, since many of them also lack a writing platform at home. Through this model, PFH hopes to ignite a lasting positive impact on these students’ lives by helping them make the most of the education opportunities.

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Dollars Raised: 160%

Funding Details

Deadline: Jun 30, 2013
Total needed: $950


Platforms for Hope Team edit
Mzwakithi Shongwe ’16 Int’l Politics and Economics Siteki, Kingdom of Swaziland
Vera Chan ’16 Biology South El Monte, CA
Adrian Leong ’16 Environmental Policy Hong Kong
Jia Ying Teoh ’16 Undecided Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Roksana Gabidullina ’16 Undecided Tashkent, Uzbekistan

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Platforms for Hope desk        Platforms for Hope logo new

Currently, many schools in rural Swaziland depend on fragile, short-lived tables for students to work on. Moreover, when the students go back to their respective homes, they do not always have tables available for them to study on, and eventually have to sit next to candle-lit corners of their living spaces to do homework at night.

Additionally, the Free Primary Education Policy (FPE) which was introduced in Swaziland in 2010 has significantly increased the demand for learning facilities, and it has led to an increased demand for classroom space, which the country currently does not have. As a result, most Swazi schools, especially those in the rural areas, where many students before could not afford to pay their way to school, have been faced with the problem of a lack of classroom space. This has made the learning environment non-conducive, and as a result the lower grades (1 – 4) have experienced record fail rates.

Our lap desks will not only replace the old, cumbersome desks from the mid-80s, but it will also qualify as a community-based project. Our goal is to inspire a new generation of Swazi innovators close to the schools to take charge of their communities. We will be delivering a type of lap desks that is not only Swazi-themed, but is also designed, created, and distributed by Swazis. By doing this project, all of us will be promoting authentic Swazi culture. This way, when the school children are using our product, they will remember their responsibility towards their community which, like most of these students, might be less fortunate and living in circumstances where receiving a good education is the only way to stop cyclical poverty in their families. This will motivate these students to do better at school, as well as create a sense of agency for the community members all around to support young people’s education.

This summer, Platforms for Hope  would like to provide 400 portable desks to rural schools in Swaziland. The MiddSTART funding will help fund the production, delivery and assessment of this portable desks project. Specifically, we are hoping to distribute over a 100 portable desks via this initial campaign.

We will keep our donors updated as the project progresses.

4 Responses to “Platforms for Hope”

  1. PFH says:

    Dear wonderful supporters!

    Thank you very much for your generous help. We are very grateful for your love, support, and belief in Platforms for Hope. Without your help and partnership, we could not have raised awareness for Platforms for Hope and could not have grown as people. Thank you very much for your love.

    Please look out for us. Platforms for Hope will do its best to grow and improve even more.


    Platforms for Hope

  2. PFH says:

    Hello wonderful people!

    We hope everyone is enjoying life. We would like to start by expressing our gratitude for our donors and supporters! With your support, we can implement the project.

    PFH would like to update you on our activities. Last week, we met with the wonderful Emmy Lewis, who genuinely cares for her students and helps them improve themselves. She gave us a lot to think about and posed many questions, which helped us to improve our understanding of our project and consider new ideas, especially on how to obtain data. We learned a lot in that meeting and came to appreciate the hard work teachers put into improving the lives of their students even more. Our lap desks will be supplements to the teacher and student’s lives rather than objects that will overshadow and dominate their persons. We want to be the PFH product to be a helpful tool in the teacher and student’s toolbox. Thank you Emmy!

    Secondly, we met with a student in India, who will be going to Swaziland in the summer and spend a year there. We are hoping that he will partner with us as PFH’s eyes and ears in Swaziland. We are hoping that he will be sending us updates and chronicling–pictures and videos wise–the implementation of our program. We are excited to work with him!

    To read more about our updates, please follow our blog: http://platformsforhopeacrosstheboard.wordpress.com/

    Platforms for Hope is continuously meeting with people to receive advice and continuously improve on our ethics, practices, and understanding. We are not going to remain static but will build on our experiences in the hopes of evolving with the changing world to better serve our planet and our people.

    Thank you very much for your support!

    Best wishes,
    PFH team

  3. PFH says:

    Hello everyone!

    PFH would like to thank all donors for their generous support! 60 more days to raise $$$$! Please help us reach this goal!

    We also received our business cards and we are very excited to use them! They are printed on recycled paper! In addition to being committed to addressing local needs, we are striving to be sustainable and environmentally friendly!

    More updates coming soon since we are meeting with many people this week.

    Once again, thank you very much for your enthusiasm and support for Platforms for Hope.

  4. PFH says:

    Hello everyone!

    First off, thank you so much for visiting our page on MiddStart here!

    PFH has taken various steps to launch the project. You might have noticed our logo on top of the page! We thought constantly about how to best represent our project in a visual way and this logo is it. We hope you like it!

    We have also occupied ourselves with reaching out to different members of the community for their expertise in various fields. This week we talked with Lee Davis, a former Chief Innovation Officer of NESsT, an organization that encourages social enterprises. He taught us about design and that it is a process that reaches across disciplines (you can see that our members have varied majors) and taps into our creativity. We learned that failure is something that should not paralyze people but should instead spur innovation, creativity, or a different perspective, a different angle, or lens. As you can read, meeting with him gave us much to think about and introduced us to various platforms and opportunities through which we can continuously be inspired and learn from.

    We also contacted a Vermont carpenter who is going to help us create our prototype. This will help us to work through our logistics and address issues we might have missed. We are excited for this great opportunity!

    Additionally, our members have recently created a Facebook page and in two days we already received 100+ likes! We are very humbled and excited at the interest and support people have displayed for the PFH project. If you would like to, please like our Facebook page.

    Thank you very much for your generous support!


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