I’m a designer; therefore, for my whole life, I have always been described as pretty much strictly “artsy”, “creative”, “different”, “out-there”, or “weird” all of which have positive connotations in my book because weird is cool. However, among the words that people use to try to describe my perspective on life and on my journey to find my purpose, the words “business woman” or “entrepreneur” were not often used. That is until last year; 2014, the year I tasted what it was like to whole heartedly believe that an individual can make a real difference in this world.
In March 2014, my senior design team was the first all female team to win the Georgia Tech InVenture Prize Competition, the largest undergraduate invention competition in the US, for our invention the SafiChoo toilet. This was a largely theoretical, academic based concept but was a mobile toilet intended for use in the Kakuma Refugee camp in Kenya.
The winnings from this competition enabled us to travel to Kakuma and pilot our original design under the auspices of Sanivation and in tandem with the CDC and the Norwegian Refugee Council. IT WAS SUCH A LIFE CHANGING EXPERIENCE.
We had to iterate in the field and truly interface with the people for which we were designing in an effort to learn their pain points and witness their daily lives to fuel what we call the design process.
Fall 2014, was one of the most emotionally exhausting periods of my life both personally and professionally as the original SafiChoo team slowly and painfully evaporated and a new team-unsure of their roles on the team or their intended value- began to form. Months of working together and empowering this new team to have a voice has enabled Wish for WASH, a social impact organization that I founded to house the development of the SafiChoo toilet and other WASH related innovations, to blossom.
I am strapped on to the roller coaster of social entrepreneurship, and it has proven to be the best and most growth-provoking ride of my life. It has expanded my list of identifying adjectives and taught me to truly fight for what I believe in. Designers have the power to change the world for the better.
So with that I invite you to crawl into my brain for a minute, to experience the emotionally wrenching and overwhelmingly exciting story that I call Wish for WASH, LLC.