Wish for WASH Pilot: The Build

 

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After over a year in the making, creating partnerships, raising funds, developing a strong team, and manufacturing our SafiChoo 2.0 for testing, the Wish for WASH beta pilot has FINALLY begun! Coming out of 2014, with just a foam prototype, one of my best friends and incredible teammate, Katie, and other interested people who wanted to contribute, the prospect of moving forward was daunting as I felt like there was no foreseeable light at the end of the tunnel. Consequently, coming out of 2015 following a 100% funded Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, I was flooded with a host of emotions. I felt an overwhelming sense of social media burn out but was simultaneously filled with extreme joy to finally see that Wish for WASH, my baby, finally had the means– the funds, the product, the team and the partners— necessary to get a beta test started.

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Not to say that early 2016 was a cakewalk. Despite the Indiegogo exhaustion which was paralleled with an all-encompassing excitement that enabled Wish for WASH to hit the ground running in 2016, I had to quickly learn how to navigate customs regulations, international commerce fees, and transport logistics.  Once the toilet was in country, in addition to coordinating travel itineraries for the Wish for WASH team members who were willing and able to travel to start the build, I persevered each day to identify and follow up on the necessary steps to get approval for the pilot. This season of life was definitely proof to me that to be a social entrepreneur you must be willing to wear many hats, and often times, stacked on top of one another. From team visionary, to team travel agent, to team financial director, to team partnership relations developer, to team logistics officer, the past few months juxtaposed all of the skills that I have developed since the start of this Wish for WASH journey as a grand test of resilience, patience, and professionalism.

And by the grace of God, the Zambian toilet installation happened! 

Our incredible on the ground partners, Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WUSUP), have helped me so much in terms of navigating cultural nuances and requirements while being amazingly supportive of our intention to use iterative and rapid prototyping practices in order to gain a minimum viable product that best meets the end user’s needs. Our manufacturing and shipping partners have brought our designs to life and enabled them to get where they needed to be at rates that we could afford. Our Indiegogo backers are passionate supporters who have enabled us to finance this toilet test and it’s been awesome to see how happy people are to receive their campaign perks as tangible proof that they are a part of our story.

And lastly, my incredible Wish for WASH team has continued to amaze me. Seriously, I am so blessed by them! They have taken off time from work, used school scholarships to help support their time in Zambia, had business meetings across 3 different time zones at weird hours to work out logistics problems, graciously responded to my slew of weekly emails, and patiently worked with me in the field to install the toilet despite the crazy and random obstacles that came our way.

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It is incredible to see an idea transform into a reality, but for me it is more than that. Despite what happens from here, I have learned to deeply appreciate the fact that the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts. As the founder of Wish for WASH, I am often the face of much of our work, but I am here to tell you that Wish for WASH is so much more than me; and for that, I am grateful. With my incredible team, partners and supporters, we created the 2.0 SafiChoo toilet, successfully fundraised for it, shipped it to Zambia (and have one also being built in Atlanta), installed it and now have amazing local people using and providing feedback on it. All I can say in retrospect is…Shit’s getting real and I couldn’t be more excited to see what happens next!

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Chronicles of a Toilet Crowdfunder

2016. It’s a new year for all, including Wish for WASH. Founded in December 2014, it has officially been 1 year of this social startup’s existence. And wow, what a whirlwind of learnings, growth, perseverance and creativity it has been! The continuous and outpouring support that we continue to receive from people and organizations around the world with whom we are related and whom we have never met is truly a testament to the mantra “it takes a village to raise a child”. In this case, Wish for WASH is an infant organization run by young passioneers who have worked tireless throughout weekends, between classes, late after work and in countries around the world to bring into fruition the social mission of improved sanitation in low resource communities. While we have a lengthy journey ahead of us, we have come so far because of our incredible communities of support.

We ended last year with a high energy and frequently marketed indiegogo crowdfunding campaign with the hopes of raising enough capital to fund our 2016 beta toilet pilot in Zambia as well as in a resettled refugee community in Atlanta. As a team who prides itself on valuing human centered design to fuel our product and service innovations, it is now time to bring our work into the field for critical feedback.

Does the toilet work?

Does it improve the user experience?

These are questions that will catalyze much of our work this coming year. As tough as it is to hear that something that is more or less your baby isn’t working as planned, it is necessary to receive this constructive criticism to continue iterating until it has the impact and value that is intended. It’s a long journey, but it is an exciting one for sure.

Emerging from my first ever crowdfunding experience with a 100% funded campaign that was rooted in an intense, almost guerilla-like, social media strategy has given me a completely new perspective of the sustained level of energy and passion required to be a fundraising professional. For me, November and December 2015 were months where I was almost exclusively fundraising for this Toilet Testing campaign, and it was- quite frankly- exhausting. I learned just how challenging it is to actively translate passion and excitement into a financial donation, especially since the SafiChoo toilet does not directly or tangibly benefit the lives of those who have donated. Luckily, our strong following and communities of support helped us cross the finish line after we developed consistent social media schedules, exciting new perk offers, creative ways to expand our reach through new media outlets, mentoring support from organizations that had been through their own crowdfunding hurdles before as well as learning a slew of other social entrepreneurial lessons. One of my favorite learnings that kept my spirits high despite the grueling hours spent mass emailing or facebook messaging hundreds of people was that much of the millennial generation is willing to support social missions in ways beyond financial contributions. I had friends from college, childhood and even people whom I have never met offer to write blog posts, share the campaign on their social media pages, connect me with potential partners/donors/media outlets to broaden our reach, donate a portion of their monthly pay check to our cause, create pieces of art that would be sold with a percentage of the money going to Wish for WASH, offer their website and digital media expertise pro bono, or host events where the proceeds went to Wish for WASH. As a huge fan of creative problem solving, I was amazed at how many unique ways that people supported our mission beyond solely direct funding. And despite the level of anxiety that spamming to raise money may have caused, I am incredibly honored to see how selfless people can be. Broke students and fellow entrepreneurs who are in the same penny pinching situation as Wish for WASH frequently shelled out $5-$10, and it was truly inspiring and catalyzed personal reflection.

In this reflection, I made the following realizations:

  • People genuinely care. Despite how tight their time or budgets may be, the people who feel your translated passion, regardless of whether the product or service directly benefits their day to day life, find a way to support you in a way that may lead to incredibly lucrative (both fiscal and personal) results which you may have never known was possible. Anything really is everything when it comes to supporting passion.
  • Fundraising is hard work. For the people who do it as a full time job, I am seriously impressed because it takes unbelievable time and passion as well as a heart that will not be deterred when faced with an inevitable slew of rejection. I learned throughout our campaign that if 3 out of 10 emails were answered positively, then that was a successful campaigning day. Having realistic expectations and not taking unanswered or rejection messages personally is crucial to be a successful fundraiser. So, hats off to all of the fundraisers out there for having an amazingly creative and resilient spirit!
  • Crowdfunding is a team sport. There is no way in the world that I would have been able to do this alone! Thanks to the Wish for WASH team, we had continuous creative graphics to post, new opportunities to pursue, new perks to offer, new student members that were excited to contribute and more passionate people to help reach out and respond to the mountains of emails that were surfacing. Additionally, having the support of my family to help spread the word and to keep me sane during peaks of frustration was, and continues to be, invaluable throughout this entire process. If you are thinking of launching a crowdfunding campaign, definitely ensure that you have a team that has your back no matter what the results of the campaign may be.
  • Anything is possible. So cheesy, I know, but I believe it now more than ever. If Wish for WASH was able to reach our goal of $25,000 for toilet testing in low resource communities in just over a month’s time, then anyone who is driven to make a difference can attract the kind of support needed to follow their dream to its furthest. This campaign was for a proof of concept test for a toilet that many people who donated will never physically see or get to use, but still through successful communication and advocacy strategies, they now care, and they helped in whatever capacity that they could. And for that I am extremely thankful.

Overall, I am incredibly re-energized by the results of this campaign and am excited to continue sharing our story as it unfolds. Regardless of whether this pilot is a “failure” in terms of traditional metrics of success, we will be able to share our learnings externally for growth in the sanitation community as well as continue iterating our work so that it one day achieves its intended impact as a meaningful and sustainable step in the direction of universal access to hygienic sanitation. Thank you to everyone who has helped us arrive to the place where we are today. We are forever grateful for you believing in us because #everybodypoops. Happy 2016!
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POOPx and Capetown

The first week of December, I had the distinct pleasure of attending the Total Market Approach and Sanitation workshop in Capetown, South Africa hosted by Population Services International (PSI). After a series of flight delays and arriving in the city late at night, I finally arrived to the Africa 15 Orange Hotel and was in awe. Constant power? Huge beautiful bedroom? Room service? A bath tub? Talk about GLAMOROUS.

I was so excited for my first experience in Capetown where I was surrounded by beautiful scenery and talking about what I always do (poop…duh) in a way that I never had before. According to PSI:

“The total market approach (TMA) is a way to improve market performance to equitably and sustainably increase the use of health products and services, with the vision of achieving universal health coverage.”

So basically, this is a methodology that can be used to determine market failures and how to best work to improve the sanitation problem on a local level. And it is brilliant!


I loved learning from WASH professionals from around the world in the ways that they approach behavior change communications and social marketing strategies as it relates to WASH interventions in their countries and communities. I even had the chance to contribute to the learnings of the week as a speaker and winner of the first ever POOPx! My 5 minute talk covered the importance of human centered design as it relates to product development specifically in the WASH sector. I used many of personal experiences with Wish for WASH as case studies for the talk as well! I had a blast!

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And following an intense week of TMA and sanitation talk, I had a couple of extra days that I spent exploring the incredible, global city of Capetown by visiting its beaches, drinking its wines, and experiencing some of its tourist attractions such as Robben Island and Table Mountain, which is now considered one of the 7 new natural wonders of the world! I loved my time in Capetown and cannot wait for the next opportunity to go back!

3 Truths for Living Passionately

Passion is powerful. Defined as a strong and barely controllable emotion, once it takes hold, it fuels life. Whether it is for someone or something, within your personal or professional life or a mixture of the two, passion is a youthful energy that stimulates both innovation and attraction while also acting as a form of communication that transcends age, culture, and language in a pure and raw form. It is beautiful. However, the level of vulnerability that is required to be truly passionate makes it, at times, painful.

For the past year, Wish for WASH, LLC has been the heart of my professional life because during my first year of college, my worldview noticeably shifted after I learned that nearly half the world doesn’t have access to toilets. This shift resulted in a powerful rush of shameless and uncontrollable passion beginning with my 18-year-old self declaring that I would design toilets to my now 23 year old self who is scrambling to make entrepreneurial ends meet in order to take actionable steps towards helping solve the global sanitation crises. People frequently say that I radiate passion for this work and that they really want to find “their toilet”- or something/someone that they care about as deeply as I care for improved sanitation and health equity.

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The frequency of these questions demonstrates the powerful pull passion has for so many people. But when asked “why are you doing this?”, I have to intentionally think about what it means to live passionately and how to maintain that energy. Truly living a life rooted in passion, as I have increasingly found, requires extraordinary resilience. Crazy entrepreneurial hours, constant troubleshooting, repeated failures, perpetual naysayers, or being completely heart-broken. These are just some of the unfortunate realities that come with living passionately.

So, what are some ways to keep going when your once youthful, inspiring, and persistent fire begins to wane? I often find rejuvenation and inspiration by knowing these three truths for living passionately:

1) Define and remain true to your personal core values

Whether it is for your personal or professional life, you must understand the ethics and life experiences that have shaped your worldview and determine which of your core values are unwavering. Knowing these values and reflecting on them regularly allows you to maintain your strength, because when you stand steadfast in your beliefs, you are better equipped to regain the stamina that is needed to move past the next obstacle. Clearly defining and embracing your personal core values allows you to build a solid foundation of confidence. These values will remain true in all aspects of your life and to live passionately, you need both your confidence and your conviction. The backbone of any passionate pursuit is often rooted in deeply held personal values that you want to share with others. This is an incredible resource to help in defining your core values.

2) Align your values with your skill-sets to determine how to add new value

This is your unique value proposition that allows you to improve a relationship, a work environment or the world. By working to blend your core values with your acquired skills, you can more readily find a way that you can add new value such as providing a new perspective, acting as a change catalyst, or adding optimization strategy to a work place. Clearly defining your specific added value goal is essential. As you passionately seek to leave things better than you found them, your mission will develop a sense of urgency and purpose. With the ever abundance of ‘external’ naysayers, you need to insure that your ‘internal’ team, or your inner circle, respects and supports your values. I have found that surrounding myself with unabashed supporters inspires me to reach for new heights and goals despite the odds.

3) Periodically assess whether you are actually creating value

Despite your best intentions and admirable goals, you must evaluate whether or not you are executing your value proposition in a way that is making a difference to your intended recipient. If you find that you are not truly creating your targeted added value, re-examine your personal core values and skill set, reevaluate your relationship or work place, and realign yourself to get back on the path that is fueled by your passions. Living passionately is not about achieving personal goals and accolades; it’s about making a difference for someone or something else.

Passion is contagious and if you are truly living in it, everyone around you becomes aware of your drive and commitment. Building a career or a life with someone that continues to fuel your passion is unbelievably fulfilling, but can simultaneously be painful as your heart or work can be harshly judged by others. I have found that staying focused on attaining my intended long term goal of helping to creatively rectify the global WASH crisis and keeping myself accountable for smaller, short-term goals by surrounding myself with people that continue to challenge me to grow in my passion has kept my fire for this work alive.

In the end, Wish for WASH has opened my eyes to just how hard it is to live passionately, and as a young social entrepreneur, I am still learning the importance of taking time to reflect on my personal value development as a way to build up resilience and intentionality within my work. Despite the barriers our team has faced in project management, manufacturing, business development, and fundraising, we continue to persevere in our toilet hustle because we deeply believe in utilizing our collective business, research, engineering, and design skill-sets as tools in the fight for health equity.

What I believe is working for humanity is when people find their passion, and they fight for it in accordance with Howard Thurman’s sage advice: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

As 2015 comes to an end and a new year begins, I encourage you to begin your search to find “your toilet” while also supporting ours here because #everybodypoops. (Find the original Huffington Post article here)

STEM in the Social Sector

Sanitation is a story that is often untold. It tends to be the elephant in the room during conversations about global issues; silenced by cultural taboos and disgust, despite the fact that of the 7 billion people in the world today- everybody poops. According to UNICEF and the World Health Organization, approximately 2.6 billion people in the world today do not have access to toilets, and many practice open defecation — or going to the bathroom in full view of other people — which leads to a host of both mental and physical health problems. The fecal waste often times contaminates local water sources leading to the spread of WASH (or water, sanitation, and hygiene) related diseases costing the lives of about 4,000 children every day.

In 2011, as a freshman at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), I attended a conference, and my eyes were opened to the enormity of this problem. I was listening to a dynamic speaker, Susan Davis, founder of Improve International, who spoke candidly about the extent to which the global WASH crisis has created health inequities around the world-particularly in developing countries. Her speech captivated the attention of my 18 year old self as she revealed that pubescent girls in the developing world often times drop out of school because their schools lack toilets. The information churned in my head as I realized that many girls are hindered from advancing their education because of the lack of something we often times take so much for granted- a safe and hygienic toilet. The anger and discontent that was spurred from that knowledge catalyzed the work that I do today.

I am now an alumna of Georgia Tech, an internationally renowned STEM university, and I earned a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design, a degree rooted in engineering thought processes and hands on building. But beyond my degree and the prestige that my alma mater boasts, that 2011 conference and the words of Susan Davis truly transformed my life as I pivoted from worrying about design aesthetics to focusing my education on helping to solve social impact related issues with design thinking. Over the course of my collegiate career, I immersed myself further into the social sector via humanitarian oriented programs to better understand how to promote and produce sustainable projects in the developing world, while simultaneously founding my social startup, Wish for WASH, LLC– an organization that seeks to bring innovation to sanitation through culturally specific research, design and education. An interdisciplinary team of students and recent graduates from Georgia Tech have helped propel this company forward, and we have recently produced our first professionally manufactured prototypes.

In summer 2014, our team participated in a multi-agency pilot to assess toilet designs in a refugee camp in northern Kenya after being the first all-female team to win the Georgia Tech InVenture Prize Competition, the largest undergraduate invention competition in the United States. After assessing user feedback and incorporating incredible ‘IDEO formulated’ human centered design principles, we have redesigned our Safichoo Toilet system and are preparing to launch a beta pilot in Lusaka, Zambia in 2016 (more of which can be found on our current Indiegogo page)

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My passion for toilets is weird, but it is also necessary because social impact designers, engineers, coders and makers are essential in creating products and services that innovatively advance mankind. However, beyond just WASH, my journey has led me to put out a call for more people from STEM fields to pursue social entrepreneurship and work in the social sector. In a world suffering from extreme poverty, malnutrition, violence, and inequity, we need more doers, creators, and makers working in this space in tandem with the policy makers, international development officers, and business professionals to create holistic and interdisciplinary solutions to more effectively make sustainable change. My generation, building on incredible learnings from generations past, has an increasing need to do work that leaves a lasting impact on the world in the most sustainable, solution oriented way possible. This is evidenced by the rise of incredible millennial run social organizations such as Code4Rights, Sanivation,LuminAID, TOHL, and Embrace in addition to many more. These organizations highlight the fact that Gen Y is seeking to do more that create socially oriented products and services but is also very actively testing the waters for different ‘for profit for good’ business models such as B-Corps and hybrid models. Because significant money is required upfront to manufacture and iterate new physical product designs, technical and product driven companies may benefit from avoiding the classic ‘non-profit’ status sought by traditional social enterprises and according to Harvard Business Review “selling equity to mission aligned investors [may make] good sense” via impact investing depending on the situation. In addition to these entrepreneurial ventures, many existing humanitarian organizations have a need for socially minded makers such as UNHCR’s Innovation team.

As a recent college graduate and blossoming social entrepreneur, I have a lot to learn; but for now, I stand by my call to my fellow STEM colleagues. You are needed at the table and in these humanitarian discussions; we need rapid prototypers, coders and engineers in addition to people with business acumen in these global conversations to help create the innovative solutions that will genuinely improve the lives of those who suffer most from systemic injustices and disparities. We need you to see this sector’s work as a valuable way to make the most out of those strenuous and costly degree programs. As a Georgia Tech graduate with a heart for humanitarian work, I know first-hand that increasing STEM professionals in the social sector will have a vital role in helping make our world a more livable and just place for everyone. Join me in answering the call. (see original Huffington Post piece publication here)

Adaptability

In preparation for our Global Health Corps training at Yale University, we all had to prepare ourselves for work in the field through a series of personality assessments. Luckily for me, I love personality assessments and comparing my results from now to 5 years ago in an effort to track my growth as a creative and social justice oriented professional. The medium for this personality assessment was the well-known Strengths Finders Assessment-an assessment that is one of my favorites after taking it 4 times now.

The beauty of this assessment is that it lists your strengths from 1 (top) to 34 (bottom) and the top 5 are the most essential in understanding your leadership assets and weaknesses. Over the course of the 4 times that I have taken this assessment, there have always been a few constants that appear in my top 5 strengths-activator, connectedness, and strategic.  While their placement in my top 5 has shifted as I have grown and matured, these traits have proven to be embedded in my character and my approach to leadership and life in general.  According to the assessment,

Activator: People strong in Activator theme can make things happen by turning thoughts into action. They are often impatient.

Connectedness: People strong in the Connectedness theme have faith in the links between all things. They believe there are few coincidences and that almost every event has a reason.

Strategic: People strong in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.

Clearly these traits are demonstrative of several of my character strengths as well as (ironically) some of my character flaws. However, this particular round of top strengths that were listed for me truly reflect where I am in my life right now with “adaptability” listed as my number one strength.

Adaptability: People strong the Adaptability theme prefer to “go with the flow.” They tend to be “now” people who take things as they come and discover the future one day at a time.

For those of you who know me well and have seen me progress with my work with Wish for WASH over the past year, you know that this word-adaptability- encapsulates my character so much so that I say that I “go with the flow” for almost every aspect of my life these days. Many people believe that I say this phrase as another toilet pun, but it is so much more. Evidenced by the fact that I just up and moved to Zambia after being accepted into this fellowship in May after randomly completing a post-baccalaureate certificate at Georgia Tech this past spring while simultaneously trying to launch the new iteration of Wish for WASH’s toilet in both Atlanta and Zambia, life for me is crazy and unpredictable. While I was raised under a very disciplined roof and was taught the value of planning and goal setting, I am in a place in life where the “now” is consuming me. How will I eat today? How will I pay my bills today? Where am I living tomorrow? –are questions that have recently bombarded my newly independent brain, pushing out a lot of the discipline and planning mentality that I was raised with and leaving me in a place of adaptability. Which is both good and bad.

In terms of survival and living, adaptability has been proven to be necessary evidenced so far during my time at GHC. From Yale dorms to my first room in our transitional housing site in Lusaka (Belevedere) to my second room in Belvedere to my room and roommate debacles in  the Kepa Apartment complex, embracing this sense of adaptability has helped me maintain sanity during this time of uncertainty and room hopping. And in retrospect, it has made it all the more sweet to finally unpack and nest in my room in Kepa. While I may come off as high maintenance in some ways, my sense of adaptability has proven the opposite in other ways especially in situations like this.

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In terms of long term future planning, the sense of “adaptability” makes life a bit challenging at times. Focusing on the “now” has distracted me in a lot of ways from accurately preparing for future events like I did throughout my childhood. Luckily, my communities of support inclusive of my incredible parents have really helped keep me be aware of and accountable for my future-helping me to plan for applications and timelines so that I can be prepared to take my next steps of life in the next years following this Global Health Corps Fellowship despite my brain being overwhelming focused on surviving the “now”. “Adaptability” is crucial in this field of work especially as a twenty something year old learning her place in the grand scheme of life; but for me, that “adaptability” and even carefree spontaneity that is my life these days is necessarily balanced by having overarching goals that I strive to achieve daily to ultimately get me where I hope to one day be. I am still learning to find balance in this crazy adventure of life.

Hops N Johns

WE HAD OUR FIRST FUNDRAISER CALLED HOPS N JOHNS (beer + toilets)!

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So 8 months ago, I really had no concept about business or about finances. Luckily, we have been blessed by the incredible Georgia Tech community and have been financially supported through grants and competition winnings thus far in addition to in-kind donations from a series of incredible individuals! Seriously. We exist today because we stand on the shoulders of an amazingly supportive GT and Atlanta based network (also including people from around the world) that has made all of what we have accomplished thus far possible.

As we have advanced in our business development plan led by our incredible GT MBA grad, Alex Dorman, we have realized the need for understanding our long terms financial strategy. We currently exist as a for profit in the form of an LLC with the intention of being able to make greater impact faster and more sustainably. However, we are still very much in our research and design phase of development and are a social startup needing to sustain itself through our field tests in order to grow.

The reality of this “chicken or the egg” situation (where we needed money to continue proving our product but needed our product to qualify for more money) that we found ourselves came just as we were approached by our long time friends World Water Relief (I actually interned for them in 2012 and have grown to really love them) about having a joint fundraiser together tapping into our two different pools of supporters to help each other in our comparable missions. World Water Relief is committed to providing long-term sustainable water projects in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

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This was an incredible opportunity for all of us to learn what is really takes to put on a fundraiser with the help of an incredible support team at World Water Relief. Between meeting all around the city to being flexible to student schedules and availability, it was such a great experience working with Donna and Christie. 

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After months of planning and advertising in press releases and koozies, April finally came and our event was a hit! We had a great food selection provided by Southbound Restaurant and drinks were sponsored by another Georgia Tech startup called Second Self. We had Miss Georgia 2014 and a GT male acapella group perform in addition to having a silent auction. I am so thankful for the incredible experience and for everyone that came out to support our WASH related missions.

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THANK YOU SO MUCH EVERYONE FOR MAKING OUR FIRST FUNDRAISER A SUCCESS!

TEDxAtlanta

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April 28th 2015- I, Jasmine Burton, had the distinct honor of speaking at the TEDxAtlanta 2015 event entitled Bold Moves.

As the only student and representation of GEN-Y, I felt that it was an opportunity to share my story- my truth- in a way that I had not before.

At this point, I had spoken at several conferences and at various community and school events all about the chronology of the SafiChoo toilet iterations and the trials + tribulations of being a young and ever aspiring social entrepreneur.

But for this I wanted more. More personal context. More relatability. Just more. Even though it was a short talk, 7ish minutes, I wanted to deliver a message the connected me and the Wish for WASH story with anyone–with everyone.

“No matter which tribe to which I subscribe, above all else I am a global citizen and I design toilets that matter to people. Ultimately I seek to use my creativity to make the world smile.”

Crawl in to my brain for a minute and experience my story below:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pzFVspHIYQ

Wish for WASH,LLC

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.  IMG_2626

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. DSC_0169

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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.