October: Month in Review

October: Month in Review

At Smile To The Future, we are involved in many projects around the world, so many that it can be hard to keep up with what we have been up to! No worries – here you can find a review of our activity during October 2017 at Smile To The Future!

MaasX:

While many people are not aware, democracy is in danger in the province of Limburg in the Netherlands. This is not because of some threat from a foreign country or a tyrant trying to take over. This is because a healthy democracy relies on participation of the citizens in democratic processes, which is extremely low in Limburg. Out of all of the provinces of the Netherlands, Limburg has one of the lowest voter turnouts. There is little interest in politics and many people aren’t even aware of their rights. One such group is students who have come from other EU countries, who actually have the right to participate in municipal elections! Most students unfortunately don’t realize they even have such an opportunity.

To address what we see as a critical problem, we have been building a project called “MaasX”. The idea of MaasX is to get the people of Limburg more interested and involved in the ongoing political processes. We plan to do this by organizing events where citizens can have a discourse with the politicians representing or aspiring to represent them. This project is currently in its early stages and we are still gathering funds to make this happen, but be on the lookout for MaasX events coming to Maastricht in the near future!

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Bringing Blockchain Technology to Kenya:

Kenya is one of those countries in the developing world that is bursting with potential for growth and advancement. There are countless entrepreneurs there ready to take their country to the next level economically and forward into the twenty-first century. This is one of the reasons Smile To The Future focuses a great portion of its efforts on Kenya. Nonetheless, Kenya is faced by some large obstacles as it progresses. Among the biggest are corruption, misappropriation of funds, and lack of foreign direct investments due to uncertainty from investors.

To address this issue, we have been working on a proposal for a pilot program using Blockchain to address these issues. Blockchain allows investors, governments, and any interested parties to ensure that their money is going where it is intended to go and not lining the pockets of corrupt politicians. It also allows us to see where money is being wasted so that the government can better utilize its limited resources. To get this pilot program going is a large undertaking, however. It requires getting permission from the local government in Kenya and submitting proposals to the Dutch government to receive the necessary backing and funding to implement this project, which has the potential to change the lives of millions of Kenyans for the better. Read more about this project here.

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Nairobi, Kenya’s bustling capital city

Social District:

Social District is another project at Smile To The Future that is still in its early stages as we raise the necessary funds. The problem we are aiming to address the isolation many people feel in the modern day and a disconnect from their community. As great as technological advancements have been for society and all of the benefits smartphones have brought, young people are increasingly disconnected from one another, as they turn more to smartphones and laptops than to one another. At Smile To The Future, we have wondered what we can do about this growing problem. How can we help people to build community and make new friends? Our goal for Social District is to create a space where people can go when they are tired of being alone and are feeling isolated. Our vision is for a space where there is a constant hum of positive activity – workshops, people sharing a meal, a group of people from different countries sharing about their culture with one another, and much more. Stay tuned to see where we take this project!

Travel to Kenya coming this winter:

Every year, Smile To The Future organizes volunteer trips to Kenya. As past participants can confirm, these trips are truly life-changing. This is not your typical tourist trip to Kenya – participants have the opportunity to make a difference by playing a critical role in administering and participating in the several projects we are a part of in Kenya. But it’s not all work and no play. There are also opportunities to explore this country that is famous for its exotic wildlife and breath-taking landscapes. Participants will have a chance to talk with Kenyans and hear their perspectives. Participants will experience the riches of Kenyan culture in a way they are not likely to ever forget. Stay tuned as we announce more details about this upcoming trip!

Check out some of the photos from past trips below:

Changes to our Website

If you regularly check out website, you may have noticed pages mysteriously moving around and some visual changes. Not to worry! We are gradually introducing changes to our website in the hopes of better engaging those who visit our site. Do you have a suggestion? We’d love to hear from you! Or are you good with graphic design and looking for a way to apply your skills? We have openings and you could be the next valuable member of our team.

Entrepreneurship Workshops

During the month of October, Smile To The Future in association with Starters Valley put on a number of events with the goal of encouraging social entrepreneurship in the Limburg area. One such event was put on with students from the United World College, where students got to see what it’s like to run a business for a day. You can read more about that here. In addition, Starters Valley, which originally started as a Smile To The Future project and has grown into an independent organization, hosted workshops open to the public on photography and accounting, with the goal of helping entrepreneurs around the Limburg area to develop new skills and connect with one another.

Youth Exchange – EVS in Spain:

One of the most exciting ways to get involved with Smile To The Future is to join one of our youth exchanges. Besides the amazing life experience and the friends you will make, one of the best parts is that its FREE! Last month lucky participants had the chance to go to beautiful Malaga, Spain to learn about the European Volunteer Service. Here are some pictures from their trip:

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