Dear readers, my name is Stella and I am a digital nomad/ social entrepreneur aka Social Nomad, how I prefer to call it. I just came back from another two months in Uganda and this time I handed out Nomad Cruise bags to all the children. However, I don’t just want to thank Johannes for the bags, but actually the whole Nomad Cruise community for their support and take this opportunity to share the story behind the 22STARS KIDS foundation in which the cruise plays an important role.
Since the start of the first Nomad Cruise, end November 2015, the “Sponsor A Child” idea grew so much that I have an official foundation now, the 22STARS KIDS, that sends more than 150 kids to school and also supports them with clothes, toys, blankets, mosquito nets, matrasses, food and medical help. In addition thanks to the help of the workation participants we started with small business skills with some of the families of the kids. Up to day 30 nomad cruisers are sponsoring directly 37 of our kids and many nomad cruisers and their friends made donations. Also, already six Nomad Cruisers aka Social Nomads have visited us here in Uganda for the social workation.
Before I actually ever heard about the term Digital Nomad, I was running a social jewellery business called 22STARS with post war victims from Uganda and went to Cape Town in January 2015 to photo shoot our summer collection. I was often referred to as a Social Worker, Social Entrepreneur, World traveler and Nomad, but this was the first time that I found out that there was this whole group of like-minded people called Digital Nomads. I met Johannes – the founder of Nomad Cruise – and he introduced me to the world of the “Digital Nomad”. My background was International law and I was a complete newbie in this whole world of location independent entrepreneurs. But it was great! I said goodbye to lonely days and hello to co-working and co-living. Plans were made for the first Nomad Cruise, and in November 2015 it all started: the first cruise.
On this first Nomad Cruise, I gave a talk about my social jewellery business 22STARS. I was talking about my transition from lawyer to social nomad; how I empower post war victims in Uganda by making jewellery from recycled paper and running this business on the road. I told them how especially the story of Susan Laker motivated me to start this business. Susan who was 26 years old when I met her for the first time in 2009, was living with her 3 teenage kids in a tiny mud room without windows, door, electricity and water. None of them went to school. They were working in the stone quarry. But as Susan was Hiv positive and also diagnosed with cancer and tuberculosis she was too weak to work there any longer and started rolling beads out of recycled paper from her home. I began helping Susan by buying her jewellery and when I visited her again end of 2012 I saw the huge impact this made. Susan and her kids went all back to school and we were able to talk with each other without translators. To spread this impact, I started the social enterprise 22STARS and made Susan project manager of a larger group of women who had similar stories and were also making jewellery.
During this talk at Nomad Cruise number 1 I also showed people videos of the stone quarry, where Susan and her kids used to crush stones, and were up to day still many other children are working instead of going to school. Thanks to some brainstorming after my talk I launched a GoFundMe campaign the very same day and the people from the cruise were among the first to donate. After the cruise, I went back to Uganda and started sending the first 15 kids to school for Term 1 2016. I was scared to not continue raising enough money every term. But then thankfully I was back on Nomad Cruise number 2 and found the first long term sponsors for the kids. At the end of 2016 I had already 50 longterm sponsors for the children.
Then nomad cruise number 3 started and another big brainstorm session happened after my talk. So, idea number three was born: organizing Social Workations for Digital nomads who want to make an impact. Bastian Barami was the first nomad cruiser who came to Uganda to help me out fundraising and storytelling. Soon after Theresa Grotendorst and Diego Araos joined among other digital nomads and this summer I had the pleasure to have Daniel Hünebeck and Antonio Carril over. I went back to Nomad cruise 4 and the number of cruisers sponsoring kids, making a donation and or sharing their skills with us kept growing. As of April 2017, the Foundation 22STARS KIDS is officially registered and we are supporting now more than 150 kids! I hope to keep this number growing, as there are still many kids in need of education and also to keep fundraising to cover their basic needs and fund the small businesses for the families.
In particular, I would like to thank in this post all the Nomad Cruisers who are supporting one of our children long term and made a larger donation to the kids. Thank you: Zara Imrie, Ronald Kandelhard, Simona Sramko, Nathanel-Osirus Woggon, Sabrina Mueller Krohe, Bastian Barami, Birgit Pestalozzi, Jean Sibley, Theresa Grotendorst, Theresa Lachner, Johannes Voelkner, Diego Araos, Karin van Mierlo, Elmar Haker, Ray Q, Feli and Marcus, Alexandra Zuber, Janina Breitling, Benjamin Spring, Michael Krens, Lydia Baikalova, Sara Klapper, Francois-Julien Alcaraz, Marc Somers, Pascall Knoll, Keith Commins, Plamen Koychev, Daniel Hünebeck, Antonio Carril, Melanie Hafner. Michael O'Donnell, Kunal Kripalani, Jessica Yubas, Julie Clark, Nicole Bosky, Nils Heymann, Ronan Collet, Gustavo Vidal, Katrin Kareht, Annette van Calcar, Bjorn Ühss and Max Nz.
Thank you for caring and your support guys!
Stella Romana Airoldi
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