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What did our participants say about the Social Impact Workation?

· Impact Trips Uganda

A social impact workation is a retreat for people who are location independent workers, it hence is not a volunteer trip, but an opportunity for remote workers to come to Uganda, co-work and co-live together. Its fully organized by 22STARS founder Stella Airoldi, who will be 24/7 available during the retreat and share in their free time visit the 22STARS projects and help with fundraising and interacting with local entrepreneurs.

            BASTIAN BARAMI
Blogger and Entrepreneurat Officeflucht.de

I got so many overwhelming impressions in Uganda, that it took me a few weeks before I started posting about it. It was my first time in Africa, as I think Northern Africa doesn't really count, as this was completely different. I cannot really describe in words my experiences. Of course, everyone back home knows that poverty in Africa is big, but seeing with your own eyes children as young as 2 years working in the stone quarry, and families really having no food to eat is something different. During my stay in Uganda we found new sponsors for the children, and already in the second week we could visit kids in their schools who just before were sitting in the stone quarry crashing stones for survival. This feeling was just incredible. Also, the people in Uganda are extremely friendly and during our road trip we passed amazing landscapes and experienced the real wild life of Africa, we saw giraffes, zebra's, elephants and a countless number of beautiful birds. Bastian is an expert in the Amazon FBA field. He consults businesses and individuals on how to automate their e-Commerce Business. In addition, he has his own German blog Officeflucht full with tips and tricks on how to achieve location independence.

THERESA GROTENDORST
Project Manager and Coding & Tech Entrepreneurship Ambassador
During the Workation I met the mother of Arafat, whose school fees I'm funding. Meeting her in person was very touching and left me speechless in many ways. She is working in the stone quarry every day, crashing stones with her bare hands.. yet she and her family is living on less than 1 Euro a day! Her story is just one of many... I met and talked to the women working in the quarries and the ladies who make the handmade jewellery. I've visited several schools and talked to the children who are sponsored, so they can afford to go to school. I've seen the impact and Stella is doing an amazing job by empowering already 40 women and 65 kids (by now 105). Besides getting involved with these projects, we had a wonderful time in Uganda's National Parks. Watching hippos at the Nile from our campsite and spotting giraffes, elephants, buffaloes and crocodiles in the wild was an incredible experience. While being in Kampala, the country's capital, I was also happy to get insights to Uganda's tech startup scene and meeting inspiring local entrepreneurs. Theresa is committed to get more people and especially kids & teens interested in technology and entrepreneurship. She is the project manager and regional manager for several Tech initiatives promoting young coders and is organizing coding workshops, hackathons and startup weekends.

            DIEGO ARAOS

Entrepreneur andfull stack developer

After Morocco this was my second trip to Africa. I had no idea what to expect, but wanted to participate in this Workation as I was sponsoring one of the children of 22STARS and wanted to visit the amazing project of Stella, she has a social jewellery business and a foundation that supports education for kids in Uganda called 22stars, it's a beautiful project that I could finally see with my own eyes. Her project is improving life of more than 100 kids and 40 women, mostly victims of post-war and disease. This is a beautiful country of happy and hopeful people despite of all the sadness that surrounds their environment. The women and kids of 22STARS received a laptop from me and we are started with computer classes. Until now they had to travel in order to get access to a computer, hopefully with this donation they can improve their business as I believe that Internet is a very powerful tool to get out of poverty and achieve equality. In addition, I started a GoFundMe Campaign for the 22STARS foundation which was very successful, I raised 500 euro and we spend it on a new printer, toys and medicine. Diego has been involved with start-ups since 2007 and has been developing software for the last 12 years. He was born in Chile, but left his fatherland five years ago to go Silicon Valley and shortly after moved to Berlin. A year ago Diego became a digital nomad and started doing his work on the road. He currently works as a consultant and builds SEO SaaS, flipping websites and cryptocurrencies.

            LIN PHAM

      Office Executive, member LebensAthleten

I heard about Stella and the work that 22STARS does through "LebensAthleten" and Alexander Schledewits, who supports the children of the 22STARS Foundation with weekly meals since December 2016. I saw a Video where the kids were smiling and saying "Thank you Alex for feeding us". It made me cry like over a few minutes and I also wanted to help. Alex told me that he will be going to Uganda for a week. My heart was jumping right after hearing that and I was trying to hold it back. But, you'll always loose if you try to fight against your heart. So the next day I told him that I want to come with him to Uganda. It was one of the most spontaneous and best decision I've ever made. I never thought it could be so "easy" to get to know the right people. Your network is your strongest currency. I've received so much Love and I've never seen such happy kids before in my entire life. One day felt like one week and I just wished it will never end. Thank you so so much Stella for taking all your time for us. I could write down what we have done on these 7 days, what kind of impressions and experiences it all was, but I won't. Because you really have to be there on your own and see all the things I've seen through your own eyes. It's really priceless. Everyone is able to help and to do something wonderful, it's not all about the money. I will definitely come back as soon as possible because I really miss Susan and all the kids. I don't know why but after the visit I felt like it is my responsibility to support the 22Stars projects. To know the story behind really gave me another perspective of life. I am so grateful that I live in Germany and have the opportunity to help. It would be a waste to not be aware of this lucky chance and not make use of it. Lin Pham is a trained office worker. She is passionate about helping others and has a big heart for children. Recently she moved to Berlin and is looking for new opportunities.

            DANIEL HÜNEBECK

      Digital marketing consultant, lecturer and speaker

I have been in black Africa quite a few times before and also have seen quite a bit of poverty, but this workation was totally different. Through Stella and 22stars we were so much closer to the lives and stories of the women and kids living in the slums in Kampala and Jinja. I was many times close to tears, seeing how they live, sleeping on the floor without any beds or mattresses, seeing the kids going in rags and without shoes and asking for food or water. But at the same time, it was impressive to see how the women, most of all Susan, the local “country manager” of 22stars, have taken this opportunity, that they have been given by Stella and 22stars and how they are working hard on improving their lives. And also hope – seeing the kids in school and how well they do there, one can only hope that they will have a better future! All in all it was a great adventure, friendly people, amazing landscapes, especially at Murchinson national park and at the Nile river in Jinja, good food, quite a bit of wine and a great group! Daniel is a Zurich based expert in digital marketing. He consults businesses on digital marketing and digital transformation. He also lectures at various educational institutions and speaks at congresses. Recently Daniel became a part-time digital nomad and started doing part of his work on the road.

            LINA HERNANDEZ
pediatric ICU nurse at New York Presbyterian Hospital
This was my first trip to Africa. Throughout high school and college I was always involved with organizations doing work in Africa including Invisible Children, Charity Water, and Global Citizen. It had always been my dream to be able to visit a place with such a rich culture and natural beauty. I found Stella/22Stars via Instagram and reached out with interest to sponsor a child. When Stella mentioned the idea of a “social workation” - I jumped at the idea and immediately purchased my flights, without any expectations. I knew that I wanted to sponsor a child through a trusted source/org and the best way for me was by visiting the projects and seeing the impact of Stella’s work first hand. What started as a spontaneous trip to visit Stella’s projects turned out to be one of my favorite experiences yet! It is one thing to make online donations or raise awareness about poverty, and access to health and clean water in developing countries…it is another to be immersed in the culture, spend time in a slum, and listen to the stories of the people live there. I was incredibly touched and inspired by Susan’s story, someone who has been through so much and has gotten so far with limited access to resources while always finding a reason to smile. I believe in the importance of sustainability and find that Stella’s projects are empowering families and children to rise above poverty through sustainable measures. I loved visiting the children in school (children that would otherwise be working in the stone quarry or had been doing that until Stella found them sponsors), EDUCATION IS KEY. I fell in love with Uganda and can’t wait to go back. I am now sponsoring two little siblings that I met in the Stone Quarry while their mother was working breaking stones and am so excited that they will not be a part of that cycle and will be attending school this coming September! Be the change. Lina is currently a pediatric ICU nurse at New York Presbyterian Hospital in NYC. She was born and raised in Colombia; a place of great ethnic diversity, culture, and passionate people. University of Miami graduate, with a major in Nursing (BSN) and a minor in Public Health. A free spirit living in NYC but determined to become a global citizen. Lina has special interest in pediatric health and working with underdeveloped communities in the areas of education and access to health.


MACKENZIE HASLEY
Content Strategist and digital nomadThere are a couple (really really really good) reasons you should come on this workation. First, the obvious ones: Uganda is beautiful. Kampala feels alive. You’ll catch yourself smiling a lot—and dancing more than you expect. You’ll eat good food. You’ll see amazing Nile sunsets. And you’ll meet incredible people who will make you feel lucky to know them. And then there are reasons that are a bit harder to describe. If you want to travel in a way that digs deep—that authentically introduces you to a different way of life—you’d have a really hard time finding an experience as rewarding as the one you get with 22stars. The second you arrive, you can’t help but feel connected, and welcomed into communities that you’ll come to quickly know and love. Or if you’re like me, and have your own dreams about building something, or contributing something, that can genuinely change people’s lives—you’ll no doubt leave your time in Uganda inspired. Stella has clearly built something very special with 22stars—and seeing how that works up close, is a privilege. And it’s something to learn from. Months after leaving Uganda—I’ve never really stopped thinking about it. It’s a lot of stories all my friends have heard a hundred times. And it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in 2 and a half years on the road. You’ll love it. But more importantly—you’ll be moved by it. Go! Mackenzie is a content strategist for convert.com and she is roaming around the world! When she is not in her home town Chicago she is working in co-working spaces all over the world.

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