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The Year 2019 in Review with the InterNations Changemakers

As we begin a new decade, we can look back on a momentous year for the InterNations Changemakers. New cities were welcomed into the Changemakers’ fold, such as Chicago, Prague, and Lisbon. The groups, both old and new, also found new and exciting ways to get creative, addressing the issues of our time: the climate emergency, social inclusion, and the refugee crisis. 2019 saw a big increase in activities and people getting involved, too!

As we reflect on a fantastic 2019,  we want to showcase three Consuls and groups whose partnerships with local non-profit organizations embody the spirit of the InterNations Changemakers: Shingirai in Johannesburg partners with local initiatives in his community, Stefan in Luxembourg supports Caritas as well as other projects, and Monica in New York has found a partner in Dare2B, a non-profit organization which helps homeless children.

The Luxembourg Changemakers handing over the proceeds of their wine-tasting event to Caritas.
(Photo credit: Anastasia Mouzouki)


Can you please tell us something you have seen develop in your partnerships with local non-profit organizations over the last year?

Stefan: With Caritas, InterNations members know where the money goes. But we have also strengthened our relationship with Handicap International Lux and built up a closer link to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). This year, we even had the chance to work closely with Special Olympics here in Luxembourg, since they celebrated their 40th birthday and we helped in getting volunteers to the events!

Shingirai: Being a Group Consul for the InterNations Changemakers has made me able to identify the different needs of my locality and to take steps to meet them by bringing like-minded people together. The platform has made it easier to unite others with a heart for helping communities, which is a great aspect in every society.

Monica: Over the last year, I have seen the number of InterNations members involved consistently with Dare2B grow steadily. Through the partnership with Dare2B, InterNations volunteers get to see a true aspect of New York that they may not have otherwise experienced. InterNations involvement has allowed Dare2B, which is a grassroots, all-volunteer organization, to expand its programming for the over 24,000 homeless children that live in New York City shelters. The children in turn are exposed to people from all different cultures which opens their minds to languages, customs, and careers beyond the circumstances they find themselves in.

The New York Changemakers supporting Dare2B at one of their activities.
(Photo credit: Monica Ave)

Tell us about one inspiring occasion or highlight from 2019.

Monica: One of my favorite highlights are the Holiday Celebrations. Dare2B hosts a pre-Thanksgiving Day meal prep where volunteers help a professional chef prepare a gourmet meal by chopping vegetables, peeling potatoes, or shredding turkey. By the end of the evening, all have bonded over a preview of the meal that is served to the children and the family the next day. On Thanksgiving Day, along with the feast, InterNations volunteers celebrate with the children with face-painting, balloon animals, and dancing to the music of a DJ. It is a joy and privilege to be able to unite two different worlds and see the smiles and laughter of the kids as well as the volunteers.

Shingirai: One inspiring occasion was the World Refugee Day commemoration in June with UNHCR at the Pan African in Midrand. The auditorium was packed with people from different nations and different walks of life. Refugees got to meet officials from South Africa Home Affairs, UNHCR, PAN African Parliamentarians, and other decision makers of different organizations that were able to assist them. They managed to voice their concerns and were heard.

Stefan: We had a good mix of smaller and bigger events starting from quizzes to big music events. Highlights included

  • a visit to a shelter for refugees to see how the money for a Caritas project was used;
  • the ING marathon and supporting MSF with volunteers;
  • a charity music event at an Irish pub where 1,200 EUR were raised for MSF.

The Johannesburg Changemakers at their “Back to School” activity.
(Photo credit: Shingirai Tashayawedu)


Please tell us about what the InterNations members’ time and efforts mean for your partnerships.

Shingirai: At times, members leave everything else on their schedule to attend some of our events and this means a lot to me. Their efforts go beyond just donating goods. Some also make an effort to be there when handing over donations, be it at an orphanage, an old people’s home, or to inner-city children. I am so grateful to the InterNations members for this.

Monica: The InterNations members’ time and efforts are tremendously appreciated. One of Dare2B’s seven steps to empower children to break their cycle of poverty is Career Development. The collaboration with InterNations Changemakers fits perfectly here, as the children learn about volunteers’ careers that they might not otherwise know exist. For example, Dare2B had weekly sessions in the spring where the children were taught about envisioning their careers, and we had some InterNations members share their careers as illustrators, diplomats, and entrepreneurs. Consistent attendance is very important, because the children feel that people care about them when they return, and they get excited about seeing familiar faces. A couple of hours every few weeks may seem insignificant, but an InterNations volunteer's presence makes a profound difference.

What are your plans for 2020?

Stefan: We would like to continue with our success formats “wine tasting”, “tennis tournament”, and “charity music” and are considering another arts event like we did in July 2019 at the private house of the Dutch ambassador (see here). We are also looking into cooperation opportunities with other InterNations Groups, e.g. combine running or hiking with charity, so both groups can profit from a common event; discussions have already started. Our new Consul is also proposing some book events for charity; we’ve tried this on a private level at first, but since it went well, we might add it to the “menu” in 2020.

Monica: For 2020, I will continue with this partnership with Dare2B, as it is mutually beneficial to InterNations Changemakers and the children that participate in Dare2B programs. I find that it is empowering for the children Dare2B serves and inspirational for the InterNations members. However, as always, I am open to suggestions.

Shingirai: My plans for 2020 are big — everything that I have accomplished in 2019 will look like child’s play in comparison! I want to do city clean-up campaigns, sponsored walks, and another big World Refugee Day commemoration; the list is endless.

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