SDG Campaign: Project No. 4 by Sara Amani

Project Title: Distance Learning During a Pandemic

Main Outcome: To provide university students with practical tips to help them transition into online learning under emergency circumstances.

My main goal with this project was to address SDG goal 4, quality education. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Qatar, all schools and universities had to transition to distance learning very quickly, and that came as a shock to students and faculty as well. Transitioning from traditional face-to-face teaching to using online platforms is very difficult as is, but particularly challenging for engineering courses that include a lot of hands-on laboratory work and group projects. As an engineering education major who started her PhD with online courses, I was able to use my experience to help make this transition easier for the students at Texas A&M at Qatar specifically. Through this project I helped with student support by helping the university organize online tutoring platforms, and I posted daily tips and tricks for students on the Instagram page of the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL). These tips included ways to stay motivated and take care of mental health, as well as tips on how to effectively study at home specifically. Since this was very effective, the main university page asked if I could host a virtual Question and Answer session to reach more people. The followers of the main university page also include many high school students who are transitioning into university and are struggling with online learning. You can find out my Q&A sessions of the main page @tamuq and @tamuqctl on Instagram.

The project took place virtually in Qatar. The university I work at transitioned from fully traditional methods to fully online in a matter of days and placed a lot of challenges on the community. SDG goal 4, quality education is very close to my heart, so I took it on me to help make sure that even though transitioning to online was very difficult and that there are a lot of cultural barriers that added to the issue, that the quality of education the students were gaining would not be compromised. Of course this is not a one-person job and mainly the role of the administration to ensure quality education, but I did what I could to be a voice for the students and I focused mainly on addressing student concerns. I became a link between the students and the staff and helped set up initiatives that could ease the distance learning process. The target group was the students at Texas A&M University at Qatar (more than 500 students).

  • Project Activities:
  • Daily tips and tricks posted on Instagram account of TAMUQ Center for Teaching and Learning
  • Virtual Q&A session on the main TAMUQ Instagram account regarding struggles with distance learning
  • Regular discussions with students (through social media) about the increased challenges they are facing due to the transition to online methods and providing them with advice on how to proceed
  • Regular meetings with staff to address student concerns, particularly in relation to online learning
  • Multiple virtual tutoring sessions with students on Zoom to help them with course projects
  • Planning virtual events such as “Zoom Café” to keep students motivated during this time of hardship

The primary goal of this project was to focus on SDG 4, Quality Education. For this project, I was helping students and staff gain skill when it comes to distance learning and online education. This relates to target 4.4 “By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills…”. I specifically addressed indicator 4.4.1 with “promotion of youth and adults with information and communications technology skills, by type of skill”.

Given that many of these tips included staying positive and motivated, I also targeting goal 3.4, “promote mental health and well-being”.

SDG Campaign: Project No. 3 by Fay Al Najadah

Fay is very passionate about topics within Diversity and Inclusion. Especially appreciating cultural differences, empowering women and disability. Her SDG micro Project focuses on SDG 10 reducing inequalities for individuals with disabilities in her community by Educating, spreading awareness and highlighting their achievements locally and globally. In addition, looking at their abilities rather than limiting and labeling them with their Dis-abilities. In this blog, we share what Fay has shared with us regarding her project and experience:

“In October 2019 a group of 5 mothers who have kids with different disabilities came together to form this group and Currently I am one of the Founders and I am Leading the group . I am in-charge of their social media and sharing my experience with them. It’s a team that specializes in everything related to people with disabilities and their families. We support, highlight, sensitize and transfer everything new in the field of Diss-Ability. The group is called Heba which means a gift in Arabic. They chose Heba as the name of the group because they see their kids as a gift from God. They would like to share it with the rest of the world. 

I learned from the Women Empowerment program to lead from the heart and allow others to shine that motivated me to insist on believing in this group and making it active during the quarantine period. We as women need to learn to encourage each other rather than criticize each other. I envision a world where we accept each other despite our differences and to look at the strengths of individuals and what they can bring to the table. I would like to conclude by this motto which I will start using as a slogan for our group :  “ Believe in my ability and capability despite my disability” So Don’t (Dis) my Ability.

There was many challenges moving forward: First the team didn’t know each other very well so I asked them to do the MBTI test so I can understand how to approach each person and understand the way they make decisions. Second, the members don’t know how to use technology like Google Drive, Zoom, etc …

Third, our work depends on meeting people having the pandemic made it harder and made me persist on moving this project forward especially after I saw how our members ( the mothers) we struggling with their kids during the lockdown such as their kids schedule changed. So I asked one of the active members who is willing to work with me. I empowered her to do weekly instagram lives. We started our first instagram live on  12 of April 2020. We did #5 lives that was moderated by my mom who is an activist for individuals with disabilities and a choice theory trainer in Kuwait. 

Our live sessions coverd different topics: our kids with disabilities during quarantine, disability law in kuwait & the gulf, Life balance & Psychological problems during covid ,mental health during covid, and a live with a mother who had an Down syndrome child that got cured from covid-19. The live sessions and my social media strategy helped our instagram group to be known by the community and helped us to increase our followers from 26 follows to 349 followers. In addition, we started getting amazing feedback on Instagram from people and some asking when is the next live. Also by managing Instagram I got to meet and get the attention on different International Organizations (USA,Vienna,Jamaica,Germany… etc) that share the same Goal and Sustainable Development Goals. 

An American organization called Different & Able which shares a very similar goal to us sent us “Can you please join? We’d love to have you!” They have a online support system related to different disabilities.”. Many asked to Volunteer, local account started to support our lives without us asking them like : @golivekwt and @all.inkwt   “telling us you anytime you have an event let us know” 

An interesting note is the speaker in our first live was a special education teacher in kuwait. He sent us a msg supporting and offering his service. When my mom talked to him, he told her ( I know you, you supervised me when I was a student and you told me بتكون شيء كبير بالمستقبل ) 

A Learning experience: 

Sometimes it’s hard to let everyone to see things from the same lense or view. From someone who has background in Management I totally believe in Search Results Tuckman’s stages of group development. I even used it to explain to my group why we were stuck and I solved  the problem we had. 

– Use constructive communication with your team.

– You choose what you want this is the full story

– “i totally believe in Tuckman’s stages of group development 

Without Search Result

It wasn’t easy to move the project forward everytime someone want to drop out I hold on tight and remind them of their vision when we discussed it in our first meeting. Like everytime there is a conflict my mom will say: khalas I gave up. I keep telling her no no why u give up so easily you wanted this so bad . Why do u stop what you want to do because of unmotivated members we have to continue working because we ( me & her) believe in change. This is what made her accept the  idea of the instagram lives then when she saw the affect she started contacting people that we worked with in the past and suggested let’s talk about this topic. 

We got contacted by a local organization that offered us funding for any future events. But we still need to make sure it isn’t against the law because we are a group not an organization.

Moving forward we would like to impact more individuals with disabilities &  empower their mothers cuz (a mother that have a child with disability goes through a lot of hardship and phases / We would like to focus on women with disability   because that isn’t done in Kuwait. We are also thinking of being as a support system for mothers who give birth at the hospital and the hospital doesn’t know how to tell the mothers that she have a child with disability. So the mother goes through mental and emotional challenge when she know.”

SDG Campaign: Project No. 2 by Dr. Alkharafi

Dr. Alkharafi received her dental degree (Bachelor of Dental Medicine) from Kuwait University, Faculty of Dentistry in 2009. After completing one year of craniofacial genetics and stem cell research, she earned her Master of Science in Dentistry and a Certificate in Orthodontics from the University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, San Francisco, USA. She was the recipient of the “excellence Award” in research from the University of the Pacific in 2012, and became a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics in 2016. She is currently working at Jaber Alahmad Hospital in the Department of Orthodontics. Dr. Alkharafi is a mother of two, loves football, and has a passion for women’s rights and social justice.

Project that “will” be implemented (postponed due to covid 19 lockdown )

The Kuwait Brain Tumor Charity

 Although brain tumors are one of the most lethal, they are rare compared to more common cancers such as breast or prostate cancer, thus it does not receive enough funding to develop better treatment options. The main outcome of this project is to raise donations that would focus on promoting research both locally and internationally. Not only do we help patients receiving much needed treatment, we also focus on funding research that help understand its cause, early diagnosis, and treatment. we strive to elevate our patient’s quality of life, decrease the burden on the individual and the family, in addition to that on the health care system.

SDG 3: GOOD HEALTH AND WELL-BEING

  • 3.8: Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines for all
  • 3.b: Support the research and development of medicines for non-communicable, provide access to affordable essential medicines

3.d: Strengthen the capacity of all countries, for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks

SDG Campaign: Project No. 1 by Noura Al Fadhl

Since a young age, Noura has always been keen and fond of the nature and human impact on the environment. Having the technical skills of an engineer, she sought out to change her specialization and focus on her passion: saving earth. Through multiple workshops, online courses, and seminars, she has managed to influence hundreds of kids into environmental issues and sustainable practices. Today she is 25 years old, majoring in Environmental Impact Assesment and Management at Oxford, while working on her community initiative: the local workspace of precious plastic while still being publicly active on social media through digital strikes and environmental initiatives.

Plastic is Precious is a project focusing on increasing community engagement and awareness through a social media platform, influenced 28 volunteers to join, and secured funding for machine building.

Once an initiative by a Dutch man who was fed up with plastic waste, now Precious Plastic is a global social initiative fueled by the community to recycle plastic into new useful products. 

Last year the worldwide production of plastic is 311000000000 KG and the number will only increase. Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research published a stud that indicates the amount of plastic waste in Kuwait is estimated at 18% of all solid waste produced in the country each year, equivalent to 181,440 tons.

Even though the world is going more towards eco-friendly alternatives, plastic is still the most used material for mass-distributed products. It is used to make water bottles, bowling balls, laundry baskets, plant pots, chairs, toys, you name it.

WE CAN MAKE SOMETHING  GREAT OUT OF THIS

  • FURNITURE
  • ACCESSORIES
  • OFFICE STATIONARY

HOW?

  1. COLLECT
  2. SORT THEM OUT
  3. WASH THEM
  4. SHRED THEM

The project has great potential and will be a major SDG project in Kuwait – helping to tackle a main environmental issue in the country. However, due to time restraints and global pandemic, instead of measuring the number of interested individuals or those who would volunteer physically with a helping hand or through designing, implementing and showcasing plastic-recycled products.

However, our goal is to spread awareness and have public engagement – whether it’s online or in person. So our success is measured by the number of people we influenced into joining the cause and volunteering with whatever is needed. Whether plastic facts, plastic designs or questions needed or even managing a virtual discussion about the topic. We managed to reach out to more than 300 people and got a list of 28 volunteers (most are 20 years old and under) who are willing to join the team as soon as possible. This also encourages the youth to focus their energy and efforts into a great cause therefore influence social and environmental responsibility at a young age. Those numbers were of high importance to our sponsor and would be a great addition to out future proposals.

The project is based on passionate volunteers and just an initial public/sponsor fund for machines and showcases, so it is sustainable in the long term due to little future funds needed. It is all in the power of the youth and how we are perceived by others.