Few months ago, a bunch of people decided that dreaming big was not enough.
They decided to take an initiative and join forces, combine their skills, strengths and different fields of knowledge, in order to co-create something dynamic that could empower people. This is how WE AfriHug started.
At first it was not easy to put our ideas into the paper: many ideas in our minds but it was hard to take the final decision. One thing was for sure: they wanted to engage the generations of the future, the Youth who are shaping the world. Investing in the Youth is like a renewable resource.
After endless days and nights of meetings and research, the first draft was ready. They decided to include three different elements in the project. First, education, the most powerful weapon which we can use to change the world. Secondly, sports, the means to bring people together to achieve a great goal and third, research, the way to make the project sustainable by measuring the impact of the project. In education, they wanted to interact with two target groups. First with students from High-schools, in order to facilitate them to develop certain soft skills, which are needed for the 21st century. Secondly, with Board members, Academic Staff and Students from Universities to present opportunities for academic mobility through the programme Erasmus+.
This was possible to be done thanks also to Konstantinos, one of the members of the project, who is the Country Representative for Greece and ambassador of the Erasmus Mundus Association – official partner of the project. He is finishing his Master in Tourism and Management within the framework of Erasmus Mundus and this gave an important sprint to the project, considering that he will be writing his master thesis in Ghana during his last semester using WE AfriHug as a case study.
Based on their previous personal experiences and projects in the African continent, they decided to go and visit Uganda and Tog. But then the project grew, so they decided to visit also Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana and Western Sahara. From that moment, everyone gave more than 100% to make this dream real. Someone would ask: How can you fund such an initiative? It was a challenge but they decided to involve private stakeholders and simple people, like us. A crowd funding campaign started, hundreds of t-shirts with the WE AfriHug logo have been printed and sold in a couple of days in Greece, Italy and Cyprus, piggy-banks have been distributed to several cafés in Greece and Cyprus and also fundraising events took place. Social media accounts were set and it all started intensively involving people from all around the globe!
The second element of the project is sports. The volunteers decided to raise the awareness about the project and inspire the Youth and motivate them to overcome their limits by proving that impossible is nothing. The three sports milestones: First, hiking to the top of Africa, mountain Kilimanjaro. Second, cycling in Togo, from the capital Lomé to the village Avete, close to Atakpamé and third, running the 42 km Solidarity Western Sahara Marathon for the Sahrawi in the Algerian refugee camps.
The third element of the project is research. In the framework of an academic research, data would be gathered during the project for a Master Thesis, entitled as “Educational Tourism: Academic mobility as a motivation for travelling abroad.Case study: WE AfriHug Project in Africa promoting Erasmus+ opportunities.” The overarching objective of the research is to investigate what motivates African students to travel in other countries through academic mobility schemes and which opportunities they could use. Moreover, the research has additionally the following objectives: a. to understand how educational mobility schemes, such as Erasmus+, are contributing to the improvement of the African students’ education and if the knowledge gained through these opportunities has been applied back in their home countries and b. to do a historical overview on educational tourism and compare the current and past motivations of the “educational tourists”.
Endless days and nights of hard work.
Endless days and nights for involving hundreds of people around the world.
Endless days and nights to create WE AfriHug.
And this is how it started…