People come to us because they feel that something is missing. They may be new to community work or long-time community workers but they are at an impasse and they know they need a new approach.
As we work together certain individuals stand out for their commitment to their communities and their search for innovative solutions. The core of the fellowship is to work to change the conversation on humanitarian action. We offer these individuals a combination of mentoring and support as they explore ways to move their projects forward. We offer them access to our organization’s resources and the support of our team to bring these projects to life. Through us they become part of a global network.
Our current fellows, some of them and their projects discussed below, have worked with us in many capacities for several years.
Wajid Syed is a Focusing trainer and has been active in teaching psychosocial wellness and Focusing in refugee camps and with aid agencies in western Pakistan for more than twenty years. He adapts what he learns to local cultures and looks for ways to expand programming. He has worked with UNWomen for a number of years as a trainer and social worker.
Wajid became deeply concerned about the plight of child laborers in his community, Peshawar Pakistan. He came to us with an idea and together we started BRIGHTER TOMORROW. With cooperation of business owners who employ children, he arranged for the children to have two hours leave from work each day to attend school and just be children. These children get an extra meal each day, a chance to learn to read and write, and tools to thrive emotionally.
Ocen Daniel Osako is a humanitarian worker in Ugandan refugee camps, who specializes in working with children. A former child refugee himself, this young man has worked for many years with several international organizations, like the UNHCR and WarChild. He is passionate about protecting children from any form of harm or abuse.
After working with us on the psychosocial support trainings, he asked for assistance in building a program for refugee children. He says: BETTER WORLD FOR KIDS is a reflection of how I could have recovered faster if I had received better support at earlier stages of my life’s challenges.” This project has connected two marginalized and at-risk groups – children and the elderly – through storytelling and music–building on traditional ways of learning.
Hunter Keller is involved in community work that centers around creative emotional expression for healing and transformation. She has developed programs, such as Late Night Art Club, which provide a safe container for people to gather and grow. Like our team at Focusing Initiatives, she believes that personal inner-work not only heals the individual, but the community as a whole.
Hunter first joined Focusing Initiatives as a tech for online courses (PSS & PFA). She quickly became involved in the Focusing community, and created artwork for our courses and publications. When the pandemic started in 2020, she helped manage CoronaPlaza.LIFE, and started hosting webinars there.
Art Club began as a free weekly webinar and has grown to include an in-person weekly gathering. It’s a space where people work alongside each other as they go inward to express outward – through drawing, music, movement, writing, painting, and much more. Focusing is introduced in small ways, which leads to powerful insights.