Pursuing SDG 1: $300 & 30 Hours to Escape Poverty

Discover how the ‘One for One’ initiative in India connects donors and aspirants to transform each other’s lives.

Pursuing SDG 1: $300 & 30 Hours to Escape Poverty

In the quest to address the enduring challenge of global poverty, innovative solutions that transcend traditional aid models are crucial. The One for One program, initiated by the Head Held High Foundation in Bengaluru, India, exemplifies such an innovation by intertwining human compassion with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Last year, I was privileged to witness first-hand how the foundation empowers communities by prioritising education, job creation, and the nurturing of meaningful human connections.

A world without poverty

Is it a realistic possibility or an idealistic concept? In a global landscape marred by economic disparities and social injustices, addressing one of the most pressing issues of our time is crucial – even if it may sometimes seem daunting.

Mahatma Gandhi stated that “poverty is the worst form of violence.” As of 2024, over 700 million individuals are living below the poverty line around the world, surviving on less than $1.90 per day. Thus, there remains a collective responsibility to seek solutions and take action. 

Considering the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals, it's clear that achieving ‘SDG 1: No Poverty’ is critical for realising the broader ambitions of the SDGs. It has become evident that donations alone are not sufficient to drive tangible change. It is essential that we unlock empathy on a global level and foster meaningful human connections. By offering an act of profound compassion to help another person, we can each contribute to a more equitable world.

Have you ever pondered, “How can I make a difference?” The thought - how can I genuinely improve the lives of those in need, beyond just monetary contributions? - must inspire us to explore deeper. Many individuals around the world share this sentiment and aspire to create change, yet grapple with the practical steps. Fortunately, there exists a viable solution that not only transforms the lives of recipients but also enriches the donor's experience. 

For just $300 and 30 hours of your time over three years, you can help an entire family to transcend the limitations of poverty.

The Case of Malti

Consider Malti, a young woman ensnared in the vicious cycle of poverty. Through the 'One for One' program's framework, a generous donor steps in, offering Malti both financial aid ($300) and mentorship (30 hours), vital tools in her journey towards self-improvement. This act of compassion and commitment serves as a catalyst for remarkable change unfolding over the course of three years. 

It is not only Malti whose life is set on a new trajectory, her family will also reap the benefits of being lifted from the depths of despair. As a mentor, you have the power to help Malti author a new chapter in her life: one where she breaks free from the chains of poverty and soars towards a future filled with potential.

A Catalyst for Change

The solution lies in the ‘One for One’ program: a transformative model created, refined, and proven effective by the Head Held High Foundation. With a proven track record, it has already benefited thousands of individuals. This initiative empowers rural individuals, through functional education, to integrate into society as skilled members of the workforce. Young women like Malti acquire the skills necessary to secure employment or establish a small business within 6 months. The program is designed to support Malti, and subsequently her family, in escaping the poverty cycle, by equipping her with the capabilities and support she needs to forge a new path in life.

Your gift of 30 hours, spread over three years, holds great significance for ensuring this outcome becomes a reality. The 1-1 virtual mentoring sessions provide guidance and support for thousands of individuals, just like Malti. In recognition of the fact that there is likely no family member or friend in her close environment to support her, the guide’s role is crucial in letting her know that she is not alone in the process. As her life will significantly evolve in a swift timeframe, this external belief anchors her transformation.

One for One: An Effective Solution

This innovative initiative, rooted in education, employment, and empowerment, has the power to unlock human potential and capability. This program showcases a promising approach to social impact by transforming individual lives while simultaneously contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly ‘SDG 1: No Poverty’.

Grounded by a firm commitment to address the underlying causes of impoverishment and inequality, ‘One for One’ emphasises the pivotal roles of education and employment in breaking the poverty cycle. This initiative aims to offer marginalised individuals access to quality functional education and sustainable livelihood opportunities. 

During my visit to one of their educational centres in Bangalore last summer, I was deeply impressed by the exceptional quality of the program. I interacted with a group of new candidates beginning their transformative 6 month journey and had the opportunity to meet a recent program graduate, among others. The first time I learned about the project was in 2019, when I was introduced to the founder and now dear friend, Sunil Savara. Witnessing the outcomes first hand was a deeply moving experience, and one that opened my mind to the profound impact made possible by solutions such as ‘One for One’. 

Education Driving Transformation

At the heart of the ‘One for One’ program is a strong belief in education as a catalyst for positive change. By offering candidates from marginalised backgrounds pathways to education and skill-building initiatives, the program equips them with the knowledge, skills, and confidence necessary to navigate the complexities of today's world and pursue fulfilling career opportunities. Through a blend of classroom instruction, hands-on training, and mentorship, participants are propelled towards a promising future, forging a path where their potential can be unleashed.

Creating Jobs and Empowering Economically 

A key element of the ‘One for One’ program’s success lies in its dedication to job creation and economic empowerment. Understanding that sustainable livelihoods are crucial to escaping the poverty trap, the program diligently connects participants with employment opportunities that match their skills, passions, and career goals. By establishing partnerships with local businesses, industries, and employers, the program facilitates job placements and internships, offering participants invaluable practical experience and exposure to real-world work settings. Through these initiatives, individuals not only secure stable incomes: a domino effect unfolds, and they become agents of change, fostering economic growth and progress within their communities. 

Impact Assessment and Outcomes 

Since its inception, ‘One for One’ has yielded tangible and far-reaching outcomes, redefining the lives of countless individuals and communities. Through rigorous impact assessments and monitoring mechanisms, the program has been able to track and evaluate its effectiveness in achieving its stated objectives. Key indicators of success include increased enrolment rates in education and training programs, higher rates of employment and income generation among participants, and improved socio-economic indicators within target communities. Moreover, anecdotal evidence and personal testimonies attest to the profound impact of the program on individual lives, with participants expressing newfound confidence, self-reliance, and optimism for the future.

One of Many Success Stories

Pavan Kumar, a 28-year-old from the remote village of Perupalem in Andhra Pradesh, has emerged as a shining example of perseverance and determination despite coming from humble beginnings. Pavan put his family first and sacrificed his own aspirations to work in the fields to earn money for his family. His father earns just 50,000 INR (approximately 600 USD) per year as a farmer, and following in his footsteps, he resigned himself to a life with limited resources and missed out on higher education opportunities. However, his life took a turn when he was introduced to an employability training program by the Head Held High Foundation through a friend.

Initially timid and reserved, Pavan slowly began to come out of his shell during the program. He actively participated in team activities and honed his communication and computer skills. By the end of the training, Pavan had transformed into a confident, well-equipped individual. In July 2023, Pavan graduated from the employability training program, receiving praise from the district leadership. He subsequently landed a job as a sales executive at a mobile retail store, marking the beginning of his professional journey. He later joined the Head Held High Foundation as a mobiliser, successfully coordinating training batches as a role model for incoming students.

Pavan's perseverance really paid off when he secured an interview with a large organisation in the oil and gas industry. After a series of successful interviews, he was offered a role with a monthly salary of 36,000 INR (approximately 430 USD). Overjoyed and grateful, Pavan celebrated this achievement with his loved ones, extending his heartfelt thanks to the Head Held High Foundation for reigniting his enthusiasm and aspirations. His success story serves as an inspiration to many, proving that through hard work and dedication, anything is possible. 

Alignment with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The ‘One for One’ program significantly contributes to several SDG goals and targets, particularly ‘SDG 1: No Poverty’, ‘SDG 4: Quality Education’, and ‘SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth’. By offering education, skill development, and sustainable livelihood opportunities to individuals, the program actively combats poverty, promotes economic empowerment, and fosters social inclusion. Additionally, by prioritising marginalised communities and vulnerable populations, the program embodies the core principle of ensuring that no one is left behind, as outlined in the SDGs. Through its comprehensive approach to development, the program sets a powerful example for effective and impactful poverty alleviation efforts worldwide.

‘One for One’ is far more than a training program; it is a philosophy anchored in human compassion. The underlying belief of ‘One for One’ is that by pairing every individual living in poverty with a dedicated mentor, they can overcome their circumstances and no longer be considered impoverished. 

Simon ‘Mac’ Mackenzie, CEO of Bridge Institute, had this to say about his experience as a guide: “I had the honour to work alongside an inspiring young woman who was going through the program (in 2019) and was able to see her personal transformation. ‘One for One’ has had a massive impact on me personally. It’s made me more committed to eradicating inequality in my community, and it’s made me more compassionate and empathetic as a human being. Poverty is a human made construct, and it doesn’t need to exist, and I cannot think of a more powerful program than ‘One for One’ for eradicating poverty.”

I believe that the ‘One for One’ program, designed, tested, and proven effective by the Head Held High Foundation, has the potential to be scaled globally to eradicate poverty. I have yet to experience another program that is so easy to support and so profound in its impact. By prioritising education, employment, and empowerment, the program has positively impacted countless individuals and communities, paving the way for a more just, inclusive, and sustainable future. As we focus on expanding this impactful initiative, let us remain dedicated to inclusivity and ensuring no one is left behind. Every individual deserves to live a life with their head held high.

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Hannah Kathleen Hawkshaw 🇮🇪

Hannah Kathleen Hawkshaw, crowned Miss International Ireland 2024, embodies the essence of advocacy, music, and entrepreneurship. Starting a fashion blog at the tender age of 12, she ignited a vibrant career in branding and communications, leading to recognition by Yahoo! Finance as a Top U30 Female Entrepreneur to Watch. Her path exemplifies personal transformation and the drive to empower others worldwide. As a consultant and creative artist in singing and modeling, she actively collaborates with mission-driven projects, including the Broadway Dreams Foundation, a non-profit empowering young people through performing arts education. Awarded “Beauty With A Purpose 2023”, Hannah Kathleen Hawkshaw stands as a beacon of innovation, creativity, and commitment, continually inspiring through her multifaceted career and passion for making a meaningful impact. Her role as Miss International Ireland 2024 further amplifies her commitment to advocacy, through which she is dedicating her talents and her platform to champion causes and inspire action.

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