Two Students Earn Projects for Peace Awards

Sophomore Marya Husain and freshman Andres Angel are among an elite group of 100 undergraduates from across America selected to participate in the 100 Projects for Peace initiative. Husain and Angel will each receive a grant of $10,000 to help finance their projects, designed to help foster world peace in summer 2007.

Husain will use her grant to combat the exploitation of child laborers in an industrial area of Karachi, Pakistan. She estimates there are at least 300,000 “economically active” children working in Sindh province alone. Husain says providing children with an education at a young age is crucial if they are to avoid a lifetime of forced labor. Her project is based on a two-pronged approach: providing educational and recreational opportunities to approximately 400 working children, while simultaneously maintaining close ties with employers and parents to support the children’s self-development.

Husain will coordinate her efforts with the Child Development Center in Sher Shah, Karachi, an organization she greatly admires. “I have personally witnessed the level of commitment and dedication shown by the CDC and its employees,” she states. “Their director has been very appreciative of the interest I take in their projects and has ensured me of the organization’s full support and encouragement at every step of my project.”

Angel will use his grant in Baru Island, Colombia, to help create a sustainable business for 20 widows displaced from their homes, a consequence of the ongoing strife between government troops, guerillas, and drug traffickers. The women currently survive by selling handbags made from material they scavenge from the streets. Angel’s idea is to help these women turn their skills into an enterprise called “Displaced Art.” He has already secured land for a factory and, most importantly, an eco-fashion accessories company in Florida has signed on to purchase the handbags for at least two years, once the company is up and running.

“Buying short-term happiness is not my goal,” Angel says. “By empowering the economic head of the family with a sustainable micro-enterprise and a reliable market, we are removing their families from the vicious cycle of crime.”

Abigail Haskell, CMC’s associate director of foundation & corporate relations, is one of three staff members who served on the college’s Projects for Peace selection committee. She says the students selected for the prize demonstrated genuine creativity in forming proposals that established a real plan for success. Furthermore, the students were clearly thinking about the future viability of their plans.

“The projects conceived by Marya and Andres demonstrate that they are not students looking to do good work for a single summer and then return home,” she notes. “They are truly searching for ways in which to have a lasting impact.”

The 100 Projects for Peace is the brainchild of Kathryn Wasserman Davis, a lifelong internationalist and philanthropist, who is about to celebrate her centennial birthday. “I want to use my 100th birthday to help young people launch some immediate initiatives that will bring new thinking to the prospects of peace in the world,” Davis has said.

The competition was open to undergraduates enrolled in the 76 colleges and universities in the Davis United World College Scholars Program.