Connecting the Disconnected

CommonStory – Connecting the Disconnected with Pen and Paper

“To me , CommonStory has unlimited potential. To connect people from around the world has always been a dream of mine. My biggest vision for this project is for it to become a platform people can rely on. For young women, girls, and all others to see this programme as a safe space to discuss and foster initiatives that can far surpass this programme” said Laura Wiebe, a 20 years old Commonwealth youth and creator of CommonStory explained her vision.

It all started in Malta in November 2015 at the Commonwealth Youth Forum where the theme of the economic agenda focused significantly on the use of technology and at every discussion the same comment was made – what about young people without internet? The Office of Inclusion and Engagement tasked with engaging the 1.2 billion young people around the Commonwealth needed to find a way to engage those who simply did not have access to internet because of either the lack of electrification, digital literacy or affordability. However this could not continue to be a hindrance and barrier to development. It is with this in mind that “CommonStory” emerged.

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Photo Credit: Vikash Kumar

Common Story is an international pen pal programme proposed and initiated by Laura Wiebe (quoted above) and adopted by the Office of Inclusion and Engagement of the Commonwealth Youth Council that enables youth without access to internet to connect using pen and paper. Through letter writing, members are able to discuss the similarities and differences around the world and connect all walks of life.

Furthermore CommonStory has introduced an added layer of connecting girls in rural areas who may or may not be in education to women in business from around the Commonwealth. This will be focused on the economic empowerment of women with businesswomen providing advice, career guidance, mentorship and role models for the young girls who have limited access of information because of the lack of access to the internet. Through this platform, we are dedicated to helping establish conversations and a healthy mentorship opportunity to aid in the process of creating a stronger global network for women. CommonStory will facilitate one aspect of the Pan-Commonwealth inter-generational mentorship programme.

In addition, with the World Indigenous Peoples’ Day tomorrow, we have chosen to have a quota of the initial cohort to be indigenous youth. #WeArgeIndigenous

As part of the project, there will be the potential for registration through schools and libraries in rural areas, CommonStory will then send you a starter kit with all the information you need to be connected. We offer support and guidelines for the letters but the rest is up to you.

We are currently raising funds to cover the cost of stamps and stationery for the youth in rural areas so there they do not have to bear an added burden for them to connect. The funds will be held by the Commonwealth Youth Council secretariat. All donations are welcome, no matter how small: https://www.gofundme.com/2te2kvrk#

For any questions or comments please contact Laura Wiebe at commonstorycyc@gmail.com

Website: http://commonstorycyc.wix.com/penpal

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