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Hope and Healing From the Humblest Places: This Week in Seeding the Change

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Every day of the week, The Pollination Project provides $1000 in seed funding to an individual who is working to make the world -- or just their own community -- a better, more peaceful and more sustainable place. Here are the extraordinary people and ideas changing the world this week:

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Kat Vallera, a trained musician, believes in the power of music and art to encourage education, cultural exchange and compassion. Her organization Music for Lombok provides music, art and English education as well as supplies to an orphanage and school in Lombok, Indonesia. In addition to the benefits to the local community, U.S. volunteers receive resume-friendly teaching experience and an opportunity to absorb Lombok's predominantly Muslim culture, among people whose standard of living may be low but who demonstrate great peace, love and humanity.

Sarah Chaffee is a science teacher whose outdoor classroom and garden at Ray Marsh Elementary in Shawnee, Kansas offers a hands-on educational environment. Beyond planting flowers and vegetables, Sarah and her colleagues can hold class outside where students can experience science and nature in a meaningful and relevant context, learn to value the earth, and to spread that value to others. Students will also share flowers and vegetables they cultivate with the school community and members of a local retirement home.

Ty Diringer, a Dalai Lama Fellow, and cofounder Alyssa Phelps, created Project Unbound for the dual purpose of fighting human trafficking and nurturing young entrepreneurs. Project Unbound challenges teams of college students to develop for-profit ventures that raise money for anti-trafficking organizations. While the students receive business training from Project Unbound, the organization is creating a generation of social entrepreneurs who can continue to raise awareness on behalf of the estimated 20 million victims exploited for sex and labor each year, half of whom are children.

Joseph Gichoni is a conservation volunteer in Kenya who educates indigenous communities about the impact of deforestation and human/wildlife conflict that results in the illegal killing of elephants and other animals. He shows environmental education films during the day to schoolchildren, and in the evenings in remote rural villages where there is no electricity, no plumbing and many people have no exposure to film of any kind. Through this project, he engages people in critical issues like elephants raiding crops, low standards of living, lack of water and fuel resources, drought and food scarcity in an effort to find communal solutions.

Sylvia Biira, a teacher in Western Uganda, noticed that many girls missed school for three to five days each month because they were menstruating and did not have sanitary protection - a luxury item most Ugandans can't afford. She and partner Samuel Ndungo, with help from Irise International and AFRIpads, have launched a project to create inexpensive reusable sanitary pads. In a culture that treats menstruation as taboo, where teen pregnancy and early marriage limit a woman's access to education, Sylvia and Samuel currently have 150 local women employed in making pads, which have been distributed to hundreds of girls in six schools.

Nathan Harrington is a teacher, tour guide, gardener, and community activist in the Congress Heights area of Washington DC. Nathan chairs the Restore Shepherd Parkway committee to improve a historic civil war site that is considered the most polluted park in Washington, DC. Nathan and hundreds of volunteers will remove thousands of pounds of trash and invasive plants from the park, and ultimately hope to construct three miles of hiking trails that link the park to neighborhood streets, schools, recreation centers and businesses so all residents have access to a clean, safe park.

2013-11-14-Jane.jpgLaura Bridgeman campaigns on behalf of whales and dolphins with Earth Island Institute's International Marine Mammal Project (IMMP). Laura will be working with Jane, a wild dolphin who has built relationships with humans, to document characteristics of personhood that Jane demonstrates, and assess her psychology to expand human understanding of the dolphin mind. If and when personhood in dolphins can be established in the scientific community, it could have far-reaching implications for animal advocacy and for the pursuit of their legal rights, to eventually end their mistreatment and captivity by human hands.

Congratulations to our grantees this week for their outstanding work.

These are just a few examples of what a little seed money can do when put in the hands of someone with a vision and a plan to change the world.

If you were given $1000, how would YOU seed the change?

The Pollination Project makes $1000 grants every day, 365 days a year to individual changemakers. Please go to our website here for funding guidelines and application.