Design For Change

Design For Change

Monday, September 22, 2014

Natalia Allende - Chile
Global Catalyst

Story told by David Wygant

Natalia used the 2012 Be the Change Conference as her launch pad for blasting into Design for Change.  Indeed, Natalia brings the energy of a rocket to the effort and adventure, although, she credits other people for inspiring her.  In her own words, “I decided definitely to jump on board with this incredibly talented, generous and sweet team of global partners.”

More words from Natalia:  “Our inspiration grows as the children bring results and success. When we received our first batch of videos we were moved and excited by the results.  It was inspiring to see what the children in Chile had done.”

“Apart from the winning story which Semanti has brilliantly called “A CANteen for All,” there was a group that organized a network of schools and municipal entities to care for the elderly in their neighborhood.  A third group of children worked on finding a way to protect the environment in the gorgeous region of Chile where they live.”

When asked about the future, Natalia says, “How can I not think that the future for Design for Change and for Chile holds much promise?  I really want DFC Chile to grow and become strong. I really am looking forward to achieving all the things I have in mind but still have not reached.”

Natalia goes on to say that the largest challenges she and her team face are volunteer recruiting and financing.  In volunteer recruiting, the most difficult hurdle to jump over is the volunteers’ own fear and lack of confidence.  The fear of failure looms large.   Then there isn’t a financing “silver bullet” seen yet.  Nonetheless, Natalia has faith that adding up little amounts here and there from different sources:  workshops, crowdsourcing, and partnerships with bigger organizations will continue to carry the day.

In the end, she seems to just face forward and walk one step at a time.  She uses simple words to describe her solid determination:  “To be brave and to just continue doing what I’m supposed to do, when I’m in the face of difficulties.’

Bravo Natalia!

Natalia was born in Santiago, Chile and currently lives in Washington DC. She is a teacher with a Masters in Aesthetics and a Masters in Literature from American University.  Natalia worked as a teacher for 15 years in the classroom followed by several years at the Embassy of Chile in the USA.  She has spent the past five years translating, including 2 years with Design for Change.

Natalia’s travels include much of South America, the USA, Italy and India.  She has done some writing beginning with a grant to study for her Masters in Literature.  An English textbook that she and two colleagues wrote won the Chilean Government call for bids and was widely published in the Chilean public school system.

Natalia attended the Be the Change Conference in 2012 and is attending this year (2014). 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Lydia  Madyirapanze-Zimbabwe
DFC Global Catalyst

Big accomplishments begin with big goals.  Lydia is very definite when it comes to her goals.  When asked what her Design for Change goal is, she replied, “To grow Design for Change in Harare, and spread it to all provinces so that it becomes an annual event in Zimbabwe.”

Like other Design for Change programs, Lydia describes how they have to strategize and use low cost options when possible. She continues to push forward whatever steps to be taken towards having fully fledged Design for Change programs in Zimbabwe.  A new step in 2014 is seeking various kinds of support from the corporate world.

Meeting challenge has made Lydia realize the need for being innovative. She has thus drawn many lessons of out DFC. She was also excited about how girls gladly joined the boys; took up the DFC challenge and did “male dominated tasks” holding the trowel and placing sharp glasses on the wall. 

Lydia is quick to declare that she has learned that, “children can achieve more, and that communities where they live provide a lot of support and resources.” Lydia offers the following example:  “When the rest of the school gathered to see the project that they had done, they found that the children had made a plan to ensure that the wall was not a passage way out of the school, no-one could jump over it or had easy access to leave the school through the wall. Everyone remained safe inside the school.

Inspiration feeds upon itself taking us higher and higher.  It unlocks and unleashes the possibilities of human potential.  To this end, Lydia tells that her most inspiring experience to date has been, “seeing children prioritize when there are many issues and options, but yet come up with a simple yet effective method to secure the school wall.”


Lydia is currently the National Coordinator for the Forum for African Women Educationalists Zimbabwe Chapter (FAWEZI) in Harare, Zimbabwe. FAWEZI is an affiliate of the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE), a Nairobi based pan-African non-governmental organization. FAWE is a network of leading African female educationalists and researchers, among them women Ministers of Education, education planners and managers, and university Vice Chancellors.  FAWEZI’s mission is to promote gender equity and equality in education systems by fostering positive policies, practices and attitudes towards girls’ education. 

She was born in Mashonaland West Province, Zimbabwe.  Lydia holds a Master of Science Degree in Development Studies from the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Zimbabwe.  After 2008, Lydia joined FAWEZI and ever since, she has spent all of her time in development work.  While she has other responsibilities, Design for Change is one of her key projects, and is fully integrated into her current position.

Lydia has traveled in the following African countries:  Zambia, South Africa, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Burkina Faso and Morroco.  She has also traveled to India, attending her first Be the Change Conference in 2013.