If even profound change begins with small steps, then Connection Challenge Fellow Viviana is another wonderful example that DOers go the extra mile. She has devoted herself to empowering people through emotional education and economic participation in her native Colombia, a country in upheaval, scarred by decades of armed conflict. But not in the way that you would expect.
“‘I can’t do it,’ ‘I don’t know how,’ ‘This will never work out’–I am working to change the beliefs that make it harder for people to get out of poverty,” says Viviana. Her venture, Hugger Island, uses design to foster positive change in people’s mindsets, to provide encouragement and a sense of hope and opportunity. Her first product perfectly encompasses that feeling. It’s a warm hug to take with you for whenever and wherever you need it. “The Hugger is a doll with long arms that come over your shoulders. But more importantly, it comes with a powerful story about the magical Hugger Island for which we’ve even created a book,” explains Viviana. “The Hugger also hugs itself, expressing that loving yourself and believing in yourself is so important. That’s a message that poor people and especially children really need. I realized, in my 10 years of working as a teacher, that self-love and respect are key to people’s well-being and their ability to change their lives for the better.”