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The NOW-Us! Awards – Some reflections!

The first edition of the NOW-Us! Award, based on the Voice guiding principle of NOthing about us Without Us, was a great success!  Led by Partos the Spindle -in close collaboration with Voice- the award was introduced to celebrate inclusion by showcasing target group-led initiatives during the annual Partos Innovation Festival.  The award attracted over 300 applicants from all over the world! A jury -made up of representatives from Mama Cash, Light for the World and Voice had the difficult task to select ten initiatives that most spoke to Nothing About Us Without Us. These ten -listed here- nominees were invited to the Netherlands for a week in October 2018 to work together and individually on their projects, to meet other social innovators, and to improve their pitches which were going to be presented during the Semi-Final.

The Semi-Final resulted in three finalists which were going to present during the Innovation Festival itself to determine first, second and third place. Irt would determine who would take home an award of Euro 25,000, Euro 15,000 and Euro 10,000 to implement their proposed projects.

Jury member Tomas ChangPico from Voice reflects on his role in the jury:    “Being part of the jury of the NOW-Us Awards was a particularly challenging task! It was very hard for us to agree on the top 3 winners because we were astonished by the passion of all nominees, the quality of their work, and their openness to learning and growing from this (healthy) competition. At some point, I remember we discussed just piling up all the prize money and diving equally between 10, instead of picking only 3 winners. Of course, that would have been the easy way out!

Credit to Banzoumana Traore, Mali

The week was facilitated by Partos the Spindle and Butterfly Works to work on empowerment processes, such as self-esteem, confidence and future visions and aspirations through creative exercises as illustrated above.

The Partos Innovation Festival is the biggest festival organised in the Netherlands to attract innovators working in international development. This year over 400 participants gathered and the NOW-Us! finalists brought a new dynamic and ambiance. An ‘unconference’ session was organised to give the NOW-Us! Awardees a chance to discuss and amplify issues and challenges close to their heart.

But the biggest moment of the day was of course the opportunity for the three finalists to pitch their work to a wide audience.  The clever twist was that the pitch was reinforced by a video of support from someone who knows the initiative intimately.

For example here is the statement of support for the initiative that won in the end Hand Speak from Vietnam.

After the final pitches, the jury came together once again to determine the order of the winners which were announced at the end of the day. They were;

  1. Hand Speak Vietnam
  2. Jeunialissime
  3. Access Nigeria

The video below shows some impressions and feelings of the week beautifully illustrated by Jesee van der Mijl, the Partos Spindle Award Coordinator.

From The Spindle – Jesse Van der Mijl

“When I explain to my friends and family what we pulled off during the NOW-Us! Week; I show them a picture of the participants at work…. We created a space in which people from seven countries exchanged their experiences in  English,  French and sign language! A space where sexual and gender minorities, the hearing impaired, persons with Down-syndrome, visually impaired, persons with albinism, young people and persons with physical challenges all worked together in sync… They shared their inner drives and recognised each other’s challenges… Eventually, all these diversity faded  to the background and a warm buzz of togetherness formed one team from the ten competing for the award.  For me that was a magical process and I still feel very privileged to have been part of it.”

Partos the Spindle will launch the second edition of the award mid-2019! Watch this space.






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