Month: October 2016

Full(Soul)y Incorporated

After some soul-searching for the right model for us, our vision and our cause, FullSoul became a not-for-profit in Canada. With many new organizations now working from a for-profit model (and doing so effectively), this was an important choice for us- and one that now made, really defines FullSoul, and, what’s more, what living SoulFully means to us.

Art for the Soul Event

Our co-founder, Christina was interviewed for a piece by Susan Fish called “Reinventing the Wheel: Does Canada need more nonprofit organizations” (spoiler alert- if done well, of course!) for ‘Charity Village’ a networking site that allows non-profit organizations to post jobs, find volunteers, as well as host online education sessions and develop directories as a community, in 2015. She was quoted in saying “Had the Ugandan government filled hospitals with medical supplies, we wouldn’t have gone into that area. There has to be a gap where you can meet a need”- a need that Christina has witnessed and experienced first hand in Ugandan hospitals and clinics since 2013. She says, “as in any sector or industry, new initiatives in the charitable and social purpose sector come about when people see a gap”.  In the case of FullSoul, non-profit just works better!

As a non-profit social enterprise, FullSoul can focus on our vision- of allowing mothers access to a safe delivery, regardless of where they live.  Non-profit means that we work with giving- from beginning to end; connecting with like-minded soulful individuals and groups around the world to raise money- and compassion- for women and their families in Uganda, where 6,000 women die each year from pregnancy related causes; this number does not even include those babies that die before, during or shortly after delivery. Giving support, giving money, giving interest and attention, from both groups and individuals, and moving with this support to those that give medical assistance to those mothers who are giving life.

 

 

If living soulfully, and helping others to do so, is a cause you’d like to join, let us know!

FullSoul’s work is only possible due to the generous contributions of our donors. You can donate here to help better maternal health in Uganda- 100% of your contributions will go towards FullSoul’s Medical Kit Program.

 

Coming Next:

Working together to make Non-Profit Happen! How collaboration and community makes FullSoul function.

 

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Why I Volunteer for FullSoul

“Never underestimate the ability of a small group of dedicated people to change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”- Margaret Mead

I came to volunteer with FullSoul unexpectedly. In a chance meeting with founder Christina Hassan, I came to the realization that I could help create positive change in a field that I was unfamiliar with by applying my skills and interests in developing revenue streams for social enterprises.

The more I learned about FullSoul, the more right the fit felt. I believe in long term solutions and I dream of a world free of poverty. Yet I also need to separate myself from ‘ground zero’ when working to alleviate some of our world’s most complex global issues. It’s too emotionally costly for me. So finding a volunteer role at FullSoul that would allow me to tackle backstage tasks to move the enterprise forward in its mission to equip Uganda with specialized medical kits was both meaningful and supportive of my needs.

My background in business and fund raising turned out to be a useful addition to the FullSoul team. Whether developing the first business plan for the organization or preparing funding applications for global health competitions, I appreciate being able to hone my skills. That particular ‘right mix’ is what I found in volunteering with FullSoul. I am able to work for a cause that I believe in and that allows me to see the direct impact of my work. I’m able to refine my business plan and grant writing skills. But it’s the culture of FullSoul that keeps me most motivated in my work.

Volunteers

[Supporters & volunteers alike listen to co-founder, Christina Hassan-2015] 

I appreciate the changing structure of our bi-monthly meetings. While core elements (such as life updates and goal setting) remain constant, different volunteers’ work is highlighted at different meetings. Sometimes we have check-in style meetings, other times we have visioning sessions. The frequency of our meetings is also just right for me; I have enough time to set aside time to work on my goals but not so much that I lose interest or lose track of what everyone is doing.

Other volunteer experiences that I’ve had employed a more delegated work routine, where tasks were assigned to volunteers. At FullSoul, I decide what I’m going to work on and what time frame is most appropriate for me to complete the work. I contribute in ways that allow some of my strongest skill sets to shine, while developing others that I would like to improve upon. It’s so valuable for me to exchange feedback on various projects because it makes me feel included in all the work that happens at FullSoul. It also contributes to how connected I feel to other volunteers.

While we are spread across several provinces, sometimes countries and even continents, we always start off meetings by updating everyone on our personal life. That sense of connection increases my enjoyment of our meetings and motivation to produce high quality work. I’m not just volunteering with a group of strangers; I’m volunteering with a team of people I can relate to even though we’ve never met. I’m very appreciative of the experiences I’ve had in volunteering with FullSoul.

-Written by former FullSoul volunteer Jenn Harvey

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Interested in volunteering with us as well? Follow FullSoul on LinkedIn to be notified of opportunity listings! Feel free to connect with any of our volunteers here as well!

 

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YMCA Peace Medallion

There is a well-known Nelson Mandela quote that reads:

“there is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered,”.

YMCA Peace Medallion

For Christina, there are no better words to better encapsulate what it was like returning to Canada. Nothing was quite the same anymore, not the big things nor the little. Everything was how she remembered it, there hadn’t been intense cultural changes in the four months she was away, but it was also completely different.  The familiar was no longer familiar but it was because she had changed so much, it was as if she was seeing things through an entirely different set of lenses.

YMCA Peace Medallion

[Pictured: Ken Corlett (left), Christina Hassan (Marchand) and Greg Kett- those who nominated our Christina for this award!]

As time passed she adjusted to these new lenses – they became her new normal. Christina was home for three months when she was invited back to her hometown, where she grew up and went to school, to receive the YMCA Peace Medallion for her experiences in Uganda.

Returning to Chatham, it could have been easy to focus again on the new perspective Mandela described… but instead she found herself reflecting through a different lens. As she met with her family, community members and the people who educated her, Christina realized she was reconnecting with the people who helped her to build the foundation of who she is. These people, together, create the community where she learned how to dream, challenge herself, ask questions and care about the lives of others.

Yes, Christina definitely returned to her hometown a changed person, but in the moments she spent there, she was grateful for all of those who helped her become a person that pursued these experiences that cause such fundamental change. They are her champions of motivation, education and believing in the good of this world. This community… her family… they are the ones who first taught her what it means to live SoulFully.

We at FullSoul are so very excited for Christina to have received this award for all of her amazing work in Uganda and now with FullSoul! Recognition is so important, and we’re honoured to have Christina recognized with such an important award! Continue reading for more on the YMCA Peace Medallion!

YMCA Peace Medallion


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The GreenHouse Affect

Most FullSoul followers have heard of GreenHouse at St. Paul’s University on the University of Waterloo campus. And many have also heard of an ever-growing impact radiating from the small social enterprise incubator- so I sat down with GreenHouse’s Director, Tania Del Matto to chat about Social Innovation, FullSoul and how GreenHouse works to tackle complex issues- like maternal mortality in Uganda!

Christina has has often said that she “came into GreenHouse with an idea and came out of GreenHouse with a business” that business is the FullSoul we know and love today.

But what is so special about GreenHouse that allowed our co-founder to give her time, support and hard-work while going to school full-time?

#FullSoul Social Media Meeting tonight! We're at the #Greenhouse at St. Paul's at @uwaterloolife @uwaterlooahs @uwaterlooarts #Sindica #Uganda #Nkwagala

As a bit of background, the University of Waterloo is world-class when it comes in innovation. “Idea’s start Here” Christina echoed when she first shared the FullSoul idea on the Tedx Waterloo stage. The GreenHouse program is one of the University programs at the heart of innovation, more specifically- social innovation and entrepreneurship.

The GreenHouse students live on-campus, and build connections to accelerate their own start-ups and social change initiatives. GreenHouse is designed to allow students the opportunity to develop and hone in on their own ideas and goals, while managing a full course load.

GreenHouse gives a place where students can actually tackle the problems they see in the world today. Said wonderfully by Tania, with her economics perspective, “we have a vast supply of young talent here at the University of Waterloo”, but we also have demands: “that is unmet problems that we don’t have answers for”…

GreenHouse encourages students to tackle complex societal issues, to see where they can “make an impact on a pressing societal problem”, perhaps setting them apart from other ‘incubators’ as a place where non-profits and for-profit social-enterprises can thrive. There is an additional focus on the students personal growth and development; Tania mentions that “At university we don’t necessarily empower young people to do these things- here, we give them opportunities to get out of the building and talk to people”. Encouraging GreenHouse participants to network and interact with their idea and issues in a real-world setting helps to ensure that “regardless of where their venture goes, they’re going to do great things”. They are learning how to build up their skills, and use what they have to tackle these problems. Students are encouraged to use “a wide lens in imagining what kind of impact they can make- some are big venture’s like Christina’s, and some are more about policy change”.

After her co-op placement abroad— working with an organization called Save the Mothers in Mukono, just outside of Uganda’s capital city, Kampala— Christina was more than inspired to do something. She was determined and needed to create something to change the huge systematic issue of maternal mortality. Women in Uganda face a 1 in 44 chance of dying in childbirth or a pregnancy related complication, this problem plagues more than just women – it strains the entire population. Husbands’ lose wives, parents’ loose daughters, siblings’ loose sisters and the remaining external family such as grandparents, are often called upon to take in their orphaned relatives. The children, who grow up motherless, are vulnerable and less likely to reach the age of 4. Everyone is impacted, but what is more is that; “The United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council has highlighted maternal mortality as an issue bearing not just on development, but also on human rights” (WHO, 2012)– every mother and child’s deserves the right to health, equity in health and gender equality.

Tania notes that when Christina applied to the GrennHouse program,” Christina came in with a lived, on the ground experience, from co-op- [and] knew from that that she wanted to do something about it”, GreenHouse was ready to take on the task with her.

The GreenHouse method, which encourages students to “Get out there, Start talking to people, test their assumptions [about where there are gaps and needs in a social issue, and get a] Better understanding of the problem, before they go into solution mode.” Christina had an issue that she was passionate about, which fit well with GreenHouse’s idea of encouraging its innovators to “get as close to problem as they possibly can. [This] enables them to better understand it, better understand what’s been done, what’s worked, and what hasn’t worked in the past, what gaps there are [in the climate surrounding this issue]”.

With the community based, live-in approach of GreenHouse, it makes sense that it can produce an effective way to tackle a complex societal issue in Uganda- the collectivist culture, of supporting, sharing and building with each other mirrors many aspects of the East African country’s own way. “Students can be inspired by their peers- it’s great when Christina gets back and gives these talks, it really inspires other students to go ‘wow, she did that, maybe I can do something too’” Tania says of how, even now that Christina has been graduated from the program for 3 years, they remain connected. “She was in our second cohort- Not short of praise for our co-founder either, Tania speaks on how Christina- and FullSoul- really were able to grow in the program, and become the force that they are today; “Gosh, how do we get more Christina’s? how do we create the conditions so that more Christina’s and can thrive, and can step forward […] get engaged with these problems [..]she’s been the inspiration for a lot of pieces of our program.

In the years since FullSoul’s first days in GreenHouse a lot has changed! Our team has grown, both in size and in our passion to live soulfully, FullSoul has gained hundreds more supporters globally, and best of all we’ve travelled back to Uganda, delivering our first safe-birth kits to clinics in Uganda. We’re so thankful for our founders’ passions, and of places and networks like St. Paul’s Greenhouse that really allow these ideas to become reality- some of our past FullSoul volunteers have gone on to start their own initiatives for social change too! We’ll keep up the ‘Sindica’ for safe-motherhood in Uganda, and we’re glad and honoured to see everything that GreenHouse and its fellows push towards too.

Good to be back! (We never really leave..) Joining St. Paul's #Greenhouse today for their Social Impact Showcase!  It's incredible to witness and be a part of such passionate change, and be surrounded by individuals that are making it happen. A huge reaso

Read more about Christina’s experience with St. Paul’s GreenHouse here: Life is Triage

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