TO ENHANCE AND IMPROVE COMMUNITIES THROUGH COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AND POVERTY ALLEVIATION WITH AN EMPHASIS ON SUSTAINABILITY
RUN Orphanage, Uganda
"Everyday the kids would ask me when the school was going to be finished or if I would teach them another set of numbers. You wouldn't believe the ambition burning within these communities, all they need is that little push"
Mayirinya Village, Uganda
"I like to highlight the importance of breaking that "white savior" complex because I don't believe these people need saving, I believe they need someone to believe in them and someone to help them reach self reliance and independence"
"What started out as a cultural experience, turned into a lifetime of service," says Sara Messina, Founder of Sustainable Steward. "I needed to understand and see for myself why so many people live in poverty when we have more than enough resources to sustain all. I felt drawn to experience such a life firsthand so that I could feel, witness, and ultimately seek solutions in establishing a wave of change, because who else was going to do it? True change starts at the community level and that's what I was going to do."
Sara's passion for community development first stunted after witnessing the conditions of the Nemato Township located in Port Alfred, South Africa. Living firsthand and witnessing a community of strong people stuck in such a rampant cycle of poverty, she knew early in education was going to be a key driver of change if her fellow villagers were ever going to break such a cycle of poverty. Sara spent months at a time working in different communities, from different walks of life, around different parts of the world yet she kept finding an underlying pattern everywhere she went, mis-education or lack of education at all.
Whether it was communities drinking contaminated water, children breaking their backs working in the fields, mothers walking miles a day for water, or a lack of hygiene and sanitation, Sara knew there was an imperative need for education and awareness if these vulnerable communities were ever going to break the cycle.
With very little funds and a strong will for change, Sara made her way to the rural village of Mayirinya, located in Eastern Uganda. With the intentions of getting to know the community on a personal level, Sara never foresaw the family she would soon inherit. After only spending a couple weeks with the villagers, it was made known that a critical need of the community was access to clean safe drinking water as well as a community center where the villagers could begin any form of education. With little funds and even less knowledge regarding construction on limited resources, Sara at the feet of her local villagers, began construction of Mayirinya's very first school.
"I had only been in the village for two days and the children were already calling me Mama 'Sada'. Everyday the kids would ask me when the school was going to be finished or if I would teach them another set of numbers. You wouldn't believe the ambition burning within these communities, all they needed was that little push. But this is when I like to highlight the importance of breaking that "white savior" complex because I don't believe these people need saving, I believe they need someone to believe in them and someone to help them reach self reliance and independence. To me, this wasn't just a feeling of love for these people, it was a feeling of responsibility, like I was meant to end up in this tiny village no where on the map all alone and fall totally in love with a community of people I would immediately call family. I was greeted as a friend but left as family. And that is what makes Sustainable Steward special. I don't find joy in this for the humbling feeling, I do this for Fatia, for Salima, for Marguiesimone, and every other vulnerable child, parent, and grandparent at risk. So I founded this organization to take responsibility for those boys and girls who were merely born into this life, so that ultimately I could Engage, Enrich, and Empower them to be the best version of themselves, in hopes they will do the same for others. I am not just these children's friend but their nurse, their teacher, their librarian and their support system. And I hope to impact many many more along the way."
After her initial stay in Uganda in 2018, Sara came home with a heavy heart and a determination for change. Having witnessed extreme levels of poverty within the rural communities, Sara was driven to seek solutions to the many challenges these villagers faced. And that is where Sustainable Steward came into play, to enhance and improve communities through community development and poverty alleviation with an emphasis on sustainability.
Sustainable Steward believes that all people are entitled to the respect, dignity, equality, safety, and security accorded to other members of society, and should be treated accordingly.
Sustainable Steward believes in honorable initiatives and conducting business in a way that is honest, transparent and ethical.
Sustainable Steward seeks to do more than provide a quick fix for an individual situation. We strive to fix larger systemic problems and empower locals to live a better life.
Sustainable Steward believes that all people belong in the community and have fundamental moral, civil and constitutional rights to be fully included and actively participate in all aspects of society. We believe in collaboration and partnerships and that we can accomplish more if we collaborate and or complement existing resources rather than duplicate them.
Sustainable Steward believes in self-determination and self-advocacy. With appropriate resources and support, we believe these vulnerable communities can make decisions about their own lives and must be heard on issues that affect their well-being.
Sustainable Steward believes that society will benefit from the contributions of people with diverse personal characteristics including but not limited to race, ethnicity, religion, age, geographic location, sexual orientation, gender and type of disability. We strive for diversity in our leadership, as well as in all facets of the work of our organization.
Sustainable Steward believes that all people are defined by their own personal strengths, abilities and inherent value, not by their disability, disadvantage, or caste in life. This guiding principle allows us to maintain focus on the people and purpose not propaganda and profit.
Sustainable Steward acts to ensure that people in vulnerable communities, their parents, siblings, family members and other concerned members have meaningful opportunities to inform and guide the direction of projects implemented as well as take positions on important issues.
Sustainable Steward leads by articulating a positive vision for the future of these vulnerable communities and catalyzes public and private support in realization of that vision through carefully planned and well-executed goals, strategies and actions.
Sustainable Steward represents the public interest, supporting and acting with and on behalf of vulnerable communities and their families regardless of the challenges faced.
Sustainable Steward works alongside individuals, organizations and coalitions in a collaborative fashion. We value and promote effective relationships between volunteer and leadership at all levels of the organization.
Transparency, Integrity, Excellence
Sustainable Steward conducts its business with integrity, accountability, and open, honest and timely communication. We are committed to quality and excellence in all that we do.