WonderFeast led by Chiara

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A CONVERSATION WITH Chiara 

I use my love of baking to help girls in South Africa spend less time on cooking-related chores, so they can stay in school and reach their dreams. Over the last two years, I’ve baked and sold over 7,000 homemade treats, raising money to bring over 205 Wonderbags to the Kliptown Youth Program and 500 Wonderbags to eSibonisweni Primary School in KwaZulu-Natal. Now, I’m hoping to raise enough money to host a WonderFeast at eSibonisweni and improve their cook stove situation, so that families can learn how these simple, yet powerful tools can help them save time and money everyday.

I work hard to improve the lives of others because with every act of kindness the world becomes a more happy and equitable place, where everyone can feel empowered to change their lives.  

What inspired your work to help other people?

Where I live in California, just driving to soccer practice I notice the big economic differences and inequalities between neighborhoods around me. I became more aware of global economic disparity when learning from South African teachers who frequently visit my school, Mark Day School.

Conversations I had as a sixth grader with teachers from the Kliptown Youth Program in Soweto made a big impact on me. We shared stories about our day-to-day lives. One remarkable teacher, Melissa Cumbi pointed out the stark differences between my life and opportunities in California and those of girls in South Africa. She made me think about how our lived experiences shape our values, voice, and dreams. She told me about how she always works to make her voice heard in a world that doesn’t always listen. Melissa encourages people stand up for what we believe in. Melissa helped me realize I could work hard to help make positive change for these girls.

How does Wonderbag help you reach your goal of positive change in the world?

Lack of girls' education is keeping millions of women in the cycle of poverty and not able to reach their dreams. I want to use my voice to help other girls make progress in the world. By activating Wonderbags, I am helping initiate positive change for girls in these communities. By easing the huge burden they face of providing food, water and fuel for their families, I’m hopefully opening up time for girls to stay in school and helping them toward a better future. When girls band together, we can change the world.

I have been working closely with Sarah Collins, the inventor of the Wonderbag. She is my inspiration, and she is empowering women all over the world to take control of their lives and obtain an education.

And Wonderbags really work! In 2016, we field-tested 30 wonderbags with teachers at eSibonisweni. One day, a teacher ran up to me. She told me that she felt like she had “four arms” and that “the Wonderbag was doing the cooking for her.” The time saved was such a relief for this hard-working teacher, and because electricity is so expensive, it would save her money too. By the time we were leaving, many teachers had tested the bags. One called them, “the amazing Wonderbags.”

Why a WonderFeast?

WonderFeasts are an opportunity to teach the nutritional, time and money-saving benefits of Wonderbag cooking. We demonstrate how to cook with a Wonderbag and share a meal together. We have a big celebration. It is the perfect way to bring the community together to share this awesome invention and inspire the girls of eSibonisweni to create change in their local community.

How do you raise the money to support your efforts?

By baking cookies! In the last two years, I’ve baked over 7,000 treats and raised enough money to bring 205 Wonderbags to Kliptown Youth Program and 500 Wonderbags to eSibonisweni. Now, will host a WonderFeast to feed the 1,200 parents and students. It costs about $2 per person for a WonderFeast meal of chicken vegetable curry. I’m hoping Wonderbag supporters from around the world can help me reach this community and many others like it.

What have you learned through your work so far?

This project has taught me about gratitude and expanded my knowledge of the world. I have connected with so many people interested in women's rights, the environment, and social justice. I am now an ambassador for Wonderbag’s youth program. The smiles and heartwarming hugs of the women receiving the bags in South Africa made me feel appreciated, and good about the change I was making in other people's lives. I have put a lot of effort and time into this project and I am so grateful for the experiences it has given me in return. I am incredibly excited to keep expanding my project and fundraising, and to see where this project takes me next!