One of the kings visited kanthari in Trivandrum, South India where social visionaries are trained. Every one of them wants to bring social change to their community with their own initiatives. Whether it’s their own school, environmental initiative, peace academy, inclusion project or support program for marginalized women or the disabled… At kanthari, they learn all the skills for such ambitious projects in a practical and real-life way. This creates a solid foundation for giving other disadvantaged people better prospects in life.

Despite the diversity of the individual projects, all of these changemakers have one thing in common: each of them has directly or indirectly experienced and overcome the problem to which the social project is dedicated. They themselves are part of their target group. This is where dignity comes into play. In many places, people who are marginalized or discriminated against are treated with compassion and pity. But is that dignifying? Who wants pity? Does pity help in such a situation? Doesn’t pity all too often signal weakness and hopelessness to the person affected? Isn’t it more important to emphasize strengths and find ways out? That – and only that – is what dignity means!

That is why kanthari does not look down on anyone. The projects are based on innovative concepts and work on an equal footing, precisely because they are carried out by those who have been affected themselves. Everyone works together as equals. That’s how you preserve dignity. That’s how the world is made a little bit better.

This king was presented on December 24 and was auctioned off for the benefit of kanthari. The auction ended on Epiphany, January 6, 2024 at 12 noon (EST).Thanks to all, who took part on this auction.

final highest bid:

This king symbolizes in a special way the demand for dignified treatment of all people, especially the disadvantaged and those who face discrimination. But it also is a symbol of hope for a better future – created by those who are marginalized. This is particularly important in times of current crises and wars.
In the base of the king’s sculpture, you can see a chili is carved, more precisely a kanthari. This chili plant grows wild in every backyard in Kerala – a small but very hot chili with numerous medicinal ingredients. It lowers blood pressure, purifies the blood, and wakes you up better than any coffee can. It is self-seeding and not cared for by anyone. If it manages to grow roots, it can survive droughts and floods. „kanthari“ is what adults in Kerala call the children who are a bit naughty, and who critically question unnecessary rules. The kanthari is the namesake of the participants of the course, who have the courage to challenge harmful traditions and the status quo, who have energy and fresh ideas to make a positive difference. kanthari is the symbol of a new kind of leader – a leader who has experienced and overcome difficult crises and fates.

Detailed information about kanthari and the opportunity to support this impressive „dream workshop“ also separate of this auction: www.kanthari.org

In December 2023, I introduced the 22 participants of the kanthari course 2023 in the form of a digital Advent calendar. Every one of them has their own impressive story that gives hope for a better future:

Aanand Nagvanshi – India

Aanand’s love for theatre led him back to the slums of Delhi, where he spent his entire childhood. His family lived in a tiny room of 12 square meters at the time. Both parents as well as the children, regardless of their age, had to contribute to the survival of the family. Anand already had jobs as a looter and security guard as a five-year-old. Later, data collector, Uber driver and hotel employee were added. He was able to distract himself from the dreary everyday life in the slums, which was overshadowed by hunger and violence, by acting in the theatre.

He has experienced first-hand the difficulties of slum children. Now he uses his experience with theatre to help the children see possibilities beyond the reality of the slums. His initiative Anurvana (Shining Bright) offers more than just fun. It opens the door to a life full of new perspectives and life goals.

At kanthari , Aanand learns everything he needs to start his own social organization or initiative.

Abel Mvendaga – Nigeria

Born with albinism, Abel had to face discrimination, stigma and poverty.
Often he had no choice but to look barefoot under the burning sun for work and education. 
His educational path was particularly rocky due to the bullying and prejudices of his classmates. When he left his home village to study, he began to volunteer. In 2020, he founded his own initiative „CAREN“, which advocates for the rights of people with albinism.

At kanthari , Abel learns everything he needs to start his own social organization or initiative.

Anubha Singhal – India

Anubha Singhal grew up in New Delhi, India, as a city kid. She loved to travel. Her life was comfortable until she was diagnosed with a rare condition called limb-girdle muscular dystrophy at the age of 17. This disease progresses inexorably and eventually immobilizes the person. This did not discourage her. She embraced the new obstacles and changed her perspective on life. She also reoriented herself in her architecture studies. Today, she is committed to barrier-free design through her „enable me access“ initiative to enable access to public buildings for all.

At kanthari , Anubha learns everything she needs to start her own social organization or initiative.

Bone Sit Paing Hmoo – Myanmar

Bone went blind at the age of 13. Despite a good education at a school for the blind, he experienced the frustration of not being offered any career prospects other than massage. Around 85% of all employed blind people in Myanmar work in this field.  Almost all blind young people go through the same difficulties. That’s why, with the Canedom Academy, Bone wants to offer training to empower blind people with basic skills to make the right decisions and to be able to integrate into any new work environment.

At kanthari , Bone learns everything he needs to start his own social organization or initiative.

Bosede Nwachi – Nigeria

After three years of living together as a happy family, Bosede from Nigeria was abandoned by her husband along with her two children. With the limited resources she had, she built her own clothing brand and became successful with it. But even as a strong and independent businesswoman, she was discriminated against as a single mother.  In particular, she had to fight against the prejudice that single mothers were prostitutes. With her initiative, she wants to teach single mothers how to build a house to make them financially independent and to break down stereotypes.

At kanthari , Bosede learns everything she needs to start her own social organization or initiative.

Emmanuel Tanifun – Cameroon

After a violent altercation with his stepbrother, Emmanuel woke up seriously injured in the hospital. Realizing that the family conflict had almost cost him his life, he became interested in peaceful activism, peacemaking, and nonviolent resistance. During his studies, he became involved in peace groups, inspired by activists such as Martin Luther King.In 2016, a civil war broke out in his region in southwestern Cameroon. This particularly affects young people. Due to a lack of prospects, they are incited to violence and instrumentalized by politicians and rebel groups. Emmanuel’s organization „Ndabuchiseh“ combines conflict management with vocational training in order to protect vulnerable youth groups from violence and to build peace themselves.

At kanthari , Emmanuel learns everything he needs to start his own social organization or initiative.

Ifeoluwa Faniran – Nigeria

Born with albinism, Ifeoluwa experienced rejection and isolation. Her mother’s unconditional love protected her from social abuse. It was only after her mother’s death that she realized the dangers she faced.

Later, in exchanges with parents of children with albinism, she realized that she could overcome these challenges with others. This gave her the idea to initiate the organization Ìrètíọla. Ìrètíọla means „hope for tomorrow“ in their mother tongue. It is a community where children with albinism can find their true identity and dignity. As an adult, you will learn to take care of yourself and lead an independent life.

At kanthari , Ifeoluwa learns everything she needs to start her own social organization or initiative.

Itohan Iyawe – Nigeria

Itohan spent her childhood in a small town in Nigeria. Everything revolved around the fear of running out of water one day. Water had an impact on overall health. And if you didn’t have water, you couldn’t go to school.

Later, she worked for an organization called Springboard, founded by a kanthari graduate in 2012 that trains youth in organic farming. There, she learned first-hand about the fear of water shortages among farmers. This gave rise to her initiative „Omitide“ (Water Has Come), a program in which smallholder farmers can cope with droughts that will intensify due to climate change through smart water management.

At kanthari , Itohan learns everything she needs to start her own social organization or initiative.

Johny Sulistio – Indonesia

Upon his retirement after a working life as a doctor, Johny Sulistio started working with cows to give his life a new meaning. He met a leprosy patient with severe deformities. Due to the stigma, they were diagnosed late and thus treated too late. The exclusion experienced by lepers in Indonesia made Johny want to counteract the age-old stigma. He is planning the „House of Ketupat“, a homely meeting place where doctors, social workers, lepers and their relatives live and work together.

At kanthari , Johny learns everything he needs to start his own social organization or initiative.

Olakunle Joshua – Nigeria

When Joshua became temporarily blind in a bus accident, he decided to drop out of medical school and become a special education teacher. In the course of his work, he found that early childhood education is often neglected, especially among blind children. That’s why they start school far too late, if at all. His newly founded preschool „Swing High!“ aims to teach blind children orientation, coordination and independence in a playful way so that they can start life dynamically.

At kanthari , Joshua learns everything he needs to start his own social organization or initiative.

Karan Singh – Nepal

His home village Oda is extremely remote in western Nepal. This remoteness poses major challenges in the areas of health care and further education. The death of Karan Singh’s father due to lack of medical care forced him to drop out of school. He had to work at an early age in India for a meagre wage as a dishwasher and rafting guide.

In 2013, he went back and founded the Oda Foundation, an organization that had set itself the goal of developing the entire region in the fields of education and health. Since then, he had opened a clinic, a kindergarten and a school.

At kanthari , Karan learns everything he needs to develop his own social organization or initiative.

Keerthi Selvaraj – Tamil Nadu, India

Keerthi grew up in a very religious family. Her mother, in particular, showered the children with prohibitions. As an escape from the very limited living environment, Keerthi began photographing birds and was fascinated by the beauty of the animals. She began to delve deeper into the topic and learned more about the role of birds and maintaining biodiversity. Wetlands are a conurbation for a wide variety of animal species and bird species. Due to development and environmental pollution, these offer protection to fewer and fewer animals. Through campaigns of her initiative „Kuyili“ in her region, Keerthi wants to sensitize schoolchildren to the destruction of the environment and especially the wetlands in order to restore and preserve them.

At kanthari , Keerthi learns everything she needs to start her own social organization or initiative.

Krishna Hari Dulal – Nepal

Krishna’s mother was expelled from her village along with her children. Together they lived as beggars on the streets of the Nepalese capital Kathmandu. During his four months on the road, he learned to face all adversities with kindness. An organization for orphans and street children changed his life and enabled him to study. Homeless at the time, Krishna is now determined to give young people in rural communities a sense of home and thus prevent the rural exodus of young people.

At kanthari , Krishna learns everything he needs to start his own social organization or initiative.

Malak Alamar – Jordan

As a child, Malak attended a school in a refugee camp for several years and witnessed how refugees suffered from hate speech and adverse living conditions. She, too, had already experienced discrimination because of her Palestinian roots.

She understood from a young age that refugees did not only suffer from the rejection of the local population. They are also, more than others, victims of natural disasters and climate change. Therefore, through her organization „Sanaubar“, she decided to bring together young Palestinian refugees and refugee children and Jordanian youth in order to find solutions for peaceful coexistence and to design refugee camps as green, safe and livable village communities.

At kanthari , Malak learns everything she needs to start her own social organization or initiative.

Mary Mutua – Kenya

Mary survived her youth in one of Africa’s largest slums. She witnessed drug trafficking, crime and prostitution. She tried to escape the misery by working as a housekeeper in the neighborhood, but was mistreated by her employers. Against all odds, she managed to study hotel management and work in the hotel industry. But she didn’t stay there for long. She wanted change and started her own hotel management school for young people from Kibera. However, the discrepancy between her hotel management training and reality was so great that she questioned her entire training concept. Now, with the knowledge she gained in kanthari, she is starting anew, this time with a hotel management school for young people from the slum, but outside Nairobi. 

At kanthari , Mary learns everything she needs to start her own social organization or initiative.

Mutongi Kawara – Zimbabwe

Mutongi, herself HIV-positive, lost her parents to an AIDS-induced disease at an early age. Throughout her childhood, she was sent from household to household and was often harassed. Discriminatory comments made her to believe that she had no future as an HIV-positive girl. This robbed her of the will to live.
It was only later that she managed to regain her courage. Working with orphans who had maintained a positive outlook on life, regardless of their HIV status or difficulties, sparked her purpose in life to found Mukundi to provide a safe and loving environment for other orphans.
At kanthari , Mutongi learns everything she needs to start her own social organization or initiative.

Myat Tun – Myanmar

Myat grew up in a small village – surrounded by mangroves, without internet, without electricity, but with the simplicity of rural life. In 2013, he discovered his love for nature in a course on sustainable agriculture. With the newly acquired knowledge, he returned to his home state of Rakhine to enable young people to pursue careers in sustainable agriculture, permaculture and conservation. To this end, he founded the Myanmar Permaculture Institute with two comrades-in-arms and acquired land for a future training center.

At kanthari , Myat learns everything he needs to start his own social organization or initiative.

Nelson Kamoyo – Malawi

In Nelson’s childhood it was normal for him to go to school hungry and eat only once a day. As the youngest son, he often skipped school to support his family. The success of his older siblings motivated him to work hard.

Today, feeding school children is Nelson’s top priority. However, his target group is not the parents, but the children themselves. To combat poverty and malnutrition, he dedicates his children’s kitchen Thanzi-265 to supporting children in the areas of food and sustainable gardening. („Thanzi“ means health. And 265 doesn’t just stand for Malawi’s country code, but 2 stands for raw or cooked foods, 6 for the six nutrients needed for a balanced diet, and 5 for the five flavors).

At kanthari , Nelson learns everything he needs to start his own social organization or initiative.

Sara Tandel – Mumbai, India

As a victim of sexual abuse in her childhood, Sara Tandel knows that the safety of children must first be guaranteed at home. She comes from Mumbai and learned at an early age to be obedient to elders, even if that meant remaining silent about injustices. Adults, intentionally or unintentionally, encourage the subjugation of children and thus make them vulnerable. Her mother’s loving, yet controlling behavior ensured that abuse in the family was not made an issue.

With her initiative „Mukhlasi“ (Freedom), she wants to change the relationship between adults and children.  Through workshops, she wants to empower children to make their voices heard and to be able to defend themselves as much as possible against attacks.

At kanthari , Sara learns everything she needs to start her own social organization or initiative.

Sherleen Tunai – Kenya

It took 25 years for Sherleen Tunai to finally accept being a person with albinism. Sherleen grew up in Kakamega, Kenya. She longed to belong, and she hated the way she looked. In social isolation, she began designing and sewing clothes for herself as a child.  Because she wanted to look just as pretty as her white, blonde Barbie dolls. Through her newly founded initiative „Ana Antani“ (I belong), Sherleen wants to empower other people with albinism to accept and identify with albinism right from the beginning of their youth.

At kanthari , Sherleen learns everything she needs to start her own social organization or initiative.

Vasundara Koppula – India

After being diagnosed with polio, Vasundhara faced many challenges. But even after completing her education and working for a television station, she was repeatedly discriminated against and pitied. In 2014, she founded a company and organized events to promote people with disabilities. Today, she aims to found
DE-HUB, an incubation center for the promotion of disabled entrepreneurs.

At kanthari , Vasudhara learns everything she needs to start her own social organization or initiative.

Wilfred Gewon – Liberia

It was not easy for Wilfred to accept that he was blind. After graduating from a school for the blind, he wanted to work with computers, but no one in his native Liberia could teach blind people how to use computers. After studying in South Africa, he opened his own computer school in the capital, Monrovia. This is now to be converted into a technology centre for the blind, which will offer programming courses, basic knowledge on how to build a computer, but also courses on audio editing.

At kanthari , Wilfred learns everything he needs to start his own social organization or initiative.