African Leadership Program
Twenty One Toys held a workshop at Engineers Without Borders Canada for their African Leadership Program: A forum of greater collaboration between Southern and Northern hemispheres for African Delegates from 4 countries (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Zambia and Malawi) to a leadership experience in Canada. Founder Ilana Ben-Ari presented her Connexions Toy for Empathy and Creative Dialogueand discussed why these skills are crucial for effective leadership and collaboration.
“The toy provided a wonderful exploration of the nuances of communication—bringing out key insights into the commonalities and differences in communication styles that existed between engineers, administrators and students. It led to a rich discussion on how important dialogue, understanding and empathy are for effective collaboration, and provided a diverse group of participants (from Ghana, Malawi, Canada, France and beyond) with a common language to help explore cultural differences in communication, collaboration, and leadership. The toy became, for our participants, a workshop experience that helped them highlight issues they have struggled with in their own projects.”
Engineers Without Borders Canada:
Engineers Without Borders Canada creates opportunities for rural Africans in Zambia, Malawi, Ghana and Burkina Faso to create positive change in their lives. They harness the skills and creativity of the Canadian engineering sector to find practical solutions to one of the world’s most urgent problems – extreme poverty. The Canadian branch of Engineers Without Bordersalso plays an active role in Canada’s Fair Trade community, promoting Fair Trade certified products and the broader principles of the movement. They explain a number of their challenges on their website:
"Not enough of Africa’s or the world’s smartest and most well-trained people spend time on development. Those who do are rarely given the time, the space and the resources to imagine, develop and refine new ideas."
In Africa, Engineers Without Borders is pioneering sophisticated responses to complex development challenges. Their volunteers work with overseas institutional partners – governments, development organizations and private enterprises – to identify practical and long-term solutions to poverty. By focusing on the needs of rural communities, they are improving access to clean water and critical infrastructure, increasing farmers’ yields, and supporting business opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs.