Theories concerning ways to end global poverty seem to overwhelm us and often tend to be temporal, unreliable or too complicated to understand. With the help of the YouTube community, people have tried to come up with different ways to tackle what they believe in: Meet Shawn.
Shawn is 28 years old and grew up in Toronto, Canada, before heading to graduate school at Notre Dame. After meeting Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, author of “The End of Poverty,” he immediately withdrew from grad school and decided to try to make the world a better place – one meaningful difference at a time.
He headed straight for Bangladesh and decided to embark on a mission called the Uncultured Project.
“It’s about inspiring others to believe that we can be the generation that ends extreme poverty,” Shawn said. “Hopefully, this project can also show the big multinational organizations that there is a better way to engage people on the issue of global poverty.”
This is not a charity, nor is it an organization. The funds are raised through the awareness spread by YouTube and through donations from people who have seen these videos and desire to give out of their own pocket.
“What strikes me as so amazing about Shawn is that he realizes that poverty isn’t about them, it’s about us,” supporter and best-seller author John Greene said.
After starting the Uncultured Project, Shawn heard about the Davos Debate. This debate began with individuals entering their ideas on tackling global issues. The voting ended Friday, Jan. 15, regarding the five finalists, Shawn being one of them.
“The conversation of global poverty is not as black and white as we make it out to be in the classroom and mainstream media,” Shawn said.
The first project he set out on because of Facebook video requests to provide the village of Baros with clean drinking water. The contaminated pond water there caused stomach illness and skin disease or required that the people of Baros walk long distances for more potable sources. They simply did not have the means to implement clean drinking water.
The YouTube community voted that they should be provided with a pond-sand filter, which does just what it implies: It filters sand and other contaminated materials out of the water. After raising money from online donations and donations given to Save the Children, a pond-sand filter was provided.
“This is not a charity, it is an experiment in community,” Greene said.
Shawn is interested in the individual. He wants people to realize that it is the small things adding up and people taking the initiative to help that will make the greatest impact on global poverty.
“It won’t take a radical change like becoming communist or Mother Teresa to make that happen,” Shawn said. “Simple changes in our global priorities can have a huge impact around the world.”