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Maria Dora Blackburn
I am passionate about:
creating economic opportunities for the world's most vulnerable.
Show my name on the attendees list for events I am attending:
Maria Dora Blackburn is a self-proclaimed administrative advocate against human trafficking. As Nomi Network’s Program Officer, she oversees the needs of our field sites and fosters partnerships. Previously, she volunteered with The Price of Life NYC, a citywide human trafficking awareness raising campaign, as Assistant to the Director. She is NYCUP Alumni and formerly worked in vendor relations. Maria has her Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from Hofstra University. While in school, she founded Hofstra Freedom Movement, aiming to coordinate and equip students with resources to fight trafficking
Thank you so much for the valuable feedback OpenIDEO ! We are happy to further clarify and answer your questions to better understand our proposal and approach. Please see the questions and answers below:
Based on expert career, previous work and field experience, is this a new approach or bold way of answering the challenge question:
• Great proposal. My curiosity: beyond providing skills training, it is not clear how the project will link to potential employment opportunities (including formal businesses, or non-formal activities). How can the project results be achieved without this linkage? -We have built partnerships with large employers such as factories and hotels in Asia who are able to employ our program participants and future trainees. There will be several career paths within those sectors in addition to some women who will start their own businesses. Part of our curriculum will help trainees transition into these jobs and mentor them through the process.
• Training vulnerable women is a great action, even it is not really new! Training helps rebuild self- confidence, but on the long term, important to consider how it really impacts those women. It would be interesting to have more information about what happens AFTER the training: what is the follow-up strategy ? How does the project measure its impact?
-Through the mobile app, we will be able to track the progress of the women against our key individual indicators as well as how they interact with their community. The technology platform we development will be able to help us consolidate this data in real time.
Desirability and Viability of proposal:
• The project could be more holistic to really break the cycle of poverty: are there health and psychological support, or any kind of microfinance activities? See BRAC holistic approach to end ultra-poverty : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Za6-KyAg21Q How viable is the project, how does it depend of foreign donations? How could it be more self-sufficient financially?
-We also have a micro-finance initiative in which women are starting businesses based on the market needs of their community. Our team help incubate and develop these business ideas and as a result women who start micro-businesses are able to employ other women and family members. We currently have 6 micro-businesses developed through the program. The program encourages them to work together and collectively give them guidelines on forming their own micro-finance fund.
Feasibility of proposal (is this an idea that could be brought to life?):
• Yes! however I am not sure that the project fits the challenge philosophy: would love to see articulated the link between the project and environmental or peace issues. Perhaps I am missing it.
-Our mission is to end human trafficking by addressing one of it’s root causes, poverty, through economic empowerment. The women we work with live on less than $1 a day, never had a job, have no agency, have major barriers to finding work, such as poverty, caste, and illiteracy, which makes them vulnerable to trafficking and exploitation. We seek to change the culture of gender-based discrimination and violence by teaching women their worth and value, and by empowering them through job readiness training. After completing our program they are able to have agency in their families, communities, earn income, send their children to school, and break the cycle of poverty.
Other questions or suggestions our experts felt would support the assessment or success of your idea: • Great work, and a very important mission. Could they develop a more holistic approach? How do they relate the project with environmental and peace issues? What are the follow-up activities of the project: what happens when the training program is over? Do they gather women, try to forge a community among them? Does the women find a job thanks NOMI or by themselves?
-The women already form community during the program in the basic training and life skills phase. The program implements activities that promote self worth, team building, and addresses cultural barriers such as the caste system. Women begin sharing meals with others from different castes, they loan money to each other, and form a community watch group that identifies other women who would benefit from the program. Once they graduate from training they move into the mentorship phase as they transition into the workforce. They are placed either with our employment partner, start their own business or work locally in co-ops that Nomi helps form.
My name is Janay. I work with Maria and will be submitting the proposal while she is inflight to Cambodia. Can you help me figure out how to do this? Thank you! You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I looked through your page and I would definitely be interested in setting up a call to learn more. We are always looking for partners especially in training and sourcing. What area of India are you based? Please feel free to message me!