AwareNow: Issue 19: The Source Edition

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Page 154

"Be prepared to get your hands dirty because it will literally take you out of your comfort zone…”

Dimathalia: (continued) We were going to be building a kindergarten and educational centre in Borneo. We’d never done anything like that before - I thought you needed a degree to do these things. I didn’t know what to expect. I was so driven, we had updates from the organisation about what the money would do. We did all sorts of things to raise funds and, when I started making bracelets, my mum said I should sell them so I sold them for £1 each and made my first £100. After 18 months, we end up in Malaysia, and you get to see it for yourself and work on the projects. You get your hands dirty, I even had to chop my hair off when I came back because I was mixing cement and all sorts of things. We couldn’t speak the same language so we were just smiling. It was an extraordinary experience. I never thought we could actually help people. Malaysia was a turning point for me. I came back and thought I've got to do something like this, it’s where it all started for me.

Tanith: At the age of 17 working with your twin sister, Mary, you turned your talent for creating beautiful bracelets into TEAM DIMA Global Bracelets for Change. Talk me through the concept and what it has achieved to date?

Dimathalia: When I started TEAM DIMA Global I just wanted to fundraise. I studied politics and international relations at university because I wanted to know what was going on in the world, why different parts were poorer than others, and obviously got my answers. I created Bracelets for Change for fundraising but after Malaysia realised we could use them for other projects as well, such as Ecuador, South Korea, Lebanon, India and other parts of the world.

I started getting support from celebrities like John Claude Van Damme, Miss USA and Love Island. People would wear the bracelet so that other people would buy them and the money would go directly into the projects. Everyone asks, does all the money go into the projects and yes 100%. I realised that people really liked the bracelets so we did pop ups in London during Christmas. We had a lot of support from Australia too, lovely people in different parts of the world would buy them online. Now we get kids, for example in Kenya, and teach classes where they learn to make the bracelets, and at the same time talk about social issues like sex education. We get both boys and girls and the teachers involved too. It's an educational programme as well as a sustainable programme where kids learn a skill and then they can sell their work in local markets so that they don't have to do crazy things to obtain money for things they need like period pads or food.

Tanith: TEAM DIMA Global’s mission is to inspire young people to volunteer and become agents for change! How does it work and how can young people get involved?

Dimathalia: Volunteering has changed my life so there's so much I can say to young people that want to volunteer and become agents of change. They can get involved with TEAM DIMA Global, we have small global groups in different parts of the world where we have a youth ambassador. They can connect and if there's fundraising, a visit, or a campaign that we're leading, they can be involved. There are a lot of young people who are really passionate and want to find ways that they can help, but they don't actually know how. It reminds me of when I thought that you needed a degree or some professional experience to volunteer when you don’t. I think the most important thing is to look for organisations that you sympathise with their messages, mission and campaigns. Be prepared to get your hands dirty because it will literally take you out of your comfort zone and change your life completely. When I go on projects my back could be aching but I don't care, I want to help out and make that change. Social media and online platforms are massive so you can find organisations to help, even if it's not a big organisation. There are lots of small charities that are looking for people to be volunteers and give their time to help, like us, so connect. 154 AWARENOW / THE SOURCE EDITION