2017 Feb 5
by Yasonil Piyatissa
Courtney Gehle and Navodinee Wickramanyake are two ambitious individuals who have come together to create a movement that aims to assist people hoping to make the world a better place. This insightful and distinctive venture, known as the ‘The Better Tomorrow Movement’, came to life last September and a quick Q&A tells us why and how they did it.
Q: What exactly does the TBTM offer and what are its objectives?
A: Our objective is to grow the numbers of people who are making a difference in this world. There are so many people who would love to make their difference, no matter how small, but they just don’t know how. Hence, we would like to inspire, empower and support these people so that they will have the means to make this difference. We hope to do this in three ways: 1) The ‘Inspire’ aspect where we share the stories of change makers to show people what is possible. 2) The ‘Empower’ aspect where we share content aimed at skills development and capacity building. 3) The ‘Support’ aspect where we will help people who want to start or improve projects through our international mentorship programme, known as ‘The Hand Up Programme’.
Q: Courtney, what inspired you initiate TBTM?
A: Before attending the Global Change Makers Summit (www.global-changemakers.net) I was toying around with several ideas of how to help other people make a difference in an area they were passionate about. This stemmed from the fact that I had had many friends ask me to mentor them and to help them get projects off the ground, so I wanted to create a kind of “consulting agency” for social projects.
Q: Tell me who you both are as individuals and what led to working together on TBTM?
Courtney: I am a change maker, environmentalist and feminist who is passionate about making a difference, travelling and learning. When I first started working on TBTM I shared the idea with a few trusted friends and Navo got in touch with me saying that she would like to get involved – I wouldn’t have been able to get to this point without her, I am so grateful she did!
Navodinee: I strive to use my voice and my opportunities to create positive change in communities around me. This year I was fortunate enough to deliver a speech at the Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations in Hong Kong and attend the GCM summit in Switzerland, where I met Court and other truly inspiring young people from across the globe. Upon my return to Sri Lanka I realized there was no one place where you could try something new or tackle the problems we see in our community. Based on this, I thought of starting up an inspirational local network where we could share weekly stories of young people who are involved in interesting careers or projects with a floor open for questions, tips, and guidance. When I heard Courtney’s idea for TBTM, it was a much well thought out, refined proposal of a concept I had wanted to initiate locally. So, joining her was a no brainer!
Q: What triggered your needs to make a difference?
Courtney: It was when I went to university, having left my really sheltered life in a small town, I was exposed to the harsh realities of the world for the first time and I decided that I could not bury my head in the sand and ignore them any longer.
Navodinee: I moved to Japan to pursue my higher education on a 100% scholarship. This opened my eyes to how fortunate I was to be able to gain such amazing exposure. I felt a moral obligation to then help make a positive impact in my community in Japan. When I started working on outreach projects, I began to realize the direct and tangible impact it had on lives and that any bit of positive effort could counter some of the injustices we face as communities.
Q: What innovative venture does the TBTM have in store for the future?
A: We have three ideas for TBTM that we would love to see become a reality. The first is to be able to offer online classes or courses on relevant topics such as ‘Working with volunteers’ or ‘How to start a NGO’. The second is that I would like to create a directory on our website for all the resource guides and ‘how to’ guides, such as “how to organize an Earth Day event”. And lastly I would like to create a crowd funding platform on our website where projects that are started through our programme might be able to receive funding.
Furthermore, Navo is heading to Norway early this year to attend a youth summit. We plan on covering this event by interviewing some of the incredible individuals who will be attending via our social media! This is a trial version of something we plan to expand and work on in the future.
Q: What would be the advice you both would give to individuals who have the same ambitions and ideas as you?
Courtney: My advice is to just start, no matter how big a problem you would like to solve or how big a challenge you might be facing- just start somewhere. You can spend your whole life planning, organizing etc. but you will never really be fully ready for what is to come and the only way to move forward is to start. Next, and this is pretty cliché, do not be afraid to make mistakes or to fail, the most you will learn is through making mistakes and it can only make you better and take you further. Lastly, do not be afraid to succeed, this may sound strange, but you honestly can do anything if you work hard enough and once you realize this it can be quite daunting! Nevertheless, the end result is worth it.
Navodinee: I once read that if you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room and since then I’ve always tried to surround myself by people who have something to teach me. This way I am constantly challenged, I learn something new every day and I have space to grow. This will add great value to a project or cause.
Q: Describe the best memory you both have created together while working for TBTM.
Courtney: The best memory I have of working with Navo was the day we launched the website. We kept messaging each other back and forth, sharing the successes of our first day as they happened. We were both so giddy and excited that what we had worked so hard towards was getting a good response!
Navodinee: One of the best memories I have, aside from what Court just mentioned, was the day we heard that our request from funding from the Global Change Makers initiative came through! To know that our idea was valued was an absolutely amazing feeling for us both and we could not thank GCM enough for all their support and guidance.
Q: What is the process to contact or join the movement?
A: To contact us or to join the movement and get involved, go to our website: www.thebettertomorrowmovement.com
And so, you now know where to look when in search of some much needed guidance or support if you’re in the mood to carry out a meritorious deed and make the world a much happier and peaceful place! Best of luck to Courtney and Navodinee with their goals of achieving a better tomorrow.