What 109 World is all About
There is a saying that you can’t learn how to ride a bike by reading books or talking about it. Quite simply, you have to pedal. At 109 we believe that nothing substitutes experience, that’s why our empowering & fundraising model is done through organizing global trips; Participants get first-hand insight into some of the most important social and environmental causes of today, while their money used to pay the trip is directed as a donation grant to our local partners which otherwise wouldn’t be able to get the support needed to continue their work and create impact. 109 only partners with local grassroots organizations that are improving the lives of hundreds of people and protecting their local environment.
We envision a world where social media is the most effective tool to empower everyone everywhere to be a humanitarian.
We offer everyday people a platform to contribute to global development in a cool way.
The 109th bead, or Guru bead, of a Buddhist Mala holds space. It is a pause that one can dedicate to gratitude of all that is, and it is an acknowledgement of those who came before, who stand with us now, and who will come after. In essence, this number represents the unity that we must gratefully acknowledge and from there, call into action. There are no random acts; we are all interconnected by one thread of continuous exchange of cause and effect. The number 109 is our highest value and the cornerstone of our mission.
109 was born from a conversation between Rachel (Yoga_Girl) and Olivia (Rachel’s best friend from her Swedish homeland) while in Thailand in 2015. Rachel had the urge to use her social media presence for a deeper and more direct positive impact, and Olivia recently graduated with a masters in social entrepreneurship and a lifelong dream to help our planet. Olivia instantly knew to pull in Leticia, who is her best friend from their shared masters program experience. Leticia was already working in the field of positive global impact, so her destiny and passionately developed expertise were a clear match with 109 World. Together, these three women created an impact movement that beautifully demonstrates the individual gifts of powerful force that each possess in their own way.
The concept for 109 World came from the founders’ discomfort over how, with today’s technology, a majority of the population still has little knowledge about the social and environmental challenges that our world is facing, and thus the potential each and every one of us has in alleviating these challenges. Our founders realized this lack of knowledge was greatly hindering amazing initiatives that are already tackling these issues from getting the necessary support they need in order to scale their impact. Through asking the question of how it is possible that a world, more connected than ever, where information and content is cost and border-free, we (individuals, corporations and other organizations) can remain so unaware, our founders determined it to be time to make use of the tools they had.
The 109 team set out to leverage the power of social media in order to do good:
- To empower individuals to become aware of not only their “online time” habits, but their everyday habits as well, and to create social and environmental impact within these accessible areas
- To use the collective power of individuals to become aware of and support local and impactful initiatives across the globe
- To direct the influence and resources of big organizations and personalities toward communities in need
A combination of volunteering and tourism, this catchphrase came from the growing trend of people no longer wanting to simply travel as a tourist, but to do good for the community being explored.
- It brings in a solution that worked in one country but may not be most optimal or sustainable in this particular country/environment
- It does not include the locals in the education or maintenance of the support that was brought in
- Creating psychological “learned helplessness” reliance within the local mentality, where once the aid diminishes or breaks down, they simply wait for the next wave of volunteers to fix or replenish the resource
- Does not help instill self-worth or motivation in the locals to continue to resolve the issue on their own, which could have potentially created jobs and income within the local community
- Most commonly serves only as a means to temporarily make volunteers feel good about themselves
- We do not enter a country with the motive to take it over through our own terms of problem solution. We find trustworthy, local organizations that are already working hard to help their own country. Then we help them stand a chance at faster and higher quality results, however possible
- We work with local organizations, not simply bringing in foreigners with their own solution ideals. We find locals that are already addressing the issue, utilizing as many local resources as possible, maintaining job and economic stability or growth instead of replacing by outsourcing
- We bring in funding to boost the local organization’s efforts, but we also help enhance education/skillsets within the participants and the locals. Money is necessary, but knowledge is the true source of change
- Our goal is to prepare locals to carry on the work once 109 leaves; 109 does not create learned helplessness and reliance
- Our trip participants do not simply perform manual labor, take selfies with the locals, and leave. They attend educational talks by reputable speakers, work side by side with locals, draw forth their own skills and passions for the types of work they provide, connect with other participants & locals and learn from both. We then create space for processing and talking through each day’s experiences per individual and the group as a whole
- Most importantly – our trip participants are with us to learn and directly experience the problem and the solution. In this way, we can create true awareness about the issues we are tackling. The greatest contribution we can give on these trips is actually being there, giving what we can, and dedicating grants (big or small) to the cause
Our impact approach is rooted in growing one’s perspective and the ways to act on it, and it is two-fold:
1- Awareness: 109 uses social media to create awareness through engaging online content within our seven passions to leverage communities and empower people to create changes in their day-to-day lives. Our online social media campaigns raise awareness of the biggest social and environmental challenges of our time by providing literature, calls to action, videos, and content to individuals. Each social media campaign also offers a community platform for communication between individuals and organizations about humanitarian concerns on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter. This community “space” allows a forum for development of deeper awareness of humanitarian and environmental issues facing many parts of the world and empowers people to create changes in their day to day lives, and it encourages them to engage in specific local or global acts to alleviate certain issues.
2–Experience: We organize experiential movements, what we call social mission trips. We organize these experiences for individuals or entities with a focus on three aspects: (1) Community-building and awareness education (2) Volunteering with individuals and local projects to assist in alleviating poverty or social or environmental injustices. We offer workforce, expertise, and other resources that otherwise would not be accessible to the groups we support; and (3) Disbursement of grants to projects that take steps to alleviate these injustices that are identified & co-created by 109 World. Here are some examples of projects we have already co-created with local communities: Building a water distribution system and bringing clean drinking water to over 1,400 people previously without it in Nicaragua, sponsoring 4-year education to orphaned youth in Latvia, implementing a safe and reliable nutrition source for victims of a natural disaster in Ecuador, and implementing composting toilets and sanitation stations for families currently without it.
We direct not only funds, but volunteers, workforce, expertise, social media and all other type of resources we can to these excluded initiatives. Our trip participants have the ability to engage in hands-on projects all around the globe and experience some of the most important social and environmental causes of today.
Many of our participants become ambassadors for the project and cause they worked with, become recurrent donors, and/or direct expertise to the initiatives. Some change jobs because they realize to work for a company that does not align with their values may not be the best use of their energies, and that there truly are reachable opportunities to make the world a better place. Some participants change their behaviors and routines, some start their own journey toward impact. According to our past participants, getting involved with 109, whether in the online or experimental level, is a life-changing experience that cannot be described or labeled with a price tag.
109 World hosts social mission trips around the world for individuals or entities, with a focus on three main aspects: 1- Community-building, education, and development of personal wellbeing through the practice of yoga. 2- Volunteer opportunities between an individual and an organization, in order to assist in the alleviation of poverty or social or environmental injustices within 109’s eight passions (women empowerment, safe water, children, education, animals, food security, environment, and personal health & wellbeing). 3- Disbursement of grants to organizations that connect with our values and are actively working toward resolving a challenge as identified by 109.
Each trip features a daily, guided yoga practice. This offers space for our participants to learn about the benefits yoga can provide toward health, healing, and overall wellness. This naturally creates an opportunity for our participants to nourish themselves so as to enable even more impactful service work, as well as the potential for more enhanced reflection on the service activities and the greater meaning behind 109 World’s mission.
109 World gathers individuals and organizations that are both interested in an identified cause, and we organize activities and volunteer opportunities within and around each cause. Examples include building a school, setting up an animal shelter, a reforestation project, or bringing safe water to areas in need.
In summation, all of our social mission trip participants have the ability to, from an informed and balanced place, engage in hands-on projects around the globe that foster the awareness and actions that will finally lead toward alleviating the largest environmental and humanitarian challenges of our time.
Our trips are, on average, five to six days in length. We take the utmost care in preparing the safety and accommodation logistics for our participants to the absolute best of our ability. Each trip includes:
- Daily yoga guided by today’s top instructors
- Service work in the community our local partnered organization is working in
- An educational talk by a guest speaker that is an expert in the cause we are addressing
- Three meals per day, with the ability to cater to dietary needs
- Opportunities to come together and process the daily experiences as a group
- Opportunities to nurture yourself individually
- Fun group activities, varying per country
We create a grant program with the local organization that we’ve partnered with, to be released in phases once the organization’s agreed upon milestones are accomplished. This maintains transparent accountability between 109 and the partnered organization. In order to donate to the local organizations that we create our trips to help, we must sell a certain amount of spots – an amount that is determined based on each trip’s specific costs.
We provide each participant with the following, all of which must be prearranged both monetarily and logistically:
- Full hotel accommodation nearby the local organization’s worksite
- Meals three times per day, with the exception of only dinner on the first day and only breakfast and lunch on the final day
- Ground transportation between the airport and hotel and throughout the trip
- Daily service work
- Daily yoga sessions guided by today’s top instructors
- A presentation given by a reputable expert in the field in which the trip is working
- Additional activities included in the itinerary, varying per country
Yes! We started close to home with yoga, and we have partnered with top instructors to launch our first 3 global mission trips, but it’s our mission to leverage the potential of other social media communities for stirring up awareness and igniting positive calls to action – whether that be in cooking, photography, fashion, small or large ways, any positive action sets forth a butterfly effect
We try our best to offer through our activities (online or experiential) education on what the current issues are, how they happened, and real sustainable methods to help alleviate or resolve them
We also understand the importance of offering different ways to contribute within one’s own home and daily lives. People should not feel less empowered to change the world because of their living conditions. Whether the actions taken are small or large, each causes a ripple effect. You have that power to change the world
Through our social media campaigns, we raise awareness of challenges related to our eight passions: women empowerment, safe water, children, education, animals, food security, environment, and personal health & wellbeing. Our method utilizes educational and relevant literature, calls to action, videos, and personalized content.
Each campaign creates a community platform that encourages communication between individuals and organizations regarding humanitarian and environmental concerns. Our platforms exist on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
The community space that we create fosters a forum to develop a deeper awareness and understanding of our global challenges, while also encouraging individuals to engage in local or global acts or projects that work toward alleviating such challenges.
Our vision is to break the paradigm that philanthropy is something only for the very wealthy individuals to engage in. With 109 we envision extending the concept of philanthropy to everyday people and empowering them to become change-makers and facilitators of development. No more excuses or feeling helpless or unguided. There is great power in today’s technology to spread awareness, unite our efforts, and co-create the best recipe for positive change. Just as the challenges we face all over the world are global, the solutions and most effective ways to tackle them are through macro, cross-border initiatives with a grassroots strategy. 109 is on the road to become the platform for all individuals not only to understand the biggest social and environmental challenges of our time, but a place where they can apply change and make the world a better place.
Sadly, corruption – even in humanitarian efforts – does exist in our world. We are determined to only partner with and support those organizations whose cornerstones are the following:
- Is strongly anchored in local knowledge and service toward self-sustaining prosperity
- Utilizes sustainable, expandable, and replicable (if possible) methods
- Is clearly based on a vision that is aligned with that of 109’s vision
- Proves to exhibit sound leadership and a competent team that is aligned with our values
- Do you know of an organization that fits our list? Let us know!
We are beyond grateful for your desire to contribute your passions and skills to 109. There are so many ways for your to contribute, all highly needed and humbly treasured:
- Spread the word about 109 and our missions through your own social media and social circles. Would posters or other media materials be helpful? Send us an email and ask!
- Donate to the organization or a specific cause that resonates with you. Recurring donations make us jump (or handstand) for joy!
- Join us on a social mission trip – have you considered creating a fundraiser to help you manifest this?
- Hold a fundraiser, either online or locally. Get creative and have fun with it! We are always available to help brainstorm and support however we can.
- Do you contain the skills and drive to join our team? Apply for an internship. We are not yet in a place to begin hiring, but we will gladly save all applications for future reference!
- Are you a university student, or do you have strong ties with a university? We have an exciting project in the works, and we’d love to connect with you and your university for it.