It’s August and we are celebrating, because August brings with it a very special day: International Youth Day. Celebrated every year on August 12, International Youth Day recognizes the world’s youth as essential partners in driving global progress and change, and raising awareness of the challenges they face. This International Youth Day, we’re taking the opportunity to honor young people, who, especially in this century, are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in and achieve the unachievable. Alexandria Lafci is one of these young individuals.
As the Co-Founder of New Story, an innovative NGO that transforms slums into sustainable communities, Alexandria has not only shattered the glass ceiling by being listed in Forbes 30 Under 30, but she’s also impacted thousands of lives. Her journey in this work started from hearing stories of her mother, who grew up in the foster care system in the U.S. Additionally, her perspective changed when she saw the impact of homelessness on young children while she was working for Teach For America.
New Story is the light at the end of the tunnel for many people in need. It provides them with houses that are relatively cheap to build and opens a new chapter in their lives . Let’s dive a little bit deeper into how this organization is driving change by bringing an example of the impact that has been made in Haiti.
The 2010 Haiti Earthquake wrecked the country’s economy and left many people in extreme poverty. Eight years later, people in some parts of the country still cope with the terrible devastation it caused, including relying on tents as a primary source of shelter. Alexandria, a sympathetic person who considers solving poverty her life mission, could not pass indifferently about this problem. She explains:
“When Brett (Co-Founder of New Story) and I had our first conversation about building homes in Haiti and solving that issue, I was just really excited about the opportunity to see what the broad ranging implications of that could be. That’s how I got super passionate about housing, as it relates to poverty.”
New Story doesn’t just want to build new houses, it wants to create a model for sustainable development that will have lasting change for the people and communities it touches. Here’s how they do it:
- In the beginning, opinions from the future residents are collected. They want to know where these people want their house to be located and what their priorities of home are. In Alexandria’s opinion, “customer conversations give insights that make products/services more likely to be used and, thus, successful.”
- New Story hires locals only and buys materials locally. Alexandria explains the reason behind this: “One of the biggest observations in my work internationally is that everywhere you go, you spin the globe, put your finger, everywhere you go there are competent people and organizations who are going to know their communities, how to do business in those locations better than you ever will.”
- It does not create one-off homes. Instead, it builds communities and centers urban planning around schools, play areas, and income opportunities.
3D Printed Home
Alexandria’s desire to put a dent in the poverty rate led her to work on a very big and innovative idea—a 3D printer for houses. With this 3D printer it would take only 12 to 24 hours to build a house, with a cost of $4000. It has been reported that worldwide 1.6 billion people lack adequate housing. Therefore, this breakthrough will not only revolutionize the home-building industry, but it will also have an enormous impact on our journey to a more sustainable future. As Alexandria explains, “For us, success is not the tres commas club, but the most important work we could ever do — ending human suffering and inequity.”
Alexandria proves that age is not an obstacle to chase your dreams and accomplish your goals. Moreover, she shows that success is not permanent – it is ongoing, as she is transforming the home building industry. The key to her success was the true passion to help those in need. And, as we can see, that passion is leaving its huge impact on the lives of thousands.
Take Action Challenge
- If you are interested in learning more about New Story and the work it is doing, make sure to click this link: https://newstorycharity.org
- Share with us the names of the young people that you find inspiring and tell us why. Tweet us @GlobalMoms #GlobalMoms