How We Started

Message from Sawa's Founder

I established Sawa World based on a lifelong passion to see a more equal and better world.

Although I was born in the Netherlands, I grew up in Tanzania, where I had the unique opportunity to visit communities in the some of the most poverty stricken areas of the world. While I was deeply touched by the problems in these areas, I was mesmerized by the local people’s strength and inspiration to find solutions to their own local challenges. I felt a strong sense of responsibility to help these communities. I wanted to give a voice to these extraordinary unsung leaders and bring their valuable lessons to the world. At the age of 7, I made a conscious decision to make this my life’s mission.


  • Kenya - Learning elderly wisdom

  • Uganda - Hands on local skills

  • Uganda - Team spirit

  • Uganda - Visiting rural villages

  • Uganda - Sawa World Day 2015

  • Miami - Global speaking events

  • Kenya - Reflection with Masai chief

Since then, I have received 3 academic degrees, worked as an environmental advisor for over 15 years, become a part-time professor at the University of British Columbia, and traveled to over 43 countries. I have been to remote villages in India to film community projects; worked with nomadic tribes in Kenya to study the impacts of foreign aid projects; developed innovative tools to identify sustainable water supply for urban slums in Tanzania and South Africa; collaborated with international organizations such as the World Bank and World Health Organization; worked with neglected children in Colombia; and conducted media workshops in the remote islands of the South Pacific and travelled to Haiti shortly after the 2010 earthquake.

Through these experiences, I was fortunate to meet hundreds of local champions from the world's poorest countries. These unsung leaders had created and implemented their own solutions to uplift their communities out of poverty. I have seen that the anwers to global poverty are found among the people that live in poverty. My dream is to bring global attention to the unique leadership and successes of these local heroes with the goal to create a new approach to solve extreme poverty for 1 billion people.   

And from this passion, Sawa World was born.

Warmest wishes,
Daphne Nederhorst