Hamsha Pathmanathan, OCIC Global Changemaker Youth Ambassador 2018

Age: 28 | City: Toronto | Partners For A Better World: Cuso International, Give Time Program, Comdu.it

“I always knew that the best way to go about development in vulnerable communities was to cultivate the strengths and skills already present on the ground. Comdu.it platform of leveraging diaspora technical skills to strengthen local organizations resonated with my core beliefs about what sustainable development is.” 

Hamsha Pathmanathan is passionate about social inclusion, collaboration and community. Hamsha believes that working together is key to achieving sustainable development. From a young age, she knew that agriculture, conservation and wildlife issues were monumental concerns, and led her toward sustainable community development. Hamsha is engaged in sustainable development on a global level through her current role at Comdu.it, her graduate research work in Sri Lanka, and additional fieldwork completed in Nigeria through Cuso International. At Comdu.it, Hamsha has played an instrumental role in designing and successfully launching the Give Time Program, developed orientation resources, and supported pre-departure orientations, monitoring and evaluation, and debriefing for all volunteers. She is both the community liaison and the volunteer liaison between four international volunteers. She also volunteers for a number of organizations engaged in global initiatives including Cuso International. Through her fieldwork with local farmers in Sri Lanka, Hamsha determined barriers to sustainable agricultural practices and designed an innovative low-tech, low-input agricultural system that would improve soil conditions and increase yields. Hamsha volunteered for a year in Nigeria through Cuso International, where she collaborated with local women’s groups to assess their farming needs and developed solutions and services to overcome community-specific barriers to achieving local food security.

Meet Hamsha Pathmanathan OCIC Global Changemaker Youth Ambassador 2018 

Host David Peck, in conversation with OCIC’s Global Changemaker Youth Ambassadors will inspire you to get involved in moving the needle towards global social justice and sustainable change.

Describe how you maintain hope for the world?

The nature of the word “hope” entails an anticipation for something better, a step towards the positive, a desire, a wish for things to change. And there are plenty of people “hoping” and working towards a more sustainable, equitable, equal, and socially inclusive world. So there is hope for the world.

What does Innovation look like? Does it look the same everywhere?

Innovation looks different in different contexts. In an office culture it may look like opening up the platform to hear more critiques and ideas on a project plan where none was heard before. That’s a shift in management style for that particular office. In essence, innovation is change, and change for the better. It does look the same in both countries because changing existing ideologies and practices, in whichever form they may be in, to be more encompassing and socially inclusive is innovation at its core.

In what ways does Sustainable Development relate to Diaspora youth?

Before we can answer this question, you have to look at how we became diaspora. Some of us (by us I also mean parents) came seeking new opportunities but many of us were fleeing conflict, and conflicted regions, regions under turmoil, require the most support and innovation for moving towards sustainable development. As diaspora youth we have the edge. We are able to deeply understand the nature of the conflict (as a lived and non-lived experience) and immerse ourselves within the culture to drive change bottom-up. We should care because we are the closest link to the communities we come from.

Hamsha’s Book Recommendation

A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold.

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Nominating Organization

Established in 2014, comdu.it is a growing non-profit network of diaspora changemakers interested in leveraging technical assistance for sustainable development of the North and East of Sri Lanka. Our mission is to help shift diaspora engagement from charity to sustainability, from aid to economic development, and from supporting remittance economies to building knowledge economies.