You could say that promoting diversity and the stories that are often overlooked on big platforms is Evelyn Sabino’s personal mission, sweet spot and calling. From Defense Innovation Lectures to Life is Beautiful Music and Art Festival, she has focused on booking diverse speakers of all age groups, ethnicities and abilities throughout her career. . During her three years working for Life is Beautiful, she met Charles Ressler, who shared stories about #dreamMaker, a growing movement he started helping strangers across the world achieve their wildest aspirations without using any money; that of creativity, ingenuity, hard work and the fellowship of the community.
At the time, Sabino, self-proclaimed hyper independent, was inspired by Ressler’s vision, but had nothing to ask him personally. She had her eyes set on the Peace Corps, an initiative she had wanted to join since her high school years, as a way not only to give back, but also to appreciate the privileges she had, as well as to better understand what her mother lived growing up. in a poor neighborhood in the Philippines.
After a rigorous application process, Sabino manifested his vision and landed in a remote village in Senegal, the oldest Peace Corps place of service in the world. While she was there, another dream unfolded.
Shortly after arriving, Sabino met another named Moriah, whose post she would replace in her local village of Goudiry. Moriah shared how the children in the village loved to color. Unfortunately, Moriah only had one good coloring book that featured images of African girls looking like them instead of Western girls representing a Western beauty standard. During this time, Evelyn was undergoing Peace Corps training and learning about Senegal’s patriarchal culture – how girls not only go to school like boys, but are also responsible for all the chores around the house.
“So that they [girls] have all this back-breaking work to do, aside from their studies, that boys aren’t as expected to do, âsays Sabino. âI started to think about how much I liked Aesop’s Fables growing up, and how much I liked amplifying the stories of people of color, and I was like, ‘Well, why not create a coloring book that children can relate to if one doesn’t exist? ‘ At that time, the World Cup was launched and the Senegalese love football. I was determined that whatever story I did, she would raise the girls and there would be a female protagonist.
Ask and it’s given
From there, based on everything she had learned so far about Senegal, she created Maimouna makes a goal, the story of a Senegalese girl who loves football, but her brother always tells her no whenever she asks him if she can play with him and his friends. One day, he brings home a burst soccer ball. At the same time, Maimouna and her mother sell homemade dolls at the market, and Maimouna receives part of the profits to save. She uses her savings to replace her brother’s burst ball and ends up scoring a goal, winning the first soccer game she plays with the boys, using the ball she bought.
Once the story was over, Sabino set out to find an illustrator.
âIt just so happened that around this time I saw Charles on Facebook offering to help people through the #dreamMaker movement,â Sabino shares. âIt’s nice to see how he helps people, but I’ve just been a silent observer for a very long time. Finally, I asked Charles if he knew of anyone who could illustrate this pro bono book.
In no time, Megan Glade Dresback, arrived as an illustrator, and Maimouna’s football adventures caused a stir. With this help and support, Sabino ended up creating four additional coloring books, one of which ended up being printed and distributed in other French-speaking countries in Africa. Additionally, she was eventually asked to fly to Europe to share her children’s story at an arts and film festival focused on global charity.
“When Evelyn contacted me, I knew I had a network that could support her, so I found her the resources she needed and helped her project manage the creation of the first book,” Ressler remembers. âSeeing the result of all of this has been such an amazing experience, and now seeing it in Forbes is another example of the ripple effect of #dreamMaker. The ripple effect is one of my favorite parts of this movement because helping a person is multiplying You have no idea how many lives are changing For example: what will Evelyn’s books inspire young girls who read them, young boys? will become leaders? Change their village, their country, the world? So many things are going to happen because they had a book that had characters who looked like them and that told a story that gave them power. wouldn’t be written if Evelyn hadn’t found the resources she needed? That’s why I help anyone because the positive impact reverberates far beyond just a dream.
âThe most rewarding thing I did in the Peace Corps was none of the measurement projects I worked on,â says Sabino. “It was actually doing this coloring book.”
Sabino sees his coloring books as part of his grand vision to spread stories about under-represented groups around the world. As she came full circle in her own Peace Corps story, she was able to pay tribute to the foster family who inspired Maimouna makes a goal by writing and dedicating a second story to the Dieng family of Goudiry, Tambacounda, Senegal, called Fatimata and the dancing ram.
Here’s a photo of Ideyni, the real Senegalese girl that Dresback modeled Maimouna on – Senegalese clothes, expressions, features and all. And underneath Ideyni is the first drawing that Dresback made of Maimouna: entrepreneurial mindset, goalscorer and all.