Helen Samuels

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 1999


This profile was prepared when Helen Samuels was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1999.
The New Idea
To address the devastating effects of gang violence, which she has witnessed first-hand, Helen Samuels has developed a network of gang members and and indigenous youth from poverty-stricken urban areas. Based in Mexico, Mexcalibur provides a forum for at-risk youth to share achievements and proposals for community action with one another and young people in other countries. Mexcalibur promotes the formation of young social transformers within a network capable of doing and spreading sustainable projects that enable them to achieve autonomy and self-sufficiency. Rather than trying to "reform" and save youth, Helen trains youth leaders who have recognized that drugs, violence, and crime are not the means of attaining a better life. Helen does not seek to eliminate their problems but to support their efforts while expanding their skills and helping them to become teachers and role models.
Helen is also raising awareness among decision-makers about the need to include youth in national and international efforts to solve youth-related problems. Mexcalibur reaches out to others interested in strengthening youth participation.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

More For You