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Impact Inspire

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A life of success is not termed an achievement until impact is made. Impact is to meet the needs of others directly or indirectly, it is to benefit others through your success and also to positively affect the life of others through your journey in life.
While a number of people are aware of this phenomenon, a large number have left this ideology behind. Speaking of those who are fully aware of this great advantage, let’s consider Leila Janah who is a sun setting on some rural parts of the world.
Janah is the daughter of Indian immigrants who left Mumbai in the late 70’s to the United States in search of a greener pasture. Her parents were learned and had no intentions for education in the states but to raise their standard of living which was a priority.
On getting to US they had their first child Leila on the ninth of October 1982 in Lewiston, New York, near Niagara Falls. Janah was raised in San Pedro, Los Angeles, California in a poor family; she had an unpleasant growing up based on the financial crisis her family suffered at that time.
Her mom who is half-Belgian had a degree in English literature before leaving Mumbai, her father studied engineering but both their certificates were not recognized which led them to struggle for their living.
Janah had to babysit and do other jobs including tutoring to earn a living as a teenager, however through it all she was determined and focused to make life perfect for herself; though she encountered difficulty in climbing the ladder to success but over time she made it.
During her years of struggles, she won a scholarship while schooling at the California Academy of Mathematics, at that time she was 17, the scholarship came through the American Field Services, but Janah desired to spend her scholarship years in Ghana she tried convincing them to allow her spend it teaching in Ghana. She was granted her request and she moved to Ghana where she spent 6 months during her senior year of high school.
While in Ghana, Janah helped tutor young students in the village of Akuapem English language because she had gathered a very practical experience in teaching, which was one of the jobs she did to earn a living back in the United States.
Many of the children whom she taught were disabled in their sight but her experience in Ghana left a mark in her. The teaching experiences in Ghana left her with a burning desire to work for the poorest society in Africa, and many other under-privileged parts of the world.
At this point her humanitarian journey had begun to bear foot print unconsciously. Leila began a continued visit to Africa during her college days.
Grace continued to shine on her and she received admission to study African Development Studies in Harvard University, graduating in 2005. With so much enthusiasm for Africa, she conducted a fieldwork in Mozambique, Senegal and Rwanda while studying in Havard. She consulted to and authored papers for the World Bank’s Development Research Group and Ashoka on social and economic rights.
After graduating from Harvard, she got a job to work as a management consultant with Katzenbach Partners. The job brought a major turning point in her life that established her dreams.
The nature of her job was for her to pay attention to healthcare, mobile and outsourcing companies. While in Katzenbach, she was given a major assignment that opened a link for her to her motherland. The assignment entails managing a call center in Mumbai. She moved to India to begin her assignment when she met a young man who traveled each day by rickshaw from Dharavi, one of the largest slums in South Asia, to work at the center. The situation caught her attention and having to remember her experience in Ghana, she was inspired to proffer a solution.
While thinking of a suitable solution, she resigned from Katzenbach Partners in 2007 to become a visiting scholar at Stanford University with the Program on Global Justice, founded by law professor Joshua Cohen.
She won a business-plan competition at Stanford of $14,000, with that, she already had a solution to the problem of poverty.
She took the money and launched out to establish Samasource (Sama is Sanskrit for “equal”) in 2008. Samasource is a non-profit business with the aim to meet the needs of poor individuals and reduce global poverty through job provision. It involves sourcing people in Africa and Asia to perform digital tasks for companies like Google and LinkedIn. Ever since the inception of Samasource, it has been a huge success, imparting the lives of over 32,265 people.

However, there was a need to enlighten the people, so in 2013, she established Samaschool, a learning arm of Samasource that provides digital skills training and a connection to internet-based jobs that pay a living wage.
In 2012, Janah went on to launch Samahope; a platform that directly sponsors the medical treatments for women and children in poor communities. Samahope is the first of its kind and is in partnership with Johnson & Johnson’s new global health platform, Caring Crowd, at the end of 2015.
Based on her humanitarian service and philanthropic works, she has been recognized and honored in many ways including being the Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, recipient of the inaugural Club de Madrid Young Leadership Award.
Janah is also the co-founder of LXMI, luxury skin care brand, a business that proffers beauty and skin solutions. In 2014, she received a Heinz Award being, the only young person amongst the nominees, and many other honors and awards.

Topics on domestic violence as one of the major challenges women are faced in the world today, has taken center stage in women conferences and meetings. Governments of the world have begun to push legislative actions geared towards protecting women. In the midst of all the drama regarding women’s right and advocacy, philanthropist like Indrani Goradia, have laid out all they have, money, time and energy to eradicate the abuse which greatly affects most women and girls.

Indrani Goradia is a survivor of domestic violence from Trinidad and Tobago, and of Indian descent where gender-based violence is not taken seriously and victims are afraid to speak out even though they are dire need of help. She had suffered from the menace as a child and young adult, but has chosen to spend the rest of her championing the crusade against the abused girls and women, while catering for victims of such a circumstance in several countries around the world.

Growing up in Trinidad, Indrani was one of the bright students at her school. She loved learning and in like manner excelled academically. At home, she suffered the pains of being abused and would turn to her books enjoy temporary happiness- this was her only method of escaping the pain she felt as a child.

These childhood experiences lived with her for many years even as she turns into an adult. But they also triggered the awakening of her inner philanthropic desire- to meet the need of women or children experiencing abuse.

After an unpleasant childhood experience in Trinidad, she left Asia for New York City where she completed her formal education attending Queens College and Kent State University.

Indrani was diagnosed with depression at the age of fifty (50), but despite the diagnosis, she created a solution for herself and others.

In the midst of the darkness she made light, she decided to turn the depression into determination tilted towards rescuing others out of violence related problems.

As part of efforts to get her life back on track, she signed up for the Olympic distance triathlon which entails learning how to swim. Indrani did very well in the game and  this earned a medal.

At that point, she began to perceive life from a different perspective and her life constantly underwent healing. This testimony was Indrani’s zeal to reach all girls and women all over the world who are imprisoned with the stigmas of domestic violence, giving them an opportunity of a renewed life out of the gloom.

She took a step further by partnering with the global health organization, Population Services International (PSI), a leading global health organization involved with tackling malaria, child survival, HIV, reproductive health, gender-based violence, and non-communicable disease. She also partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2013 to accomplish what she desires for the lives of girls and women.

She once committed $5 million to PSI to end gender-based violence in India and Trinidad & Tobago.

Indrani got so involved with the PSI mission that she became part of the Founding Member of Maverick Collective, a philanthropic arm of PSI that advocates for the eradication of extreme poverty by investing in girls and women.

A year after she joined these organisations, she launched the Indrani’s Light Foundation in partnership with PSI to improve the health and rights of girls and women and eradicate gender-based violence all over the world.

The foundation started with tackling the problem within her diaspora community in Houston, Texas before expanding to several other places.

Currently, Indrani’s Light Foundation has succeeded in addressing gender-based violence in the United States, India, and Trinidad (Indrani’s home country) since its inception in 2014.

Through her foundation, many women have been encouraged to live meaningful lives free of abuse and violence.

Indrani is  an expert speaker on violence against women, she has consistently addressed the United Nations and TEDx in such matters, while proffering solutions towards tackling the problem – a case in point is the “Orange the World” campaign.

 

She engages in global discussions with prominent and influential leaders and inspires worldwide donors to support GBV.

Indrani is a pacesetter whose work with the PSI has been copied and used as an example for other advanced projects. She has helped in leveraging future government funding and has changed the normal way of health services and products are delivery.

She is a happy wife, mother, and leader.

 

 

Source: Staff Writer

By Miracle Nwankwo

Two years ago Nepal was consumed by a disastrous earthquake that claimed the lives of nearly 9,000 people and injured nearly 22,000.

The earthquake caused a lot of damages that led to new beginnings for many individuals.

But in a little place in Kathmandu of Nepal existed a beautiful home called the Butterfly Home, a home for peculiar kind of children whose parents have been held bound behind the four walls of Nepal prison yards. They were picked up from these prisons away from their inmate parent to this home.

The owner of this home is a young Nepali social worker Pushpa Basnet founder of the Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC) the academic arm of the foundation.

Pushpa was still an undergraduate when the burden to establish a home for the children of prisoners which she often met during her social work service to the prison yards, filled her heart.

Even when her world came crashing after the disastrous earthquake that consumed Nepal, Pushpa refused to let go because she had nurtured these children as her own and having to end the journey of a lifetime humanitarian service was a no way for her.

Having carried these children away from their biological parents with a promise to give them a hope, she has dedicated her life to a successful future for them.

Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC) is a non-profit organization, for children of prisoners, giving them quality education and a normal childhood outside the four walls of the prison and is located in Kathmandu, Nepal.

As a social worker, Pushpa visited a lot of prison yards during her undergraduate years and was shocked to discover that many children grow up behind bars with their imprisoned parents.

At the sight of the children, she was always heartbroken and she thought of any solution to help in any way she could.

Pushpa was only 21 when she raised money and launched Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC) in 2005, providing daycare program for children.

However it was still not enough, the children needed a home so that they could erase the shambled ideologies about life that was created as result of their parent’s imprisonment and having to grow up around that predicament.

By 2007, she established a residential home for the children to live outside the prison and under her care.

She became the savior of many convicts in Nepali prison who would now rest safely knowing that their children are safe and in the care of a loving heart.

The Early Childhood Development Center rescues both children behind bars throughout urban and rural regions.

Pushpa also ensures that the children go to visit their parents during holidays because she is also concerned about the relationship between the children and their parents.

While she thought about the children she was also thinking of ways to engage their parents, then in 2009, she came up with an amazing programme for these inmate parents. The programme was under the sponsorship of ChangeFusion Nepal and entails coaching the parents to make handicrafts inside the cell.

The core aim of her initiative is to make the female prisoners and also former inmates to be involved in income generating activities that will enable them to sustain their livelihood and contribute towards raising their children.

For many Nepali convicts, they feel indebted to this human savior who has not only brought them hope but has also succeeded in making life worth living.

On this account, her effort has been hugely recognized and commended both in Nepal and outside the country, she has also received supports as well as fund-raise from local and international organizations.

Pushpa received the CNN Hero Award for 2012 and in 2016.

Eleanor Pinugu is an education hero from Manila in Philippine, whose humanitarian path was affected by an incident that happened at a point in her life.

She is the co-founder and owner of Mano Amiga (which means “Helping Hand”) an affordable K to 12 schools with international standards which started in Zomeyucan, Mexico in 1963 providing scholarships and sustainable livelihood for the poor.

Mano Amiga Academy has over 30 schools distributed around seven countries including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico & Venezuela), with more than 17,000 students and parents undergoing formation.

The mission of the school is ached with a burden to empower low-income families to break out of poverty.

However, the vision of the school for the Filipino branch started long ago in the heart of a young lady called Eleanor Pinugu during her junior year in college at the Ateneo de Manila University.

She was born with a silver spoon but suddenly her world began to crash when her mother lost her job and the family was on the verge of bankruptcy.

Then the picture of an uncertain future became clear to Eleanor, it suddenly dawned on her that she had been on the palms of grace having been born into a rich family. At that time, she was a regular paying student taking up AB Interdisciplinary Studies and majored in Journalism and Sociology. 

Fortunately, she came in contact with an essay competition where the prize was a scholarship. She took the competition and won the prize.

Having escaped her predicament, she knew she needed to extend a hand to many children who were faced with difficulties that could cripple their academic desires.

Losing her luxurious background was a major turning point in her life which led her to bear the burden of meeting the needs of others who never had the opportunity of education or who like herself had lost their grounds some point. She then began to make plans to reach out to those in the rural communities and give them the opportunity and access to quality education

Her dream did not begin to bear fruits until years after her graduation while serving as a youth missionary in Mexico, where she visited Mano Amiga Academy; a school for poor children.

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Every woman is a rare gem, every woman is special, and every woman has something to offer to her society, it all depends on her (personal) determination and her belief.

Does she see herself as incompetent, unqualified, impotent, and unfitted? Or does she considers herself as perfect, able, skilled, gifted, and available irrespective of background or circumstances that may be standing as a stumbling block?

Ghulam Sughra Solangi, a light to the women community of Pakistan was born on March 2, 1970, in a little village called Muhammad Arab Solangi, somewhere in Pakistan.

Although her father Muhib Ali was a teacher in a government school, Solangi did not have access to schooling based on the local traditional belief that bans females from seeking for education.

She wanted to school, she held a strong attraction for education but she was bound by laws which she could not break free from.

At age 12, she was married off to a man who abandoned her when she was 20 with two children because he found her unattractive and unlearned. After her divorce she had to begin life all over, it was tough and very challenging moving back to her parent’s house with her children. She faced shame and depression, was mocked and close to committing suicide.

Image result for GHULAM SUGHRA SOLANGI

She thought about a way to escape the misery was education was her best solution. Often times she tried to shut out the thoughts of seeing the impossibilities that surrounded it, but they kept coming because her love for books was stronger than what she could conquer.

She was beaten several times by her brothers who frowned at her idea of going to school but Solangi was persistent, she couldn’t let go because love had taken her away ー the love for education.

Finally, Solangi won the battle when her brothers gave up on the fight to allow her to fulfill her wish. She began studying on her own, and eventually, one of her brothers came forward and allowed an older cousin to help her. The road to success is never a smooth ride, there were obstacles and potholes, people ridiculed and humiliated her but she didn’t lose heart.

She engaged herself in embroidery making and worked every day until late in the evening, through embroidery she was able to sustain herself and her kids.

After four years, of personal studying, she passed the matriculation exam and decided to leave her father’s house to be on her own and pursue education, she succeeded in obtaining a bachelor’s degree with so much enthusiast and confidence in her, becoming the first female high school graduate.

Her journey to the destination of recognition and reward for her struggles started when she was appointed as a teacher in the first school for girls in her village, but there was a huge problem. She was the first teacher in the school but there were no girls to tutor because parent refused to send their female children to school based on some cultural reasons and lack of money.

The quest for a solution was Solangi’s headache. She sought for ways to change the situation for the better and discovered that the major problem centered on the fact that the women in her society were highly restricted from participating in family decision making.

It is obvious that gender inequality has an upper hand in the world because men occupy the higher positions of authority, so to cure gender inequality is to raise the standard of women.

This idea became Solangi’s perfect solution. She stepped out to invest in the lives of the women by elevating their statuses within the household to enable them to contribute as key players in their families’ economic well-being.

She knew that if she was able to achieve this, the women would have authority within their homes to send their daughters and even their sons to school.

She started out by trying to convince the women and also men to release their girl-child to the western education. She also enlightened them on the benefits that are attached to such a decision. As expected it was not a win-win situation because she was an exposed divorcee and not a good example for their female children, for they also thought that she might teach their children to run away from their homes. But she didn’t give up and before long, there was a turn up, but not enough to satisfy Solangi’s hunger to educate all the female children in her community.

A terror flood hit the community in 1992, and destroyed so much that the villagers had to start their lives all over again. With help of her family, she gathered relief items which were used to reach out to the villagers.

At this point, she realized that she had to tackle the problem from its root which was to raise the standard of living of the women by a fund-generating means.

She spoke to the village women about her idea to create an association called Marvi Rural Development Organization (MRDO). The organization was involved with taking up the welfare of rural women and making them aware of their fundamental rights. Almost everyone was against her idea including her brothers but her ambition was strong and she was able to achieve her desires. She gathered like-minded members who worked with her in forming savings groups and increasing the women’s awareness about education, health, human rights, and social development.

They pursued partnerships with organisations like ILO and OXFAM to sponsor their micro credit initiatives and they also sought for capacity building training from renowned organisations.

With conscious efforts, she built the organization responding to women in various communities especially those in remote areas and currently, MRDO serves over 30 households in Pakistan.

She also collaborated with government department and engaged various means to provide health care and other services to the entire communities.

 

Solangi has excelled in touching the lives of many and giving back to humanity in progress.

 

Philanthropic activities in recent years have become widespread in South America.  Individuals and corporate bodies have now delved fully into activities that impact on the lives of those living below standard in their communities through many different means. Despite this new found interest in philanthropy, some might argue that the historical roots of giving and volunteering in Latin America remain the same. For this edition of Impact Inspire, we will be focusing the searchlight on the activities of Angelica Feuntes a Mexican business tycoon, who has devoted her time to championing the empowerment of women in South America.

Angelica Feuntes grew up in a culture that offers women and girls one out of the three options:  to become a daughter, a wife or a mother. This ideology had been predominant in the region for a long time, but as sure as time and seasons, things began to change as women started to break free from that norm.

She is one of the women in Latin America who is fighting to see that women in the South American region and all over the world break free from gender limitations.

Angélica Fuentes started her journey in the family business at age 11 and has encountered challenges and discrimination on her path to becoming a successful business leader. Despite the shortcomings, she chose to be dogged and this attitude saw her through all the challenges that came her way. She then took up the mission of empowering women through philanthropic works.

In the thirty-year of her career, she has served and held various positions in different Latin-American top organizations. Including serving as a one-time CEO and shareholder of Grupo Omnilife Angelissima Chivas, the Mexican based Multinational Corporation that deals with dietary supplements, beauty and cosmetics brand with 3,500 number of employees.

Angelica is largely known for the significant impact she has created by promoting the interest of women in Latin America through empowerment programmes towards the achievement of gender equality. Twenty-eight years of her life has been dedicated to a diligent participation and partnership with NGOs, international organizations and professional groups that are all out to increase and benefit the lives of women.

In past years, Angelica has been immensely involved in the activities of a number of philanthropic organizations, including the UN Foundation, where she served as global advocate alongside with Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan.

She has also served as the chief executive officer of Mexican energy firm Grupo Imperial Corporativo, and the Business Energy Network of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Agreement (APEC).

Angelica established her foundation in 2014, the Angélica Fuentes Foundation (AFF), with the major goal of developing economic, social and environmental sectors by promoting gender equality and women empowerment in Latin America.

The Angélica Fuentes Foundation achieves these motives by organizing schemes that see to the empowerment of women of all ages through the strengthening and financing of organizations that support women’s advancement.

In 2016 two years after the foundation had been in existence, the AFF  Donated $700k to UN Women for the support of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) Fund for Gender Equality.

Angelica visualizes a world where women can work with men cooperatively without inequalities and in a context of equanimity and no disagreement.

This vision drives her towards fighting for the right of women through her philanthropic culmination of a lifelong commitment to seeing to the realization of women participating in all the areas of human endeavor, for their personal wellbeing as well as that of the communities they live in.

One of the major models used by the foundation is pursuing perfect and diverse ways to impact the lives of women through funds and empowerment programmes in different communities and countries where they have a direct or indirect presence.

With headquarters in Mexico, the foundation has operational offices in Colombia, Peru, Chile, Guatemala, and the U.S and so far has been able to do more than expected in this four year of existence.

In the first year of AFF establishment, USD 1 million was awarded to 19 projects in Colombia, Mexico, and Peru during its first grant cycle.

Under the second grant cycle for its second year, the AFF was able to carry out a research that collated reports on the state of women and girls in Mexico through which they are working with to support women empowerment in Latin America through other partnerships.

Currently, Angélica Fuentes is the co-chair of the Mexico Gender Parity Taskforce, a World Economic Forum initiative. Also, she is a member of the Secretary Clinton’s International Council on Women’s Business Leadership. These are few of the much participation she is involved in.

Angélica Fuentes was married to Jorge Vergara for eight years, and she is the mother of Valentina and Mariaignacia whom she had at the solid period of her career.

India is one of the countries of the world where the law does not favour equal rights for the women. The women encounter various challenges in the bid to break free from the boundaries that have been placed by the law.

Men are paid higher than the women even when they do the same thing and on the same field. This also is a pointer to the high level of illiteracy amongst the women of India.

Despite the gloom that seems to have enveloped the women community of India, they are known to be fighters, go-getters, and path finders.

This brings us to the story of Shantha, the brave and unlearned Indian woman who out of nothing made something.

It all started when she was offer a government job with a pay but what was attached to the job was the opportunity of working in an office and networking with government workers and business people. For an illiterate woman like Shantha who has never experienced anything that has to do with civilization jumped at the offer without taking a glance at her back.

Another benefit that was attached to the job was a free bus ride that takes her to and fro to work each working day.

How foolish! Someone might say but for another, it is an amazing decision to take. I guess this was how she thought and was very hopeful that a bigger opportunity might come around later through the current job.

Truly it happened as she had hoped. Down the lane, as she continued faithfully with her job, still mindful of any opportunity that come by, at a particular period at the office she was informed about women’s “self-help” group that was informed of a micro-finance pattern that allows every woman in the group contributes an equal amount of money, which is then matched by the bank. Furthermore, participants are eligible to take their business proposals to the bank, the bank then approves and invests the funds into the business and parts of their revenues are used to repay the loan over time with interest rates at a subsidized level.

Shantha was over-joyed about this opportunity not just for herself, but also for the women in her community.

This means that Shantha began to think of means to start up the group in her village.

To actualize the plan, Shantha needed at least 20 women to contribute 10 rupees each, to start the group. This sounds good but it was a very difficult task.

The difficulty is in talking to the women to convince them that it was the right thing to do and that it will also change their lives.

Shantha began by walking all over her community often knocking on several doors to talk to the women about the idea. She advised the women on areas they could generate money in order to contribute to the group, she even advised them to sell their food stuff like leftover rice in exchange for money. However, it took Shantha a couple of years to get the women into the system because she was persistent and never gave up.

But that was not all, and it was just a tip of an ice berg to what she encountered through her journey. After a while, she was forced to open a bank account in order for the fund to qualify for the “self-help” loan. However, the bank refused to grant her request because they thought it wasn’t that serious seeing she was only a woman.

She moved to seek advice from her former colleagues at the government office. They advised her to take all the women in her group to the bank and be more persuasive with their demand.

She did as she was advised and it worked. In less than two weeks, after the bank had granted her the account she kick-started her own microfinance group with the first business of buying cows to sell milk.

Fortunately, in 2009, she got information from her former colleagues about a bag manufacturer in Chennai who was seeking for ways to outsource the packaging part of its business.  Shantha took the opportunity to create employment for the women in her village.

Through the help of her former colleagues, she was able to liaise with the company and she rented an apartment for the business using the microfinance group model.

Through this business, Shantha has uplifted the lives of many women in her village by providing them with employment in her package bags company.

Currently, over 20 women work as staffs of the packaging unit producing over 5,000 package bags every day.

Through this job, they have been able to feed and take care of their families and also broken free from poverty.

Shantha’s passion diverted to finding women who could benefit from her business, she speaks to every woman she encounters to become members of her group and business.

Shantha has been able to build a concrete house with ‘mod-cons’ unheard of in many rural Indian villages, furnished with a television, a fan, a bed, a stove.

She has also trained her son who works as an engineer.