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Philanthropy in recent times can be seen in the light of a conscious act and an interventionist tool to fight discrimination of all forms. As an anti-discrimination system, philanthropy gives opportunity to the less privilege to measure up with the privileged folks. For example, giving a scholarship award to a poor individual to study at the Oxford University, providing comfortable homes for the homeless, providing funds for poor & sick people as well as providing food for the hungry all bear philanthropic leanings. These acts bridge the gaps in between the privileged few and the less privileged majority.

In line with the sustainable development goal 2, which seeks sustainable solutions to end hunger in all its forms by 2030 and to achieve food security, the impact inspire story for this week is centered on Topaz Page-Green a  philanthropist from South Africa who provides meals for school children in some parts of the country.  As you read this article bear in mind that you may never understand the real pain of discrimination until you experience it.

Before founding Lunchbox, Topaz Page-Green would never be seen walking along dirt roads in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, until she embarked on a journey with a friend to visit schools within the country. 

She was moved to start a charity to provide school-day meals to impoverished children across her native country and though this involves visiting children with bellies swollen from malnourishment and hearing endless stories of illness and abandonment, Ms. Page Green never felt overwhelmed by it.

Though her high cheekbones, lithe limbs and piercing light-green eyes betray her earlier career as a model, she searched for a diplomatic way to say she hated being one. “I found it difficult to apply myself,” said Ms. Page-Green, who modeled for MAC Cosmetics, Diesel and other brands after being discovered in an Underground station in London.

Ms. Page-Green moved to New York, in 2001 where she had the opportunity to get a visa via fashion, and that enabled her to stay and ultimately get a green card. She felt more at home at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, where she studied Africa, sociology and human rights. 

In 2004, while still studying and modeling, she visited Johannesburg, where one of her childhood teachers took her to visit the township of Soweto. Although she grew up outside of Johannesburg, she had never witnessed that level of poverty before.

One particular scene took her breath away, where she noticed a group of school children sitting apart from the others because they had no food and didn’t want to sit with those who did. “It rung in every single part of my body,” Ms. Page-Green said, punctuating her comments with salty language. “That’s not something you can walk away from.” This moved her into philanthropy and she started a charity to feed those children

With help from high-profile friends whom she met over the years, she has been able to keep up this good work till date. These friends include; Prada who is a repeat sponsor of the Lunchbox Fund’s annual gala, Liv Tyler and Joaquin Phoenix , chairwoman and chairman of the charity’s executive board, as well as Salman Rushdie who sits on the advisory board.

Personal life of Topaz Page-Green

When she is not running the charity, Ms. Page-Green says she is a homebody, preferring to invite a few girlfriends over. She also makes pottery; her cupboards are full of monochromatic plates, mugs and saucers she created at a nearby community center. Nights out are spent at restaurants she thinks do vegetables well, like Navy and ABC Kitchen. 

Ms. Page-Green, in the meantime, is not entirely done with modeling. She stars in Kenneth Cole’s “Courageous Class” advertising campaign as one of five “role models” using their platforms to promote social causes. Wearing a belted coat and high-top sneakers, she is seated on a stool, flashing a warm smile toward the camera. The ad copy reads, “Model Turned Activist.”

“When it was to sell a pair of nylon tights or hair ties,” she said, “I felt a conflict in myself that was difficult to manage.” But when modeling is mixed with a charity, “I am able to relax more and enjoy myself.”

Source: New York Times

Leaving behind the White House battles over border walls and tax returns, Ivanka Trump is visiting Ethiopia and Ivory Coast in pursuit of a very different goal — advancing a global women’s program she hopes will outlast an administration better known for “America First” isolationism.

The president’s daughter and senior adviser arrived in Africa on Sunday on a commercial flight, opening a four-day swing to advocate for an initiative that aims to boost 50 million women in developing countries by 2025. Her plans include visiting with women working in the coffee industry and touring a female-run textile facility, as well as meeting with dignitaries and appearing at a World Bank policy summit.

But even thousands of miles from Washington, Trump is sure to be shadowed by her father’s efforts to cut international aid, as well as his past disparaging comments about the continent. While she has drawn praise for taking on this project — and for making this trip — the contrast between her priorities and those of many others in the White House was evident.

On the continent, reactions to the visit reflected the contradictions of her role.

Activist Marakie Tesfaye, who founded a group in Ethiopia for women, welcomed the attention, saying: “I think she’s coming genuinely to empower women and it’s good that she’s coming because she will push forward our agenda.”

Ethiopian journalist Sisay Woubshet was more skeptical, citing President Donald Trump’s past comments and adding: “I don’t think people will have a good feeling about his daughter’s visit this time around to promote her global initiative towards women.”

For Ivanka Trump, those challenges come with the territory.

She has spent two years promoting a family-friendly agenda in an administration focused on hardline immigration tactics and protectionist trade policies. To questions about international aid spending, she has previously said the administration strives to be generous in a “fiscally responsible way,” and has argued that investing in her project — which builds on previous White House efforts — is a way to promote security in developing countries. During her travels, Ivanka Trump will be accompanied by Mark Green, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. The textile facility they are to visit got started with funding from USAID and Overseas Private Investment Corporation, which provides loans, loan guarantees and political risk insurance, funding projects that stretch across continents and industries.

While in Ethiopia, they will be joined by OPIC Acting President David Bohigian. OPIC is set to announce a new initiative in Africa.

Ivanka Trump was also expected to announce additional support for businesses. And she was to meet with Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

From Ethiopia, Ivanka Trump was headed to Ivory Coast, where she was to visit to a cocoa farm, as well as participate in a meeting on economic opportunities for women in West Africa. The gathering is part of the World Bank’s Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative — a program Ivanka Trump pushed the bank to introduce. The first daughter will be joined in the Ivory Coast by a congressional delegation that will include Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a close ally of the White House.

Ivanka Trump’s trip comes not long after first lady Melania Trump did a solo tour of the continent with a focus on child well-being. Like her stepdaughter, Mrs. Trump faced many of the same questions about the priorities of the president, who was roundly criticized last year after his private comment about “s—hole countries” in Africa became public.

The Trump administration put out an Africa policy late last year that largely sought to counter what it called the “predatory” practices of China and Russia in the region. It was viewed with skepticism by some critics, coming two years into his administration and following his disparaging comments about the continent. So far, the president has made no plans to travel there himself.

The new global women’s initiative involves the State Department, the National Security Council and other U.S. agencies. It aims to assist women in developing countries with job training, financial support and legal or regulatory reforms. Money for the effort will come through USAID, which initially set up a $50 million fund using dollars already budgeted. The president’s 2020 budget proposal requests another $100 million for the initiative, which will also be supported by programs across the government as well as private investment.

Experts praised the government wide approach, which will incorporate new and existing programs, though some stressed that it was still early in the process. The investment comes as the president is proposing cuts to foreign aid, and as the administration is expanding a ban on U.S. aid to groups that promote or provide abortions.

“The part of the proposal which is around looking at laws — that is a good thing to focus on,” said Charles Kenny, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, referencing the initiative’s support for changing laws, regulations and customs that create barriers preventing women from fully participating in the workforce. But he said the abortion-related ban could have a negative economic impact, saying that “I think one of the most powerful tools for women’s economic empowerment is the ability to choose when and how many children they have.”

Daniel Runde, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Ivanka Trump was strategically building on the work of past administrations, calling her an effective “goodwill ambassador” for the issues, and a smart emissary to send to Africa.

“Secretary (of State Hillary) Clinton provided high-level attention to these issues,” said Runde, who previously worked for the USAID and is an informal adviser to the administration on development policy. “Ivanka Trump is playing a similar role to the role that Secretary Clinton played.”

By Miracle Nwankwo

Stories have been told about people who died in regrets knowing they never pursued their dreams and passion in life. This is why in recent times, parents, guardians, and teachers have begun to take conscious steps in helping their children find their passion and pursuing it wholeheartedly. 

To this end, the women in STEM category for this week brings you the story of Sarah Asio to help understand the impact and necessity of building on your talent and pursuing your dreams no matter what it takes.

Sarah began her journey into STEM as a little girl in Uganda who was attracted to mechanical appliances and electronics around the house. She decided to take up a course in electrical engineering, and build on her knowledge but she was discouraged by someone who told her about the infeasibility of gaining a degree in industrial engineering. Filled with passion to effect changes on her country’s infrastructure and economic development, Sarah stayed keen on finding her way despite the odds. Fortunately, she soon realized that she could still thread on the path and become a remarkable influence on her community back home in Uganda.

“In Africa, infrastructure and development are really important. I understood that my economy needed more input in this area and I made a more informed decision to pursue my first degree in industrial engineering. It would be the best way to make an impact in my country,” she says.

As soon as Sarah discovered that she had the ability to pursue her dreams and become a blessing to her people, she began to walk on the path she has chosen despite the cost.

After college, she went to the United States to pursue her master’s degree at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, afterwards a doctoral degree in industrial engineering at Texas Tech University.

She also had her share of the struggles that comes with surviving as a foreigner in a non-indigenous country, such as having to pay for her fees and many more. However, Sarah testifies that due to her Christian faith and continued efforts in applying for scholarships she was able overcome those financial challenges. As a result of her persistence, she received an AAUW International Fellowship that funded her master’s degree in industrial engineering at University of Nebraska, Lincoln. She also found a sense of community in international student groups as a replacement of a family which helped her navigate life and education in the Western world.

Sarah took a job at the Bayer, which required knowledge on digitizing agriculture. As a result, she got preoccupied with data science and began developing digital tools and solutions to enable the production of adequate food with less seed and ground by farmers.

“I was able to connect my original passion of making a difference and trying to empower economies to mature and remain sustainable, while also providing for indigenous people so they can develop as a nation.”

Having conquered negative words that tried to prove that she was incapable of doing what she had set her heart on; Sarah has been all out to inspire people with knowledge so that they can find their strength and pursue their dreams. In doing this, Sarah joined forces with local partners in Uganda to search out raw talents who are interested in areas that surround data science to harness and help them build a future. Under this platform she provides basic knowledge in STEM through tutorials and further steer them in the right direction to obtain technical certifications.

“I strongly believe in the grassroots approach in finding and training local people with the skills and talents to innovate what they have in order to solve problems in their culture and community.”

She has achieved some remarkable feats on this journey. She has also helped some Ugandans to create influential and innovative products for their communities. 

She enjoys recounting her journey in STEM and learning as it continues to evolve. Learning more about people has given her a strong platform to build her relationship. Relating with the grassroots creates a better interface with the lows of the society to enable a fruitful interaction as well as addressing their needs.

Sarah is also bent on navigating the workplace as a woman, she therefore encourages women to unapologetically own their accomplishments.

In line with that, she tells women to; “Look at what you have achieved and know that you have the right to be in the environment you are in. Stand boldly for yourself and let no one overlook you or sidestep you. Own your own truth. Speak confidently and be proud that you earned the right to be there on merit.”

As a beneficiary of the AAUW, her story is told in partnership with AAUW, which has a long history of opening doors for women and girls in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), from the classroom to Capitol Hill. 

Sarah currently serves as the Data Science Lead at Johnson & Johnson where she works at combining business strategy and developing technical solutions in line with the organization’s values and global presence. In her belief, data science will propel the advancement of artificial intelligence. Like other rare and unexplored fields, it is an untapped mine. She foresees that in the nearest future, services and products will be completely transformed by decades of data from end-users, consumers, and practitioners. Sarah expects to see services across industries that are more attuned to the consumer’s needs, as she believes that this type of data has the power to diagnose problems occurring societally and make a real impact. 

While gender equality in the government sector still proves elusive, and female leadership is almost non-existent in the top echelons of the ruling Communist, some parts of the Asian continent still boast of self-made women who have navigated their way to the top regardless of the unfair economy. Not only are self-made Chinese women growing in global prominence, but the contribution of Chinese women to the economy at all levels has increased greatly in recent years. 

One of the remarkable women on this list of global successes in the midst of hardship is, Zhoe Qunfei, a Chinese entrepreneur who founded the major touchscreen maker Lens Technology Company. She is the Founder and CEO of Lens Technology

When we examine the background of this successful Amazon closely, it becomes obvious that the milestone of success which she has built were primarily achieved through perseverance. Zhoe was a high school dropout and a former factory worker who grew up in a small village in central China. She experienced the hard bite of life as she lost her mum at the tender age of five.  

Her father became partially blinded and lost a finger in an industrial accident.

All these sad experiences were not good enough reasons to make Zhoe Qunfei give up on life. She picked up herself and did all sought of dirty menial jobs to help her family survive through life.

At age 16 Zhoe was forced to leave high school in order to provide for her family. She secured a job at a factory making watch lenses for about $1 a day and through hard work and determination, she struck out on her own at age 22. With only $3,000 in her pocket, Zhou and a few relatives started a workshop, making watch lenses for customers, after she had learnt the trade from a small watch glass making factory in Shenzhen . This then seemed to be the beginning of Zhou Qunfei’s tale of from rags to riches. She paid so much diligence to her glass making factory, so much so that she got involved in every operation of the company and became proficient in each of it, including the repairs and creating improved designs of factory machinery.  

Her companies’ profit sky-rocketed when she took the life changing decision to begin making glass screens for mobile phones. In 2003, she launched Lens Technology, developing the start-up into the touch-screen sector’s dominant player, supplying products made by leading electronics giants including Apple, Samsung and Huawei. As she began to attain these admirable feats, she hit so much bigger challenges, twice she had to sell her house to pay her employees’ salaries, but through much more resilience and confidence she successfully pushed off these barriers on her way to success. Never did she stop learning and making her way out of her predicament. Zhou, found fame after Lens debuted on Shenzhen’s ChiNext A-share market on March 18. In March 2015, Zhou’s Lens Technology had the big boom, and today the company is valued at $11.4 billion and is currently said to have over 82,000 employees across China.

Being a successful entrepreneur with so many people who look up to her, Zhou inspires upcoming entrepreneurs charging them that the key to success is to persevere, especially in most difficult times. Summarizing the success of this business mogul the words “determination and courage” cannot be omitted, since Zhou Qunfei knew how to pull out what she needed from life and not just accepting whatsoever life threw at her.

Zhoe also has a very interesting family life; she married her former factory boss, had a daughter, and divorced. Her daughter is currently studying overseas. In 2008, she married Zheng Junlong a longtime factory colleague who currently serves on the Lens board in the company. They have a seven-year-old son who lives at their Hong Kong family home. The family owns a $27 million estate in Hong Kong.

Zhou has stated that although she considers work to be her hobby, she also enjoys mountain climbing and ping pong. 

Zhou Qunfei’s rags-to-riches story has been credited as an inspiration to the millions of migrant workers in China as she consistently showcases the rare resilience that breeds success. 

Sources:

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1758319/zhou-qunfei-lowly-factory-worker-chinas-richest-woman

http://www.yourtechstory.com/2018/11/22/zhou-qunfei-self-made-billionaire-founder-lens-technology/

https://www.worldrecordacademy.org/business/richest-self-made-woman-zhou-qunfei-219150

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/05/08/worlds-richest-self-made-woman-zhou-qunfei-shares-the-key-to-success.html

https://yourstory.com/2018/01/self-made-billionaire-zhou-qunfei-success-story

How often do you open your email to find about 100 to 150 unread emails only to discover how unimportant they are after sifting through them? This can be a disheartening and unpleasant task to engage in. However, you can make your mail box fun and exciting again, by choosing your mails and not letting your mails choose you. 

Having to deal with an overfilled inbox of unnecessary emails causes a whole lot of stress, irrespective of what they contain. From last-minute emails from a client, to a bill pay reminder, or just yet another spammy sale email from that one online clothing site that you can never remember to actually unsubscribe from, as long as they deviate from your area of interest, they become irritating and uninspiring to attend to.

Seeing the above caption, you might be reluctant to follow through the details in this article, but do not be in a hurry to leave, this might just be an end to the annoying crowded emails that you have to face on opening your inbox, because we have found for you, eight superb newsletters that you can subscribe to and keep your email box thrilling again. So follow through and let us make your email fun again and you will be glad you did.

  1. Career Contessa 

Are you ambitious? Do you have big career dreams and you do not know how to make it happen? There is one who is willing to lend you a helping hand, all you need do is visit Career Contessa and they will help guide you to be your best professional self.

  1. Working Woman’s Food

Patricia Gamboa started this project when she realized how much she missed slow and social mealtimes with family and friends, which had been replaced by rushed lunches and dinners where little conversation occurred. Working Woman’s Food was created to give women the materials and the reinforcement to bring back enjoyable meals. We told you these email lists would make your life better. These weekly emails provide meal planning, grocery lists, and healthy recipes for you—simplifying your home life and bringing joy back to the table. Sign up on the site.

  1. The Daily Good

The daily good is a daily newsletter brought to you by The Good Trade, the premier online destination for conscious men and women. It covers everything from responsible fashion, beauty, wellness, travel, and lifestyle. This daily 30-second read is delivered to your inbox every morning with helpful recommendations for living consciously. This daily newsletter will deliver videos, articles, products, and insights to help you move towards social good. Each delivery will leave you more informed and inspired about the good things. 

  1. Our Bodies, Ourselves

Information about our bodies, health and the right we have to healthy living can never be too much. This is why OBOS has taken its core mandate on women’s health and sexuality, with topics ranging from abortion to violence and abuse to menopause, to keep the average woman well-informed about her body and health. OBOS has been on the scene since 1971, as a nonprofit organization that develops and distributes information for the interest of the public. Their ultimate goal is to provide women with well-researched, evidence-based information and encourage readers to effectively participate in health policy and health care decisions that affect them and/or their loved ones.

  1. Brain Pickings:

Brain Pickings is a “one-woman labor of love” founded and run by Maria Popova. The word labor is not used lightly. Popova pours hours into this project to produce thought provoking, insightful, and addicting articles on topics in art, science, psychology, design, philosophy, history, politics, anthropology, and more. She values creativity and utilization of the human mind to connect ideas together and expand its own capabilities. What a rush! Brain Pickings will make you want to curl up with a cup of tea and a plush blanket (no, we do not care that it is 90 degrees outside) and you really will feel smarter after just a few skims. 

  1. Ann Friedman 

Another Friday treat! Ann Friedman is a self-employed freelance journalist who provides some spunk to your inbox at the end of every working week. Her newsletters include the articles and books she is reading, “gifspiration,” links to her own work (like her successful “real talk” podcast “Call your Girlfriend”), what she endorses, and what readers submit to endorse. It contains good and honest places to go, things to see, events to attend and many more. After a stressful work-week you will need an Ann Friedman to relax with. 

  1. The Hustle 

Yes, you do not want to miss out on any of their packages. The Hustle sends daily emails on all the top tech, business, and culture news stories of the day, with the aim of getting young professionals well-informed. The Hustle uses a bold, honest, and sometimes even humorous voice to inform its readers of what they need to know and how it affects them. It is concise, engaging, and well researched. It is a perfect dose for those of us who are on a tight schedule but still want to stay informed.

  1. Amazons Watch

Mmmmm, this is the icing on the cake. When it seems like the world must be going nowhere with gender equality and the thought of women still facing bias overwhelms you, quietly log on to Amazons Watch Magazine or subscribe to its weekly inspirational newsletter and renew your strength with thousands of stories on women who have succeeded and are still succeeding irrespective of societal disadvantages. The Amazons Watch Magazine is a unique publication born out of the desire to continually tell the story of the giant strides of women in emerging nations of Africa, South America, Middle East and Asia; in order to create a deeper awareness and appreciation of women leaders in all sphere of life. Do you feel alone in your field or sphere? Have you continually opined that women may never achieve their pursuit of gender equality? Say no more because amazons watch has got you covered with thousands of inspiring stories about women whose struggles and giant strides will give you hope and leave you comforted with strength to keep pushing. The magazine is filled with inspiring and thrilling sections that in all aspects of life. From business, to motherhood, relationship, leadership, philanthropy and SDGs as it affects the women. You do not want to miss out on this.

I subscribe to the school of thought that it is almost impossible for the indigent to be involved in philanthropy, however on the flip side, I have been convinced otherwise by the thought-provoking story of Chen Shu-Chu, a vegetable seller in Taiwan. 

In eastern Taiwan, 63-years-old Ms. Chen works 18 hours a day selling pepper, taro, mushrooms, and vegetables after which she uses the money to support the poor. She was not born with a silver spoon neither did she have a smooth upbringing. As a matter of fact, Chen lost her mother who died after a difficult childbirth while she was still in primary school, because her family could not afford a proper treatment.

Life has not been a smooth sail for Chen who has been dedicated to helping creating access to health and education for the poor over the past two decade.

According to BBC, she has donated over 10 million Taiwanese dollars ($350,000; £210,000) to the building of a school library and a hospital wing. She has also given to a local Buddhist organisation and orphanages.

In a world where philanthropy has been tagged to be the rich man’s game, Chen believes that no one is too poor to give.

“Everyone can do it. It is not just me. It is not how much money you make that matters, but how you use your money,” she says.

“I do not see money as being that important. After all, you cannot bring it with you when you start life and you cannot take it with you when you leave this life.”

It is amazing how in the midst of the hustle and bustle all over the world, while people are working enough to gather for themselves and their unborn children, we can still find souls who are living for others and most likely people they do not know. 

Although Chen struggled with poverty for most part of her youth, having had to quit schooling to work at the family’s vegetable stand in the Taitung Central Market, in order to support the family, these situations motivate Chen towards giving. 

Life did not get any better after her mother died and she had to quit school. Few years down the line her younger brother came down on a flu. Again her family was struck with another impossible situation and because of their inability to raise enough money to pay for his advanced medical care, he died.

The loss of her brother was a difficult situation for the family but for every incident that caused Chen pain, she turned it into a motivation to give back so that others do not have to pass through what she has suffered. 

“I feel I owe people a lot. I feel I have to make more money to help others,” she says.

“I feel very happy after donating money. I feel like I have done something right. It’s a feeling that comes from the inside. It makes me so happy that I smile when I go to bed.”

She is an amazing personality, whose acts of kindness raise so many eye brows including that of the director of an NGO, Kids Alive International, who after he receiving a donation from Chen, was further convinced that truly, you do not have to be rich to help others.

According to the director, Mr. Daniel Lu, “She is a vegetable lady, alone and single. It is not easy for her,” he says. “I thought if she gives T$5,000 that would help.”

“When she gave me T$1m, I was surprised. [I said:] ‘Wow, you give me T$1m? What can I do?’ She said: ‘Whatever you had planned, you do it; you help the kids.””

I have heard people say that good deeds can be likened to pregnancy, which means that it cannot be hidden from the public knowledge for too long. Same with Chen, her loving acts of kindness has not gone unnoticed. She has attracted both local and international attention through her rare philanthropic activities. Once her news began to spread across, it got into the ears of the media and in 2010, Times Magazine selected her as one of the 100 most influential people. Also the Reader’s Digest named her “Asian of the Year” and Forbes Asia selected her as one of their “48 heroes of Philanthropy”.

Few years back, she was also named one of six Ramon Magsaysay Award winners for helping the poor and given a $50,000 cash prize.

She portrays what philanthropy should be like and spurs the hearts of others to do same, an example was when she donated the entire $50,000 cash prize to Taitung’s McKay Memorial Hospital, this particular act was mind blowing and it prompted many people to support the hospital in building a new medical wing.

She is unbelievable and her story has moved people from far and near to visit Taiwan just to see Chen the vegetable seller. On one occasion a visitor from Hong Kong who has been inspired by Chen left her a note of admiration amongst her vegetables.

Chen is unmarried and has no children. She is a Buddhist and a strict vegetarian who lives on easy diets like cured tofu and rice. Being an unmarried vegetarian has helped her save so much. She is also Altruistic and has little desire for material things. Having attracted the media, she is unwilling to be in the public scene, she has said that she will only want to engage in media activities such as being interviewed if the reports will motivate others to be kind to people.

Although Chen has health problems, she has no plans to retire, saying she hopes to “do this forever.”

“My wish is that I can work till the day I collapse. Money is only useful if you give it to people who need it.”

 

By Miracle Nwankwo