Stories Of Resolve From Kenya, Colombia, Rwanda, And Beyond

Meet Maxvine, a determined teenager from Kibera, and others who inspired our staff and field travelers in Kenya, Colombia, Rwanda, and beyond.


She is a 13-year-old mentor to girls at risk of dropping out of school in Kibera.

Heartwarming stories from Kenya and beyond.
Maxvine lives in Kibera, one of the most impoverished and densely populated communities in Kenya.

A radiant 13-year-old with a passion to lift those around her, Maxvine is an ambassador for the nonprofit Polycom Development Project at her local school.

Polycom Development Project mobilizes the power of Kibera girls and women to take charge of their future. It has established programs in partnership with local institutions which include educational discussions—around sexual health, menstrual hygiene, and more—sanitary pad distribution, sports engagement, and mentorship opportunities. In her role as an ambassador, Maxvine acts as a point person for other young girls to approach for guidance on challenges they face and to gain access to the personal development opportunities, sense of security, and the plethora of resources offered by Polycom. She enjoys inspiring other young girls in her community to rise above their circumstances, she told GlobalGiving Field Traveler Isabelle Hall.

“When you encourage someone like you, you feel empowered yourself,” she said.

Chronic absenteeism from school is common in Kibera as a result of menstrual shame. Since the presence of Polycom in schools there has been a reduction in girls’ absenteeism. Girls now feel they have access to proper education and materials, and a safe space in their community.

Donate to Polycom to support more girls like Maxvine.

— Story by Isabelle Hall, who spent six months as a GlobalGiving Field Traveler in Kenya in 2019

He guards and preserves the environment he used to destroy.

A heartwarming story from Colombia.
Cristian used to be a farmer, just like his father.

Once the soil wasn’t rich enough to harvest potatoes, he would burn or cut down a new piece of land in the Colombian jungle. His way of life changed when a local conservation nonprofit, ProAves, established a bird reserve in the vicinity and was looking for park guards. Cristian decided to give it a try.

“I thought that the organization worked with chickens and poultry as the name had something to do with birds. It was a whole new world for me to start saving, guarding, and taking care of things that I used to destroy and consume. I had to change my way of thinking.”

Cristian was a quick learner. In a year, he was promoted to be the main ranger of a bigger parrot reserve near Santa Marta. He followed his new passion and moved to a new region, far away from home. After five years here, he knows all the names of local bird species and their habits. He is also responsible for the reforestation program as big plots of the reserve were used as coffee plantations or cattle-grazing land.

It’s hard work, but Cristian feels as assured as never before:

“My wife and I have a daughter now, and I want to be an example for them and others. Education plays the most important role as people are ignorant of global detrimental effects that their work can cause. I was the same but I had a chance to learn.”

When asked about his future plans, Cristian doesn’t want to change anything.

“I am where I want to be. I’ve found my place and a perfect job for me and my family. I will continue working in conservation, and I hope that we can save more land and more endemic Colombian bird species that are on the brink of extinction.”

Donate to ProAves to save more more land.

— Story by Viktorija Noreikaite, who spent six months as a GlobalGiving Field Traveler in South America in 2019

She sees libraries as seedbeds for social change in Ghana.

A heartwarming story from Ghana.
Helena first proposed the idea of an Africa-wide library association at a conference in South Africa in 2013—and her African colleagues agreed on the need.

One year later, she became the Executive Director of the African Library and Information Associations and Institutions, a nonprofit based in Ghana that trains librarians to lead projects addressing social issues in their communities and also works with African governments and institutions for better policies for libraries.

“I want people to really know that what we are doing is to improve the lives of people and communities,” she said.

“One of the projects educates the community to reduce teenage pregnancy. There is another whose project takes books to prisoners so that by the time the person comes out of prison, they have some sort of education and become useful to the community. There is someone who went and started training fish farmers on access to financial support to help them increase their yield and another project that recycles plastic waste into something useful,” Helena explained. The librarians’ are taught to formulate goals around the Sustainable Development Goals.

One of Helena’s main challenges is funding and ensuring the organization’s sustainability. Fortunately, she understands the importance of foreplanning and a diverse portfolio of funding and is also thinking of ways she can innovate the program. This year, her nonprofit will be piloting remote digital training for librarians in order to keep costs down and amplify their impact.

Donate to African Library and Information Associations and Institutions to support more social change.

— Story by Catrin Cooper, a former GlobalGiving Staff Member

She wants to save the rainforest of her childhood.

A heartwarming story from Peru
Olivia recalls how she became aware that something wrong was happening in Peru.

“I used to fly from Lima to Puerto Maldonado to visit my family and was used to the green carpet of the Amazon jungle below. About 10 years ago, I started seeing empty patches in that carpet and they grew bigger and bigger every time. I couldn’t recognize the rainforest of my childhood anymore. I had to do something.”

Camino Verde, the nonprofit where Olivia works now, is trying to link Amazon restoration activities to the production of non-timber forest products that offer an improved livelihood for Amazonian communities. She is the main farm coordinator and actively manages the implementation and monitoring of agroforestry systems and oversees the production of non-timber forest products.

Olivia knows every plant on a 20-hectare farm and nothing goes unnoticed under her watchful eye. It’s not an easy job but the most rewarding one, she says:

“The Amazon rainforest is a totally different world. We have to learn to co-habitate and treat it with care and respect. We owe a lot to our forests. It’s time to give back.”

Donate to Camino Verde to help Olivia save the rainforest of her childhood.

— Story by Viktorija Noreikaite, who spent six months as a GlobalGiving Field Traveler in South America in 2019

She quit her job to start a nonprofit devoted to abandoned children.

A heartwarming story from Rwanda
Nicolette left her comfortable job as a labor inspector to start a nonprofit after meeting an 11-year-old girl breastfeeding a baby in the streets of Kigali, the capital of Rwanda.

After a brief conversation with the pre-teen mother, Nicolette was then taken to the girl’s squatter settlement where she was living with other boys and girls who were left behind by their communities. She found drugs scattered around the house and a 14-year-old boy lying on the ground with an abscess on his foot.

“I learned a lot in university about human and child rights so I asked: How can I contribute to my community?”

That experience led her to become a child rights activist and start The Center Marembo Organisation. The center helps girls and young mothers get back on their feet by providing them with medical rehabilitation, educational opportunities, vocational training, community reintegration, and legal representation. You can see Nicolette proudly posing with her organization’s registration with the Ministry of Health in this portrait, taken by GlobalGiving Field Traveler Leena El Seed.

Donate to The Centre Marembo Organisation to support children in need.

— Story and photo by Leena El Seed, who spent six months as a GlobalGiving Field Traveler in Rwanda and Uganda in 2019

These stories were collected through the GlobalGiving Field Program. Learn more about the program—one of the many ways we make it easy and safe to give to local organizations anywhere in the world.


Featured Photo: Dalila Sumani spent six months visiting more than 55 GlobalGiving organizations in Ghana, Liberia, and Sierra Leone in 20919. Learn more about the GlobalGiving Field Program by visiting our webpage.

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