Tuesday, May 8, 2012

My Story. (written by Samantha)

This is my story.  My life was very sad.  Since I was 6 years old I was raised by my grandparents.  They took care of me.  They gave me their love since I didn’t have my mom.  They gave me all of their affection.  They helped me study.  They did everything possible so that I could succeed and every year I strived to succeed since they were doing everything to help me.  Sometimes they stopped buying things they needed so that they could buy me what the school required me to have.  Later, it was time for my siblings to study too.  Now it wasn’t only me, but 3 kids for whom my grandparents had to buy school supplies.  Even though this made it even harder for my grandparents, they never gave up.  They always pushed forward.  Later, I finished primary school and my grandparents were so proud of me because I was a good student.  But then, the teacher wouldn’t give me my certificate because I owed 2 years of monthly payments since it was a private school.  Because we owed so much money, the school didn’t want to let my other siblings matriculate.  Later, they supported my grandpa so that my brother and sister could study.  Many days and months passed, and I kept telling my grandparents that I wanted to continue studying but they told me that they couldn’t do anything else since we owed so much money and I didn’t have the papers I needed to matriculate in a high school.  I lost hope.  At least I had finished primary school.

            I want to study because I want to be someone in life and education is the most important thing that one can have.  I want to study to be able to help my brothers and my grandparents have a better life.  Because of my papers, I missed two years of school but now I live with my aunt and uncle and I asked them to support me to start my high school studies.  They told me that they would help me, when suddenly Jennifer (In-Country Representative for The Starfish Foundation, Inc.) appeared and she encouraged us.  She offered me one of the scholarships.  This made me feel very proud because now it wasn’t just the support of my aunt and uncle, but also the support of one more person that I could count on.  Now I am very happy because I am going to study again.  Thank you for your support and now I am happy!

Samantha and Arelisa, another Starfish Scholar.

Samantha in her house in Flor de Bastion.

--Samantha, a Starfish Scholar in Flor de Bastion

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Social Entrepreneurship at Villanova!

We've been so blessed to have such great support, particularly from Villanova University. As a Villanova alum, this past fall I was able to connect with Dr. Jim Klingler in the Villanova School of Business. Dr. Klingler has been an invaluable resource to Jenn and I, lending insight on multiple occasions from his experience with international non-profits. He reommended I read Forces for Good, by Leslie Crutchfield, to learn some of the most important findings from a study on impactful non-profit organizations. Crutchfield highlights themes such as forming partnerships, advocating for a cause, inspiring evangelists, adapting, sharing leadership and networking.

This past spring, Dr. K offered us the opportunity to propose a project to his Social Entrepreneurship class. Jenn and I first Skyped the class from Guayaquil in January, when I was visiting and Jenn had just arrived. We proposed for a group to design sustainable fund-raising ideas for  our organization. Two weeks later, I met with Martin, Erin, Jay, James, Ayyoub, and Ashia to discuss ideas.

The Starfish team at their final presentation!
Photo by Dr. Jim Klingler

The group spent a semester learning about impactful social entrepreneurship endeavors, culminating in a final presentation about ideas for sustainable funding for Starfish. I don't want to spoil the surprises, but let me say that the four ideas presented were great! One in particular was quite original, and it provides a great avenue for Starfish Scholars to collaborate in our program. Another included some stellar planning for our benefit dinner this fall - appropriately named "Dinner Under the Brightest Stars." The third project detailed ideas for some website revamping, and the fourth project assists in grant research. A HUGE thanks to the Starfish Team for all of their hard work this semester!!

Martin, Peter, Ayyoub, Ashia, Jay, Beth, James and Erin at the final presentation!
Photo by Dr. Jim Klingler

--Beth Awalt, Co-Founder of The Starfish Foundation, Inc.