Anonymous VC Seeds American Teen; Challenges Her to Make a Difference - Huge ROI for African Girls

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Ethiopian girls can now go to school instead of searching for water due to American Teens dedication. Her message to other teens: Get involved in making a difference on our planet.

An anonymous Venture Capitalist provided seed money of a different kind by funding Insiyah Nomanbhoy, 17, a senior at Castilleja School in Palo Alto, CA, to join Save The Children’s Women’s Empowerment Delegation to Ethiopia. His challenge to her: Make a difference and get other teens involved. And his investment has already paid a huge return for African girls previously unable to attend school, as well as for American Teens wanting to make a difference on their planet.

In March 2004, Insiyah and her fellow students at Castilleja raised $17,000 for Save The Children by putting on a multicultural dance benefit. That money was used to build a school with a water-well in Ethiopia in the Woliso District. Insiyah Nomanbhoy, and another student Tina Yu, were chosen to represent Castilleja and visit the new school, with the cost of their trip underwritten by this generous VC.

In countries like Ethiopia, it is a girl’s job to fetch water for her family. Girls as young as five, walk miles carrying heavy water pots, often risking their lives to find this most basic of all human necessities. Ethiopian village girls may spend four hours daily to find water for their families. As a result they do not have time to go to school. Often, the water-source is not even sanitary; it is used by animals and is the cause of many diseases.

Insiyah’s visit to the new school was a profound experience. She trekked several miles over muddy paths from where the road ended, and met little children who had worked at herding cattle all summer to earn 3 burr (40 cents) so they could buy their school notebooks. Insiyah wrote in her journal: “On a five kilometer hike to the village, I met a little eight-year-old girl, Zetatute, walking along a dirt path to school. She was carrying an empty water pot almost as big as herself. I was amazed she could carry it. She had mud up to her knees and the grass was so high it came up to her waist. She was very shy, but soon showed her enthusiasm for going to school and chatted with us happily. She told us that this year was her first year going to school. She did not have time in the past because of her responsibility to fetch water for her family. Now she could go to this new school, and at the end of the day, she could fill her pot with clean water from the well and take it home.

Insiyah questioned:“How could an eight-year old girl not have time to go to school? For me, school is mandatory, but for this girl it is a privilege. Coming from a school where 99% of the students go on to four-year university, I could not comprehend this. The water-well we built helped make possible Zetatute’s education. I believe we helped empower Zetatute for success in life, because with a good education, a person can accomplish anything.”

On her return from Africa, Insiyah has been speaking at many venues about her trip and how a small effort by teens working together had a huge payoff for these African girls. Insiyah is organizing a fundraiser ‘Arts with a Heart’ at her school, and helping other American schools do benefits, to build more schools with wells in Africa through Save The Children. Her message is simple and heartwarming. She says: “Now, every time I turn on the kitchen tap to get a drink of water, I think of little Zetatute for whom clean water is such a precious commodity. Since coming back from Africa, I have reevaluated my own life, and while tremendously grateful that I never have to worry about a simple thing like water, I plan to do everything I can to help the Zetatute’s of the world.

Insiyah wants to share her experiences with teens and adults all over America. She wants to encourage teens to get involved and change the world they have inherited. Insiyah writes “Kids are rarely taken seriously and encouraged when they want to make a difference, but we have so much to offer just because we're young, smart and motivated...I hope that I can motivate other kids just like me to strive to make a difference.”

Insiyah was profiled recently in the San Jose Mercury News, The Sunday Observer, and The Pakistan Times. See attached. Insiyah is available for radio and TV talk shows and interviews, and may be scheduled through her father, Shabbir Nomanbhoy, at the phone or email above. Professional video, sound tracks and photos from her trip are available for the news media.


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Shabbir Nomanbhoy