Educational Nonprofit Prioritizes Human Connection
By Salina Nasir
We’ve listened to tales of abandoned children; we’ve read about over-crowded orphanages; we’ve heard of their sunken eyes and empty pockets, of their hungry stomachs and bare feet. We’ve sympathized with their broken hearts.
Our hearts, too, have broken for these 1,000,000,000 children worldwide―their lives lost far into the depths of poverty. So, in an attempt to mend the gaping hole, we each think―for a second or two: How can I shatter the vicious cycle of child poverty?
But while select people give wind to plausible solutions and plans, most others fade away―back to reality they go. Responsibilities resume: Our families, our careers, our studies. As with the ocean’s tides, interest in saving humanity ebbs and flows.
But then comes a wave of hope, a current so strong it forces the rest of us awake from a life of complacency. Kevin Kaminyar is the force behind that wave, and he is exactly what society needs right now.
Focused on bringing to light the forgotten stories of our youth, Kaminyar is relentless in his endeavors to cater to children in rural parts of the world. Tackling child poverty is no easy task, of course, but Kaminyar is working diligently to master the technique.
He admitted that there exists an obvious misconception about what it takes to make a difference.
“Making change doesn’t start from providing education to every single child immediately. That is an impossible task” he explained. “Rather, it starts with providing a meal for a child and listening to his or her story so we can develop the sympathy that is needed to build out a lasting plan.”
And for him, that “lasting plan” has manifested itself into a now-thriving nonprofit organization, Embracelets Connect, which is centered on providing impoverished children with practical education and shelter. As founder and CEO, Kaminyar drew inspiration from an endearing source: Carlos, an 11-year-old boy from Granada, Nicaragua.
“Carlos’s mother was heavily involved in prostitution, and his father was not in the picture,” he explained. “I figured it would be more productive to have a conversation with him over a meal so that I could better understand his struggle.”
So he did just that, and he quickly learned that at the root of Carlos’s plight was the child’s illiteracy. “Education brings empowerment,” said an impassioned Kaminyar. “We can trace every societal dilemma back to a lack of education.”
Indeed, with education comes limitless latitude: Education boosts economic growth, educated communities move swiftly toward sanity and are more-likely to be peaceful, and when proper education is in place, societies are generally comprised of working individuals with steady incomes. This, in turn, improves the overall quality of one’s life.
Educating children is especially important, Kaminyar elaborated. After all, “children are the future.”
Embracelets Connect currently focuses on implementing educational programs in Siervas del Divino Rostro, an orphanage in in El Crucero, Nicaragua. The organization has already seen significant progress for students of all ages―from kindergarten to high school.
In most cases, the child’s percentage of subject apprehension has doubled during the course of the program. Francela, a four-year-old in Kindergarten, began the program with 35% subject apprehension but more-than doubled it by the sixth month. Her recent progress shows an 82% apprehension level.
As such educational programs continue in the orphanage, Embracelets Connect is setting the stage for new projects: “We’re shooting to open our first school in Ticuantepe, Nicaragua by the end of Summer,” said Kaminyar. What’s more, the organization is also working on expanding globally with the opening of a second school in Nairobi, Kenya by the end of the year.
Perhaps most inspiring, however, is the organization’s core mission of bridging gaps and creating a unified, global community―one that benefits impoverished children while also empowering donors to stay active in their fight to eradicate poverty.
“We try to build and strengthen the human connection by providing donors with bracelets that link them to specific children,” explained Kaminyar. Donors are given the ability to track the progress of the child every step of the way. “The bracelets serve as everyday reminders that we all have the power to make a significant difference around the world.”
Embracelets Connect serves as a beacon of light in an otherwise dark setting, but luckily this organization doesn’t operate alone. There are other equally powerful organizations that are geared toward building a better future for all humankind.
Kaminyar mentioned that, at the end of the day, team work is at the heart of inspiring change. He attributed the organization’s success thus far to his team at Embracelets Connect, as well as the partnered organizations that share his desire to assist the less fortunate people of our world.
“The truth is that it takes a handful of passionate people to come together collectively,” he continued, “people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world.”
Embracelets Connect continues to work closely with Mama Earth, which is a nonprofit that aims to strengthen the global community via the arts and nature. It is run by Jaime Kailani, the sister of Bruno Mars.
The organization is also pleased to announce its recent partnership with Operation Smile, a nonprofit medical service organization that has served the world for over 35 years.
In the future, Embracelets Connect aspires to foster a partnership with the Malala Fund in an effort to pay homage to Malala Yousafzai’s staunch effort of securing quality education in the world’s most hurting communities.
When asked about Embracelets Connect’s next course of action, Kaminyar responded quickly.
“Next stops: Kenya, Pakistan, and then the world,” he said with confidence.
(Salina Nasir is currently pursuing her Master's degree at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism, where she focuses her studies on New Media. She's interested in telling lost stories from around the world and always focuses on pursuing the human impact behind each headline)