Editor’s note: In 2020 it should be no surprise that more and more woman hold positions of power. Whether it’s business, politics, sports or the non-profit sector, woman continue to achieve new milestones. This story is part of a series of stories highlighting 16 women in Kelowna who are leaders in their fields. You can read all of their stories in our annual publication called Women in Business in the Feb. 28 issue of Kelowna Capital News.
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Everyone is capable of changing his or her life for the better if given an opportunity.
That is the belief of the Kelowna-based charity Her International.
Founded in 2005 by Michelle Bonneau, Her International provides educational opportunities for people living in poverty in Canada and abroad. The charity focuses on helping women and girls, who live in Nepal, increase their relevant knowledge, abilities and life skills
“Our sole focus is working with other female-based charities to bring about a mindfulness of collaboration, co-creation and not about competition,” said Tamara McLellan, the organization’s co-executive director.
“We talk about what we can do together.”
Bonneau created the charity after living in Nepal and working with some of the country’s most disadvantaged women; bonded girls and cognitively challenged women.
For more than 12 years Bonneau travelled back and forth from Nepal to Canada doing her best to support both the fledgling charity, which is run by a working volunteer board and its counter-part Nepali partner Creating Possibilities-Nepal.
“It is easy to start something, but a different story to keep it going,” said Bonneau.
Now, almost 15 years later Her International has directly impacted 10,000 children and given more than 2,000 annual scholarships to the people of Nepal.
Most recently the charity developed a pilot program in Nepal, for young girls called She Creates, which is designed to grow personal development skills such as communication, planning, teamwork and confidence building through a hands-on approach.
The pilot was successful with 104 girls completing the program and 92 per cent of the participants stating that when they finished the course they felt like a leader in their life and the community.
McLellan said the charity is now planning to bring She Creates to Kelowna in 2020.
“We are looking to start a bi-monthly program that will inspire the next generation of women to act in business endeavours with self-efficacy,” said McLellan. “We want young girls to come into safe spaces and build on their self-worth and self-confidence.”
The pilot will have an entrepreneurial component that will focus on business and have young girls thinking about enterprise and finance.”
“We want the girls to walk away thinking about how they can make their own money by doing good in the world,” explained McLellan.
She Creates will be open to girls aged 11 to 17.
Currently, Her International is looking for pilot partners who will help make She Creates possible.
“In Nepal, the girls that participated in She Creates came away with more confidence and ingenuity,” said McLellan.
“Girls started the program saying they liked science, now they want to be a scientist instead of normal common jobs like a teacher or nurse. We want to bring this program to Canada to show young girls here that they can lead in schools, business and their community.”
To help inspire the next generation and partner with She Creates please contact: Info@HerInternational.org.
Alternatively, you can join Her International on April 1 for ‘Celebrating Her Voice,’ an evening to celebrate feminine expression through storytelling, song, and dance held at Everest Restaurant in West Kelowna.