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One of the most important values in my life has been serving others. I used to dream about this at age seven as I worked to collect fruit in the forest or on farms to earn money. I did not spend the money that I earned for myself, but rather for travel.  I also watched TV programs about challenges facing developing countries, and I wanted to help.  I believe that “energy follows attention” because in 2012 I was selected to participate in the Fortune-U.S. Department of State Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership. Three months after the program, I visited Misuu in Myanmar to work at the Golden Girls Clinic. The tickets cost me my monthly salary, but I was determined to fulfill my dreams.

Since then, I have committed to helping others in Africa, Asia, and Central America.  I devoted a lot of energy, time, and resources to philanthropic work, especially in the areas of health care, sexual education, sports, women, and physical and mental disabilities. I worked in Nigeria, Burma, Kenya, Tanzania, Nepal, Syria, India, Madagascar, Guatemala, San Salvador, and with Tibetan Refugees.  I did all of my projects in my spare time, traveling during my vacation and covering my own costs.  I have enlisted the help of Polish friends to sponsor many of my trips and support the needs of other Vital Voices fellows for their projects as well.

I have done all of these projects alongside my fellow Vital Voices network members. I worked with Samia in Syria to provide prosthetics to those who lost limbs in the war, Agnes in Liberia to donate thermometers during the Ebola epidemic, Riham in Qatar to implement programs for women, and Mary from the Vanatu Islands to rebuild her house after Cyclone Pam. My biggest and most challenging project, “Give Nepali Children a School Project,” lasted 15 months. Together with VVLead Fellow Samjhana Phuyal and the Let’s Help the Children Foundation, we raised money to rebuild a school that was destroyed during the 2015 earthquake. I also managed to donate 600 kg of school and sports equipment and computers for a woman’s workshop in Kathmandu.  On July 1st 2016, I took a part in the school opening ceremony in Nepal. Although we faced many challenges, it was worthwhile to conduct the project because 205 children now have a new school. You can watch a video about the program here .

Therefore, nothing I have done would be possible without my participation in the Fortune-U.S. Department of State Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership and VVLead Fellowship. I have started realizing my dreams about philanthropy, and after several projects – all done in cooperation with friends that I made thanks to Vital Voices – I belong now.  I am part of their families, local societies and organizations. I feel like at home with them and can’t even imagine not being part of the VVGP Network!

Daria Mejnartowicz, PhD, MBA

2012 Fortune-U.S. Department of State Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership Alumna; 2010 Vital Voices Chapter Poland Alumna; Alumna of 2014-2015 VVLead Fellowship Program; 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016 Flagbearer for the Global Mentoring Walk in Poland.