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On June 21, 2016, I was honoured as one of the 25 Canada-wide recipients of the RBC 2016 Canadian Immigrant Awards. I am especially humbled to receive this honour as The Spark of Hope Foundation is just two years old.  I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who voted for me. I am deeply grateful for the groundswell of support the Foundation has received to date, for the many people who showed their support by voting for my nomination and to Canadian Immigrant Magazine for selecting me from over 700 nominations.

Today, the Foundation supports 43 young women (plus five alumnae), many of whom are from areas of turmoil. We are proud of this achievement, given that our initial goal was to support 10-15 students by September 2016. Countries of origin include Argentina (alumna), Cameroon, Kenya, Kyrgyz Republic, Lebanon (including refugee camps), Liberia, Nepal, Pakistan, Palestine, Syria, Tajikistan and Uganda. They attend programs at the Bachelor, Masters’, Professional and PhD levels at universities around the world, including the Aga Khan University in Karachi, the American University of Beirut, the London School of Economics and University of Calgary.

These women are tomorrow’s leaders, and will make a transformative impact in the world, as doctors, engineers, journalists, lawyers, managers, scientists, and teachers, and as role models to the next generation of girls.

Access to quality higher education was why my parents moved to Canada from Kenya when I was a teenager. My spouse and children have been very fortunate to receive wonderful university education. I feel blessed to now have the opportunity to make a meaningful impact in the lives of the women we support through providing them access to university education. We hope to support many more women, so that they break their cycle of poverty and make a huge impact in their communities, including helping resolve conflicts and wars.