Whenever Nelly Furtado drops by our offices, it’s pretty tough not to act like star-struck fans. But we all do our best. Mainly because we’re able to look past her incredible recording career long enough to admire her passion for girls’ education. And that passion is infectious.
As an ambassador for Me to We, there is a special place in her heart for the girls of East Africa. On a trip to Kenya, Nelly visited Free The Children’s Kisaruni Secondary boarding school for girls and was able to see first-hand how much the girls at the school value education and the life-changing effect that education can have for them.
Through her interaction with the girls and their mothers, Nelly witnessed the power that education and empowerment play in creating strong leaders. She was moved by the pride these women have for their communities and she wanted to be able to give back in some way— to help women and girls in communities like the one she visited and to help end the cycle of poverty.
At We Day Toronto in 2011, Nelly pledged $1 million to Free The Children. Of this pledge, $500,000 would be used as a dollar-for-dollar matching fund to support the construction of a new all girls’ high school in Kenya, called Oleleshwa, which is named after the resilient Leleshwa plant found in the Maasai Mara. As a result of this fund, hundreds of students in Kenya will benefit from an education.
In March 2012, Nelly visited Kenya again, and this time she shared the journey with her family, who came along for a ground-breaking ceremony at the Oleleshwa Girls Secondary School. Nelly and her family stayed in Me to We’s Bogani Cottages in Kenya’s Maasai Mara, so that Nelly could spend time at the build site and remain highly involved in discussions with community members and local educators to help ensure that their vision for the new school truly comes to life.
In continued support of the Oleleshwa School, Nelly designed an exclusive tank top for Me to We, called The Spirit Indestructible, which is available online from Me to We. All proceeds from the Tee will support Nelly’s matching fund for Oleleshwa.
Nelly also supports our Me to We Artisans, and believes strongly in creating sustainable change in East Africa. It’s clear that her presence is felt here at the Me to We offices whether she’s visiting or not. (But please come back soon, Nelly!).