Changing lives one penny at a time
Changing lives across the globe, one penny at a time, Davinia James-Stewart is on a mission.
For 18 years, she lived in Jamaica, moving from one inner-city community to another. Crime, poverty, and despair were recurring themes that plagued and strained her childhood. But today, her experience is the element that steers her.
Coming from a time where she witnessed her best friend's murder, staring in the face of guns, she knew she had to make a difference. Five years ago, Stewart formed a charity organisation collecting pennies in the United States. Fittingly, she calls it Pennies4Girls. Now, she has raised US$2 million through donations and fundraising efforts, which leaves her bursting at the seams with joy to grant 400 girls the gift of education.
"It melts my heart to know that I'm assisting girls to become a better version of themselves. For millions, this is a far-fetched dream, so I'm beyond happy and humbled that I'm able to make this a reality," she explained.
She says that persons are more willing to donate pennies. As she observed, these coins are not valued and she laments that in some ways, this is exactly how the girls are viewed.
Professionally, a preschool teacher and social activist, her warm endeavour has copped her the title of a global citizen youth advocate. So far, Stewart has funded the schooling of young ladies in Haiti, Cambodia, Peru, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Egypt, India, Sierre Leone, and Nepal. And Jamaica is lined up for her touch.
Reminiscent of the time she lived in Waterhouse and Seaview Gardens, she acknowledges the life-changing experiences she gained. Stewart believes that it's her duty to become an inspiration for the youth in her island home.
"The ghetto is where majority of my focus will be. Ghetto youths have dreams, but they lack the opportunity because of their address, resources, support, poverty, and violence. It's time to change that," she said.
Motivating others to assist those in need is her focus, but she admits that getting people to care is her biggest obstacle. Still, she is determined to press forward relentless in her pursuit. The passion and appreciation she has for others grow each day. This has transformed her into a powerful voice for the voiceless that echoes a demand for change.
Wanting to be known for making the world better, she regards her labour as the 'rent' she pays for "living on this beautiful planet".
For more information on how to donate, visit Davinia James-Stewart at @pennies4girls on instagram.