The Catalyst Spark

Sydney At Propeller

Whether its a digital file company working with students to save the labor of their years at university, a community organization bringing back the old world strength of the kitchen table, or a woman in Kenya starting up a business to sell water, everyone needs the first spark.

But is it enough?

As with all good stories this one has a bit of a prequel. Before I was a Tulane student, before I was getting my Masters in International Development, before I even really believed I could make a difference. I was just one more cog in a corporate wheel, working for a company that no longer exists, connecting people to stories that they have most likely forgotten. And as I was working for this big box store a woman came up and bought a book about Kenya, and while I was talking to her asking her about this life changing trip she was about to take, working with these amazing women to build project in their own community, I realized: This was IT. This was that once in a lifetime opportunity. Now I knew what I wanted to do and I had the spark to carry me, but I didn’t have a road map!

People often times assume that passion is all you need to do amazing things in the world. And they’re half right. If you have an unending supply of passion you will get to amazing places…eventually.

Caregivers_editedFor me it took another 2 years before that first spark carried me across the Atlantic to Kenya to work with women, and when I got there I realized that these women were no different from me! They wanted to build a better world, they wanted to start businesses, they wanted to run water projects and build their communities UP. They had the spark and they just needed a few road maps and the space to practice their new skills and find their own empowerment.

The more I worked with these incredible women the more I realized they were the key to a more sustainable world. They were the leaders their communities needed.

In New Orleans  on my return I found an entire community of people just like us, we all had one thing in common the spark! We all wanted to build a better world. We all had the same desires to start something amazing that would bring our world together, make it stronger, and make a difference!

everywhere I looked people around me were getting caught at the same points when they didn’t have a map that I had gotten caught at. And just like those amazing women in Kenya all they needed was to be pointed in the right direction, handed a new tool or two and a little bit of space to practice.  How to get that first seed of funding, how to tell their story, how to really listen to the people we want to help, how to connect and motivate others! It didn’t matter who they were or what their spark was we were all walking the same path.

Tulane Students Digital Day of Service

Connecting these amazing people to the skills they needed through one platform that we could all agree was important, became our focus and from that came Mama Maji.

I founded Mama Maji to work with women where ever women are, to connect them with the tools they needed to change their world and the space to practice those skills while making an amazing difference in their world. We
started out with just a few women but before long we were working with women from 27 different countries and more and more we wanted to connect the amazing community right here at Tulane into that.

With the Alvarez Spark award I got to do exactly that. Tulane Student Pic at Garden

Whether it was business students just entering the academic world or Masters students studying sustainable
development they got to learn crowd-funding, leadership, story telling all as they connected with the journeys of amazing women half way around the world. Each of them connecting their passion to a cause that would set a whole new group of women on the path to their own opportunity to make a difference.

We worked on water issues near and far. From designing and building a garden that teaches children about sustainable water usage at a local elementary school, to raising money for women to get trained as community health volunteers. Together we changed our community, together we built a better world and at the end of it we each had new skills to accomplish our goals, even Me!


Every story comes to an end, but this one is far from over. Maybe next year it will be your spark that makes the difference.   Wecanmakeadifferencesquare