Field Notes From Rwanda: Why I Started a Nonprofit


Field Notes From Rwanda is a reflective new series by co-founder Maria Russo about her journey in starting and running Humanity Unified, a nonprofit organization dedicated to lifting vulnerable populations out of poverty through education, food security and economic opportunities. She currently splits her time between NYC and Kigali, Rwanda.

I often get asked “How did you decide to start a nonprofit”? My answer is simple: I wanted to do something meaningful with my life. I was tired of simply writing about social good, I wanted to make positive change happen. It’s easy to get caught up in a vision or “wanting” to do something but never actually DOING it. I got the opportunity to travel to Rwanda and to meet with several impoverished communities. I was so moved by the people and their stories that I went home and started a nonprofit. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done but looking back I realized I just took one day at a time, one step at a time.

Slowly, through many evaluations, we found a community in need. We listened to their aspirations, developed a project, implemented impactful programs and finally after two years, we are providing education and the capital necessary for 100 families to rise out of poverty through a self-sustaining model. It is the most meaningful thing I’ve ever done and these women and their families have become the reason I wake each morning and work tirelessly all day.

Is there something you’ve always wanted to do but have been holding back? Try taking the first step towards your vision today.

Much love ~ Maria

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Photo by Anthony Russo

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