Rotary recognizes Maya Ajmera for helping some of the world’s most vulnerable children transform their lives
EVANSTON, Ill. (May 27, 2014) — From the streets to the classroom, Maya Ajmera of Washington, D.C., has helped more than nine million children living on the edges of society regain their rights and pursue their dreams – an achievement Rotary is applauding with its 2013-14 Global Service to Humanity Award.
Ajmera, who received a fellowship from Rotary in 1989 to study at St. Xavier’s College in India, founded The Global Fund for Children (GFC) in 1993. While traveling in India, Ajmera witnessed a life-changing event on a train platform in Bhubaneswar. Amid the chaos of the station, a group of children sat in a circle while a teacher led them in simple learning exercises. She later learned that the children lived, played and begged on the train platforms. Wanting to provide them with a pathway out of poverty, two teachers offered the children free education, clothing and food. The small school operated on only $400 per year, serving 40 students who would otherwise have no opportunity to learn. Inspired by this powerful model, Ajmera founded GFC based on the belief that small amounts of money, when given to innovative, community-based organizations, could make a lasting impact on the lives of the world’s most vulnerable children.
Under Ajmera’s 18 years of leadership, GFC has grown into one of the largest networks of grassroots organizations working on behalf of vulnerable children. To date, GFC has awarded more than $35 million to over 614 grassroots organizations in 79 countries, touching the lives of over nine million children.
“I am so honored to receive this award,” Ajmera said. “I received the Rotary Fellowship right after college and it changed my life. It gave me the opportunity to spend a year in South Asia and provided the spark to start The Global Fund for Children.”
After leading the Global Fund for Children, Ajmera is now a visiting scholar and professorial lecturer at The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at The Johns Hopkins University and the inaugural social entrepreneur in residence and visiting professor of the practice of public policy at Duke University. She is working on two books—a memoir and a public affairs book on the global plight of children and youth—as well as teaching a course entitled “Investing in Future Generations.” She is also an award-winning children’s book author of more than 15 titles.
Ajmera holds a bachelor’s degree from Bryn Mawr College and a Master of Public Policy from the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. She lives in Washington, DC, with her husband and daughter.
Rotary brings together a global network of volunteer leaders dedicated to tackling the world’s
most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connects 1.2 million members of more than
34,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Their work improves lives
at both the local and international levels, from helping families in need in their own
communities to working toward a polio-free world. For more information, visit Rotary.org.
Contact: Kimberly Dunbar, 847-866-3469, Kimberly.firstname.lastname@example.org
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