Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Drip, Drip, Ocean

A great article in C Magazine on a beautifully philanthropic friend of mine who is committed to 'making change work'. Inspiring is an understatement when describing Kyleigh and all her accomplishments at such a young age. A fine example of how one person and one penny can make a monumentus impact on the world. 

For Bay Area beauty Kyleigh Kuhn, posing for the camera is about making a difference
Kyleigh Kuhn’s never been one to fall into stereotypes. At 16, her freshly minted driver’s license was not used for transport from the mall to the movies, but for driving to schools to motivate fellow Bay Area high schoolers to collect pennies and spare change to contribute to her Roots of Peace Penny Campaign. She founded the nonprofit in 2003 to build schools, soccer fields and playgrounds for children in war-torn Afghanistan. And today, as a 23-year-old fashion model, she’s booking back-to-back shoots not only for her own benefit, but to keep Afghani children educated and at play.
For Kuhn, it started with a trip to Croatia on her 13th birthday. The San Rafael native traveled with her mother—the founder of Roots of Peace, the number-one nongovernmental organization for agricultural development in Afghanistan—to visit the region’s landmine victims. “I was surrounded by children who had lost everything to war,” says Kuhn. “I knew I needed to create a way for my peers and myself to help.”
Since its inception, the Penny Campaign has raised more than $300,000 and contributed to the development of six schools in Afghanistan. The most recent is a high school for 600 young women in the city of Bamyan, which opens in August and is making monumental strides for gender equality. It pro vides Bamyan’s girls—prohibited to occupy the same facilities as their male peers—with their first opportunity to be educated at a high school level.
Kuhn raises funds and awareness in the U.S. through her burgeoning modeling career, which began two years ago after she was spotted by S.F.’s CITY Models in an H&M store. She donates 50% of her profits toward the campaign and uses her work as a springboard for exposure for the Campaign. “Modeling has opened a lot of doors,” says Kuhn, who also recently signed with Click Models in New York. “I’m getting support from clients while also sharing information about the cause with a wider audience.” Speeding into summer with a spread in Vogue Italia and a profile of the Penny Campaign in an Abercrombie & Fitch fall catalog, both of which have her working with famed photographer Bruce Weber, the future’s looking busy for Kuhn. “She’s being booked as ‘The Nonprofit Model,’” says Mimi Yapor, her agent at CITY Models. “When clients hear about all of the work she’s been doing at such a young age, they are immediately intrigued.”

Kuhn, who graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Peace and Conflict Studies last year, will be traveling to Bamyan in June for the school’s inauguration, and to check on other Penny Campaign schools, like the Kyleigh Kuhn School in Mir Bacha Kot, which the children named in her honor. “In Afghanistan, they say, ‘qatra qatra darya,’ which means ‘drip, drip, ocean,’” says Kuhn. “It’s truly inspiring to go over there and see how the combination of so many students’ small contributions has transformed the reality of Afghan students.”
Ready to get involved with the Roots of Peace Organization? Start a penny campaign, volunteer your time, there are plenty of ways to donate to the cause at http://www.rootsofpeace.org/. Kyleigh...get ready, I am coming to visit you in N.Y. soon!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the wonderful write up....

    enjoy the day,