I’m excited to announce Activate28’s first ever Changemaker of the Month, Rochelle Stewart-Allen.  

Rochelle is the Founder of Daya Trust, a New Zealand charity focused on educating marginalised girls in India.

As Changemaker of the Month, Rochelle receives publicity for her charity PLUS she gets money from Donate28 (a portion of the income I bring in this month).

At the end of the month, Rochelle will receive the Donate28 money, on one condition: she must spend that money on herself, not on her charity. 

Keep reading to find out about Rochelle’s vision for her charity … and how she plans to spend her Donate28 cash.

1.       What’s your vision for making a difference? 

I share the vision that girls are the most powerful force on the planet to end poverty.

Educating a girl keeps her happy and healthy and safe. It provides an education she can use to earn a living. She can avoid HIV and violence, and marry and have children when she’s ready. She’ll also keep her children healthy and value education. An extra year of primary education will boost girls’ eventual wages by 10-20%, and an extra year of secondary school will add 15-25%. When a girl in the developing world receives seven years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children.  This is called The Girl Effect and is the foundation of what we believe.

Girls Learning Centre

Daya Trust is working to build the capacity and capability of the Girls Learning Centre in Mumbai, run by local charity Sakhi for Girls Education

2.      What have been your successes so far?

Since 2011, Daya has worked in Mumbai building the capacity and capability of a slum-based Girls Learning Centre. We see this centre producing a marked increase in learning outcomes for our girls. We’ve also seen increased and committed attendance at school, increased commitment of parents to keep their girls in school, improved self-esteem and confidence of the girls, and improved leadership skills. These gorgeous girls are our inspiration.

3.       What prompted you to start Daya Trust?

I first visited India in 2008 and it really made me challenge my own life and how many resources I had access to, consumed and shared (or not!). I saw how far the Western dollar goes in India and was motivated to help those I saw achieving amazing things with so few resources. After my first couple of visits, I very clearly found a focus on the power of educating girls. It made me realise I could have just as easily been born somewhere else without the kinds of benefits I take for granted. I recognised we could empower our girls to become their own changemakers and that’s never stopped motivating me.

4.       What are 3 things that are challenging about running a charity?

1. Resourcing is always the major challenge – whether time, expertise or money. Most small charities like ours purely survive on the voluntary contribution of many people.

2. The second challenge is not being on-the-ground in India. Thank goodness for technology! We utilise email, Skype and social media for our communications which helps with timeframes. However there’s never anything quite as valuable as being able to sit down together in a room for a chat. On the plus side however, being based in the West helps us access so many resources and expertise which can then be channelled back to India.

3. Energy. Volunteer work provides so much personal value, but there is really no end to the amount of time you can invest. It’s a constant balancing act to manage the vitality required for this work and the rest of day-to-day life. There are no quick fixes here and we’re in it for the long haul.

Rochelle at Daya Trust's screening of Girl Rising in 2013

Rochelle at Daya Trust’s screening of Girl Rising in 2013

5.       What do you wish you had more of in the charity?

I wish we had a bigger pool of experts helping us along the way. At the moment, we identify and pull in people on an ‘as required’ basis (and we’ve had some incredibly generous people along the way). It would be great to have those people more permanently engaged so we could fully utilise their expertise in an on-going basis.

6.       If you had a bigger pool of experts, how would that change things for YOU?

Once we have a bigger team that will relieve a lot of pressure on me and free me to do what I do best – set up and manage relationships, and go out and share the vision for Daya Trust.

7.       Who else is on your team? What else do you wish you could give them?

We have a small team of trustees and a rotating list of volunteers. If I had my wish, it would be I had more time and energy to support our team in their work. However it’s just not practical when we’re so small and it’s ‘all hands on deck’ for the majority of the time.

8.     How are you going to the Donate28 money? (remember, the money has to be spent on self-care and self-improvement, not on your charity)

Well it’s a complete luxury to think money is coming our way to just spend on ourselves. After 5 years, we seem to be working harder and longer each year. This year we have a big year ahead of us preparing for a major expansion in 2015. We’re also organising a ‘voluntour’ to India in October.

After much thinking, I’m going to pick massages! After hours of hard work and many long slogs on the computer, there’s nothing quite as rewarding as a massage to release the tension and produce complete relaxation. Having that to look forward to over the year will be a complete treat!

Want to help Rochelle have some well-earned massages this year? Buy something on this page and I will donate $28 to Rochelle’s Donate28 fund. 


What is Changemaker of the Month?

Each month, a changemaker in the social enterprise or not-for-profit fields is featured on the Activate28 blog. Not only will they receive publicity for the work they’re doing, but they’ll also receive money via Donate28 (ie. $28 from every Activate28 product or service that is sold during the month will be given directly to them).

The Changemaker of the Month receives the money with one twist: they must spend the money on self-care or celebration (because changemakers typically are so busy giving to others that it’s time that they receive too!). Find out more here.