We had the good fortune of connecting with Vivian Glyck and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Vivian, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I started www.JustLikeMyChild.org in 2006 after I had two miscarriages in two years. I wondered “What do I do now? What is the next right thing for me?” Should we adopt, should we try to have another baby, or try IVF? But an inner voice kept saying, “I don’t want just one more child, I want 10,000 kids.” But that was crazy, because I didn’t know what that meant, or how to do that. I researched and learned a massive amount of information about the issues that were facing children in Africa. Like every 30 seconds a child was dying of a mosquito bite and subsequent malaria, and there were 12 million children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic. All the while, I already had an adorable two-year-old that I would do ANYTHING for. Did I really need one more child or could I make a difference by finding my own voice and standing up for the children in the world who were voiceless, instead? Everyone thought I was crazy when I first went to Africa. But I took my camera and shot a story, and told a story, and told the world. Doing the next right thing made all the difference, and today our work is putting the voice and the power into thousands of adolescent girls who are Transforming the World, One Girl at a Time®
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I’m most proud that Just Like My Child Foundation has stayed the course, working for 16 years in the remotest areas of Uganda to engage with community partners and create “human-centered” design. Human-centered design are programs that are created in solidarity with communities so that solutions are embraced rather than imposed. Through these programs, we have directly saved tens of thousands of lives and empowered over 20,000 girls to stand up, find their voice, stay in school, and change the future for themselves, their families, their economics, and their country. We’re now actively engaged in bringing our Girl Power Project® programming to Rishikesh, India and to the Native American Reservations of the Lakota Sioux in South Dakota. But what is Girl Power Project®? The very first night I was in Uganda, I watched a 13-year-old girl die in childbirth. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was witnessing the microcosm within the macrocosm. The 13-year-old’s infant daughter survived and the baby was left in the care of a grandmother who had been subordinated and abused herself her whole life. After building hospitals, schools, microfinance programs, we saw that nothing was going to change unless we intervened in the lives of adolescent girls before they fell “off track”, were forced into child marriage, raped, infected with HIV or became pregnant before she was ready. As a result, we created the Girl Power Project® a replicable curriculum of girls empowerment that has now been scientifically proven and academically published, showing that the program keeps girls in school, helps her avoid forced child marriage, rape, disease. Girl Power Project gives a girl the power to stand up, find her voice, and take control of her own life to be the extraordinary change agent that the world needs. What I want the world to know is that empowering women and girls to achieve their fullest potential is the lowest cost, most impact to remedy climate change, family health, population growth, and economic development of entire communities and countries. And that sometimes “Doing the Next Right Thing” can change the world.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well, if you’re asking about San Diego and we were allowed to “go out” — I would definitely go to Eddie V’s in La Jolla rooftop for a drink and amazing appetizers, Balboa Park would need a full two days to explore. Any and all of the beaches from Mission Beach to Oceanside have their own personality and flare. Little Italy has blossomed into a world-class dining series of plazas and community fun.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Without a doubt, my husband, Mike Koenigs, was the one who recognized that something big was calling me. He encouraged me to take action on my “crazy dream” and never thought it was unreasonable to dream crazy big. My dear friend, Arielle Ford, was the visionary who encouraged me to start a foundation after my first trip to Uganda, and that has made all the difference.