Many people know my friend Russell Simmons as a music or fashion mogul. I know the caring, loving and philanthropic Russell who inspired me to start the Flaviana Matata Foundation (FMF). FMF is a Tanzania based organization I run that helps empower young orphaned girls in rural areas by supporting their education.
A couple of years ago I became an Angel Ambassador for the Diamond Empowerment Fund (D.E.F.), a non-profit organization founded by Russell that empowers the next generation of leaders in Africa through education. It is through the volunteer work I do for this organization, coupled with my passion for empowering young girls in Tanzania, that I was inspired to start my OWN foundation, the Flaviana Matata Foundation. As I announce my new partnership and a grant of $10,000 from D.E.F, I am humbled and reminded that good things don’t only come to those who work hard, but also to people who use their talents to empower and uplift others.
I have had success in the short years I’ve been model, be it on runways in London and New York or photo shoots in glamorous magazines, and I am forever appreciative for the opportunities and lifestyle this career has provided me. However, it is very important to know that, as an African child, having all these successes and not helping my own people would mean absolutely nothing to me.
This belief is what continues to inspire me to do more through FMF. Young girls across the world, especially in Africa, are often ignored when it comes to social issues and I have witnessed how education can transform not just a young girl’s life, but also an entire community. With this belief, I have made it my life’s mission to not just be a fashion model, but also become a role model.
Everyday I am reminded of my job in this world by a simple African proverb that says, “Knowledge is like a garden, if not cultivated, it cannot be harvested.”
Flaviana Matata is a Tanzanian born international runway model. Follow her on twitter at @flavianamatata.