Our tribe: Vol. 3

As part of our birthday campaign, we called up a few of the people who have gone above and beyond to make Priyam Global into the organization it is today.  From the beginning, the donations and support of our VIPs have helped us solve an urgent problem: children affected by disability in India are living in extreme poverty and very few people know about it. Our VIP investors are changing that. 

Today we are featuring four investors: Catrona, Erin, Patrick, and Rachael. We gave each of them the same little personality quiz: their favorite food, favorite places to travel, book they're currently reading, advice they'd give to anyone younger than them, why they think Priyam's work matters, and whether they'd rather visit space, Antarctica, or the depths of the sea.

Here's what they said.

Catrona Lanctot | Fishers, Indiana

Name Catrona Lanctot
Occupation Executive Assistant for a commercial construction associate
Age 27
Location Fishers, Indiana
Favorite food Any kind of Thai food
Favorite place you've traveled Graz, Austria on the Slovenia border in wine country
Book you’re currently reading Prey – Michael Crichton
What advice would you give to people who are younger than you? Don’t be afraid to be yourself. It’s okay to be a weirdo, just roll with it. You do you.
What is something (anything) you like about Priyam?  I like knowing exactly how my donation is helping. I like giving money knowing exactly how it is being spent, to whom it is being given—the specific people and kids who I am supporting.
In your own words, why do you think Priyam’s work matters?

Personally, I’ve been very touched by children with disabilities and I think it’s incredible the lives they can have in the United States, and the resources they have and their families have. And I think every child deserves the dignity of the right of being recognized. Of having their life recognized.

Would you rather go to space, visit Antarctica, or go deep sea diving? (and why?) I would rather go deep sea diving because I’ve always loved the ocean. I’ve never been afraid of it, in fact I feel safer in the ocean than any other body of water, including pools.


Erin Zaikis | New York, New York

Erin Zaikis is founder of Sundara. Sundara's mission is to reduce preventable hygiene related diseases and deaths in vulnerable populations (especially children and women) through sustainable solutions that involve female empowerment, local involvement and intensive hygiene education.

Erin Zaikis is founder of Sundara. Sundara's mission is to reduce preventable hygiene related diseases and deaths in vulnerable populations (especially children and women) through sustainable solutions that involve female empowerment, local involvement and intensive hygiene education.

Name Erin Zaikis
Occupation Founder of Sundara
Age 26
Location New York, New York
Favorite food My favorite food is Nam Kang Fai, Thai shaved ice. Basically, you buy it in the road in Bangkok. Where I used to live, you buy it from this woman who has a stand with 4-5 levels and each level has 10 bowls of things you’ve never seen before – lotus roots, coconut jelly, corn, beans… you pick whatever topping for the ice she chops up, and she puts coconut milk and palm sugar on it.
Favorite place you've traveled 100% Myanmar. It’s such an amazing place, I could go on and on about. I love it so much because I think it’s how life was meant to be… the people are so genuine. Everyone looks you in the eye and smiles and acknowledges your presence. There’s no materialism, no commercialism. There’s no pressure to look hot or seem cool or be rich. I can be free of those external things and just be me. So it’s my happy place but it’s also so fascinating culturally.
Book you’re currently reading I bought the book Shantaram when I was India and I made it through three pages. I’m lugging it around with me, I don’t know if I’m reading it but I’m carrying it!
What advice would you give to people who are younger than you? Life is not a linear path. Sometimes the best things come only when everything starts crashing apart. Don’t look at something that seems from the outside as a failure or tragedy but to try to use it as a lesson of growth. Whatever you think your failures are, appreciate that so much personal growth happens around them and they make you who you are. I think it’s so hard for young people to accept failure because in social media everything looks so glamorous. I think it’s great to realize that everyone is struggling and your struggles make you who you are.
What is something you like about Priyam? I love so much about it. I think the artistic design was what captivated me and what kept me in love with Priyam and it’s mission is that it’s something that’s never talked about in public. It’s not a sexy thing to talk about disabilities. And its definitely not a sexy thing to talk about children with disabilities in other countries. I really admire your bravery in putting this thing that is usually just brushed by, and putting it out there in the public eye in a way that is beautiful. You show these kids smiling, you show their mothers feeling so proud, you talk to their caretakers. It’s not a pity party. It’s amazing you’ve taken this issue that is so sad and you’ve really been able to inspire hope.

I really love the fact that you work with the mothers because I think so often the focus is just on the children and no one understands how this impacts their families. So I think that’s a really wise perspective. 

Why do you think Priyam’s work matters? I think it matters because no one talks about children with disabilities. It’s such a closed topic. It’s something people feel hopeless about. I find out my friends have siblings with disabilities, either mental or physical, and I wonder why they didn't tell me this before. I think there’s a lot of shame that’s involved in it. I just feel like it’s something that’s not talked about and when it is, it’s awkward. And you are talking about it in this way that’s so positive and heartwarming and easy. And you’re inspiring hope and working directly with caretakers and mothers and your solution is so sustainable and holistic. And I love that.
Would you rather go to space, visit Antarctica, or go deep sea diving? (and why?) Wow! Definitely don’t want to go to space, even though my major was astronomy, I think I would burn up. I’d be one of those unlucky astronomers. I think I’d want to go to Antarctica because I’m fascinated by penguins. They are the cutest, lumpiest animals.


Patrick and Rachael Leong | Las Cruces, New Mexico

Name Patrick and Rachael Leong
Occupation Patrick - Family therapist; Rachael - student
Age 24 & 27
Location Las Cruces, New Mexico
Favorite food Any kind of Chinese food
Favorite place you've traveled Patrick - Steamboat Springs, CO; Rachael - I’m in love with Glacier National Park in Montana. I’ve been there twice and it’s one of the most beautiful breathtaking places
Book you’re currently reading Patrick - Here and Now by Henri J. M. Nouwen; Rachael - Dakota: A spiritual geography by Kathleen Norris
What advice would you give to people who are younger than you? Patrick - Invest in your relationships. Not in your popularity or your fame or money or materialistic goods.
Rachael - Put your phone down and be mindful of where you are. And enjoy life instead of trying to capture a picture of, I don’t know, how good you look that night. Differences are a beautiful thing, and God made us all different, so embrace that and don’t try to fit in a mold that isn’t true to reality or how God created us to be.
What is something you like about Priyam?

We’re not just targeting poverty but a certain population that’s especially disadvantaged. And we’re not trying to cure the whole world at once but trying to give resources to a specific population that is ignored. —Patrick
What stands out the most to me is how you highlight individuals that the world would never know about. They have these real struggles or are very much giving themselves to bring light to these children. And people seem to only want to look at the really big awful or the really beautiful and not the in between which is where most people live. —Rachael

Why do you think Priyam’s work matters? When Jesus came to Earth he didn’t sit and eat with the wealthy and the famous, he sat with the broken and the poor in spirit and disabled and sick and I think that’s what Priyam does. 
Would you rather go to space, visit Antarctica, or go deep sea diving? (and why?) Patrick - Antarctica, as well because I’d try to find Santa. Rachael - Antarctica, I’m not usually a fan of cold but that just seems like such a barren land that few people have laid eyes on.


Thank you so much to everyone who has invested in us since Priyam began in 2014. 


:)

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