Razia Jan worked as a tailor and dry cleaner before starting Razia's Ray of Hope Foundation in 2008, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of women and children in Afghanistan through education. She operates the Zabuli Education Center, a school that she founded in rural Afghanistan that provides a free education to 625 girls.
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As an investment banker, Andy Stein never imagined that a visit to an orphanage in Chile would change his life, and the life of thousands of others. In 2001, after 25 years on Wall Street, Andy Stein left everything behind to start the Orphaned Starfish Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works with orphaned, trafficked, and at-risk youth around the world. The NGO has built 50 vocational centers and computer labs in 25 countries.
I first read about Andy Stein on The CNN Freedom Project, a TV show highlighting projects around the world that are fighting modern-day slavery. I never imagined I'd have the opportunity to interview Andy to learn about his work, travels, and why he loves to do magic tricks during his spare time.
Andy was an investment banker and is now a “recovering banker”
He flew around so much that he was the #1 flyer for Continental Airlines in New Jersey
He was only home for one month out of the year and flew 400,000 miles
Andy learned how to make balloon animals, so he could share a skill with the kids
Despite his busy business schedule, he spent 2 hours at an orphanage in every country that he visited
He began to spend more and more of his time helping children, instead of in investment banking
Soon, Andy made it a full-time endeavor
His children were very supportive of his career change
Andy went through a divorce but is remarried now. His new wife travels with him 80% of the time
Andy was very used to money and living a large lifestyle
“I knew this was what I was put on the planet to do.”
“The environment I was in was one that was only based on who had more.”
“Money is overrated.”
Andy was inspired by the starfish parable and named his nonprofit organization the Orphaned Starfish
The Orphaned Starfish has now helped 10,000 children
“Do it for yourself. Don’t do it for others.”
Orphaned Starfish funds itself almost exclusively from an annual gala
Many girls who had to leave these orphanages at age 18 faced a grim future
Andy Stein raised $40,000 during his first fundraiser
Now Orphaned Starfish raises $1.3 million per year
Too many galas are about the show and not about the cause, the bottomline
Andy Stein sent a shipment of computers to an orphanage in Chile but the shipment got stuck at customs in Chile and was never released!
Orphaned Starfish now buy their computers in-country
“Shit happens in life.”
In the business world, you face so many obstacles and learn to problem solve, instead of dwelling on them
In 2016 Andy Stein was on the road all but 39 days of the year!
“I call my apartment a storage facility with a bed.”
The process of fundraising and administration is the “grind” for Andy Stein
He is able to do most of his administrative work online, while traveling
The Orphaned Starfish has only 2 paid employees
Andy was featured on CNN’s Freedom Project, which covered stories of people fighting sex slavery around the world
CNN filmed Andy and his work in Medellin, Colombia
CNN did a full, three-segment piece on Orphaned Starfish
Orphaned Starfish raised a few thousand dollars due to the coverage, but less than expected
However, the prestige that Andy gained from being on the program opened up new doors of opportunities
Marisol was the first orphaned girl that Andy met in Chile. Despite the childhood abuse she had suffered, Marisol studied hard and graduated a university. She works at a bank and is getting ready for a wedding
Andy has been friends with Marisol for 15 years. She now mentors the children in the orphanage that she grew up in
Marisol is the inspiration for Andy and thousands of other girls
Andy had been to Tegucigalpa at least 10 times, initially for business
Orphaned Starfish supports an orphanage in Cali, Colombia, for children with HIV/AIDS
Andy is living mostly off of the savings that he had from his previous career
Andy’s wealthy friends from his banking career have all kinds of “toys” but they aren’t necessarily happy
Andy believes that children should be brought up by a regular family, but there are many cases where children are better off growing up in a group home.
Andy’s goal is to double his impact in the next five years
Success in family and relationship comes with sharing the same vision and passions
Andy eats a lot of ham and cheese sandwiches
Andy enjoys going for walks and staying active
For Andy, Medellin is one of his favorite cities in the world
Andy recommends Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea, though he says we should learn from the lessons taught but not take it as a nonfiction book
Andy is most grateful for his wife and soulmate
Andy met his soulmate at age 47
“Focus on and follow your passion.”