Susanna and Linda were recently interviewed by the Globe & Mail, Canada’s leading national newspaper, about the social conscience of their digitally-connected generation:
These exceptional young Canadians are all part of the post-millennial generation. It’s a cohort of kids that doesn’t have a definitive name yet, but some have dubbed it Generation Z (as in, the generation after the large and influential Generation Y). These are the under-18s, kids growing up in an era of global economic turmoil and climate change. Despite their youth, the digitally sophisticated, socially conscious high achievers emerging from this group are causing some people to wonder: Is this the generation that will solve the world’s problems?
“I think our generation is really socially conscious, environmentally friendly and they are really global thinkers,” says Linda Manziaris, the 14-year-old social entrepreneur and founder of Body Bijou and this year’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year at the Startup Canada Awards.
Linda donates 50 per cent of the profit from her online jewellery business to Girls Helping Girls, which was started by her 16-year-old sister, Susanna. So far, the not-for-profit has funded school building, teacher training and 20 scholarships for girls in South Africa, Kenya and Jamaica.
“[Our generation] sees a problem and they want to fix it, they aren’t leaving it for someone else to fix,” Linda says.
Beautiful pieces of jewelry are changing lives in third world countries, thanks to two beautiful sisters. Linda Manziaris is the founder of Body Bijou and Susanna founded Girls Helping Girls. We welcome both of them back.
Linda Manziaris, founder of Body Bijou (and just 13 years old!) has made it her mission to help educate and empower other young girls by donating half the net profits from the sale of her Body Bijou line to charitable organization Girls Helping Girls. Now that’s a reason to get some body bling!
We couldn’t agree more, Huffington Post!
CTV Ottawa Morning Live
Susanna Manziaris and her sister Linda were interviewed on CTV Morning Live on September 12, 2013. They had a chance to talk about GirlsHelping Girls and partner BodyBijou. You can watch the video on YouTube.
Photo: Sisters Linda Manziaris, founder of BodyBijou, and Susanna Manziaris, founder of GirlsHelpingGirls, in studio at CTV Ottawa.
On September 3, 2013, Susanna and sister Linda were interviewed for CHCH News:
News 24 reported on GirlsHelping Girls on Friday, August 23, 2013:
A family vacation to Disney World or a tropical resort are typically at the top of the destination wish lists for teens hoping for one final summer trip before school starts.
Linda, 13, and Susanna Manziaris, 16, however, would like nothing better than to go back to Kenya.
The sisters travelled to the African country last year as part of a family volunteer mission to help build a school.
It was a trip that changed their lives and spurred the girls to launch BodyBijou.com, an online jewelry store that creates handmade pieces. What’s more, they donate 50% of profits to the GirlsHelpingGirls foundation.
“Our trip to Kenya inspired me to take action and help deserving girls reach for a better future. It was a real eye-opened and I could not get the images of the young girls out of my head,” says Susanna.
“I did not care about the lions, elephants and other animals we saw—the highlight was working with blocks and mortar alongside locals to build a school. I did not care how dirty I was or that my hands had blisters, I was totally in the moment.”
The girls have raised $11,580.00 so far and provided nine scholarships in Kenya, South Africa, and Jamaica. They hope to double the number of scholarships by Christmas.
“It’s a Girl: A Close Look at the Culture of Gendercide”
Havergal College, where GirlsHelpingGirls founder Susanna Manziaris is a Grade 10 student, has supported GHG right from the beginning:
With the help of the Institute at Havergal, Grade 10 student Susanna Manziaris organized and hosted the event as a part of her new initiative called GirlsHelpingGirls. She came across the movie It’s a Girl when searching for films to showcase at the recent HavergalTEDX event, which she co-organized in November 2012. The shocking and sad content of the film made her want to raise awareness of the issue of gendercide in countries like India and China amongst her peers.
The goal of her not-for-profit organization GirlsHelpingGirls is to raise funds to help send girls to school. So far, she has raised enough money for three girls in South Africa to attend a better high school. She hopes that with this elevated educational opportunity, these girls will help themselves, their families and their communities better understand the value of girls and women in society.
“Giving Back Together: Volunteering as a Family in Kenya”
In the summer of 2012, Susanna Manziaris travelled with her family to Kenya to build a school with Me to We and Free the Children. This trip was one of the experiences that led Susanna to found GirlsHelpingGirls.
The Manziaris family also spent time with the students at Free The Children’s newly built Kisaruni All Girls Secondary School, and Susanna and Linda quickly found common ground as the girls talked about their favourite subjects and shared their hopes for the future. “At Kisaruni, all the students want to pursue university and have real meaningful careers. One girl wanted to be a journalist and travel the world,” said Susanna. “Seeing the girls and connecting […] and seeing how much Free The Children has made an impact in their lives, offering such a great school to work in,” she knew then that her family had made the right choice to come to the Mara that summer.
Exciting news—it looks like the Government of Canada approves of our work!
On October 11, 2014, Status of Women Canada will invite Canadians to celebrate the International Day of the Girl, a commemorative day that promotes equal treatment and opportunities for girls around the world.
Status of Women Canada is excited to commemorate this important day by recognizing young women and girls as powerful agents of change and as leaders of today and tomorrow, which is why we want to tell your story to help inspire girls all across the country. Your work is an inspiration to Canadians and is something we would like to profile on the Status of Women Canada website.
Helping Hands Leadership Award
On September 17, 2014, Helping Hands Jamaica recognized Susanna’s leadership in the building of the Park Mountain Early Childhood Institute this summer.
2013 Student Innovation Award from Havergal College
The Student Innovation Award is presented to a Havergal College student of any age who has identified a problem in the world and applied innovative thinking to make an impact.
The student who received the Student Innovation Award in May 2013, Susanna Manziaris, embodies innovative thinking. She sees problems, she asks good questions, she thinks in terms of possibility, and she acts with flexibility and novelty in the every day. She was part of the group who founded TEDxHavergalCollege in 2011 (and hosted the first TEDx in November 2012). As part of the preparation the group watched dozens of videos (TEDx requires that videos be included), one of which was the documentary film It’s a Girl. She found this film on gendercide so horrifying that she could not let it go, and wanted to do something. She rejected the producers’ idea to lobby the governments of China and India as ineffective because she wanted to address the full complexity of the issue. Susanna decided that what would change this behaviour is the education of girls – she believes that educated women could never participate in gendercide. The next step was to find a girl to sponsor – Susanna researched the large NGOs and discovered that they offered no connection to young women in return for a donation. She decided to start her own charity, GirlsHelpingGirls (GHG), which aims to eradicate gendercide by raising the status of women through education. Continuing to think deeply, Susanna decided to approach Nurturing Orphans of AIDS for Humanity (NOAH), one of Havergal’s international partners that supports children in South Africa. NOAH agreed to find young women whose lives would be improved by attending a better high school, such as one that offered exposure to technology.
This is not a great, big new idea. Rather it is a highly innovative approach to the undervaluing of girls and women world-wide. Educate young women, don’t throw money at people, work with a partner to identify smart, young women who can use support; young women with whom we can develop relationships and who will then have a network beyond the townships of South Africa. This is long term, sustainable change.
Kids are Heroes recognizes the humanitarian efforts of kids from all over the world, promoting a culture where it’s normal for kids to try and change the world.
The Manziaris sisters, sixteen year old Susanna and thirteen year old Linda are an inspirational “Hero Team”. Linda is the founder of a socially conscious, an on-line jewelry store called bodybijou.com that is committed to making a difference in the lives of young girls around the world. Body Bijou donates 50% of net profits to Girls Helping Girls, a non-profit organization founded by Susanna, which is dedicated to educating vulnerable girls in the developing world.
It was a love of fashion-forward jewelry combined with a desire to help underprivileged women that propelled the Manziaris sisters to put this socially conscious passion to good use. A recent volunteer trip to help build a school in Kenya changed the way they think about education and highlighted the sacrifices that so many girls have to make just to get by. They also learned that the low status of women is a problem that is consistent globally and that if you educate a girl, you educate a family and the entire community and the cycle of poverty can begin to break.
Both Susanna and Linda wanted to do something to help these girls. And help they did. Upon returning to Toronto from their trip, they got their friends and family just as excited about this new venture and put plans into action. To date, their combined efforts have created nine scholarships in Kenya, South Africa, and Jamaica. They hope to double the number of scholarships by years end and expand into Pakistan, Haiti and India. In addition, the girls have partnered with Helping Hands Jamaica and have raised enough money to build two primary schools in Jamaica scheduled for June 2014. They are looking forward to hammering and painting, as they will be part of the volunteer build team!!