By: Nadia Raquel Martinez
Christine Tjanjadi-Lopez of Getzville, New York has made it her mission to enhance the lives of children marginalized locally and abroad. Christine, a 2014 University at Buffalo graduate, founded “The Initiative for the Young Global Photographer”. She has traveled to Ecuador and Peru with the financial support of the Dream Support Grant. The National Society of Leadership and Success, the nation’s largest leadership honor society, provided this grant. Through Christine’s Initiative, she has been able to travel abroad and is teaching photography as a form of expression and communication and working with children in marginalized communities in Lima. Christine works directly with local volunteers to provide educational enrichment, after school programming and community led social change programs for children and young adults in marginalized areas. This, in turn, has helped them increase their chances of attending college or technical training programs by using their photographs and newly acquired skills to supplement grant applications.
Not only is this young woman working abroad, but she is also working for the youth of western New York. She is the founder of an annual summer conference for preteen girls called “Girls Day: Becoming a Girl Warrior for God”, empowering teens with a focus on self-worth. Additionally, Christine is working on creating a scholarship fund for survivors of human trafficking, which is a major social justice platform that she supports. You can check out her online social justice platform called Bloggers Against Social Injustice (BASI), which she happens to be the founding director of. Through BASI, topics such as human trafficking, sexual exploitation, and ethical fashion are discussed. The activism doesn’t stop there, because Christine, along with other BASI members, created Buffalo’s first Anti-trafficking walk, known as the Freedom Walk. With all of their hard work and dedication, BASI was awarded the iStand award for the Freedom Walk. The iStand Award was awarded by Free-Them, Canada’s leading anti-trafficking organization, for its extraordinary measures against trafficking.
Christine earned her Bachelor’s Degree in International Trade, graduating magna cum laude. She plans to go on to earn her Masters Degree in International Trade, and is starting her research while she is currently in Peru. This extraordinary young woman has moved mountains, and she has only begun her journey. She's working to inspire confidence and build leadership skills in girls in her hometown as well as in developing communities abroad. Her blog, BeYoutiful Hope, is her own personal diary, where she tells of her travels, her cause, her faith, and what she likes to call ethical fashion. You can dive into a glimpse of her life and photography through her blog. The National Society of Leadership and Success has helped Christine make a difference in the world, and it does so two times annually for a member of the Society. The 2015 award season has begun and students have an opportunity to apply for all or part of the $10,000 grant to work toward achieving their dream. The application period closes on April 10.