DENVER - "Home for the Holidays" has a very poignant meaning for Matthew Bravo of Pueblo.
The University of Denver graduate has flown back to Colorado from Uganda where he has been living since graduation.
I first met Bravo when he was a 19-year-old sophomore at DU. He and other students had spent part of their summer vacation working with impoverished communities in Rwanda and Uganda. He fell in love with the children.
Back then, Bravo knew education would help improve the lives of the kids he met.
The challenge Bravo faced was how to bring state-of-the art educational tools into poor, isolated villages.
In 2009, Bravo wrote his first ever-grant and received thousands of dollars from the Clinton Global Initiative. With that, he put Promethean Interactive White Boards into a school in Kigali, Rwanda.
I received an email the other day that "Matthew is back home for December."
Bravo is now the Executive Director of the Entusi Retreat Center in the Bunyoni region. It was established by the Denver-based Global Livingston Institute to get organizations and local governments together to address complex social issues in order to move these struggling communities forward.
In January, refugee workers from Congo, Rwanda and Uganda are coming together to discuss conflict resolution and what can be done to prevent another genocide.
In 1994, over the course of 100 days, more than 500,000 people were killed in Rwanda. It was the culmination of tensions between the minority Tutsi party and the majority Hutu people.
Entusi was built by the locals, but it was funded in part by people in the business community in Colorado. However, it's not just financial involvement.
About 100 people a year go over to Uganda and Rwanda from Colorado to help with local communities.
The Global Livingston Institute takes business leaders from Denver as well as students (like Matthew when he was at DU) out of their comfort zone and test what they know about poverty. They work one-on-one with students and community leaders. When they return to Colorado, they use what they've learned about poverty in Africa to work on some solutions in their own communities.
The Global Livingston Institute is named after Johnston R. Livingston, an entrepreneur and philanthropist from Colorado.
As GLI's website says: "The focus is not to fix Africa but to leave with a better understanding of how we can incubate innovative solutions to poverty in partnership with the people of East Africa.
To see what it was like for Matthew Bravo when he was just imaging the difference he could make in Africa, check out this 9NEWS.com story from January 2010.
For more information on the Global Livngston Institute's work in Africa & Entusi:
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