Our Founder, Catherine Mulvale | Her story is our story
“Will you save my life?” That was the question that started it all.
Asked by a brave, young Ugandan boy in a blue shirt of Catherine Mulvale in 2006, it was a question that would change Catherine’s life — and the lives of thousands of children around the world.
Catherine was shaken to her core by the boy’s question that was asked during her first trip to Africa. She was afraid by the magnitude of the request and knew she had to take action. No child should have to ask a stranger something so profound.
The question was simple. The response was not. Removing the barriers and scars of poverty is an incredibly complex and lengthy process.
Receiving little encouragement or support from the adults in her life, Catherine decided to focus on initiatives that would connect children on two continents. She wanted to empower children to shape the world they inherit. She wanted to inspire children in Canada to help others living in extreme poverty. Children around the globe rose to the challenge of helping each other and continue to inspire Catherine and the Global Friends team today.
The first program was the challenge to transform a two room mud hut that housed 36 orphans and their two caretakers into an orphanage that was a safe home. Through the help of hundreds of children back in Canada, Global Friends funded the construction of a proper care center for the children. Through the sale of artwork created by children, indoor cycling events, and fundraising efforts, children in Ontario, Canada raised $14,000 and gave their Tanzanian friends a true home at Rafiki. It included the introduction of safe water for drinking, cooking, hygiene and gardening. Two dorms, washrooms, a kitchen and a central meeting room were constructed. Income generating opportunities were introduced so the orphanage could thrive with no ongoing dependence on Global Friends.
Global Friends has grown a lot. We now host dozens of fundraising events and are helping thousands of children. We have raised over $1 million to build schools, introduce vocational training programs and supported the education and dreams of over 7,000 children.
And we’re just getting started. With incredible volunteers, partners and kids around the world, we now have the understanding, courage and connections to impact the global community we love and share every single day.
While Catherine has never been able to reconnect with the boy in the blue shirt, she is forever in his debt. She reflects daily on his humility and courage. He is the one who changed her life – and that of so many others.