Amherst College - Major in Political Science + Minor in Latin American Literature
It was a trip to Kazakhstan that changed the life of Melissa Scott forever. After all, that's where she met her daughter (pictured with her above) and decided that she couldn't stand the thought of coming back to the United States knowing so many kids were there without families and the love of a parent. Instead of feeling powerless, Melissa decided she would do something that would impact the lives of these kids who haunted her dreams. So, she founded Dream Prosperity, an international humanitarian organization that provides personalized pillowcases to orphans around the world so that when they go to sleep at night, they can be comforted by the fact that somewhere out there someone is thinking of them. She said one of the reasons these children end up in orphanages is because their parents are unable to take care of them. As a result, Dream Prosperity offers fair trade projects in the countries it serves to help empower women artisans by offering them a way to create sustainable enterprises.
Dream Prosperity currently serves Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uganda, Ghana (a center of rescued child slaves), Sierra Leone, Honduras and foster care programs in the U.S. Their fair trade items include toys and dolls made from banana leaves made by women who work for or around the orphanage we serve (Uganda) and vibrantly colored floor pillows (Kazakhstan).
And the best part of Melissa's job? She says it allows her to fulfill all of her passions — creativity, innovation, international travel, working with boutiques, helping global artisans and making a difference for orphans.
We can all make a difference in this world.
How did you discover your current job?
Through meeting my daughter and the experiences and journey I took to find her. From there, I launched Dream Prosperity.
I adopted my daughter from Kazakhstan and visited her orphanage daily for a month. When I returned to the United States, I was continually haunted by the faces of the children that were left behind -- to continue life without a family or without experiencing love and affection from a parent – and wanted to make a difference in their lives. On top of that, I knew that the majority of children in orphanages around the world are there because their parents didn’t have the funds to raise a child. I wanted to be a part of a solution to help empower women in creating sustainable enterprises, which in turn would possibly lead to more children staying with families. I knew I had to find a way to connect all the dots to create an organization that would serve orphans and to help women artisans around the world find a marketplace for their designs in the U.S.
What has been your path so far to get you where you are today?
I have a background in international marketing and communications. That gave me the foundation to understand how to promote Dream Prosperity, raise awareness and solicit funds. On top of that, I am a bit of a wanderlust and enjoy bazaars, co-ops and galleries around the world. I love textiles, art and handicrafts from all corners of the globe and know how they can accent our homes and lives back in the States. That gave me the framework to know what to concentrate on for our groups of women artisans for the marketplace in the United States.
Was there any one situation that helped you along your way?
Social media, hands down. The network of people I am meeting to help me grow this brand is incredible.
What is your typical day like? Does it ever change?
It changes often, but typically it starts off communicating with our in-country reps overseas to develop our aim and mission in those countries. We find out what is needed, the status of the children in the orphanages, create a fair trade strategy for our women co-ops, listen to pitches of new and unique products that could be created by the women and sold here in the U.S., etc. I then turn my attention to our network here in the U.S. and pitch any group possible to get them to help personalize pillowcases for orphans and for stores to stock our products. I also do the pr and marketing, pitching story ideas to reporters, soliciting donations and support, building partnerships with other international humanitarian organizations, and the list goes on.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Making a difference in the lives of a child, especially those who are in orphanages, and empowering women to use their talents and skills to earn money to help themselves and their families.
What is the most challenging part?
Fundraising. Especially in this economy.
What is the biggest personal sacrifice you have to make because of your job?
A huge reduction in salary. However, I’m rewarded a million times more by just seeing the smiles on the kids faces when they see that they are not invisible to world.
Who are your role models?
There is a young man named Kavulu who has inspired me. He lives in Uganda, and Dream Prosperity works closely with him. Twenty years ago he was on the brink of death. He became a sponsored child through an international sponsor-a-child program. My former boss sponsored him from the age of eight until he aged out of the program at 18. Through the sponsorship he was able to receive daily nourishment and even an education. He went on to establish a church (it’s really a mud hut), an orphanage and a school. Just recently he formed a women’s co-op through Dream Prosperity. In any case, he wanted to pay it forward and help other people because he was so thankful for the charity he received as a child. And through him, I want to pay it forward as well. He personifies the idea that we can all make a difference in the world.
Is there a quote or mantra that you live by?
Leap first, then pray for wings.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Please get involved! For $10, we will give you the name of a child in an orphanage, information about him/her, a pillowcase, and ideas on ways to personalize a pillowcase. Once you send us the finished product, we will forward it to the child and you will receive a photo of him/her with your design. Trust me, the smile on the child's face will assure you that you *are* making a difference in his/her life!