In the words of a young Canadian activist in Africa -- Jenna Hoyt of Little Voice Foundation --"International development leads people to believe that the only impact they can have on the world is through work and travel aboard. We Canadians need to focus on how our everyday choices, from the coffee we drink, the clothes we buy and corporations we support, impact the lives of the people of the world."
For Ottawa's Mahlet Seifu -- who exemplifies all these words, it seems she is having a far reaching impact here at home and abroad.
As if having a full time business consultant position is not busy enough, Mahlet started modeling seven years ago, and is now a fashion designer with the hope of helping a cause that is near and dear to her. The 30-year-old University of Ottawa graduate began her Canadian journey in earnest. She moved to the suburbs of Ottawa as a young woman at the age of 11 with her family.
Her beautiful looks and easy personality had many people attempt to discover her as a model early yet Mahlet waited until she graduated from university to look at her options. For her, the only way she would pursue it was if it would only allow her to have an impact in the lives of others. After having visited her home country, she found a way to leverage her passion for fashion as well as her business consulting career to build a handbag and clutch design label that would provide a sustainable way of helping move her home country forward.
Mahlet who is signed with Ottawa's Models International Management (MIM), has been recruited for dozens of photo shoots and fashion shows, and has been styled by several of Canada's leading designers including Michel Antoine and Guylaine Taillefer from La Maison Anotoine & Taillefer.
Recently, she was selected by the dynamic duo to model a stunning couture dress which they fashioned out of VISA Desjardins cards in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Caisse Populaire -- Downtown Rideau.
This year, she started Me. Tu Style, designing handbags and clutches with Ethiopian hand-made fabrics. She pledged to continuously donate 5 per cent of all the profits of her line to a few orphanages in Ethiopia including the well-known Abebech Gobena.
At home, her efforts are as powerful and impactful as that of abroad. She is a regular with charities like the Shepherds of Good Hope, the Make a Wish Foundation, the Children's Hospital of Easter Ontario (CHEO) and the Ottawa United Way campaign. Her passion for helping others and especially children is one she will support whenever she can.
She is content in her profession and excited with her modeling and designing gig however she is more fullfilled by the impact she is having at home and abroad.
No wonder her favourite Chinese proverb is - "The man (woman) who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones."