As an SMU senior, Adina Salehi Belloli ’02 channeled her passion for helping children into action by forming Care For Kids. The nonprofit organization, which she started with best friend Mica Odom ’03, held events to raise money for local children’s charities.
More than a decade later, Belloli’s work still focuses on improving the lives of children. Now living in London with her husband, daughter and son, Belloli is preparing to launch Invisible, a non-governmental organization (NGO).
“We named the organization Invisible because children in poverty are made to feel invisible by society,” she explains. “But we see them; we stand with them.”
Invisible’s purpose is to provide “hope and resources for those without life’s essentials,” she adds.
Since earning a degree in psychology from SMU and a master’s degree in international health care, public policy and economics from Bocconi University in Milan, Belloli has served in various capacities with other NGOs, including the Cure2Children Foundation and the World Health Organization (WHO). Those experiences provided the push she needed to take the next step.
“It was while doing research for the WHO that I realized I wanted to get back to doing more grassroots development and decided to utilize my knowledge and network to launch my own international NGO,” she says.
Invisible aims to help struggling communities create sustainable programs to address such needs as clean water delivery, health care improvements, alternative income development and access to education. “We work to build strong relationships with and obtain commitments from local governments, ministries of education, and community leadership,” she explains.
“We only work in communities to which we have been invited and rely heavily on the guidance of community members to select and prioritize the most appropriate projects,” she adds. “The program is designed to empower communities to break the cycle of poverty and support themselves over the long term.”
The first program will start this month in Quezon City, Philippines. The nation’s most populous city, which adjoins the capital city of Manila, was spared the worst of the recent Typhoon Haiyan, but the needs of thousands living in poverty are great. The NGO will take its cues from locals in shaping the scope of the project, she says.
Belloli says she called on her SMU network – she stays in touch with 10 close friends and several professors – for advice before launching Invisible. “SMU definitely helped me to get where I am today.”
— Sarah Bennett ’11