Thursday, August 15, 2013

Brendan Hieber

I hope you enjoyed last week's post about Human After All (and if you did, please donate.) Meet the man behind the mission.

Name: Brendan Hieber

Age: 30

Live: I live in Lima, Peru

Career: Tell me a bit about your career or the career you hope to have. 
    • I have worked a lot of jobs, some good, some not so good.  The shortest stint was at the Chicago Botanic Gardens as a pesticide sprayer.  That didn't work for too long.  Maybe, around 11 days at the most. Some of the more fun jobs I have had were working as a Production Assistant at the Ravinia Festival, interning for 93.1 WXRT, a local rock radio station in Chicago, interning for Aware Records, working for Bitter Jester Creative as a "man-on-the-street" interviewer, and teaching young boys how to thrive in wilderness situations as a mountaineering instructor in North Carolina at Camp Mondamin.  Currently, I am working with a Peruvian NGO called La Casa de Panchita, working to help child domestic workers trapped in a heartbreaking cycle of poverty in the shantytowns of Lima, Peru.  In the future, I would like to work with communities of folks throughout the Global South, changing lives through effective sustainable development.  I could see myself working in education, community development, fundraising, individual empowerment, or if I had my way, a combination of them all.  I like the idea of being involved with projects, as I am learning I like to see that real change has been enacted, little by little.  Like everybody's, my dreams are a work in progress.  

Are you philanthropic? Why?
    • The short answer is yes, I am philanthropic.  The why part is a little longer, and would probably change depending on which day you caught me, and after which book I had just finished reading.  As of today you have caught me in the middle of a book by the Dalai Lama on living and dying in peace, at the end of the first book in a Russian vampire saga, and I have just finished To Have or To Be by Erich Fromm, so we'll see where that takes me.  I believe to be philanthropic, in the sense of giving of yourself, of your time, your money, your knowledge, your resources to another person is simply what it means to be human.  For me the best kind of philanthropy is a reciprocal philanthropy, because I hope it is the rare person that merely wants to sit on the receiving end without contributing something to the philanthropic conversation or exchange.  So, I guess I am philanthropic so I can have more interactions with people, learn more about myself and the world, alleviate suffering in the most extreme situations, end the shame and misery of poverty, use my creativity, feel fulfilled, not acquire "too much" stuff, keep a balanced perspective and remain humble, absolutely slay poverty (did I say that), watch this beautiful species of ours rise to its amazing potential, dream with the best of us, weep with the best of us, have a more firm connection to the real, uplift humanity, try to reverse the damage being done to our planet, and try to find solutions to some of our time's most challenging problems.  Those are some of the reasons why I am philanthropic.   

If you would like to learn more about the project I am currently involved with and help us help these children, please visit our project page on below:

What does philanthropy mean to you? 
    • Philanthropy means to be human.  Philanthrophy means to give what you got: your energy, your mind, your ideas, your experience, your money, your love, your righteous indignation for the injustices that exist, because you cannot take these things with you.  Philanthropy is another means of making yourself heard.  For me, it is important to do these things in a kind way.  When I was growing up, whenever I would leave the house, my mom would always say to me, "Be kind."  So, I also always have those words in my head on some level.

What organization(s) do you donate time and/or money to? 
    • These days I have been donating money to the Nature Conservancy, donating money to specific projects like the reforestation of the Atlantic forest or purchasing carbon offsets for some of the travel I find myself doing.  I also am a huge fan of supporting smaller NGOs, or even individual projects.  Last Christmas most people in my family received an email stating they had supported a small NGO in Madagascar called Atsika that a friend, Christi Turner, has started. (  I firmly believe that while super philanthrocapitalists, think Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, are integral in tackling huge world problems like the eradication of Polio, a ton of world changing work is being done at the grassroots level as well, and that really makes me proud and optimistic for humanity.  Sites like and allow an individual to make a loan to another individual situated throughout the developing world, which will be paid back.  Another site which I love is  There are literally thousands of small projects that enact real change in the lives of individuals, started by folks "on the ground" ready to make the changes as soon as funding comes through.  So cool.  

If you had a million dollars to donate, what organization(s) would you give to? International or domestic? Why?
    • If I had a million dollars, I would need a lot of time to think about where I was going to donate it.  I can honestly say I am not prepared to answer this question.  I guess I would need a lot more time to do my homework, and really think about where my priorities truly lie.  I guess I will just use this space to draw attention to various organizations that I think are doing good work, and who I think are worthy of funding:

1.) My project - "Jugando Aprendo": PLEASE GIVE!  WE NEED YOU! SERIOUSLY!

2.) La Casa de Panchita:

3.) Atsika: 

4.) Isla Urbana:

5.)The Nature Conservancy: 

6.) Vittana:

7.) Kiva:

8.) KIPP Public Charter Schools:

Is there a philanthropist you admire?
    • Sure. I admire a woman named Christi Turner, who I went to undergrad with at Lewis and Clark College.  Christi was a year above me, and also my Spanish tutor.  I am not sure whether Christi would call herself a philanthropist, but she certainly cares about others and our world, and works double hard to make a positive contribution.  Christi was a Peace Corps volunteer in Madagascar, and has since founded Atsika, an NGO committed to community-based sustainable development, conservation, and innovative education.  She worked in Madagascar for over five years; founding a locally-managed protected area and building the first solar-powered community radio station on the island.  Building on her experience, she worked for a national project creating a slew of educational radio programs for schools and communities in Madagascar and educating university students studying in Kenya and Tanzania on community managed conservation and development.  She is a brilliant woman, and last I heard was pursuing a masters degree, and living in Colorado.  OP should definitely get in touch with her!   

What advice would you give to a young adult wanting to embark on a career in public or non-profit services?
    • I would say to find an area you are passionate about, and learn as much about that area as possible.  Read, volunteer, work, and be around folks who are passionate about that same thing as well.  If, like me at your age, you don't quite know what you want to do, do a lot!  The one thing I would do though is become fluent in AT LEAST one other language besides  English.  Make learning a second language a priority.  Also, travel.  And I am not talking about the traditional go to Europe for the summer thing.  I am talking about learning how to navigate and make your way in the developing world.  Learn how to haggle, bargain, use a map, guide books, etc.  I guess this advice is more applicable for global NGO service.  But that is what I know the most about at this point.  And Europe is cool too, but don't be afraid to get off the beaten path, but always do so safely, carefully measuring and weighing the risks you are taking.   

Do you have any closing comments you would like to leave the readers with today?
    • I would say this: Take yourself and your friend to the movies without actually going.  Instead I am going to suggest you do one thing: do two things. First, for the price of one admission ticket: visit my project page and donate 10 dollars. Project page: Second, for the price of the second ticket: visit, and donate ten dollars. Give of yourself.  Call a friend, pop some popcorn, hunker down, and watch some netflix, and know that there are child laborers in the shantytowns of Peru and a community in Madagascar that will have better lives because you decided to stay in for one nightYou can also use your phone: Text GIVE 14103 to 80088 to donate $10 to Changing lives of child domestic workers in Peru. Message and data rates may apply. Only works for US mobile phones.

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