#Mompowerment: Ayesha Vera-Yu, Fixing the World One Community At A Time

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Ayesha Vera-Yu, Investment Banker turned Social Entrepreneur, CEO and Co-Founder of Advancement for Rural Kids, Inc. (ARK)

Ayesha is perfect proof that a woman can succeed at anything she sets her sights on; whether it’s being director of the world’s largest bank, starting a school-based, community-managed, financially sustainable social entrepreneurship geared towards alleviating poverty in rural areas or establishing a 50-50 co-parenting schedule with her husband that fairly divides work hours in terms of caring for and raising their son, Roan, 22 months. 

With numerous career and trailblazing achievements, Ayesha shares that being a mom has made her wiser yet more vulnerable.  She acknowledges the fears that come with being a mother but is quite intent in not letting those fears impede her mom hustle. She shares, “I don’t want that fear to influence my son or to stop him from doing whatever he wants to do. So I catch myself because children can absorb that energy.”

When Ayesha got pregnant, she sat her husband down and said, "How much paternity leave are you taking? Because this is a 50/50 venture. We care for our child together and equally, so that we can support each other in our respective dreams." She is passionate in her belief that moms need to start conversations with dads or partners about exercising their paternity leave, and the amount of time each parent puts in caring for their child. 

These are the kind of things that married couples need to discuss especially when it is their first child. Like, how do you solve the 3 S’s together? That’s Sleep, Sanity and Sex. Because those are the three things that keep a marriage going. It may be a work in progress but at least have that conversation. We need to be rid of the myth that raising a child is solely a woman’s job. If you don’t share the parenting work with your partner equally, how can you achieve the things that you are passionate about?”

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Ayesha's passion is the social impact organization she co-founded with her husband, Jerry Topitzer; the Advancement for Rural Kids (ARK). She shares, "ARK partners with rural communities who want to solve hunger and malnutrition, get kids back to school and create much needed income. We only partner with communities who invest in themselves, want to be self-sufficient, and do not want hand-outs. We partner starting with our P2.50 ARK School Lunch which parents pay for on Day 1 and fully fund on their own after three years. Once the situation is stabilized, kids are in school and eating fresh, organic vegetable lunches, we then co-invest alongside their parents' dreams and ventures. 

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Asked about what she wishes the legacy of her work in ARK will bring to her son, Ayesha shares, “I believe ARK will make him very much aware of the different realities that we have in this world, and I think it will give him purpose. As a mom, I have to make sure that I raise a kid that is kind, thoughtful and understanding. Someone who wants to make this world fair, a world where everyone has a fighting chance to go after their dreams. I also want my son to go after his own passion which means his dad and I need to continue to seize our courage to grow, explore, fail, get up and do it all over again.”