OpMentors is celebrating Valentine’s Day a bit differently this year. We want to express our gratitude for organizations showing love and impacting the world on a daily basis

If that’s you, our team is thankful for the work you do! 

One organization near to our heart is Kurandza. If you’ve not heard of it, this week we want to introduce you to Kurandza’s founder, Elisabetta Colabianchi (pictured on the far left below), and the amazing work the organization does to ensure more girls around the world get the education they need.

Based in Mozambique, the grassroots nonprofit’s name means “to love” in Changana, the local language of the villages where Kurandza works. We asked Elisabetta why they chose the name. She said the name honored both the local culture and the organization’s core value.

“We chose ‘Kurandza’ as the name of our organization because love is our top value and what fuels our work!” she said. “We strive to pour love into everything we do and everyone we work with – from the girls in our education programs and the women on the team to our amazing partners.” 

In 2014 (coincidentally the year OpMentors was founded!), Kurandza began as a sewing cooperative, equipping Mozambican women with knowledge about financial literacy, health, and entrepreneurship. Over the years, Elisabetta and the rest of the team’s focus shifted to education. They realized that the difference education can make in a young girl’s life and the trajectory of her future is invaluable.

In 2017, they launched the first #IStandForGirls campaign with the goal to send 100 girls to school. Since then, Kurandza has been equipping girls with the education and mentorship they need to become leaders in their communities. 

Kurandza’s approach is holistic. The team has “focused our efforts on providing scholarships, resources, and psychological support to the now 250 girls in our program.” Elisabetta said they make sure love is the motivator for all they do, and this has made a big difference in their relationship with the girls they serve.

“We care for the girls holistically, from start to finish of their schooling (and even once they graduate),” said Elisabetta, “and the girls have seen this firsthand and trust us. They feel cared for and loved by our entire team and the many donors and partners around the world. This translates into increased confidence, self-respect, and courage.”

Elisabetta lives in California and runs Kurandza stateside. She primarily oversees operations, develops programming, and communicates with donors and supporters to ensure girls in Mozambique receive the education they need to succeed. However, the day-to-day operations are primarily led by women in the local community in Mozambique, according to Kurandza’s website:

As a grassroots organization, Kurandza has deep roots in the community and much of our leadership team is the 1% of Mozambican women who go on to complete a college education. They serve as a powerful example and true embodiment of the difference schooling can make in one’s life. Our hope is that this will inspire the girls in our program to see the possibilities and, in turn, dream of a brighter future for themselves.

Elisabetta said the daily commitment these female leaders make to serve others and put others’ needs above their own is how Kurandza shows love through action.

“It is easy to clock out when the work day is done or do what’s required and nothing more,” Elisabetta said. “However, we strive to go above and beyond, going the extra mile for the girls, donors, and fellow team members. It’s important to us to do an exceptional job and that everyone we come into contact with feels heard, seen, and appreciated.” 

Elisabetta said spending time in Mozambique has changed the way she thinks about love. The kindness and hospitality among Mozambicans has shown her that love is often displayed most through “simple actions that put others above ourselves” – things like serving a warm meal to an unplanned visitor, traveling out of your way with someone to make sure they get where they’re going, or stopping an important task to help a friend. 

When asked how Elisabetta might encourage our readers to love others this year, Mozambique’s influence is evident in her response:

“Love is kind, and showing random acts of kindness to strangers is a fulfilling and impactful way to show love,” she said. “You could pay for a stranger’s lunch or coffee, add coins to expired meters, smile and say hello to someone on the street, [or] let someone go ahead of you in line. There are so many simple things you could do to be kind and show love to someone you don’t know!” 

What’s on the horizon for Kurandza in 2022? The organization is working to break ground on a new learning center in Mozambique, create an alumni program for their first Kurandza graduates, and get to know their community of partners better. You can learn more about their goals this year and the milestones they achieved in 2021 here

If you want to support Kurandza, Elisabetta said the best way to do so is to donate to their mission here. Another simple way to support their mission is to educate yourself and others about the statistics and impact that education can have on girls across the world (especially those in rural communities!) and spread the word about the impact Kurandza is making.

Elisabetta would also love for you to check out their Instagram page to stay informed about their initiatives and learn more about the impact Kurandza is making and the love they are showing on a daily basis!

This Valentine’s Day we celebrate the love Kurandza is showing in Mozambique every day as they equip girls with the education they need to thrive and lead. We encourage you to learn more about the different ways you can support Kurandza’s work.