October 3, 2012
Voss Foundation is thrilled to announce our 2012 Women Helping Women Honoree, Selita Ebanks. A supermodel, actress, and philanthropist, Selita Ebanks inspires us through the spirit and dedication with which she approaches her work. She is a true credit to the positive impact one woman can have, embodying the spirit of Women Helping Women. Voss Foundation is proud to honor her achievements, especially her commendable work in West Africa.
“I am honored that the Voss Foundation’s Women Helping Women saw it fit to honor me. Their mission and work enables women in Africa to improve their own lives with access to clean water, aligns perfectly with my devotion to women’s health, education, and economic empowerment, especially in Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone is very near to my heart. As I have seen first hand, access to clean water is the first step to development,” says Selita. “This honor that the Voss Foundation has graciously awarded me will fuel me to continue to pursue my passion of improving the lives of women and girls in Africa.”
“Selita Ebanks has devoted herself to helping women and girls around the world, especially in some of the poorest parts of West Africa. She works tirelessly and selflessly without fanfare, proving that she is astoundingly beautiful, both inside and out,” says Voss Foundation Executive Director Kara Gerson. “We are overjoyed to be able to honor Selita for her work, and hear her talk about the importance of empowering women in Africa, as Voss Foundation does by providing access to clean water with our Women Helping Women campaign.”
Born of Native American, Irish, African, Jamaican and Caymanian descent, Selita Ebanks was discovered by Women Management at just 17 years old. Since then, Selita has become a world-renowned supermodel who has worked for brands such as Ralph Lauren, Abercrombie & Fitch, Levi’s and Tommy Hilfiger. She signed a contract with Victoria’s Secret in 2005, where she joined the ranks of Heidi Klum, Gisele Bundchen, Adriana Lima and Tyra Banks as a Victoria’s Secret Angel.
In 2008, Selita traveled to Sierra Leone, where she was inspired to found her own organization to help women improve their own lives. Her work in Sierra Leone aligns perfectly with Voss Foundation’s focus on aiding women and girls in Sub-Saharan Africa. She is also a spokeswoman for Shine On Sierra Leone, a non-profit whose mission is “to shine the light on Sierra Leone’s needs and create sustainable programs to promote thriving self-sufficient communities.”
Additionally, Selita is an avid supporter of New Yorkers for Children, which benefits young adults in the New York Foster Care system. Selita is active in New York and the Cayman Islands, working with local schools, churches and community groups to provide individual and family counseling, HIV/AIDS education and prevention, leadership skills, peer support groups and recreation. She has also initiated a mentoring program in the Cayman Islands called the Stardom Advance Program, empowering and mentoring the youth of the Cayman Islands.
As the 2012 Women Helping Women Honoree, Selita will speak at the Women Helping Women New York luncheon on November 14. In previous years, Voss Foundation has honored Saran Kaba Jones, founder of FACE Africa, for her efforts in Liberia; as well as Noella Coursaris Masters, founder of Georges Malaika Foundation (GMF) for her work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Voss Foundation went on to partner with FACE Africa and GMF to implement water projects at schools in Paynesville, Liberia, and Kalebuka, DRC, funded by the Voss Foundation’s 2011 and 2010 Women Helping Women campaigns, respectively.
Women Helping Women (or “Kvinner hjelper Kvinner,” in Norwegian) is a Voss Foundation campaign that has brought together more than 400 champions of clean water in 8 countries to raise over $250,000 for water projects. Water is disproportionately a women’s burden in Africa. Rural women and girls are responsible for fetching water for their families daily, often sacrificing their own health, education, and futures to do so. Providing women with facilitated access to clean water is an important part of Voss Foundation’s ripple effect of clean water, creating an engine for growth that spurs change in a family, community, region, and country.