“Everyone has a story to tell,” says Davinia James. “I’m more than happy to be telling mine.”

A Girl Rising Ambassador, Davinia is of the mindset that just as a girl is not just a girl, a penny is not just a penny. A mission she says she sets out to do every day of her life, Davinia has been on a years-long journey collecting pennies for girls’ education.

Stories like Davinia's are featured in our newest video, Together We Rise. Photo by: Mike Olliver

Since her first penny drive as a teacher with her pre-school class, Davinia has raised $7,000 – that’s 700,000 pennies! Her dedication is such that, with her birthday last month, she encouraged all her friends and families to donate pennies to her cause in lieu of gifts.

“My social network is crazy with it because I encourage friends, family, and basically everyone I come in contact with to donate their pennies,” says Davinia. “I have friends as far as Canada sending me pennies.”

Her pennies come in packages, in envelopes, from hand to hand between loved ones. Davinia hosts “penny parties” with her friends, evenings where they all donate their time to help count the little copper coins. She sees each penny as a girl one step closer to attaining her education.

“It’s something very close and dear to my heart,” says Davinia. “For me, Girl Rising is not just Girl Rising – it’s a movement.”

Davinia says that after she saw the Girl Rising film, which exposed her to the perspectives of girls all around the world, she knew that she had to take part in the movement for girl’s education. Someone who is fascinated with the world around her and stories of people overcoming hardship, she knew that this was a cause well worth championing. Davinia understands challenges – her own childhood was one of adversity. She credits education as the force that changed her life and says without it, she would have been lost.

Photo by: Lyndon George

Davinia is the special sort of person that not only advocates awareness, but takes charge with her actions.

“Many people say they want to change the world, but you really cannot create that change unless you become a part of that change,” says Davinia. “It doesn’t matter how small it is, just start doing your part.”

She encourages other activists looking to look for causes they truly believe in and to be brave enough to stand alone. Not everyone is going to go along with what you’re saying, Davinia cautions, but you must make your voice heard.

“Find something that resonates with you,” she says. “Once you find that, the more that will trigger something inside of you – you have to listen to your heart. Your heart really does speak.”

“We just need to take the time now to listen what it says and follow it no matter how crazy it sounds.”

Want to be inspired to take your own creative action for girls? Watch our newest video! If you’re interested in contributing pennies to Davinia’s cause, email us at leadership@girlrising.com.