Maria Kidney, Director, Brighter Communities Worldwide
Maria Kidney in the Co-Founder and Director of Brighter Communities Worldwide, a charity working with communities in Kenya to deliver programmes that enrich peoples’ lives and create better futures for them and their families. The idea for the charity was born out of Maria’s own experience as a tourist in Kenya in 2000.
After being mugged in Nairobi, she sought refuge in the Kenya Girl Guide Association and was inspired by the community development work carried out by them.
Her experiences led her to set up the charity ‘Friends of Londiani’ to help villages in Kenya. The charity, which has been renamed ‘Brighter Communities Worldwide’, works across Kenya and is currently expanding into other African Countries. We talk to Maria about how her time at UCC nurtured her sense of adventure and how her college friends are her biggest supporters.
Course/subjects studied in UCC and year of graduation
Bachelor of Commerce Degree, Major in Management Information Systems, 1993 graduation
Diploma in Business Management, 2006
Diploma in Development Studies, 2006.
Best memory of University College Cork
So many to choose from! For me it was the friends I made who are still some of my best today. I loved the freedom, the social life and the endless possibilities. I spent a summer in Rehoboth, Delaware in 1992 which was an amazing experience! The Business Management Diploma gave me the opportunity to meet a wide variety of people from across sectors and we shared experiences, challenges and learnt together – it was also great fun!
How has your time at UCC helped you to get to where you are now?
The courses I completed in UCC were a great foundation to the work I am doing now. The business and IT background encouraged me to think strategically, and innovatively. The development studies enabled me to explore the world of development, and the business management added reality to the mix – allowing us to explore real examples of management across multiple sectors. I always loved travelling, and my sense of adventure was nurtured in UCC through many weekends away, and my travel to the States. The friends I had in UCC remain great friends, and huge support of the work we do in Brighter Communities Worldwide today. They are a great bunch of people who I can confide in, share ideas with, and who are always there.
What is your advice to current UCC students?
Anything is possible! Take the time to know yourself, your values, your beliefs. This will stand to you as you journey through the many opportunities and challenges life throws at you. Listen to your instinct as it is usually right! Everything happens for a reason – sometimes we need to be patient to know the reason!
What person/people at UCC had the most positive influence on you?
Definitely my friends! We have travelled far together, and remain great friends today! We had many good lecturers and tutors who encouraged us to work together, debate, question and discuss – all skills which are essential today!
Were you involved in any Clubs or Societies?
I was involved with the mountaineering club, and the Scout and Guide club. I also played squash and badminton on a regular basis.