Our International Team
Silja Thor is the founder of GAVA. She is an Icelander who has through her career lived in 9 countries, in 3 continents while traveling the world. Silja has worked as a volunteer for several charities such as the Red Cross and served as a board member for various profit and non=profit organizations. After spending extensive time in the more impoverished areas of the world, she decided to learn more about international development at Leiden University. During this time, she got more fascinated by Sub-Saharan Africa and learned Swahili. This fascination took her to Uganda in late 2013, where the idea of GAVA was born.
Mac Kiyimba or 'Daddy Mac' as he is known in the Kazo community, is a local Ugandan who is passionate about his people. Mac has extensive experience working for countless empowerment programs, charities and public service. He worked for charities such as the Nasana Town Council NGO network, A-Z Children's Charity, UN and was the original Executive Director for KICVOP Uganda. His experience encompasses activites to promote youth leadership and health with a special focus on community health, in areas of reproductive health and HIV.
Ingrid Gildseeth is a Norwegian, who studied Geography at University and is extremely passionate about the world we live in. In 2014, she embarked on a journey which took her to Uganda, where she met Mac. In Uganda, Ingrid started to work for GAVA and has since then been involved in all wings of the charity. She is the brain behind the empowerment project program and has been in charge of it. She is a very passionate, goal orientated and hard working individual.
Shannon Bermea is a wife, mother and caregiver. She studied Anthropology and Earth & Planetary Sciences at the University of New Mexico, USA> She has worked as a Research Assistant for 2 organizations and has co-authored a publication. Africa has long been a fascination and interest, as it is the cradle of mankind. She is passionate about empowering others and is enthusiastic about being part of the GAVA team.
Hannah Gutjahr is born and raised in the Netherlands. She has a bachelor in International Studies and is completing her masters in ‘Conflict, Power and Politics’ at the Radboud University in Nijmegen. Hannah’s first trip to Sub Saharan Africa was in December 2013 to Uganda. Since then, she visited twelve countries on the African continent for education, travel and internship. She recently returned from the Gambia where she spent 4 months researching Gambia’s civil society after the 2016 political transition and worked as an intern for the national NGO umbrella organization. Hannah is passionate about Sub Saharan Africa and its developmental and political challenges.
Maron Zewdie is Ethiopian by heritage and at heart, with a global mind and spirit developed over her many years abroad. She ventured into her business studies with the belief we can do good and do well simultaneously. Over the past decade she has worked for globally oriented organizations in the Netherlands and East Africa, leading marketing initiatives and driving business strategies for startups and established organizations. Her belief in positive impact through business drives her to actively seek opportunities to design social conscience into the fabric of business. This vision came together in GAVA where she joined the board with the commitment to help build a vehicle through which people can do great things through entrepreneurship.
Irina Mas is a Romanian who had just started a new career in the Netherlands when she met Silja and was immediately fascinated by the GAVA project. She was impressed by the impact that a small team of volunteers can have over a community and also believes that helping does not only mean charity, but also providing the necessary tools to achieve self-sufficiency. Her ability of bonding with people from different backgrounds and cultures, her positivity and drive, alongside with her childhood dream of helping fight hunger in the African communities made her a good match for GAVA.
Thorbjorn Stefansson has spent most of his career traveling the world both through business and pleasure. He has been involved in business management and entreprenuership from an early age and currently owns Timberland store in Iceland. Thorbjorn is a true adventurer at heart, which showed in his mid fifties when he decided to hike up Kilimanjaro and reached the top. Thorbjorn was the first GAVA's sponsor ad has provided support to the organziation from the beginning.
Our Team in Uganda
Nick Obende Okunya is our project manager in Uganda. With his passion and enthusiasm about self-sustainability, Nick leads our projects in Kazo. As a local Ugandan, Nick has built close relationships with our community, making sure that our operation runs smoothly and our projects become a success.
Ismail Mugasira is local to the Kazo community and has been involved in GAVA from the beginning. After the idea of GAVA was born, he took Silja to screen and visit potential families. He is in charge of communication with the families and bringing them the support they need. In addition Ismail is in charge of the nutrition program and that the families conditions flourish. Ismail is very hard working and passionate about the Kazo community. Ismail is the one who came with the idea of the name GAVA and is one of the fundamental glues that tie GAVA together.
Robert Mayanja is local Ugandan, who has worked for the impoverished people in Kampala for years. Along with Ismail, Robert bridges the gap between the community and the foundation. Robert has been part of GAVA from the beginning.
Rose Nabakka has worked with GAVA from the beginning and knows the Kazo community very well. When the idea of GAVA was born, she along with Ismail suggested which families were in the most dire need.