In February 2014, Aska and Tomo Hamakawa separately received a humbling and inspiring award called the Unsung Heroes of Compassion from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The award selects 50 individuals from around the world every four years to recognize their tireless, compassionate efforts to make this world a better place.
Not convinced that their contributions deserved anything close to such an award, Aska and Tomo even declined the award at first. But, an exciting prospect emerged and eventually changed their minds. That was Bella Galhos. “If we could bring Bella as a guest to the award ceremony, then that itself would give meaning to the award,” they thought.
For over a decade, Aska and Tomo had worked in international development and met many inspiring individuals, but they couldn’t think of anyone more suitable for the Unsung Heroes award than Bella. Bringing Bella to the award ceremony and enabling her to tell her story to influential people would open up invaluable opportunities for her. Aska and Tomo realized this bridge-building chance would give deep significance to their accepting the award.
They first met Bella in 2007 when they were all pursuing postgraduate studies at the University of Hawai’i. While studying to learn how to rebuild her own young country of Timor-Leste, she was sending a part of her scholarship fund as remittance to support her large family in Timor, including 43 siblings and dozens of relatives. Listening to her life stories and future vision, Aska and Tomo made a commitment to support her whenever she decided to take real action.
Invited to attend the Unsung Heroes award ceremony as their guest, Bella shared with Aska and Tomo her dream to start the first environmental education facility in her country. She also explained how the Timorese government had decided to withdraw the financial support it had once offered to the green school initiative. It was then and there that Aska and Tomo began to support Bella.
This marked the beginning of Earth Company.
The world is blessed with inspiring individuals like Bella who serve as agents of hope – trusted by the community. In their journeys around the world, Aska and Tomo have had the good fortune of encountering some of these extraordinary, heroic talents who are mobilizing people and creating social change.
These “Impact Heroes” – as we call them – do not necessarily have access to sufficient resources whether it be financial, human, or others. Thus, the purpose of Earth Company is to shed light on these individuals and provide them with access to resources they can leverage into making a tangible social impact. Earth Company envisions a better, more livable world for our children and grandchildren, created by empowering these Impact Heroes – the frontline change-makers and agents of hope.