“While staying in Kathmandu, an impoverished family befriended me and invited me to their home for dinner,” recalls Grant Olsen, a copywriter at CHG. “There were three generations of them crammed into one tiny apartment. They served me the food, then sat on the floor and patiently waited for me to finish so they could eat the leftovers. The children were malnourished and I knew the family had probably spent their weekly food budget on this one meal. I felt incredibly guilty for eating it. I repeatedly ask them to join me, but they insisted on waiting. I was touched by their generosity and also heartbroken by their destitute situation, and I made a commitment to help.”
That was the first of two experiences that changed Grant’s outlook on life and drove his passion for making a difference.
Village serves as an inspiration
Grant’s journey next took him to a very remote village in Nepal adjacent to Chitwan, a jungle preserve with wild elephants, rhinos and tigers. While out on a trek, one of the village men pointed to some trails, explaining how animals often came out at night and ate the community’s crops. He went on to explain how the children in the village would guard the crops at night, scaring away animals as large as rhinos. Grant couldn’t get that visual out of his head and it inspired him to write the book “Rhino Trouble.”
Grant didn’t publish the book for money or fame. He did it to give back to the country that made such a profound impact on him. He donates 100 percent of the book’s proceeds to the Umbrella Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to providing food, education, safe shelter and healthcare to Nepali children. Grant also serves as an ambassador for the charity and helps raise awareness about the challenges facing the Nepali people.
“Rhino Trouble” is sold nationwide and has been a big success. Grant recently finished writing a second book, which is also set in Nepal. He plans to once again donate all the proceeds from it to the Umbrella Foundation.
Whether advocating for the Umbrella Foundation or organizing events for Africa-focused charities like Dando Amor, Grant is inspired by the experiences he had in Nepal.
“I treasure the time I spent with the Ram family in Nepal,” he says. “It helped me realize how connected we are as a worldwides community. They treated me like family. And now I want to do everything I can to deserve that love. And to return the favor.”
Grant is one of our 13 Difference Maker finalists. CHG’s Difference Maker program celebrates our people who are committed to changing the world by making a positive social impact on others and in their communities.