Aja Nikiya is an international traveler, humanitarian, photographer, and activist for animals and under-served populations. A modern-day warrior and a true example for us all to look up to we continue to be inspired by Aja's efforts around the world. When we caught up with Aja, she was on her way to Utuado, Puerto Rico to help animals in need after Hurricane Maria. Her story is beyond impressive and we are super honored to be able to share a small piece of it with you here.
How did you get started in this type of work? What is your origin story?
I'd have to go back to second grade for this question as I was quite the advocate back then. Always on animal rescues, writing letters to Congress on behalf of animals and going around the lunch room getting petitions signed for bears in captivity. I've always had the urge to help those in need, be it people or animals. But in all seriousness, I started my nonprofit work about 4 years ago after leaving corporate America to live out my dream. I broke away from the 6-figure job to travel and help vulnerable people and animals around the world.
PCGS Alumna's NGOs Helping the World
Aja Estro, PCGS class of 2014 alumna, has dedicated her post graduate life to ground up movements that focus on specific needs of villages to improve quality of life and protect the environment. After studying in Malawi, Africa in 2014, Estro observed that the basic needs of the people were not being met. She knew how to make a difference. It was at this time that she created Just One Humanity.
Just One Humanity focuses on health, education, water, food and the environment. Estro wanted to bridge the gap between people having access to basic needs and also to help conserve the environment. The sole purpose of her organization is to improve quality of life while maintaining biodiversity and connect us all as Just One Humanity.
Animal activist and Compassion Kind founder Aja Nikiya directs Linchpins of Dead Dog Island, a documentary that highlights the women involved in animal rescue in Puerto Rico. It begins with her efforts to save 14 dogs and cats abandoned in a home after Hurricane Maria and grows into an ongoing mission to help other animals left in the aftermath of the storm alongside the five women — “the linchpins” — that she connects with through her initial rescue efforts. All of them end up working together to provide the shelter, care, and connections necessary to help these animals rehabilitate and find homes.
This is the third of a series of reviews of movies showing at the New Haven Documentary Film Festival, or NHDocs, which runs May 30 through June 9 at the Whitney Humanities Center at Yale, the main branch of the New Haven Free Public Library, Cafe Nine, and the State House. Click here for a full schedule of screenings.