Creative Living with Jamie: Jessie Marianiello

Jamie interviews Jessie Marianiello

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 This Week on Creative Living with Jamie: Jessie Marianiello

Jessie Marianiello is the founder and director of The Joy Collective, a humanitarian, faith-based organization focused on improving the lives of widows and vulnerable children in Uganda through education and empowerment. Jessie is an artist, fine art photographer, writer and philanthropist. However, these days, after the unexpected and tragic passing of her fiance, Carl, she finds herself in the nitty-gritty process of wrapping up the successes of her old life in exchange for the most meaningful lifelong venture she might ever step into.

You are invited to learn more about The Joy Collective and Jessie’s work here. In the mountains of Eastern Uganda, a whole new life has begun and you are invited to become a part of the journey.

Discover More About Jessie & The Joy Collective

Sponsor a  journal for a Joy Collective girl through Give a Girl a Journal in November!

Here are just some of the girls that will receive journals when you sponsor a journal at Give a Girl a Journal this November.


Harriet (16): Harriet lives with her real mother. Her father left when she was 4 years old. She has 3 sisters and 3 brothers. Harriet is the 2nd born and lives next door to her grandmother. She wants to be a teacher when she gets older because she feels she is good at mathematics. She especially loves small children and would like to be a teacher of small children.

Harriet’s struggles with taking care of her family’s animals. They have 2 cows for milking as well as a goat. She doesn’t know how to take care of them well, but tries her best. Mostly, she enjoys learning and loves school.

Harriet’s mother works very hard digging in the fields, since her father does not help with any of their needs. She usually gets to eat two meals a day, including things like cassava, posho (corn meal) and beans. She especially loves mango and jackfruit. Yellow is her favorite color because it reminds her of sunshine! :)

More than anything in life, Harriet wants to be encouraging.


Aulelia (15): Aulelia lives with her auntie and sometimes the local nurse. She has a mother whom she loves very much, but often there is not enough money for her mother to support her needs. Aulelia’s father died in 2005. He was 45 years old. When Aulelia was 4 years old, every Thursday he would go to the market and buy her sweets. It’s one of her favorite memories. She has 2 sisters and 3 brothers, as well as 1 sister who died at 5 years old from heart problems and a brother who died at 8 years old.

Aulelia wants to be a doctor and, of all the children I have ever known, I KNOW she will make it happen! She is the first in her class with a determination and drive that far exceeds other children her age. Aulelia is incredibly sharp and has a strong spirit to match, just like her mother. Death, hardship and hunger has left it’s sting on Aulelia’s life…but she will not give up. Oh, this girl…there is something special about her!


Joy (13): Joy is shy and quiet with a heart as big as the mountains. She’s also the namesake and inspiration for The JOY Collective!

Her favorite games are hide and seek as well as fast and furious games of net ball! Joy has 2 sisters and a brother. He parents both love her very much, but they are very poor. Sometimes Joy lives with her grandparents so that she has enough to eat. Joy struggles with sickness a lot. It’s a difficult life and there is never enough money for a doctor or medicine. Her parent’s are farmer’s, working mostly in the tobacco and potato fields. Joy wants to be a doctor so that she can help others. Her quiet personality is perfectly suited for observing what other’s need. Even though she’s only 13 years old, her nick name is already Dr. Joy


Sharon (9): Sharon comes from a very complicated story of abandonment. She comes from a home broken by alcoholism and impoverishment. Sharon often has bouts of complete silence, times when she does not speak at all. Sharon is a survivor. And, when she comes out of her shell, is the most talkative butterfly in all of east Africa! Sharon is a friend magnet. Children both young and hold flock to her and, despite her sometimes quiet ways, she can command a room like nobody’s business!

She is observant, noticing things that others do not. She is smart and, despite a difficult beginning in life, is finding her way with striking resiliency. She loves her dolly, Mary, and takes care of it as if she were her real mother. For Sharon, life isn’t quite complete unless sharing it with a friend. Her laughter lights up a room like a sky full of stars.


Membo (11): Membo wants to grow up to be a nurse! She lives in a small village in the mountains of Eastern Uganda with her mother. Membo loves school and learning. She lives in the village’s center and is always helping everyone as much as she can. Sometimes she stays in the capital city of Kampala to help her auntie with her baby. At one point, Membo became very ill because there was no source of clean drinking water. Like many in the village, she could have died, but today we are celebrating her health as well as her continued progress in school. She loves art and writing and simply just being with her best friend Aulelia.


Stella (14): Stella has eyes that will stop anyone in their tracks. She lives with her mother and family of 6 siblings. Her loving father committed suicide just a little over a year ago. It was a tremendous loss, not only for Stella and her family, but the entire community.

Stella has big visions for her future, one of which is building her very own school so that she might improve the lives of others in her village. This girl, I truly believe, is going somewhere. Like her mama, she has a spirit that is both focused and driven. Never mind that Stella feels that raising animals is one of the most difficult tasks she must tend to. Stella has a life purpose that she wears in a way that you can’t help but notice.

When you Give a Girl a Journal this November, these girls and others in The Joy Collective community in Uganda will receive journals. Imagine what they will do!

Give a Girl a Journal

Yes, I want to

Find out more about Give a Girl a Journal here.

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  1. Cathy says:

    Thank you Jamie for today’s podcast with Jessie. It was so uplifting and inspiration. I love her wonderful energy. It can be extremely difficult to take the dark moments of life and find the light. Jessie is a wonderful example and a reminder to us all that anything is possible if we stay open and brave. Thanks also to you Jamie for all the beautiful energy you put out into the world. I always look forward to everything you provide to us. I love that this month Give a Girl a Journal is supporting Jessie’s cause. A perfect synergy of all that is good in the world. Hugs!!

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