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María Bravo: A Passion for Making a Difference with The Global Gift Foundation

Maria Bravo
María Bravo is a prominent philanthropist, social entrepreneur, and international event organizer who has made a significant impact in the world of charity and humanitarianism. Born and raised in Spain, she is best known as the founder of the Global Gift Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of underprivileged children, women, and families around the world. Her passion for making a difference and helping those in need has earned her recognition and respect from people around the world, including many high-profile celebrities and influencers.

We talk to María about her mission that has taken her to numerous countries, including the Middle East, and raising funds for important causes.

AM: María, please tell us about your path in life
I spent my life in Spain till the age of 21. I come from a humble background, I used to be a Flamenco dancer and that’s how I paid for my education. Then I went to Los Angeles which is where I finished my studies and married a Canadian investment banker who was the love of my life. I worked with him for 10 years then he passed away and my whole life changed. From then on, I realized that together we were always waiting to be richer or happier, all while I was waiting to have children. We kept saying maybe next year when we won’t have so much work, then something like this happened and it changed my whole view on what life is. I started asking myself questions about mortality; why was a man who was bigger than life, so smart, brilliant, funny and charismatic gone in a matter of seconds? We get so stressed out about small things and we forget that we’re going to die. We think that we’re going to live forever. It was the beginning of a new life for me, of being present and doing things that truly make me feel happy every single day. So, I started doing a lot of philanthropy work and I realized I was passionate about art. I used to be an actress; I shot several movies that’s how I met Eva Longoria 25 years ago. I started creating the life of my dreams filled with love and joy and that could impact a lot of families with The Global Gift Foundation.

AM: And why the name Global Gift Foundation?
We started off with having different events like the Parker Gala in Paris and the Noble Gift Gala in London. We also raised funds for third parties including UNICEF, but we didn't have our own foundation, we just did it because we loved it and because we could. Then in 2012, we decided to have our own foundation that could allow us to have full control of the funds because it takes so much work to put these galas together as we make sure that 100 percent of the expenses are covered by sponsors. We wanted that the projects we put together truly have an impact globally, we felt like it was a gift, and that’s how we came up with the name Global Gift.

AM: Can you tell us about some of your foundation’s milestones?
We started off with a home in New Delhi and now we have four which is incredible. We have previously raised 25 million dollars for homes in New Delhi, we saw children begging on the streets so we told their families to bring them to our shelter where we would provide them with food, shelter and education. These families would come back every day because they knew their children would be safe and we would teach the family members a new profession or how to do something with their hands so they can be self-sufficient. Another milestone is Casa Ángeles that we opened in my hometown Marbella, named after my mom. We have a home there that houses 300 children who suffer from rare diseases and special needs. We bring in doctors from all over the world to teach the local doctors on how to take care of them. We have our home in Vietnam that was founded seven years ago. An orphanage with 120 sick children and this is all the passion of three women coming together, Eva Longoria, Alina Peralta and myself.

AM: Why are children at the heart of your work?
I couldn’t have children. I’ve always wanted to have a big family like the one I grew up in, filled with laughter. I was going to adopt and then my husband passed away. I looked for the next thing I can do and that was taking care of other children. But now I know why I didn’t have my own, now I know it was because I was meant to be on this path of helping children. They all call me mama María.

Maria Bravo Ricky Martin Eva Longoria
AM: Can you tell us more about other people who became friends with the foundation and how those relationships got built?
My own business is basically a small boutique agency for celebrity endorsements, bookings and campaign marketing. So, I’m an agent to these figures. Some of my clients have their own foundations like Ricky Martin with the Ricky Martin Foundation. Most of the celebrities you see are my clients. We become a community of “Global Gifters”. It started with people I used to work with and now we have an immense number of ambassadors all around the world. We do say no to certain celebrities that feel as though they’re not genuine or won’t be contributing to our message.

AM: How was your latest trip to the Middle East like?
I’m working on a special project with Deepak Chopra called the ChopraVerse in the metaverse. We want to have a billion people use these tools of the web3 and the metaverse for mental health awareness. Every 40 seconds someone commits suicide and mostly teenagers between the ages of 10 to 25. These individuals don't know how to ask for help or where to go. Some of them can’t afford to book appointments with doctors or it takes them months, which is often too late. The tools we are creating are accessible through a phone which everyone carries all the time. They can have an outlet to be able to say I’m scared and someone intervenes. We were in Dubai talking about the tool, then we went to Ras al-Khaimah with Ricky Martin to speech about Global Gift and the ChopraVerse, and then to Abu Dhabi and had several panels discussing the topic.

AM: And do you have any other upcoming Middle Eastern destinations in mind?
Every year we have a Global Gift Gala in the UAE, we just finalized the next one, Huda and Mona Kattan are going to be our ambassadors. They’ve been Global Gifters since 2013. What we’re going to do this year is simply magnificent. They want to raise money to empower women in the Middle East, it’s a very important cause and it’s going to take a year to bring it together. All countries are going to contribute and be a part of it.

AM: What is a message you would like to give to people who feel like their contributions wouldn’t matter or would never be enough?
Sometimes it’s overwhelming, you can’t help everyone. But what you do is plant a little grain and if we all do this, the world becomes a beautiful place. Kindness is important, it’s not so much about the money, it’s about being kind in your everyday life. Even for oneself, giving is the best gift because you can truly see the impact that you can have. Finances aren't everything, you can go and volunteer for a day. In my opinion the new pandemic is loneliness and anxiety. But when you go to orphanages, you get to connect with human beings and all that anxiety and loneliness goes away, it gives your life more importance. I feel like more and more people are becoming aware that doing charity work doesn't just involve putting in a pay check, it’s about being conscious that somebody else needs your help. Some people feel invisible, even a smile and a simple hello how are you, can change their day. That’s what charity and philanthropy is about.