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Aviva Breen

Aviva Breen

Worked for Legal Services and the Commission on the Economic Status of Women. Helped to build a school in Nepal for the underprivileged.

Born: Chicago, IL, United States
Heritage: European American

Some of my words are that life is very unpredictable. You don’t know what is going to happen. Sometimes the things that happen that you don’t expect are wonderful, and sometimes they are not very wonderful. Whichever they are, you get through them. You have people around you who love you and care about you and will help you. Sometimes you are the one helping someone else get through tough times. You can do that in a lot of ways. Sometimes it is with words; sometimes it is with a hug or just being there. Life goes up and down.

Aviva Breen

Worked for Legal Services and the Commission on the Economic Status of Women. Helped to build a school in Nepal for the underprivileged.

My name is Aviva Green. I was born in Chicago. I had a sister three years older than me. Neither of my parents were born in the United States, one was born in Russia and one was born in Poland. They only spoke another language when they didn’t want us to know what they were talking about and then they would speak another language, which we didn’t know, which was called Yiddish.

I went to the University of Illinois to a branch that was in Chicago and we were able to pay for it. I had an uncle who had no children and he wasn’t married, and he paid for my college for two years. I wanted to study journalism because I wanted to write for a newspaper, but that was a five-year program and my mother said I couldn’t ask him to pay for five years so I became a teacher.

When I had been working as a teacher up in Duluth, some people wanted to start an open school. It is very hard to know what to do, and every time we didn’t know what to do we would say, “Let’s ask Harold Frederick” he is a friend of ours and he was a lawyer, “he’ll know everything”. I wanted to know everything and I thought being a lawyer would be the way to do it. So I went to law school and my life took one of the bigger changes.

I went to work for legal services, which was a program with lawyers for people who couldn’t afford lawyers. I learned a lot about the lives of people who struggled and had a lot of difficulties because of the fact that they didn’t have enough money.

While I was doing that job I went to the legislature a lot. I represented people who were poor and tried to change some laws at the legislature that didn’t help them very much.

After I had been doing that a number of years, an opportunity came to actually work for the legislature. I worked for an office called the commission on the economic status of women. In 1995, I had an opportunity to go to China for a meeting of women from around the world. It was called the United Nations fourth world conference on women.

When I came home from those meetings I started being a volunteer. I traveled to many places in the world where women’s’ organizations were trying hard to figure out a way to get the law to protect women who were victims of violence in their homes.

I traveled to a place called Nepal, one of the poorest countries in the world. Their public education is not free. My organization started a school there. The school is now thirteen years old. There are 380 students in it. They are the poorest children in Nepal so they are children whose parents don’t even have the money for the few things you have to pay for in public school.


Life Goes Up

Honoring Aviva Breen

Life Goes Up
(Honoring Aviva Breen)


Life goes up, Life goes down
Put your feet on solid ground.
Life is something, unpredictable
The unexpected can be wonderful

Grew up in a house of many languages.
Movie magazines with my sister.
My father passed away, I was fifteen.
Family means a lot to me.
Became a teacher four children at home
I wanted to change the world
Thought being a lawyer would be the way to go
I used the law to help the poor.

Took action, Changed the law
Women's rights, Fair to all

Legislation, 20 years, Bigger Change
Knew a friend going to a UN Con-fer-ence
Met in China with women from around the world.
Traveled the world as a volunteer.
Helped stop violence for women and change the law.
Education brought me to Nepal.
Built a school for the poorest children there.
Being a grandma is the best part of my life.
It's a gift seeing who they become.

Opportunities, Come Along
Take a Risk, Be Strong

Work hard, Do your best
Shine at something, Be a good friend

Help with words, Help with action
Make a difference

Words and Lyrics by Anthony Galloway with Carrie Proet’z 5th/6th Grade Class

© Larry Long Publishing 2013 / BMI