New York, NY – On Tuesday, June 11th Maya’s Hope held a charity event and exclusive screening of Todd Kellstein’s documentary Buffalo Girls.

Buffalo Girls depicts the lives of two professional Muay Thai fighters in Thailand who are eight years old. The venue, The Mercedes Club in Midtown West, became packed with over 100 attendees. The VIP section had a separate screen, soft couches with delicious sandwiches and cheese plates sponsored by The Café Grind and Thai drinks and desserts by Kare Thai Restaurant.

The event raised awareness about the struggles of children abroad as well as money for the children that Maya’s Hope helps and concluded with a surprise presentation featuring Square Circle New York.

Square Circle New York, a Muay Thai gym in the Financial District is a proud sponsor and is owned by Beatrice Fiedorowicz and Rob Rogan, who both have close ties to Maya’s Hope. Rogan is Filipino and Fiedorowicz spent her childhood summers in Zaporozhia, Ukraine where Maya’s Hope help orphan children with special needs.

Also in attendance from the Muay thai community were gym owners and fighters Chris “Mr. Classic” Romulo and his wife Sarah (CROM Muay Thai) and Jason van Oijen (Dogen Gym). Zaldy Patron, Philippine Consul, also attended the event to support his dear friend Maya Rowencak.

Guests entering the luxurious Mercedes Club were greeted with pink and glittering adornments, the most conspicuous of which were the voluminous bouquets of bright magenta balloons. Five of Kellstein’s friends came in his place and were treated to the VIP section, where exotic Thai drinks were served and a separate lounge was available for VIP members to watch the film. 15 students from Square Circle were also in attendance. As the line quickly grew, volunteers scrambled to check off names, stamp hands, and manage the concession stand, where popcorn, a movie-time staple, and mango and lychee flavored jelly, a popular Asian snack to go along with the night’s Thai theme, were sold.

After everyone was settled, Maya Rowencak, founder of Maya’s Hope, introduced the film and the audience watched in fascination and sorrow as the story unfolded of the two little girls that had to fight to earn a living for their families. When the film ended, Rowencak explained that as sad as the girls’ situations was, the children that Maya’s Hope sponsors in Ukraine and the Philippines do not even have the option to earn such a living as fighters to escape a life of poverty. But she considers all the children that Maya’s Hope helps as “fighters” because of what they face every day.

Maya Rowencak, founder of Maya’s Hope

The crowd was then invited to the spacious outdoor deck for a Muay Thai surprise. Guests were dispersed among three stations, where they could observe Muay Thai fighters train and learn more about the Thai martial art. The “Muay Thai Superstar” of the night was Chief, a Muay Thai student who is the same age as the Muay Thai fighters in “Buffalo Girls” and who demonstrated his powerful kicks for the crowd. After one last thank you from Rowencak, many guests stayed to fill out pledge cards for Maya’s Hope or place their contributions in the glass jar.

Maya’s Hope’s “Buffalo Girls” event brought Muay Thai and charity together to create a magical night.

Maya’s Hope is a non-profit organization that helps provide educational and medical sponsorship for impoverished and orphan children in the Philippines, and caregivers and funds for medical emergencies for special-needs orphans in Ukraine.

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Parviz Iskenderov
Parviz Iskenderov is a muaythai fighter from Perth, Australia. He is a former national champion of Belarus, and also a finalist of IFMA European Cup. He is an editor and journalist at FIGHTMAG. He covers national and world news. Iskenderov is also the WKN (World Kickboxing Network) international coordinator for Australia.