I’m not sure I can tell you the exact date and time when I became keenly aware of the global problem of violence against women (far too often honor killings, bride abductions, rape as a weapon in war…the list goes on), poverty and lack of education. Over the last ten years, there have been stories that have moved me and broken my heart…for each woman, defining moments. I’ve written about some of the women here: Mukhtaran Mai, Rebecca Lolosoli but there have been so many more…many that I’ve met personally and had the opportunity to sit and hear their powerful stories.
Several years ago, I spent time in Indonesia working on a micro-finance mission. During that trip, I experienced firsthand the dangers of being a women in a third world country….many of those experiences I’ve yet to share with family and friends. That trip culminated in a horrific act of violence, as our team was on Jimbaran Beach when the bombers struck. During that trip, I worked on the business plans and financing for two brave magnificent women whom I will never forget, Murni and Rosa. And in fact, in spite of all the danger, I would go back in a minute to work with them again, they made an impression on me and in my heart that remains today. I also experienced the difference a small amount of money, marketing, mentoring and fellowship can make not only in the lives of individuals but their communities as well.
Then there’s Kenya….a place I’d never visited but still felt like home. Two women on that trip that made such an impression on me were, Phoebe and Lucy, their stories moving, their character and determination inspiring. Phoebe I remain close to and in touch with through social media. In Kenya, I was exposed to poverty that set me back and changed me forever. I met and held children who had been days without food, who played quietly while their classmates had their lunch, a tiny thermos of some kind mush. When was the last time you skipped lunch, not because it didn’t fit into your schedule, but because there were no resources?
A few weeks ago, I started reading Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, I’ve followed their writings for years. Additionally, I attended the Care event by the same name. It was during that event that my heart was broken for the mission, not just the people. For some time, I’ve had this strong pull inside to be a part of the solution to end violence against women globally, but after Half the Sky I needed to act thoughtfully and intentionally. For me writing letters and donating my money and time is no longer enough. I have the skills, training and the passion to join with other people around the world to end these horrors. I also learned during the event that just a $2.00 micro loan for fertilizer could be the catalyst for change in a culture of violence. Who among us can’t give up $2.00? Certainly not me….
I passionately believe that EVERY life has value and that there are NO qualifiers. Statistics prove that when you educate the women and teach them a trade, violence in the village dissipates, poverty goes down, and the community as a whole reaps the benefits. So…as of today Project Authenticity is no longer just a blog…but a mission. A mission to end violence and poverty, our desire is to work alongside country leaders to provide education and empower women to see their worth and get engaged in community. Joining me in this mission is Jaime Earl, you may know her incredible organic skincare line, but Jaime also has a passion to end violence and poverty as well. We are still finalizing the details, but things are coming together so quickly we are amazed and excited. Later this week we will launch our What If campaign and we will have some very exciting news. Out of violence and poverty a passion was born and now a mission begins So…bookmark our blog or check back later in the week to see what we have planned.