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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Meet My Sisters in the Congo & Sudan

For a little more than a year now I’ve been a sponsor through Women for Women International. The first year I sponsored a woman living in the Democratic Republic of Congo named Elise Nzigire M’Cirindye.

Although I never received a photo of Elise she did send two wonderful hand-written letters that were translated by Women for Women. From those two letters I learned that Elise was married with four children ages 20 months to 12 years old. They lived in a mud dwelling with a thatched roof. The majority of her day was spent working in the fields, fetching water, looking for food, cooking, cleaning and, of course, taking care of her family. And, she was a survivor of war. She began her letter, “I am happy to greet you my loving sister!”

I don’t know if I can do justice to the feelings I experienced when I received those letters…holding a piece of paper in my hand that had traveled half way around the world, written in a language that I could not decipher, and yet, I felt so connected to the woman who wrote those words. It was goose-bump, spine-tingly, teary-eyed amazing stuff. And, I felt hopeful. The letters represented possibility…possibility that I might actually make a positive difference in Elise’s life...possibility that she could truly create a better life for herself and her family through the Women for Women training program…possibility that this was only the beginning. There were tens of thousands of women to help in war-torn regions all around the world…yet, I felt hopeful knowing that Women for Women was doing more and more work to reach out to these women and help them learn to help themselves. (Flash forward a year to the first small steps of my creating The Infinite Possibility of Women Helping Women - my upcoming CD release/fundraiser.)

During the year long program, Women for Women International supports women in war-torn regions with financial and emotional aid, job-skills training, rights education and small business assistance so they can rebuild their lives. When Elise graduated from the program, I received a survey she completed which showed the areas that had improved in her life because of her training: her health, family’s health, ability to get medical care, sense of self-confidence, support network, relationship with her husband, relationship with her family, economic situation, awareness of her rights, ability to make decisions, and ability to send her children to school.

Wow! All of that was accomplished with her hard work and my relatively small commitment of $27 a month. That’s when I knew I had to get the word out about the great work begin done by Women for Women across the globe, and the inspiration for turning my CD release into a fundraiser took shape.

I’m now sponsoring Deborah Ajak Nhom-gol from the Sudan. She is married with three children and three other dependent adults living with her. They have no electricity, use torches to see at night and must walk long distances to bring their water from a well. She has had no formal education. She has lost family members due to the war. And now, she is my sister.

Our lives could not be more different, and yet, I know we share much in common – our basic human needs and desires and feelings. We love our families. We breathe and laugh and cry. We’re women. And it’s my sincere hope that our involvement with Women for Women International will elevate our lives in ways neither of us can even imagine. I truly believe in the infinite possibility of it all and I hope that you will join me and many other hopeful women on this journey!

Visit the Women for Women International website to learn how you can sponsor a woman today and stay tuned for more details about the creativity, art, music and women that are coming together to raise awareness and funds for this life-changing organization.