WfWI Ambassador Amy Ng Thow Hing shares her experience meeting her sister from the DRC, and why she decided to do more this International Women’s Day.
As a sponsor and supporter of Women for Women International for many years, I’ve been touched by the incredible power of uniting women, from different backgrounds and circumstances, who share the common goal of empowerment. Each of my nine “sisters” from the Democratic Republic of the Congo are resilient, amazing women, who have overcome so much. Knowing them – their struggles and successes and dreams – inspires me to do more.
That is why this year, I wanted to celebrate International Women’s Day by bringing together my friends to recognize the incredible power of women and encourage them to join me in supporting Women for Women International. Through a new social fundraising organization I started called We Raise Social, we hosted a happy hour in New York City to raise awareness and funds to support the life-changing programs of WfWI around the world.
That afternoon, the room was full of energy and people – each of us inspired to be there because of the women in our lives who make a difference in their families, communities, and countries. Recognizing the potential of women’s entrepreneurship to promote social change, my friends Tiffany Yu of Chloe + Isabel and Dawn Hurley of SHONA Congo sold jewelry and artisan crafts made by women in the DRC to support WfWI and the Congolese artisans. Looking around the room, I felt a powerful sense of connection, and wished that Marie, my sister from the DRC, was there to celebrate with me, as she was four years ago.
Marie and I first met through the letters we exchanged when she was a WfWI program participant years ago. We connected through our shared dreams of each starting our own business. Despite the challenges she had faced, providing for her eight children after being forced to flee her home, Marie made her dream come true, even before I did. She learned how to make soap and began selling her products in her village, hiring her husband to make deliveries. With advanced business training through Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Women program, Marie created jobs for other people from her village, training them in the skills she had learned and becoming a true entrepreneur.
Four years ago I received the news that Marie was being honored by WfWI with the Women of the World Award at their annual gala in New York – and that I would have the chance to finally meet her. The night I met Marie – that is a feeling I cannot put into words. We had shared photos with one another, and I kept her photo on my fridge and would look at it every morning. But to meet in person, to hold her hands in mine and feel the warmth of her hug as she put her arms around me – I really can’t describe how that felt. The support we had given each other to achieve our dreams – we both kept saying “thank you.”
Marie and each of my other eight sisters have taught me so much about the importance of building bridges of connection between women to encourage and support each other. As we celebrated the strides women have made around the world at our event on International Women’s Day, we all knew there is so much more still to be done to ensure every woman can live in a world where she can realize her dreams. We’re looking forward to hosting more We Raise Social events to raise awareness for Women for Women International and the women they serve, and we hope you will join us, either at our events or by hosting your own. I think my friend Marie would agree with me, that coming together and connecting women is the first step.
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Learn more about We Raise Social events at www.weraisesocial.com.