I first heard about Women for Women International while watching the Oprah show more than fifteen years ago. Founder and then CEO, Zainab Salbi, was Oprah’s guest and I remember watching with rapt attention as she explained to the audience the mission of Women for Women International. I have always cared deeply about the plight of women around the world but had never heard of a way to take action to help individual women directlybefore that day. I immediately signed up as a donor.
By sponsoring a sister in one of the many conflict-affected countries where Women for Women International works, I gained the power to change a woman’s life. Given the impact of Women for Women International, I even convinced my family to contribute. I was very proud of when one year, instead of buying each other Christmas gifts, we pooled our money together instead and donated five hundred dollars to Women for Women International.
To the sisters I sponsor, I offer my friendship and financial assistance to provide them with the training necessary to learn new skills which, in turn, make a better life possible for them.
That is no small thing; that is everything.
Women served by Women for Women International are the glue that holds families together — that hold countries together. By writing a check and writing my newly sponsored sister a letter of support, I am making a real connection with her. I am being given the opportunity to help improve the quality of her life and by extension the lives of her family members and her community.
Through their letters I learned that to many of the dozens of women that I have sponsored over the years, my monetary donation and letters sent in support seemed like a gift. But I have always felt that I am the one being given a gift by having the privilege to get to know them through their stories as well as the satisfaction that comes with knowing that in some small way I am making a real difference in another woman’s life.
Each week in my blog I revisit stories from my past with fresh eyes so that I might find even one small thing about them to relish. Many of my stories are quite painful which makes me reluctant to tell them, but then I look up at the wall above my desk and see pictures of all my beautiful sisters, and their courage inspires me to keep going.
I take so much for granted in my life. My basic needs always being met; my education, a roof over my head and food on the table every day. But sadly the same cannot always be said for many of the women I sponsor.
Despite many obstacles, women survivors of war persist with courage and resilience. They have the right to a better life for themselves and their families, and I am honored to know that in some small way I am helping them finally get what they so richly deserve.
I am blessed to have six sisters of my own and equally blessed to have so many women in so many countries to call my sisters as well. It’s always been important to me that my monthly donation come from money that I have earned. For a couple of years while I could afford it, I was able to sponsor additional sisters in honor of each of my six sisters, in addition to the one sponsorship I have always maintained. When one of my own sisters died five years ago, I made a pledge to always continue supporting this organization in her honor. It is a pledge that I intend to keep.
In my blog, I talk about how one small change has the power to change everything. I know that when so many women come together in support of other women through the work of Women for Women International, the change that is possible is truly staggering.
Sadly, there is no shortage of stories telling the horrors of violence against women. Because of this, there has never been a greater need to support women with programs such as Women for Women International’s. When we unite as sisters, we all become stronger women, and stronger women build stronger families, stronger communities, stronger nations and a stronger world.
Together we can build a world where, with long-term sustainable change, women might one day stand on equal footing with any man, united instead of divided, coming together for a better future.