Women for Women – Empowering survivors of war

I have been holding on rather too tight to the idea of this post. I wanted it to be perfect. I was hopeful that in an exchange of letters with my own ‘sister’ in Nigeria I would gain permission to tell her story. However, given the time and logistics this will only delay telling you about what I believe to be a really important and nourishing initiative.

I first heard about Women for Women through friends and soon after I had the privilege to hear founder and CEO Zainab Salbi speak at a conference. Ms. Salbi was the breakfast keynote on what we had all expected to be a informative October morning, yet by 9.30am we were far more than just educated, we were emotional and humbled.

Women for Women is an organization set up to help survivors of war, they are the only organization solely dedicated to women’s development needs that operates in the heart of conflict-afflicted areas in countries such as DR Congo and Iraq. They also continue to have a long-term commitment in post-conflict countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina and Rwanda, critical given emergency relief agencies, the media and public attention have long since moved to focus on the next crisis.

“It is essential that we pay attention to what women go through as they live through war and as nations are rebuilt. We often only see women in grassroots communities as the victims of wars, but they are the true active participants in rebuilding their nations. The women we serve are the unseen warriors for humanity. Their weapons are not guns but guts. If we can stabilize the women we can stabilize their communities and their countries. As each woman engages in a multi-phase process of recovery and rehabilitation, she opens a window of opportunity presented by the end of conflict to help improve the rights, freedoms and status of women in her country. As women who go through our program assume leadership positions in their villages, actively participate in the reconstruction of their communities, build civil society, start businesses, train other women and serve as role models, they become active citizens who can help to establish lasting peace and stability.

Women begin in our Sponsorship Program where direct financial aid from a sponsor helps them deal with the immediate effects of war and conflict such as lack of food, water, medicine and other necessities. Exchanging letters with sponsors provides women with an emotional lifeline and a chance to tell their stories —maybe for the first time. As their situations begin to stabilize, women in our program begin building a foundation for their lives as survivors.” Source womenforwomen.org

The organization make the process of getting involved very simple. You can choose where in the world you would like to help a woman or you can ask for the organization to use their discretion and match you with a woman and country that needs help most, $27.00 a month is then debited directly from your account. You will receive a profile of the woman who becomes your ‘sister’ for the year and are encouraged to write letters to her, but I tell ya, once you receive your sister’s photo little encouragement will be required.

Now I realize that the charity is named Women for Women but frankly the guys among you can still partake by sponsoring a woman in honor of your wives, mothers and sisters, I am sure the thoughtfulness will have great impact. If you want to be involved yourself, while there are a few countries where you are unable to sponsor women namely DR Congo, Sudan and Afghanistan there are still many other countries and women to help.

In talking with Patty Pina, WFW Grassroots marketing officer, she emphasized that “…we can all be the source of change in the world. Stronger women create stronger nations, taking action now will cause a ripple effect through generations…..”

I ask that you visit their website Womenforwomen.org , read the stories and seriously consider what luxuries or other items you might be able to go without for the remainder of ’08, or invite someone to partner with you to raise the funds. I know that together, you and your sister will create powerful positive change in the world.

With love and compassion

© The Red Barn Cooperative

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