Monday, April 23, 2012

Rise Up and Walk

Rise Up and Walk

“We owe it to the present and future generations of all species to rise up and walk!”  ~Wangari Maathi

And walk is what we did!  This year the Wilmington UN Women Walk to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls fell on Earth Day, National Immunization Week (, and during the ONE THRIVE Campaign (   There was so much information to share and so many people there ready to take action.  When I read the above quote from the late Professor Wangari Maathi, winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize and founder of The Green Belt Movement in  her  2006 memoir, Unbowed, I was struck with that feeling of how we are all connected.  Not just to one another, but to this Earth.  Professor Maathi was not just a steward of the Earth, she was a powerhouse for social justice and equal rights for women.  Her fearless dedication to being a voice for justice left me thinking I have to do more!! 

The Sunday forecast called for heavy rains here in Wilmington, NC.   I sent a tweet the evening before to our local weatherman asking him to please make a window for our walk.  Well he must be magic—there was no rain and almost 100 people came to participate.  They were there to make a statement that gender based violence must come to an end!  The fact that up to 70% of women and girls will be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in their lifetime was on the minds of the walkers as they made their way around a 3k or 5k course.  Seeing the compassion and energy in these participants was uplifting!  They raised money and gave their time for this important cause.  This is still a new event for the community, and with the labor of love put into it I know it is only going to grow larger year by year. 

Participants also took the time to stop by the ONE table and fill out their carrot seed postcards to the White House urging President Obama to work with the G8 leaders to sow the seeds of change and lift 50 million people out of extreme poverty.  It is in these impoverished areas where violence breeds.  To end violence against women and girls we MUST end extreme poverty!!!

What actions can we take?  Here are a few:
*visit  and learn the facts, then look for a local chapter to donate your time or resources. 
*sign petitions and send letters to your Members of Congress……when you sign these petitions you are making your voice heard!!
*shop with a conscious—I wrote a post last December with several links for shopping with a heart:  I am also a HUGE advocate for The Body Shop!!! Read about their values campaign here to stop sex trafficking:
*and of course.....sign up to be a ONE Mom right here!!!  ONE Moms and ONE Dad are in Ghana this week for the launch of two new vaccines for rotavirus and pneumococcal thanks to GAVI.  No mother should have to watch her child die because of a preventable disease.  Let’s support women all ways that we can!
Professor Wangari Maathi faced these challenges and more remaining unbowed.  We must honor her by doing the same.  “RISE UP and WALK” for women everywhere……………………

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Without a Fight

Without a Fight

            I have three kids in three schools this year; elementary, middle, and high school.  It is a challenge to say the least!  As parents we always hope to hear they make it through the day without a fight.  I am talking about the fights concerning who is sitting next to who or who told someone your secret.  In the slum of Kibera we are talking about much more than that.  After the 2008 presidential elections violence erupted along tribal lines with thousands being killed.  That is what makes the story of the Champions Soccer League, a program within the Sports Association of Carolina for Kibera, so powerful.  After watching the documentary Without a Fight  you will be left with an overwhelming feeling of optimism of what can be accomplished when we come together as a community.

            Last summer during our ONE Moms trip to Kenya we were able to visit Carolina for Kibera, a partner of the ONE organization. I instantly resonated with the strong emphasis on programs being community lead.  With our North Carolina connection I knew I wanted to bring my experience back home to not only encourage support of CFK, but to initiate conversations around strengthening our own community.  A few days after returning from our trip my family and I participated in the 26 Day Challenge and—WOW, what an experience!  Sharing it on social media ignited discussions and inspired others to join the challenge.

            When I heard that Without a Fight premiered last month at the 11mm Film Festival in Berlin, Germany, I reached out to the producer, Beth-Ann Kutchma, to see how we could bring it here to Wilmington, NC.  Imagine my excitement, when I learned we were not only screening it, but Kennedy Juma, featured in the film would be visiting from Kibera as well.  The film follows the personal lives of Nicholas and Adan as their teams prepare to meet in the title match of the Champions League, a soccer league started 11 years ago by Carolina for Kibera founder Rye Barcott.  It is based on an experiment to see if putting rival tribes on the same team could help stop ethnic violence.  The end result—over 20,000 games ending “without a fight”.

The reaction from my middle school son after the screening:  “That was REALLY awesome!”.  My youngest son recalls his favorite quote: “There are opportunities out there for you, but you have to look for those opportunities for they are not going to be handed to you on a silver platter.”  And the photos of the event are credited to my teenage daughter, who was eager and engaged in capturing every angle of the evening.  Many in the audience wanted to know how to get a copy (it is really that good!) and was directed to join the email list to get your DVD when they are available and host your own screening.  In a media world that is focused on the darkness, it is uplifting to showcase the good.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Woo!! Hoo!! Fax Machines are Making a Comeback!!!

I was so excited to learn that fax machines were making a comeback this morning!  Maybe we can go back to landline phones as well.  The idea of sitting in one place and having an intimate conversation with a friend knowing that neither one of us was folding laundry, doing dishes, answering emails, or better yet using the restroom.  When I heard the news on this morning I was thrilled!!  There are some other great predictions as well.  Take a look……….

            How awesome is that?  A little April Fools mixed in with a LOT of good news.  The beginning of the end of AIDS is welcome news to the millions of people living with this horrific virus.  Think about no child being born with HIV by 2015.  Our generation is responsible for this accomplishment.  Our scientists, physicians, leaders, and US!  But, we cannot stop now.  We are making progress and have to keep the momentum going.  Please take a moment, sign the petition, and add your voice.