Thursday, August 1, 2013

I have ideas...

Strange ideas....generally related to book ideas.  Because one day I might write something great.  Not like that really presents itself on this blog, but greatness comes from practice;o)

Here are some random ideas:

1) A book titled something like, "Empowering Women:  An Effective Model for Big Cities."  If we know that empowering women creates stronger communities in developing countries, then why can't a similar model be used in large urban cities?  Time and time again I see that ONE organization in a developing country is making a difference, yet we have hundreds of organizations (churches, outreach groups, government aid, etc.) in big cities and we see very little change.  The book (or maybe large thesis) would revolve around researching 3-5 of the largest cities in America, meeting with focus groups of women who are suffering from low socio-economic status, meeting with all those organizations that are trying to improve the cities, and coming up with a plan or model that can be effective in making a difference.

2) A series of 3 illustrated 5x5 coffee table books of humor, titled: "Pregnancy", "Birth," & "Breastfeeding."  They would be humorous.  Written by my husband (mostly his ideas) and a few of mine.  On one page would be one his infamous phrases (ie: "Lunch-line!") and on the other side would be an illustration to match the phrase (ie: a cartoon of woman's breast area distorted to look like a cafeteria lunch line).  Other one-liners I can remember off the top of my head, "Titty-time" & "Dairy Queen."  Note:  My husband wholly supports breastfeeding & is very empowering of my ability to do so, so his comments are not meant to be insulting - if you take offense, then just ignore this paragraph:o) 

3) A proposal to improve national education by doing an honest and legit comparison to other countries.  The research would be done by teachers.  I've kind of started some work on the proposal plan, but it needs a lot to finish and probably a LOT of editing.

And the only way I see me ever having time to thoroughly complete any of these projects is when I won't have to work because I'll have an investor who believes in one of my crazy ideas & provides my income while I complete a project.  And when my project is complete I will be an awesome (but humble and modest)  success and I will have more ideas, more investors, & my own money to persue new, cool projects.

So, any crazy takers?  LOL!

Never far from my mind...

I haven't posted in ages, but the last few weeks of my pregnancy were just tough, then I gave birth, & now it's been nearly a month & I feel like we're finally getting adjusted in the house.  Blogging wasn't the first thing on my mind.  However, that doesn't mean that the blog or my fundraiser has been on my mind.

So far my Heifer International fundraiser has raised $120.  I recently received donations from some awesome friends of mine.  I'm nearly half way there and I have just a little less than 3 weeks to get there to reach my goal of $250 by August 19th - World Humanitarian Day!

Prior to Maggie being born I had the chance to DVR "Keep A Child Alive."  It is a documentary special with Alicia Keys who took five individuals with her to South Africa to learn about the AIDS epidemic & its impact on the communities.  It was a very good documentary and I highly recommend it.  For more info click here.  I admire anyone who uses their status to make others aware of important issues, but I thought it was very awesome the way she brought along fans who were also truly interested in the issue and want to make a difference in their communities.  I would like to think, given the chance, that I would take the opportunity to travel and learn more about the global issues that raise my curiosity.  I consider how much I want to do already & how much more impacted I would be seeing the issues face to face - how does that truly change a person & what does one do with that new mindset?

I also had the opportunity (just last night) to FINALLY watch "Half the Sky."  I had it recorded forever and had a quiet afternoon and some evening time to get through the movie.  I really enjoyed this documentary as well.  It was not loaded down with number and statistics.  Diane Lane had me cracking up at one point, "Now I'm starting to get pissed, so you better start talking..."  The segment on maternal mortality really spoke to me, probably because I just gave birth less than a month ago, but it also reminded me of my first pregnancy as well.  I was determined to give birth naturally & that required a lot of mental preperation.  My husband used to say to others (who were doubtful that I could/should go without drugs), "Women have been having babies in rivers and huts for hundreds of years without anything."  This is true.  Women did not always have the epidural!  And while that thought was encouraging I naively took my thinking one step further; I thought to myself, "When I give birth, somewhere in the world there will be another woman just like me going through the same thing....and like all the other women who came before us and will come after us, we'll be a shining example of what God created & how awesome he made our bodies & it will be beautiful" & puppies & rainbows and all sorts of other happy thoughts.

The issue of maternal mortality kind of ruined that thought.  Not that parts of it aren't true, but the fact is that there are a lot of women who give birth in developing countries who don't come to terms with giving birth like we do in the US.  They don't have access to birth control to prevent pregnancy at a young age or to space children apart.  They suffer from lack of prenatal care, anemia, and malnutrition.  They may not be pregnant by choice.  They may not have access to a midwife, doctor or hospital and DO give birth in huts that are unsanitary & put them and their babies at risk for infection.  They may be seen as expendable and; therefore, do not get emergency assistance needed during birth to get a c-section and suffer from obstructed birth and other complications.  And they most certainly do not have access to an epidural - but that's the least of their concerns.  Giving birth naturally isn't a choice, but it's also not a worry compared to everything else they must endure.

Women die.  Not because of child birth.  Because of lack of proper health care.  Edna Adan, owner of her own hospital in Somaliland, mentioned in the documentary that women who die in her hospital shouldn't because every one of their cases have preventable treatments.  Women in developed countries like the US don't have to be concerned about these issues the same ways that other women around the world have to worry.  We value women and children; therefore, as a community we do our best to make sure we get as much care as possible to women and children.

I should feel relieved and thankful.  I feel disappointed and sad.

The rest of the movie was also really good.  I think the actresses, America Ferrera & Olivia Wilde, were very genuine.  The idea of micro-financing is very similar to Heifer International.  The idea is not a "hand out" but a "hand up," providing ways for families (especially women) to support themselves independently.  I've chosen to support Heifer because I prefer the idea of providing education, animals, seeds & equipment versus handing someone money.  Even though organizations are setup to try to minimize those who would squander the money, I feel like it is much easier to follow through with a plan when you're already given the materials rather than having to go buy them yourself.  If you have might as well plant them, right?  And, rather than worry about paying back a loan, families who are donated to are only asked to pass on a gift in the form of an animal or equipment (like they received from Heifer) to another family in need - this doesn't take nearly the same financial toll as paying out cash.   

Alright, I'm going to try to either go back to sleep & if that doesn't work I might as well stay up and do some teacher prep.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Helping Out My Girl!

So there's this chick I know...and she's so totally awesome!  Heidi is this great friend that lives less than 15 minutes away and I rarely get to see because our schedules NEVER intertwine!  We met what seems like ages ago when we were planning our weddings and I have to say that I just feel so blessed to have such a positive, strong woman who has such good influence on my life. 

Despite the own craziness that is taking place in her and her husband's life right now, she is still finding time to do the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Charlotte, NC.  A 39.3 mile walk!  (And I thought a half marathon was a lot!!!)  I'm so inspired by her because this is the second time she's taking on this challenge and I can't imagine how she's finding time to train, fundraise, and still take care of everything else around her. 

If you can help her reach her goal of $1800 it would be greatly appreciated!  Any small amount is a BIG help:o)  Here is the link to her site:

Heidi & Tolis - we LOVE you both & are just so happy to call you friends!  We will do whatever we can to help support you guys in ALL your efforts <3 (And once Miss Maggie decides to arrive, I might be joining you for a few walks to get myself prepped for the next half marathon!!!)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

When Cows Fly!

I was so pleased today to receive an email that said my submitted story was being shared online.  Heifer International has a site, "When Cows Fly" where individuals can share their stories about how they're making a difference.  I submitted my story just the other day and was informed that they published it.

"Blogger Holding Fundraiser for Heifer International" reads the tab and then the link brings you directly to my story.  So awesome.  Hopefully this will help generate some funds for the project.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Patience....little vs. big things

Despite it being the Sunday School virtue of the month, PATIENCE seems to be the one thing I'm lacking lately.  I guess I need to join the kiddies for Sunday School and skip regular service, eh?  From my cell phone, to a 3 year old's ridiculous arguments/requests, to students, etc.  I have no patience.  Granted, being 34 weeks pregnant (AND learning to go w/o coffee) doesn't help AND that doesn't mean my irritation isn't justified, but regardless I've been having to ask for help with having patience.

All these little things add up and become irritable, but they remind me of a bigger thing, too.  They remind me of the type of person I am.  Instant gratification.  Wanting something done RIGHT NOW and having to wait for things to come to fruition.  And it's definitely something I've been working on and gotten much better at dealing with in larger circumstances.

I think I've mentioned before that I am the type of girl who puts a lot on her plate.  One of the most frustrating feelings in life is to know that you were meant for something MORE, but have no idea what that MORE you try to do as much as possible to feel accomplished in something.  Now, I have done a lot and I recognize where I've done some good.  I've worked in daycares/preschools, been a nanny to several wonderful children, worked in several classroom settings, done small scale projects to benefit others, etc.  And big or small, I know the differences I've made and those in themselves are blessings.  THIS is where I've learned patience.  Not necessarily with the crazy kids and the bad days and where just making it through an afternoon requires every thread of my being to hold onto my sanity....PATIENCE in having that one day or one student or one afternoon where I realized that I made a difference.  Realizing that maybe not everyday I am going to feel great, but waiting for that moment to arrive and letting it just happen.  Not forcing it, not trying to be the difference maker, just doing whatever it is that I do that might change an attitude or uplift a person or make someone laugh or smile.  Maybe it's that extra 5 minutes to color or paint with my kid.  Maybe it's sending an e-mail to a parent who needs to know they're kid had a good day and then WAITING for that awesome response. 

The other day I heard a radio discussion about how helping others actually benefits the person who does the helping MORE than the person they're helping.  It just makes you feel that awesome that you've helped in some way, that you emotionally feel uplifted and it benefits the rest of your life.  It's so true.

It doesn't bug me that not every person in the world reads my blog.  I feel awesome when I see that one person read it because it means that someone else might have the same attitude or being inspired to help someone in need.

It won't bug me if I don't reach my goal for $250 by Aug 19 because ONE donation practically made me leap for joy because someone else was inspired to help through me.

I once did a neighborhood food drive and could not believe the outpouring of community involvement and thought, "Wow, this is just cool." 

The things don't have to be big.  Nor do they have to be what the world deems "successful."  Success, in this one aspect of my life, is just that one other person somewhere in the world is inspired to help another human being.  And it's already happened.  And I truly believe it will continue to happen. 

Waiting for all these little blessings to take place is SO worth it and I have all the patience in the world to see what God has planned for me.  I know that I'm meant for more.  And if I have the chance to make more awesome things happen, then I will give it a try and have patience to see if it works out.  And if it doesn't, then I will try something else.  But I know I'll be doing awesome work.

So...if I have all the patience in the world to watch big ideas come to fruition....why is pajama time with a 3 year old so frustrating?!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Only $190 to go!

In other awesome news the R.I.C.H.'s Helpers Team received a $60 donation yesterday, so we're well on the way to $250 by August 19th.  YAY!

Receive Answers!

In an earlier blog post, "Ask Questions" I discussed how I was inquiring with Heifer International about local offices and why there had been, but not one currently in the Triangle area.  I e-mailed the woman in charge of the East Coast area, Patty Reed.  She responded in such a timely manner and answered just about every question!  She recently had been in NC and was sorry we hadn't gotten a chance to connect sooner, otherwise who knows what sort of blog posts I'd be writing today!  She explained that Heifer had to close some local offices in the past few years due to financial reasons, but was very open for me to contact her if I ever wanted to know more about the US Project - Seeds for Change or if I just had general inquiries.  She's also provided me with another contact person who is more local and who directs volunteer opportunities if I ever feel like I have more time to dedicate to the cause.  Very cool stuff!

But it gets better...

This evening I received an email from Linda Meyers.  She's a part of the Heifer organization and she had seen my blog post, "Ask Questions!"  She read it!  And she even tried to leave a comment!  (but she didn't have an appropriate account to respond, so instead she sent an e-mail)  After reading my post she went out of her way to contact the Senior Director of Branding & Communications to gets answers to all those questions I had asked and then made sure the message got passed along to me somehow.

This truly just tells you what an awesome organization they are - they take the time to read the blogs of those interested in supporting their cause and they go out of their way to find answers to their questions.  Linda could have read my post and just assumed that I would have to wait on a response from Ms. Reed.  Instead, she made sure I got those answers by contacting people on her own time and getting the message to me personally.  Below is the e-mail...just so that YOU can read first hand about what's going on with the nationwide effort of Heifer and maybe find a way that you can help.

We saw your blog post “Ask Questions!” and wanted to send you a response. I tried to post it on your blog as a comment, but couldn’t because we don’t have an appropriate user account to do so. So, here is the response from Joedy Isert, Senior Director of Branding & Communications.

Dear Nancy,
First, we at Heifer International want to thank you for all your support, in your blog and in your gifts, for our work. Nothing we do would be possible without help such as yours, and the fact that you take it and make it so personal through your blog is an even more special gift.
In answer to some of the questions you raised in your post, “Ask Questions!” Heifer International had regional offices in five areas in the United States, including the Chicago area, Southern California, Massachusetts and other regions. In 2009, responding to the economic downturn and decisions to commit additional resources to programs and reduce operational expenses, regional officers were closed. Heifer retained staff in many of the areas, working out of their homes or storefronts as Community Engagement Coordinators, but we stopped spending on brick and mortar offices.
And while Heifer has worked in the United States for most of our nearly 70-year existence, the work in the United States has been on a much smaller footprint than our work in Asia, Africa and elsewhere. We have worked with American Indian reservations in the Southwest, with high-poverty areas in the central Appalachians and in some hard-hit inner-city communities with urban gardening, but there has never been a true nationwide U.S.-based program.
Another challenge is the scope of need and our very limited resources. While we are very proud of the 94.5 million people we have been able to help since 1944, that pales compared to the fact that nearly 1 billion people are chronically hungry around the world. And while we are very generously supported, raising about $100 million annually, to tackle the problems here in the United States and around the world would cost tens of billions of dollars, according to the World Bank. We simply don’t have access to those resources, so we try to work in areas where we can leverage and best use the limited resources we have.
Thus the reason behind our work in the United States high poverty areas in Appalachian North Carolina and in the Arkansas Delta. These are areas with rich soil, but with little economic hope or opportunity. By working with small-landowner farmers and other agricultural interests in these areas, it is our goal to help them produce more and better crops to feed themselves and eventually, to connect to the value chain so they are selling their crops to help provide good, affordable food to hospitals, schools, distributors, groceries and others.
This will create jobs, help give people greater access to better foods, build community networks and as they become independent and successful, we can move to help in other areas such as Raleigh or the Mississippi Delta or the many other areas of high need in this country.
Our mission is to end hunger and poverty and protect the planet, and we wish we were in a position, as do many other similar organizations, to make that happen sooner rather than later. But we have to work to our resources and to our abilities. Every decision on where we work is difficult as we would love to be in every city, state and country where people need help feeding themselves or their families and where agriculture could continue to be a strong contributor to the community.
I hope we have been able to answer some of your questions, and we deeply appreciate your help and support. Thanks again and please keep asking the good questions.

Joedy Isert
Senior Director, Brand & Communications
Heifer International

          Linda Meyers
          Communications Temp

          1 World Avenue, Little Rock | AR 72202 | United States

Monday, May 6, 2013

Ask Questions!

I think it's important to ask questions.  Granted, when my 3 year old is in a chatty mood and decides she wants to know everything about everything - then maybe I get a little overwhelmed.  For the most part though, I love the questions WHY and WHY NOT.

While looking into starting the Heifer project I thought to myself, "This program could do wonders in this area."  Raleigh might be a large city and you don't always think of farming as a sustainable source of income, but there are tons of rural areas less than a 10 minute drive from Raleigh (or even IN Raleigh) that rely on farming.  Our demand for local produce is very high - just look at the crowded farmer's markets and how much fresh produce is in demand in the grocery stores and with home-delivery sales.  There are plenty of areas nearby that would make excellent partnerships with Heifer International.  Not to mention, in this areas there are probably a lot of low-income families that could benefit from the help of Heifer and local farmers to practice the model Heifer offers.

So, I asked myself, "Is there a local office?"  No.  There's used to be, apparently, according to Google.  But not now.  There is a US project taking place in the mountain of NC called "Seeds for Change," but it's not helping out our local families.  So, "Why not?"

I emailed the district person of the East Coast Philanthropy office, Ms. Reed, with these questions.  I wanted to know the circumstances of the previous office closing.  I related my feelings that a local office would be beneficial for all the reasons stated above.  And I expressed interest in helping such an office, if the opportunity ever presented itself.

I hope she'll write back.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

$250 by August 19

So August 19 is World Humanitarian Day.  Therefore, I've made it a goal & set up a page to raise $250 for Heifer International.  A small donation in the long run, but IF it's successful and I feel like I have the support of my family, friends and community then perhaps I can move forward with bigger and better things come the holidays!

Check out the team webpage!

You can donate (on the right minimum amount required) or you can register with the website and search to JOIN my team!

I also made a flyer that I'll probably put out in my neighborhood soon.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Cheep cheep go the baby chicks!

I went ahead and made my first donation to Heifer International.  I gave the gift of a flock of chicks for $20.  Yay!

I think I might undertake a small project for the summer & see if I can get a "team" of people to give the gift of a large animal.  Would YOU help?

If so...please take a look at the poll on the blog and let me know what you'd be willing to donate!

PLEASE go to to read a quick summary on each gift to see how they would benefit a family.  It will also allow you to see how many shares each full gift will take to donate (ie: One sheep will take 12 shares of $10 each).  If you look at other gifts (ie: honeybees, tree, boost of nutrition package, etc.) and believe you'd rather donate to one of those gifts, please select "Other" and leave me a comment as to your preference and why.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

So many little $!

I could never be rich because I'd end up living frugally and giving all my money away!  I finished "Half the Sky" and it's had a profound impact on my way of thinking.  There isn't a day that it doesn't cross my mind about how my life is a treasure box and I need to use my time, effort, brains, and the little money I do have to help others. 

The book does an excellent job of summarizing some simple ways to help and this is where I'm starting to figure out my next project(s).  Here are some quick basic ideas - if you ever get a chance to get your hands on the book the information is in the back, by the appendix (my book is p.252).

These are some organizations that directly link you to the people who need the money.  I've already discussed Givology and I'm still considering that option.  However, there's also and

"Global Giving lets you choose a grassroots project to which to give money in education, health, disaster relief, or more than a donzen other areas around the developing world."

"Kiva lets you do the same for microlending to entrepreneurs."

An entire section of the book was dedicated to microlending - being the financier of small loans (as little as $25) to help individuals expand their trade or business to become independent.  This has proven very helpful to empower women in gaining their independence from abusive husbands, keeping them from prostitution, feeding their families, and providing income for their education and the education of their children.  Not that these sites are solely dedicated to women, but you can search through the individuals and their business propositions to pick and choose who you want to support.

Another way to help is (a personal fave that I'm really thinking of going with now) Heifer International.  I know some of you have gotten that catalog around Thanksgiving/Christmas time about donating money or a "gift" of an animal to a family in need.  I really believe this sort of hands on approach to help is beneficial.  I've heard stories from those who have given and seen the benefits from this organization.  Also, just the concept has proven true (even if not applied through this affiliation).  Just yesterday my best friend (she's always in some way related to my better ideas) was telling me how she'll be incubating some chicken eggs and hatching baby chicks.  And when those are done she'll receive some chickens that'll lay eggs - which she'll be able to use for food or extra income.  Granted, she's doing all this through family and not an organization and it's just a small project she's chosen to do for herself, but imagine the possibilities for families who have nothing and NEED this type of help.  Providing $10 could mean the share of a large animal....get 10 people together and you've got $100 for the whole animal.  Or just $20 from one person is a flock of chicks (that's just $2/person is you've got 10 people to help out!).  I'll put aside my Dunkin Donuts coffee for a day if 10 other people can do it and together we just donated baby chicks.  Cheap, awesome, rewarding.  Oh yea!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Film Review: Girl Rising

I haven't been posting and I hate that.  It eats away at me when I realize how long it's been since I've kept up with the blog and written down my thoughts.  Know this, that things are constantly on my mind and I always have the intention of getting them to the blog!

The last update posted about how the film was being screened nationwide for a whole week!  Awesome!  My husband and I were able to attend the screening last Wednesday night after trading babysitting evenings with my brother.  It was a date night + education documentary + week/school night = OMG I feel like I'm breaking the law somewhere!  I'm a wild one, I tell ya!

I was very pleased the that audience, especially for a weeknight, had approx 25-30 people.  All women (except my hubby) and several of them were teens - very encouraging.

Here's my brief review/comments about the film:

*It must be kept in mind that the film was PG-13. 
*Though certain things, like trafficking and sexual assault, were discussed or depicted it was all done in a very non-graphic way.  The "heart-wrenching" parts of the girls' stories was in the introduction and provided some background information, but little time was actually spent on depicting graphic images.
*A lot of time was spent on the positive and uplifting parts of the girls stories.
*It was NOT a documentary that left you feeling angry or depressed - "I need to go out and FIGHT for this cause right now!  Something needs to be done!"..ROAR!  It left you with a positive note on how young girls have changed their lives for the better, despite the continuing struggles, and that there are measures people can take to help.
*I really liked how in between each story the narrator (Liam Neeson) briefly discussed data and statistics about girls education and health worldwide and how education of young girls greatly impacts the overall health and development of communities, locally and nationally.  The facts were not so many to be was "just enough" to get an understanding of the importance.

Overall I liked the movie.  Like I said before, it's rated PG-13.  There were apparently women outside the restroom after the movie that my husband said were discussing how it wasn't "enough" in regards to showing the serious offenses that occur to young girls around the world.  I understand what they're saying - it's a very different feeling watching the film while I'm in the middle of reading "Half the Sky" that discusses the chapter on genital cutting and some of the images that get put in my head are graphic enough that I doubt I need to see it in a documentary!  These were obviously women who read and are educated about the misfortunes of young girls, but they didn't keep in mind the film's audience and that set them up for disappointment.

Honestly, I think it's a GREAT film to use as an introduction to a discussion group/book club/organization.  It's even a great tool to bring into the middle/high school classrooms to introduce real-life events that bring attention to world needs.  It could be a great tool to get students to advocate for fundraising opportunities to help other children. 

What had the greatest impact on me?  It's something I've thought about everyday since the film and something I will likely never find an answer to:

Why is it that a right, like the right to be educated, is taken for granted while there are others in the world who still fight for it because in their world it's considered a privilege?  And how can that be changed?  As a school teacher I cannot believe how many students don't value their education.  I cannot believe how many simply take for granted that their supplies will be provided by them by their peers or teacher - they don't arrive at school without a pen/pencil or paper in hand!  Yet there are children and families around the world who will go without food just to spend the money on a piece of paper or one pencil and those supplies are valued like gold!  Those children don't take a single opportunity to take notes or learn a lesson for granted.  This is my biggest pet peeve and my greatest concern.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

It has to be unacceptable EVERYWHERE!

Anyone in NC has likely heard, in some part, the story of little 3-year old Shaniya Davis.  Her mother admitted handing her over to a grown man for the purpose of sexual abuse in return for paying off a drug debt.  Now the man is being prosecuted for kidnapping, rape, and her murder.  [Now...I'm all for "innocent until proven guilty," but given that the mother has admitted that she knowingly provided her daughter to this man for sexual servitude...little is left to convince me that he's otherwise guilty of at LEAST the rape accusation.]

Rape is a problem in our society. I'm not denying it and I'm not saying our laws or judicial system have handled every case perfectly or that there aren't loopholes that have gotten people out of trouble.  There are women (& men) who battle incestual rape/molestation, marital rape, other domestic violence, etc.  Our culture doesn't have this travesty banished from society.  However, I do believe I can say that the MAJORITY of our society condemns a grown man raping a 3 year old little girl.  And the fact that her own mother handed her over for such a purpose (child-prostitution) is just as much a tragedy.

That's WHY this story is making headlines.  Because it's deemed unacceptable in our society.  It's not only NOT the norm, but it's considered an absolutely despicable crime.

How lucky are we that we live in such a society that actually views this as a crime...a crime important enough to bring to the news?  How sad is it that, even in societies where it might considered horrible, these things happen to women and children regularly and it doesn't make the news?  Such a crime may never even get reported, let alone make it to a courtroom. 

I've been doing reading lately and am far from an expert.  But I want to relate two types of stories I continue to read about.  The first is rape as a war crime.  The second is rape as an intimidation to force young girls into marriage.

There are areas in the world that are experiencing civil wars that make little national news in America.  However, in these countries many local war-parties are turning to rape as war intimidation.  Why fight the men when they can traumatize the women and children and force cooperation?  Women, young girls, and children of ALL ages and of BOTH genders are more fearful of leaving their villages than the men because death might become the men, but worse could befall the rest.  Some of the victims of these villages are no older than little Shaniya Davis, but have we heard their stories?  Do they make their own local or national news?

The other very disturbing type of story is of the male who wishes to marry the virgin female who has refused (or her family has refused) the proposal.  Regardless of the reason why the male wishes to marry or why there is a refusal, refusals are not always taken with acceptance.  Instead, some young women are being kidnapped and raped by the male (maybe gang-raped by his friends/family members also) to show his dominance.  Now that the girl's virginity has been stolen she is shamed along with her family.  The one "acceptable" way to fix the situation is to finally permit marriage between the male and female.

The backgrounds of these people vary, so I'm not calling out any specific culture - the truth is that it's happening too often in too many places.  Even if it's deemed "a crime," or "unacceptable"...somehow it's still EXCUSABLE. There's always one reason or another for it to go without punishment.

Again...not saying that every case in America is handled with such care or attention, but at least when in does get attention you know that there are people out there fighting for the issue to be raised and fighting for the rights of the victims.  Maybe others will disagree, but I believe that at least our laws, judicial system, and the majority of our society see these crimes as inexcusable.

There are people, men and women, fighting these crimes - locally and nationally.  There are organizations trying to bring these situations to the attention of the world.  I'm not saying that we should take attention from the needs and concerns of our own culture...I'm simply suggesting that this CRIME is inexcusable for ALL cultures and if the issue is going to be raised, then be a voice for the victims of the world.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Lean ON - Conference Articles

Brief article/story of a girl who fled her family to stay alive. 

Why should we care?

I just read an article from the News & Observer.  "Red Carpet effect to save the girls."  I found the article online to share [note: the title of the online articles are actually "red-carpet bombing to save..."]

Read here.

It discusses the gathering of celebrities for a good cause.  I was glad that I read the article because it introduced to me some new people, films, and conferences that I want to look into:

- Tina Brown
- the "Women in the World" conference that was just recently held
- a documentary, "Sold," by Jody Hassett Sanchez about human trafficking
- documentary filmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy

The idea behind the summit..."it's about letting girls go to school without risking a bullet to the head.  It's about letting women leave their homes to go to market.  It's about changing cultures that treat women like animals (or worse) and saving them from honor killings and abuse."  Ideas I absolutely support.

The articles also continuously raised thought-provoking questions:

- Why should Americans care?  and

- Why don't more Americans care about honor killings, systematic rape and human trafficking of women, girls and even little boys?

Some suggested answers to the second question:  tragedy fatigue, emotional exhaustion, we have our own challenges, the mentality that "we can't save everybody"

Here's an answer for the FIRST question....But WHY should we care?  ....because "women's security elsewhere corresponds directly to our own security" and (what I loved best) because "fighting for women and girls isn't 'a nice thing to do.  It isnt' some luxury that we get to when we have time out our hands...This is a core imperative for every human being and every society."

Monday, April 8, 2013

Girl Rising is GOING BIG!

Spring Break was last week and, even though I didn't blog, I was a busy girl!  Actually, I was also sick most of the week, so in addition to all the checklists I was trying to finish I was also trying to manage chest congestion and exhasution.

I was super busy promoting the "Girl Rising" screening.  Social networking can be exhausting!  I was thankful to have 15 other people sign up, but I don't think we'll get another 84 people by April 10th.  I am not in the least disappointed.  To know that at least 15 other people (well, husband counts, too!) shared my interest in viewing such a film is enough for me.  AND I received very good news from the people who organize the film screenings.  Read below:

Dear Nancy,

We have some exciting news: Girl Rising is going big! A one-week theatrical release.
Due to the overwhelming demand Captains like you have generated, Regal Cinemas is rolling out Girl Rising for an exclusive, week-long run in 169 theatres nationwide from April 19 to 25.
Your support for Girl Rising lit the spark, and we have a tremendous opportunity to ensure many more people see this beautiful and important film - and understand the importance of girls’ education for all of us.
Now is the time to grow the grassroots movement even further. If there are people who can't make it to your screening, or friends in other towns, there is now an exciting window for lots of people to see the film.
Thank you for all your amazing support and making this happen.
Samantha Wright
Grassroots Campaign Director, Girl Rising

So...even if my screening doesn't take place I can still see it at any time during that whole week it will be playing.  For those in the Triangle area, the theater in Cary is the closest for us to visit.  I might try to re-vamp the Facebook event I set up in order to get a bunch of people to go together.  It's just nice that now anyone who was interested to begin with can now try to go without worrying about a minimum reservation requirement or lack of availability due to date/time setups. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

93 is a ways to go, but I'm optimistic;o)

Can I just tell you how awesome people are?  They're awesome.  Pretty darn awesome.  At least MY people are!  Who was the first person to sign up for my film screening?  The bff - of course!  I love you Boo!  Since then I'm up to 6 more additional awesome people, which makes 7 including myself.  And so we're at 93 reservations left to go before my screening can even take place.

93 people in 11 days 11 hours 56 mins...

but I'm optimistic.  because of awesome people.

My husband says "You can do it.  I think you can do anything.  I'll do my best to spread the word."  I have people on FB who I haven't seen in ages who spread the word.  Through those friends I "met" new FB people who are tied to other non-profit organizations who are spreading the word.

Even my Daddy called, wondering what in the world the FB invite was about & seemed, as always, pleased that his little girl was doing something she really wanted to do.

Thank you to EVERYONE who is sharing a link, posting a FB status, watching a video trailer, "liking" my event.  It is ALL appreciated:o)  <3

In other news today I set up two calendar events through & that are awaiting approval. 

I also got approved for a home screening of "Half The Sky," but that won't take place until May.  I'll wait it out til April 10th and see who responds to the "Girl Rising" film before sending out invites.

That's about it.  It's been a first busy day of Spring Break with house chores, but I'm feeling very accomplished and pleased!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

I got a film screening!

Oh my goodness, I'm excited!  But I'm not trying to get TOO excited - because even though a screening for Girl Rising has been approved, IF I do not get 100 reservations in 12 days then it won't take place:o(  And I will be sad.

Here's the INFO:

About the film - Girl Rising
Reservations - Reservations
Film Clip/Up-to-date reservation activity - Screening Activity

@ North Hills in Raleigh, April 24th @ 7:30pm.  Tickets - $10.

Here's the promoting I've done so far:

Sent off an email to my principal to share with the entire staff at my school.
Sent off a FB status.
Contacted "Center for Student Leadership Ethics & Public Service @ NCSU" & CHASS department
Contacted INDY weekly to have the event added to their film calendar

What I still need to do:

Find more departments at NCSU to contact.
Continue to FB it
Print brochures to post around town...anyone want to help?  Got ideas where to post?  Thanks!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Half the Sky....Info Overload!

Google is a great place for information.  And sometimes it's too much to process.  So I thought I'd jot down what I found so far...

Half the Sky, the book, also has its whole own movement website.  Found here.  Lots of info for anyone to check out.

I've already gone ahead and asked to set up an event in my home, since there are NONE w/in 100 miles of my location.  I just want to do an in-home screening of the movie on May 4 @ 6pm.  Wine & a documentary anyone?  I'm waiting to see if the event gets approved and added to their formal list.  Otherwise I'll just do it on my own.

If you're interested in hanging out one night and watching a truly inspiring film, please let me know.  I'll be happy to have you visit:o)

PBS also has a whole lesson plan/educator guide connected with the book/film.  That info is found here. There are 5 different lessons based on different topics presented in the book/film.  Each lesson has a short video clip from the film, lesson ideas, worksheets/handouts, etc.  I think some of these resources could be just as useful to help dicussion in a film screening among adults as it can be used to get students to critically think in the classroom.  (***NOTE - Teachers who might be reading this - the lessons are already standardized for COMMON CORE!  How awesome is that?!)

This Week's Progress...

I just requested a movie screening for a film called "Girl Rising."  I requested it for the end of April to be shown in Raleigh.  All the movie screenings are in CA.  I doubt they'll bring it to Raleigh, but how neat if my request goes through!  Here's a link to the info about the film Girl Rising

I also continue to read about Givology's organization.  I've reviewed some media articles about them, including one that said they were voted a best non-profit organization for donating to good causes.  I continue to review the different students and projects they are trying to raise money for to see what I'd like to contribute to in the future.

I'm also reading some blog posts from Givology and I came across this one - Maternal Health's Impact...  I'm very much interested in reading more about the care (or lack thereof) that pregnant women receive.

Being pregnant with my second I remember how much I loved my prenatal care with my first child.  And I am receiving excellent prenatal care with my second, as well.  I think in the US and other developed countries we take for granted that if we are having complications (or we are freaked out about the tiniest thing) that we can just pick up the phone and speak to a nurse.  Imagine how many calls they get a day about ridiculous worries....and then imagine not even having a phone or even a nurse to call!  Imagine having no prenatal care whatsoever....and here I was upset that I actually had to do a 3-hour gestational diabetes test when other women around the world don't have teh luxury of getting any tests to know if something is right/wrong with their baby. 

Here are some facts from the World Health Org (WHO) on maternal mortality.

It was the section on maternal mortality in Half the Sky that really inspired me to re-start R.I.C.H.  And it's not just because I'm pregnant now.  Even in college women's studies and the treatment of women regarding their pregnancies, access to birth control/family planning services, access to proper health education and the care of their young babies has always been an interest of mine.

In other news, googling the book has also led to the dicovery of more websites and such, so I'm off to explore to bring back more to share. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Take Two!

Realizing I Can Help...Again...

I think it's so easy to find inspiration.  Be it a book, a news cast, an article, a cheesy commercial, a documentary....anything can make you feel like "I want to do SOMETHING to help."  It's just the actual doing that rarely comes into play.

This is the second time I'm going to DO something.  To find my "bigger calling."  To be inspired and act on it.

The big question...HOW?  And to get there I have to look back and say, why did it not work before?  The first answer to that is TIME.  I work full-time.  I'm also a wife, mommy to a 3 year old and pregnant with the second to boot, a friend who rarely finds time to be a better friend, and once in awhile I'm a girl who wants to sit on a couch (though she rarely exists).  The second big problem was ACCOUNTABILITY.  If this project is my own, then what does it matter if it doesn't work?  What if, like last time, I just stop blogging.  Big whoop.

I find the solution to both these problems in this answer:  MAKE A PLAN & SET GOALS

I didn't have a plan before - I chased local outreach organizations and helped a bit here and there.  I read articles on national needs.  I raised a bit of money for this project and some groceries for this project and in my efforts to make the world a better place I just ended up feeling scattered.  I also wanted to do too much at once.  It takes a PLAN.

So, here's my plan this time around:

1 - Define my truest interests in helping others.  That which touches my heart the most is the needs of women and children, but specifically I think I want to target their needs with that of education.

2 - Target ONE group/organization that reaches out to my interest groups.  Right now I'm looing in Givology.  It's a very small volunteer-based organization started at the University of Pennsylvania.  It helps specific individuals/projects internationally with education-based progrmas - whether its uniforms or textbooks for a school, providing a salary for a teacher, or helping provide a small donation to keep a young person in school.  They provide simple ways to help individually on a short-term and long-term basis and there are opportunities to help more in group-based efforts in the future.

3 - SHORT term plan:
*Keep up with the blog.  At least ONE posting each week.
*Connect with Givology on social networks and repost their tweets/fb status at least TWICE per week.
*Respond/Reflect/Get Involved in Givlogy's networking so that I'm doing more than just READING, I'm also providing feedback

If I can keep this short-term plan consistent for 2 months, then I'll move on to step 4...

4 - SEMI-SHORT term plan:
* Start planning a fundraiser for a specific person/project that targets my interest.  Givology provides several options of people/projects they help, each with their own description.  The needs and amout of money vary, but are usually very small and attainable for an individual or small group.  I would need to determine a START/END date and stick with it.  I'm thinking a start by August could give me an end date for Christmas 2013.

IF (& that's a big BIG if) this goes well....then I've managed to stick to two plans and succeeded.  I'm making a difference.  And I might feel confident to do more.

5 - LONG term plan:
*These options include: taking an online internship through Givology, starting a local chapter, and/or getting my local school community involved in a bigger project.

What's awesome is, even if Step 4 is a success, but I don't feel ready to do a BIG project, then I can always repeat step 4 numerous times with several other small projects.

I have to hold myself accountable.  I won't move onto the next step unless I have succesfully completed the smaller steps before.  If I can't keep up with a weekly blog post or provide relevant feedback to an organization then my voice will not carry when I ask for help in a fundraiser.

And that's that...for now.