My current work is with Women’s Centers International. The organization represents the integration of everything I’ve learned about how to assist women in crisis environments. We are creating safe havens where women can gain support and learn the skills necessary to rebuild lives they want out of the traumas of conflict, abuse and poverty. I began, in earnest, this second most fulfilling work of my life (after being a mom) when my daughter moved to San Francisco to begin her independent life. I visited Rwanda in March, 1998, four years after the genocide. Every person I met had lost family. The beautiful country felt drenched in sorrow. Below are my journals and selected photos of the journey. Nobody Here but Rwandans
In 2003, I made my first trip to Kenya and southern Sudan, back before it was a country. (Note: I journal during every trip and always take photos. These are being added this week.)
Between 2006 and 2010, I made six trips to Sudan. The first was limited to Khartoum, the second saw me thrown out of Darfur on a paperwork technicality. The other missions took me to Nyala, South Darfur and into the far reaches of North Darfur. Though I kept detailed diaries of those journeys, I understand only incrementally and over time what changes they wrought on my soul. The Darfuris I worked with are family to me. I am mindful every day of the work required to relieve them of the terror inflicted on them – still, after 11 long years – by their government.
I believe that the privilege and burden of knowing creates a duty to act. My small contribution is the continued operation of the Kassab Women’s Center, the model for WCI’s efforts to serve women living in poverty – a condition that is almost always created by conflict. The most fundamental change fostered by the Center is that more than 200 women now know how to read and write. At Baraka Center in Nairobi, the transformation of over 500 women from poverty-ridden to opportunity-driven has been nothing short of a miracle. A miracle that deserves to be – and will be – seeded globally.