Yep, it’s here. Time to celebrate & appreciate all the women in your life and collectively around the globe. (Just remember, you men, without WOMEN – especially your mothers – you would not be here!)
A bit reflective on this International Women’s Day, I am so blessed with the impact of so many amazing women in my life – from my wonderful Mama, sisters, aunties, grandmothers, mentors, friends, colleagues & the many women I’ve met all around the globe who are lights in their communities, who have trampled suffering down with courageous hearts to be change where they are, sometimes quietly like a gentle breeze nurturing change and sometimes loudly like a thunderous lightning bolt to counter violence & systems of injustice.
I am So Very Grateful …
… for my first mentor, Edie, who after serving as VP of a Canadian company way back when few women held corporate leadership roles, shared freely of her expertise, time, faith & friendship with 22 yr old Virginia in Washington, D.C.
… for my mentor, Susan, who crisscrossed the U.S. with a heart for so many issues serving on the Boards of 13 non-profits & introduced me to Isaiah 58 (& to WV, the agency I worked for 10+ yrs.)
… for Arlene & the women of the Holy Comforter St. Cyprian Gospel Choir who shared their faith, friendship & lives in the inner city of D.C.
… for Mimi (may she R.I.P) who added much needed tools to my professional toolkit (along a sometimes bumpy way) & helped strengthen my faith.
… for Nora whose courageous leadership & work with Palestinian women in the West Bank & Gaza Strip inspired me & continues to inspire so many women.
… for Karen, who used her regional Communications expertise to train up this fledgling Communicator ‘in the way she needed to go’ & who was such an encourager (‘front page U.K. magazine photo – way to go!’ when clueless VA had no idea what was what!)
… for Gerry, who stuck it out 30+ yrs in the Gaza Strip serving others…(& who was always so much fun to be with!)
… for Carol who made working in Gaza FUN (!) & for Anne & Ranaa, whose friendship made 5 yrs in Bethlehem bearable…
… for Jane, Rania, Lisa, Georgette, Rula N., Rula Q., Samah & Alice – my Palestinian (& Armenian) colleagues & sisters, who taught me about joy in suffering.
… for Lisa, my Israeli friend who is teaching Leadership to ARAB MEN in a Palestinian seminary (the significance is not that she’s Jewish teaching Arabs, but that SHE’S A WOMAN! And they say her class is their favorite!)
…for Rebecca Cherono (may she R.I.P) who went out of her way to open doors of opportunity (“we are sisters, Virginia, we must stick together!”) & taught me so much about facilitating women’s programs in Gaza & all around the world.
…for Sheila & Niceta, Leadership Team colleagues in Tanzania, who taught me so much about Africa, Advocacy, Capacity Building (including mine!), community development & friendship in adversity (through malaria, deaths of loved ones, change management & sorting out routine organizational tussles.
… for Beatrice Minja & all the women co-leaders & laborers in Africa (Dorcas, Polly, Veronica, Eunice, Doreen, Francesca, Joylline, Happiness, Priscilla, Edna, Amboka, Clare, Nels, Esther, Fe & Jules…) who helped in the fight against malaria & so many other things.
… for Fatuma, a dear family friend and colleague who was one of the 1st women leaders in her country before persecution forced her to flee, who now tirelessly leads global gender programs for a very ;arge INGO.
… for Catherine, my Irish buddy who taught me how to drive (on the wrong side of the road, in a clutch car, on the busy streets of Arusha) & how to have real fun on St. Paddy’s Day in Africa… (details soon to follow…)
… for Suzanne & Rosemary, my Canadian buddies who helped so much (broken ankles, neck surgeries) & taught me how to relax (South Beach Sunday picnics) to be more effective. (And, kudos to Rosemary for climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro after her 60th birthday & then working the past 2 years in Egypt developing a better curriculum for girls!)
… for Helen Kij0-Bisimba, our Board Chairperson in Tanzania & dear friend who continues to teach me so much about perseverance (as an always-active human rights lawyer who just finished her Ph.D. well after her 50th birthday.)
… for my sisters, Shere & Cindy, for their love & encouragement & support & leadership (by example) of what it means to Be Love (even if you’re not a morning person : ) …and my sister-in-law, Lynn, who is Love to my brother & to all of us.
… and for my Mama, her overflowing heart of love that led us by example of how to be pushy (‘you must practice your piano’… ‘eat your peas’… ‘don’t date that bad-for-you boy’…) and soft (‘I love you so much’ … ‘we are so proud of you’… ‘we are so grateful to God to be your parents’) and beautiful – outside & inside with faith in God that is Rock. Solid. Strong.
Thank you God – and big Thank You’s to all these special ladies and so many more (there’s not enough space to list them all in the Blog-o-Sphere!!!)
grace, peace & Appreciation
Virginia : )
“We must always aim for the impossible; if we lower our goal, we also diminish our effort.” Dorothy Day