Hello! Welcome to the inaugural issue of my Woman, Cradle of Abundance blog. I'm going to take this space to introduce myself and tell you a little bit about why I am so passionate about helping our sisters in the Congo.
My name is Karen Brown, and I am a scientist by training and a member of the board of Woman, Cradle of Abundance. I work in the pharmaceutical industry, so unmet medical need is near and dear to my heart, and my journey started with a desire to work on drugs for low and middle income countries, where the need is overwhelming and the options are few. I never expected this desire to lead me to actually visit any low and middle-income countries - I thought I could do it from a safe distance. But to understand - really, viscerally, understand - the situation, you have to to see it for yourself. I was lucky. I had an opportunity to visit rural Malawi, and I accepted with great hesitancy. I am high maintenance - I don't do well without a hairdryer. But I went, and I was so overwhelmed that I couldn't speak of the experience in whole sentences for a month afterward. The depth of the poverty is on a different order of magnitude than anything we have here. I had never been anywhere that had a "hungry" season before, and never spoken with people who, when asked how many children they had, responded with the number of living children first and then told you how many had died. The girls did not even have access to underwear. Housing is mudbrick huts that, after 10 years or so, are in danger of "melting" in the monsoons because the bricks will literally dissolve in the water. Thatched roofs do little to keep the rain out. And burns are common because women cook over fires on the ground and have to wear long garments for the sake of modesty. In Africa, you have to be a "tree person". You cannot look at the forest, you can only look at the individual trees, one after another, lives touched and improved, because you would dispair if you only saw the forest. Malawi gave me a heart for Africa.
Then I met Elsie. She is the president of our board, and she grew up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and she, with the help of friends and fellow board members, built Women, Cradle of Abundance, from the ground up. She is utterly amazing in her passion, warmth, and hope. She believes in the impossible, and frequently makes it happen, and she pulled me into Cradle immediately. What I love about this organization is the mission - to help lift women and girls out of extreme poverty and give them options so that they can escape violent and abusive situations, and to support the education of boys and girls alike to break the cycle of poverty and ignorance in the next generation. Unlike Malawi, violence against women is a big issue in the Congo, and when a woman cannot earn a living for herself, she has no way out. Woman, Cradle of Abundance works through local organizations already successfully helping women in the Congo. Browse this site to find out how. We are about enabling our partners to help themselves, instead of trying to impose our solutions on them. They know what they need and what will work in their culture - we do not. But we can help! We can provide funds, encouragement, and support and work to bring attention to their plight and all they are doing to help themselves. We have been blessed with so much simply by being born into a world where we can make a living, feed and educate ourselves and our children, and expect a decent standard of living. It is humbling and rewarding to be able to help touch the lives of those without those blessings and take a tiny step towards evening the wealth gap between high and low income countries.
I will be sharing our projects, our pleas for help, and our successes here in this blog. I hope you will join me, become a regular reader, and come to share my passion for this organization and our sister organizations in the Congo.