Within seconds, life as I knew it, totally changed. A powerful quake of indignation, outrage, and sadness shook me deeply! How was it possible that my dear friend had been subjected to such humiliation and indignity for so many years?
Have you ever had one of those rare moments of truth and clarity when everything just changes? As a woman, how could I listen to this and not be moved into action?
My friend, Yangjin had been relocated to Albuquerque from a Nepali refugee camp where she had lived for 17(!) years. She told me about the murder and rape, the horrific sanitation and malnutrition, and the hopelessness.
It wasn’t until Yangjin told me that she had never had underwear or sanitary pads for those 17 years, that my rage struck. She would sit on a rag in the corner of the family hut every month for
4–5 days waiting for her period to be over. Her father and brothers
walked past her in her humiliation. Something about the shame and resourcelessness she had experienced during the days of the month that identified her as a woman and demonstrated her potential for life and creation was a discordance I was not prepared to simply witness, I had to take action.
In that moment, I decided no more business-as-usual. My outraged fueled a transformation in me. It was time to toss the predictable and leap into the unknown. I would be shocking!
I founded Women To Be, an all volunteer movement, distributing underwear and washable sanitary pads to girls in the world. We have delivered 3700 menstrual kits to tribal women and girls in Zambia, to the Tarahumaras in remote Mexico, and village schools at 14,000 ft. in the Himalayas. Now, we are establishing sewing centers to teach local women to sew and then give them jobs. Next, we are starting a project for our sister neighbors here in New Mexico. It has become apparent to me that my anger fueled a love that I had never fully realized within myself. That my awakening unleashed me from the exhaustion of the safe and routine. And that the patriarchy is killing all of us.
As I look around, I see women who like I had been, are tired of competing, accumulating an incremental change. It’s time to rediscover our birthrights of generosity and of taking a relentless stand for those of us can’t. As it always has, the world looks to women when it is fumbling.
This sounds like the story of finding a need and filling it. It is. The need was mine and 3700 girls filled it for me.
My life is richer, my relationships deeper, my connection to nature more attuned, and the tone of my days more peaceful. I am a formidable leader. I have learned to express my vulnerability. Risk and adventure are now daily entertainment. I have found great meaning in humanitarian work; and found out that the human is me.