Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Can a good dinner change the world?

The path of our lives and our successes may be based more on the place where we are born then on our talent or skills. Dining for Women is organized around the concept that those of us born in places of opportunity can change the world when we share with those with no opportunity.

Once a month, women around the United States gather at tables and create a potluck of pre-packaged  or homemade dishes. The beverages run the gamut: water, coffee, herbal tea, wine. The table conversation isn't focused on jobs and careers so much, as shared experiences of family, friendships and neighborhoods.

The people the potluck invests in are the people most likely to change the course of their own family life, most likely to support their neighbors, and ultimately change their country.

Dining for Women invests in other women.

I attended a local chapter of Dining for Women last night. My entrance fee was an easy potluck dish: spinach salad with mandarin oranges, hydroponic tomatoes, and candied walnuts. The money I would have spent, had the dinner occurred in a nice restaurant, was instead donated to fund another woman's future.

In addition to the local Dining for Women gatherings, trips to these faraway places are organized to open our eyes in a hands-on way to the needs of others. Women who take these journeys return as project champions, bringing home the message that this concept is working. Keep dining. Keep donating.

A woman who sat at my table, Josie, took one of those journeys. She shared her experience traveling to Peru to learn about INMED, a program that rescues children. Another woman, Tina, took us on a virtual trip to Sri Lanka where we 'toured' the shelters of Emerge Global and learned how creating jewelry changes lives of abused girls.

Emerge Global supports Sri Lankan girls, ages 10–18, who have been removed from their homes due to abuse. To date, Emerge Global has transformed the lives of more than 170 girls who, despite tremendous obstacles, are now building houses, running businesses, and supporting other young women with the skills and resources they developed through Emerge.

The jewelry is sold around the world and can be viewed on etsy.

It's not welfare.

It's learning a trade. It's using what you have – hands and time, to create your own therapy while you wait to testify in court against your abuser.

Girls emerge when they stand up with courage to confront the family and communities who have physically or sexually abused them. Girls emerge when they embrace business practices by learning budgeting and banking skills, and learn how to save for education or a house. Girls emerge when they allow their creative spirit to awaken and spark their confidence, and discover they can change their world.

Sri Lankan girls have the right to believe in their own power. The woman who champions this message, is the founder of Emerge Global, Alia Whitney Johnson.

“Ultimately though, it’s about a girl. Just one. One human being." wrote Alia Whitney Johnson to Tina, last night's program presenter. "I took her hand when she cried and she took mine when I thought I’d break. And our story is far from over. But with a dedicated team, an ever improving curriculum, and more kilos of beads than I had ever imagined, we are slowly building a reality where she, and many others, can truly emerge into her own,” 

In six months, the local Dining for Women group has raised $6000. That money is dispersed to the far corners for good.

Yes, a potluck can change the world.

And just like the girls in Sri Lanka, you and I have a right to believe in our power.

Are you ready to emerge and change your circumstances, help your neighbors, and change your country?

What would it take for you to step out in courage, right now?

UPDATE on Vancouver, WASH. Dining for Women: Educate a girl, change the world.

Connect with Emerge Global

Article from OregonianLive HERE.

Article from Columbian HERE.