We are delighted to welcome John Mbwaya to our leadership team in Kenya as our field supervisor. John is also our Kenya Community Based Organization’s Board Secretary and a retired school teacher. One of his responsibilities is to regularly visit all of our women who receive money for income-generating projects to mentor them and offer assistance if necessary. With his motorbike, he can reach every woman’s home and maintain a log of their progress. John will also attend the women’s monthly support group meeting and reinforce the financial training they received in April. Offering this consistent mentorship is shown by research to be a key factor in successful microfinance programs like ours.
Founder and President, Mary Ann McCammon, was a featured sponsor in the recently released Fistula Foundation 2018 Annual Report. She is holding a quilt made by our Kenya Program Director, Norah Otondo. We are so grateful for the spotlight on Quilts for Empowerment.
We had a great week in Sisters, Oregon during their recent 2019 annual Outdoor Quilt Show. We sold a lot of products and talked with hundreds of people from all over the country about QFE. We were impressed with the number who knew about fistula, which let us explain more about how our program is supporting fistula survivors. Big THANK YOUs to Board member Deb Sorem for being there every day with her engaging personality and to Chris Nelson, owner of the Wildflower Studio that hosted us for the second year. What a team!!!
We are sure one of our assault survivors, Sharon, never dreamed back in January that she would be in a singing competition. Sharon is in the middle of the 3 singers. She looks and acts a lot different than when she joined us in January, shown with her little sister at their hut. Today, she is a poised and happy singer.
Rudy’s Gourmet Pizza at 2443 SE Powell Blvd in Portland is having a fundraiser for QFE the entire month of July. Rudy will create a special pizza for the month and donate $1 to QFE for every pizza sold. The money will be exclusively used to buy school books for our four young assault survivors. Buy one of the special pizzas next month and thank Rudy and help buy books for our girls.
You can check out Rudy’s other offerings at the Rudy’s Gourmet Pizza website.
Quilts for Empowerment is honored to have received a $5000 grant from the Patricia L. Kimball Endowment Fund for the Shasta Regional Community Foundation. This grant will be used for our general operating expenses and will make a significant contribution to our goal of having two years of operating expenses in reserve. With this grant, we are close to having all of 2020’s operating expenses "in the bank." We are very grateful.
At our last support group meeting, a representative from the National Health Insurance System came to the meeting and registered all of our women. This is the result of the decision made by the Kenya Community Based Organization that all our women should have one year of health insurance paid for by QFE. This recognizes the importance of health in becoming and remaining empowered. During this year of QFE coverage, women will be encouraged to put money aside from their income-generating projects so they can continue to be insured.
At the Women Deliver Conference in Vancouver BC, Mary Ann met up with, from her left: Lindsey Pollaczek, VP of Programs at Fistula Foundation; Kate Grant, CEO of Fistula Foundation; and Edna Adan, founder and director of the Edna Adan Hospital in Somaliland. Edna has been called the Mother Teresa of Fistula. What an honor to be with and work with these incredible women. Fistula is a small world made up of amazing people.
All our quilters attended a two-day training about budgeting, savings, and business planning facilitated by our Program Director, Norah. All of the material was a new concept for them. Role play, singing and dancing all helped communicate the importance of planning how to spend their money. At the end, every woman wrote a simple business plan for how she was going to invest the money she received from their income-generating support group. Most planned to buy livestock, like chickens or goats. In a few months, one of our Community Based Organization Board members will visit all the women to see how they are doing and make sure the money was invested as planned.
This spring our women made 900 bags for the World Forum Foundation Global Meeting. During the Closing Plenary they asked delegates to hold up their bags so they could take a photo for the women who made the bags. We received this letter from Bonnie Neugebauer with the photo:
I am thinking about you tonight as I am reflecting on many of the precious moments of the 2019 World Forum in Macao. I want to be sure that you realize how deeply grateful we are to you for the beauty and joy and pleasure that you brought into our experience. Delegates were so pleased to be gifted these handmade bags that connected each of us in a very sensory way to Africa, to Kenya, to you. It is as though you spoke to us through your craft. We enjoyed the photos and videos that Norah sent along the way — it was a pleasure to see you, of course, and piles of fabric. And then the piles of fabric got smaller and the stack of completed bags grew! It was exciting. And the videos invited us to be for a moment with you, singing, laughing, talking as you worked. This was a huge challenge that you accepted and you achieved it! Congratulations.
We recognize that you have had challenges in your lives and we hope that life will be somehow kinder.
Please know that your bags will become part of delegates lives in 71 countries around the world and that they will keep our memories vibrant and remind us of the work we did in Macao and of you and your gifts to us.
With respect and gratitude,
World Forum Foundation
Co-Founder and Director of Program Development