Quilts for Empowerment’s Program Director, Norah Otondo, made a powerful impression during her 10 days in Oregon. Her five public presentations about her own experience as a fistula survivor and the impact QFE is having on fistula survivors in Kenya reached out to over 200 individuals.
Her first appearance was at our Annual Benefit November 3rd. Despite being jet-lagged and very cold, Norah was amazing. After being introduced by Program Founder, Mary Ann McCammon,
Norah was welcomed by Stephanie Guieb from Hawaii.
Stephanie had a special gift for Norah in addition to lots of embroidery floss she brought from donors in Hawaii. Stephanie and the Fiddlestickstoo thread shop in Honolulu have, and continue to collect pounds of embroidery floss for us.
The next day, Norah was featured at a reception at First Unitarian Portland, where she spoke and answered many questions about fistula and our program.
Later in the week, Norah spoke at George Fox University to a packed room of students.
Sunday, November 11th began with Norah giving the sermon at Christ Lutheran Church in Aurora.
Her message was about the importance of hope, not only for fistula survivors, but for everyone. Christ Lutheran is a valuable community partner. Later in the day, Norah spoke to a standing room only audience at the White Rabbit Bakery in Aurora. The Bakery is another significant community partner. Afterwards, Norah finally admitted to being tired.
Someone asked Norah at the Bakery event about the differences she has experienced since being in Oregon and outside of Africa for the first time. Her immediate response was: “Men in the kitchen.” All week she had seen men cooking and cleaning up in kitchens. She also observed that “there are more cars than people here.”
Norah’s time with us confirmed several things: the power of hope and love to change the lives of fistula survivors; the importance of the growing community of individuals and organizations that support our work; and the power we each have to make a difference.