I was recently reminded by some great ladies I know that today is International Women’s Day and around the world, there are various events taking place to bring awareness to the issues women face worldwide as well as celebrate women in general.
I knew that I wanted to write something to honor this day, but was having a hard time deciding what to address since there are so many complex topics and ideas that surround women in each part of the world. Fortunately, a long overdue exchange with a friend over the weekend reminded me that I needed to write about a specific person, not a heated topic.
While some may be bringing attention to names and faces you may know, I need to tell you about a single person who most of you don’t know who continues to make a difference in the world wherever she goes. To protect her and her current work, let’s call her “S”.
“S” is the epitome of an earth mama with an open face, a welcoming smile, and a woman who envelops you in her warmth the minute you meet her. She is a woman who constantly works to improve the lives and experiences of women and children. At various times in her life she has been (and still is) a massage therapist, a midwife, a doula, and a hot-line counselor to victims of abuse and violence – to name only a few of her roles. She is also a mother, a confidante, and a dear, dear friend.
A mid-life “crisis” looks different for everyone, and while some may put her age at mid-life her decision to join the peace corp and leave the home and community she’s known and loved for many years was no crisis. It was a heartfelt decision made with eyes wide open and life experiences at the ready to share with her fellow volunteers and the community where she was ultimately placed.
When she learned that she would be sent to South America, she was thrilled. When she learned that her wealth of expertise would be put to good use working with women and children possibly affected by HIV, she was ecstatic, and I was elated for her. If ever there was a person to work in a community that is still extremely patriarchal and whose cultural norms often put a woman’s life at risk, it is “S”.
This weekend I learned that she is already busy at work building programs that she hopes will continue on even after she’s left the country to embark on her next adventure. She is working hard at educating women about HIV and the need to get tested. She is working even harder to build a sense of community among the women so that they have the support system they need in difficult times.
I am in awe of all that she does for so many and so fortunate that she is a part of my life.