Where do I start?

This is officially my first blog entry!  And trust me, it took me some time to figure out how to navigate this…. So why am I doing this?  A few close friends have encouraged me to put pen to paper, or in this case fingers to a keyboard, to share some of my experiences.  It is my hope that sharing these experiences could bring joy to some, inspire others and my greatest aspiration would be to ignite a movement of kindness in our community that could change lives.

My first memories of being inspired by kindness were as a 12 year old watching the Oprah Winfrey show every afternoon at 4:00 p.m.   While I am the first to admit I swooned over all of the Tom Cruise interviews, I vividly remember feeling such a sense of joy when Oprah would reunite a long-lost family, celebrate amazing foster parents or share stories about moving acts of heroism and kindness.  I would enthusiastically wait for the “Angel Network” episodes to air to see how she was making a difference in the world.  At 12 years of age, I didn’t have any personal experiences in giving back and it was only through watching Oprah’s show did I have the opportunity to experience that sensation of joy and happiness that we all feel when we witness acts of kindness.

Fast forward almost 20 years, it was 2005 and I was watching Lisa Ling share her travel experience to the Democratic Republic of the Congo with Oprah.   She shone a light on what was happening to women in the middle of this war-torn country.   When I learned that four million people had already been massacred, I felt a deep sense of sadness and shame that I knew nothing about this genocide prior to watching the show.   Lisa spoke to brutalized women in the village of Bukavu who were speaking for the first time in hopes that the world would hear their voices.

lisa ling_congo
“More than any other place I’ve been, life in the Congo can really be like living hell,” Lisa said. “If you’re a woman, you’re constantly in danger of rebels who are hiding in the forest coming and attacking your village and….”

At the end of the show, Oprah spoke about the organization of Women for Women International which was asking viewers to sponsor the women of the Congo to enable them to participate in their programs which would provide them with support, tools and access to life-changing skills.   I didn’t even think twice about it, I knew I had to do something; I immediately jumped on the website ready to sponsor a Congolese woman.  It appears that I wasn’t the only viewer inspired to take action because the site read that due to the overwhelming response from Oprah’s viewers all of the Congolese women had been sponsored.    I ended up sponsoring a single mother from Kosovo but the Congolese women’s words, faces and experiences always stayed with me.   Less than a decade later,  I was blessed with an opportunity to meet one of the most resilient woman I have ever met, a Congolese survivor of the very war Lisa had shone a light on…..

In my next blog, The Greatest Holiday Gift, I will share Sandra’s story.

To read more about Oprah & Lisa Ling’s interview: http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/reaching-out-to-the-world#ixzz4iieKtWQ9

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