Last month, I flew from Kigali to Belgium to New York and home to Denver with orange-African-fabric pants and The Women's Bakery business cards in my pocket. Onlookers definitely wondered, "and who is that girl?"
Fresh from four-months in the field, and ready to continue our business development work from Colorado, I was buzzed with energy, enthusiasm, and excitement about sharing the mission & goals of The Women's Bakery with my community in Denver. Or, perhaps, I had too many cups of coffee on the plane. Oops.
Resettling back in Denver, I realized each day that The Women's Bakery continues to be poised for growth - with our programs in East Africa; but also with engagement and advocacy with our supporters in the United States - and beyond. People are excited. Bread really is that cool. Part of my job, these days, is spreading that buzz; sharing what we do; and really, telling stories.
My favorite one to tell is about Jeanne D'Arc. Yes, in our current training group in Kigali, Rwanda, one of the participants has this name - and she has this spirit too! Likely named after the famous French heroine (and saint), Jeanne D'Arc exudes an incredible spirit of openness, laughter, and honesty. From a small village in the Southern Province, her life has not always been easy. She moved to Kigali when she was young and thus, never was able to attend school. Ever. We learned on the first day of training, back in October, that she is illiterate, unable to read or write. Yet, with each session, she arrived on time, ready, and attentive - through each kind of lesson; from accounting to communication, and from marketing to sales. She is a student, business-oriented, woman of promise and potential. As a team, we are anxiously excited to see what the training & education leads to for her, and all of the other women we are currently working alongside.
When I tell friends, family, and strangers on the street about what exactly The Women's Bakery is all about (educational opportunity for empowerment) I tell them that Jeanne D'Arc. Her story motivates me in my work; motivates our team; and motivates communities. As Markey continues her incredible mobilization efforts in St. Louis, and we begin to spread the TWB love in Denver, we are prepared to tell these stories, and to show (both with numbers & anecdotes) the impact our programs are having.
The saint from France, Joan of Arc, is notorious for saying,
I am certain that Jeanne D'Arc (in Rwanda) and other women around the world would feel the same way.