As I enter some fun parties this week, friends gently lift their elbow for a tap instead of our usual cheek kiss - a nod to the coronavirus weaving its worldwide web. I marvel at how powerful is this invisible force at work, causing us to quarantine, isolate, close schools, cancel events, crash markets, and fear contact with one another. And stop bear hugs in their tracks. Alas.
Meanwhile, something else invisible is at work this week. With many allies, I celebrated the first five years of the Ibu Movement plus the First Year Anniversary of the Ibu Foundation. We put markers in the ground and clinked glasses in the air to realize the gains of these first years:
that the Ibu enterprise still stands tall after 5 years, though death to retail is spreading faster than the coronavirus;
that of the 130 artisan groups with whom we work, most are thriving and others are scrambling to thrive with remarkable resolve;
that the Ibu Foundation leapt into 7 projects with an eye toward 6 more on the horizon; garnered the support of 141 donors, raised $370,000, ($71,000 donated this week with a matching grant), and is daily fueling new work;
that from woman to woman, respect is growing, abuse is meeting its match; daughters are walking to school, money is flowing into the hands of women.
That's a different kind of contagion, I want to say. Another invisible force is at work, spreading from country to country (Ibu allies now in over 200 countries), spreading from hand to creative hand (thousands of hands!). . . and that infectious force is called Hope. It is epidemic.
Forgive me for this association, but I can't help but note - a corona is a crown. And while the virus is crown-shaped, yes; I think that hope, too, is crown-shaped. It ennobles women, enthrones women in the ruling their own lives; it gives women sovereignty in the midst of poverty, while working with sisters globally to disrupt that poverty.
Now, that is something worth spreading. Hope doesn't isolate, or quarantine, or breed fear in contact with one another - quite the opposite! It brings a worldwide community together and crowns women with respect.
So as I wash my hands for the recommended 20 seconds throughout the day and think of those who have fallen to this illness, I then take the moment to imagine the viral nature of hope. I see women everywhere, ruling their own lives. I see hands creating; worlds embracing. I see a force as strong and fast and just as potent as a virus . . . women getting free.
Let's go viral with this hope ~
Susan Hull Walker