I receive a message this week from a beloved artisan partner in Haiti, one describing the unimaginable deterioration of their capital city into gang warfare. My coffee grows cold as I stop in my morning tracks and feel this particular shape of joylessness.
Another message arrives from a friend returning to her cooperative of women in Afghanistan for the first time since the Taliban seized control. There is risk in her returning, of course, but her commitment to these women is fearless. On her first day there, the Taliban announce that women will not be allowed to attend university. Two days later, they forbid women to work in not-for-profit offices. It feels personal, visceral—witnessing the force of her undimmed hope colliding with this damning annihilation of women.
Each week, I bring you stories of our artisan partners and their brilliant creativity, resilience, strength; their inspiring ambition. I don't often drill down into the debilitating circumstances in which they live, but choose instead to reveal the light which they shine upon those circumstances. The women I know are not victims of circumstance, but agents of change. However, when I look back on this year, hoping to reflect upon our movement forward, what I cannot avoid are the massive forces trying to keep women back.
In Ukraine, our partners persevere in their efforts to create beauty and thereby sustain their families, yet are daily hobbled by lack of power, random attacks, and fear in a country darkened by war. I see first hand the effect of an interminable drought in Northern Kenya, while flooding in Pakistan upends the lives of artisans there. I witness the sharp rise in violence against women in Colombia, where we partner with many groups; the political unrest wreaking havoc among lives in Peru and Ethiopia; and across the globe, the number of refugees reaches a shocking 100 million. Ibu partners live and create in the heart of these darknesses.
In conflict, the one thing people need the most is safe space, my friend continued, writing about her group in Haiti. Because of Ibu Foundation, we were able to provide that safe space for our artisans and allow them to continue to work during the most difficult time in Haiti's history.
And from the front lines in Afghanistan, my friend writes, In this critical time when all forces have turned against Afghan women inside the country, the Ibu Foundation gives me hope, knowing that the women of Afghanistan have not been forgotten.
What else shall we do in these gloaming times, but to seek the luminous in the heart of darkness, and give it a safe space to grow? To remember those radiant ones whose have been cast aside, and give them a reason to hope?
What I must say about this year in our Movement is that, yes, it was shadowed by fear and anger and at times despair, touching our work daily. And yet, within vast darknesses remain blazes of light, held in circles of women. The light may be daily challenged, thwarted, dimmed; it may be forced underground…but I can say with certainty that it will not be extinguished. Too many women have risen, have traveled too far… their will growing stronger in the presence of one another. And growing bolder in the presence of our witness, our partnership, which is how the light refuses to die.
All the best,
Will you join us in bringing presence, relationship, work, and support to these women in the dark places of the world?
Your year-end contribution directly powers the women we serve.
Thank you for being a part of the movement forward.