One Saturday, I pick up a pair of earrings, turn the tag and gasp when I read "made by survivors of the Rwandan genocide." I'm perusing Natalie's college application essay she shared with me last week, drawing from her experience as a high school intern at Ibu. In school, the atrocity seemed so distant, but here I was, feeling the cool stone held by survivors only weeks ago. I nod my head, reading on. I understand that shock of immediacy. Tactile reality. Truth you can touch.
In developing countries, I see how small amounts of capital and a market for goods can change lives, Natalie continues. At Ibu, helping other women find their power gives me purpose.
Across town, our Ibu Foundation Director, Hannah Blatt, together with an Ibu volunteer, talk with a "Women in Charge" middle school class learning science and math and how to change the inequities of the world. The students are moved. I had no idea this kind of business was even possible, says one.
From the College of Charleston, just down the street, a Business Management class ambles over to see for themselves this new model of retail, having heard members of our team come speak to the them the week prior. They're rapt by the message… and the materials they can touch.
Each year, a new generation of students shaping their futures is shaped by the work of Ibu. It's something I love—the constant stream of interns who come to tag and steam and ship—and end up with a dream. One said to me yesterday, as we culled through piles of textiles, I didn't expect to love this so much. I thought I wanted to go in the direction of my sister's career, but this work—and what it means—draws me like nothing else I've ever known.
The students I meet are looking thoughtfully at the role of work in their lives and how to marry it to their passionate commitments—changing the way fast fashion desecrates the earth, elevating women held captive by their own cultures.
Natalie continues her application essay… I apply to college aware of my own growing power and the power imbalances I see as a globally-minded young woman. Today around the world, 128 million girls are not in school. Nearly three billion women lack equal work opportunities. One in three have experienced sexual violence. All these years later, I worry de Beauvoir, author of The Second Sex, may still be right. But Natalie is bent on changing that.
This is the future of Ibu. It is held in the hands of young women and men like these. When they touch the truth, when they hear the stories, when they see the light that is possible, lives change. And when I read a college application essay through my own tears, I know with joy in every line, that the Ibu Movement—far outpacing my single life and powers—is marching on.
All the Best,