Isn't there a part of us that secretly admires a two-year-old? They state their want reasonably. If there is no response, their want transitions to a demand as their voice becomes louder. If this behavior doesn't elicit a response, they throw in some tears and perhaps a full-blown tantrum, screaming to get their way as they learn the power of voice.
At some point, we all learn the power of our voices.
Culture often dictates the power of our voices.
Life circumstances will certainly encourage our voice or silence our voice.
When I think of silenced voices, I imagine mouths taped shut by helplessness and hopelessness, keeping those silenced, prisoners of both physical and spiritual poverty.
Social status certainly plays a part in this silencing. I have been to India five times and visited the villages deep in the farmlands amidst the rice fields among the Dalits - the lowest of the caste system long ago imposed on them, silencing their voices.
Egypt and Indonesia also opened my eyes in huge ways to the plight of women around the world. It became evident to me we all share the burden of giving voice to the voiceless as I visited classes similar to those we offer at Mi Esperanza and spent time with organizations whose goal it is to raise women and empower them through education.
Listening to the stories of our women at Mi Esperanza has given me great insight into the connection between a voice silenced and a voice given life.
Yet, the greatest awareness has come about as I have learned the power of my personal voice. For many years, as a young child, I learned not to use my voice - don't rock the boat - keep peace. I carried that far into my adult life.
Only in the last few years have I given any energy to discovering what that has meant. In that process, I have come to have a deeper understanding of the importance of giving our women at Mi Esperanza the opportunity to discover their voices.
For us to educate these women whom no one has ever believed in and watch them as the months roll by in their classes, we see their confidence begin to grow through their new found skills. Quite possibly the greatest benefit of their time at Mi Esperanza - even beyond their skills - is finding their voices.
This makes me weep with joy.
Fifteen years ago a storm was brewing in my heart. A storm that unsettled me and took life as I focused on the plight of these women. As I started giving voice to this storm, Lori came along side me, and together, we began a conversation. A few other great friends joined us and by December 2002, Mi Esperanza was born.
In honor of that year of dreaming, we are launching our campaign for 2017. We believe the dream needs to be celebrated as we move toward the official Mi Esperanza birth date because that is where God moved into the process.
Over and over again, when we felt completely overwhelmed and under qualified, He showed up in big ways. And He continues to. He has brought people into our lives that have been major contributors in building our programs.
People who have shared our vision of empowering women. People who also believe elevating women changes the world.
Each time another person joins us in our work with Mi Esperanza, our community grows.
Our voice becomes stronger.
As our voice becomes stronger and the awareness of what we do spreads, the opportunity to grow our classes and empower more women becomes a reality.
Just as a two-year-old learns to use their voice in positive ways as they grow, we are committed to engaging with the women of Mi Esperanza - empowering their voices to change the world.
Our classes go into communities and do service projects. We strongly believe in showing our women ways to give as they have been given through the opportunity of a free education.
I want to invite you to join our community. Be a part of discovering the combined power of voice.
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Make it a point to become a valuable part of our community.
My voice - thank you for listening.
Your voice - become an advocate for our women - share our message!
Their voice - as they acknowledge the gift of their opportunity.
Community voice - showing the world there is a lot of hope.
We all share the burden of making the choice - will we be ones who take the voice or ones who give the voice.
Together we become an important part of the change this world needs.
My heart is full of gratitude in this season for all the successes Mi Esperanza has experienced as lives continue to be changed. It is a humble honor for me to be a part of this community.
Thank you for taking the time to read and share these words.
Proverbs 31:8-9 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.