Noonday is sending a group of women to connect with--not preach to, not care for--men and women in Rwanda who are changing lives, their own and others'. Women who have escaped genocide. Women who live in a world where sexual assault is common. Women who discovered their worth in a world where they are deemed worthless. Noonday founder, Jessica Honegger, says it best:
Make no mistake: we aren't going to serve, to preach, or even to help. We aren't going as saviors or as philanthropists or as teachers. We are going to CONNECT. We are connecting with the talented men and women Noonday relies on to bring amazing products to our customers. We are establishing friendships with women whose lives have been changed through the power of a reliable job. You will meet strong, independent women like Grace, who survived the Rwandan genocide when she was seven and eventually graduated from Noonday Collection's seamstress course. She is now supporting herself and her family through a satisfying, sustainable job with Noonday's sewing co-op and says she feels she has been given a new start.
And all I have to do is get enough people to vote for me.
Ok. So, here's my problem with it. I feel like an annoying salesman. I don't want to beg my friends to vote for me. I have been wanting to take a mission or humanitarian trip for years now and my heart has been so drawn toward women and children. Those who know me have likely heard me speak on poverty in other countries and my kids tense up whenever they complain and see that look in my eye and say, "I know, Mom. Children in India." (If this trip was to India, it would be game over and I might reduce myself to groveling.)
And then there's the hashtag: #styleforjustice. Right now I'm about to lose all hope of winning this trip.
Something just sounds funny about it. When I hear "style", I hear materialism. I see shopping bags and lipstick, high heels and nice hair, and girls talking about something called "style" that matters very little to a woman who forgoes meals to send her children to school so they can escape the life she lives. Something seems "off". Are they appealing to our materialism because they know that's what works best? Are they using our shallow minds to empower women whose lives are anything but shallow? Would a word like "empowerment" not attract enough people?
Maybe I drum up these images in my head because I have at one time been so caught up in my own looks that I lost touch with my sense of worth in what was uniquely me. Perhaps because, at one time, I counted on my looks to win me favor and fame and college money. Maybe it's because, as I've gotten older, style means very little to me now and it bothers me when I'm told I should have more of it.
Maybe I need a new perspective on what style is.
As I've contemplated how much I'd love to take this trip, how much I will hate asking people to vote for me, and the fact that what matters more than a word in a hashtag is that real women have an opportunity to experience real change in their lives, I've decided to enter the contest…way behind…as in, I have a week to get enough votes to be in the Top 7…but use this contest as a means to focus some energy into sharing with others what I have learned about women in ghastly circumstances and to introduce you to some of the real difference makers in our world, those who are already on the front lines of a battle we don't even think about as we pull our "Made in China", tags from the latest and "stylish" fashions from our closet. If what I share excites people and they want to translate that into a vote for me, I will be grateful. If it changes the way you shop, I will be humbled…because you will be a better person than I. If it ignites a passion in someone for empowering women, then I and thousands of women have already won this contest.
I am supposed to tell Noonday the reason why I should be the one to take this trip. There isn't one. In fact, I would encourage you to take a look at some of the other bios on the voting website to see if there is someone you feel deserves this trip more than I do. And really, I struggle enough with competing against other women, as it is. If you want to vote for me, great, but I would be honored more than I could tell you if you take the time to read or watch the things I will be sharing with you. It's part of who I am. After reading a few stories, I think it will become a part of who you are and maybe you will find in yourself the ability to become a difference maker. Maybe this will be the start of something that will shake the very foundations of the oppressors and break open a powerhouse of people who will not stand for injustice. Perhaps a great visionary and leader will emerge and I will have the inward pleasure of knowing that I planted the seed. THAT is what excites me!
You can vote here:
Rachael T Mickel