HOW WE STARTED
African women are standing in a circle cooking over an open fire. Laughing together in their head-scarves with matching vibrantly colored African fabric skirts, they seem oblivious to the heat and swirling smoke. One woman asks, “Is this what your kitchen is like?” “No,” I tell them,“ I stand by myself at my stove in my own kitchen.”
“Oh, how lonely!” they reply. “This is our community. This is how we keep up with each other’s lives.” This is when my perspective began to change. I asked what was lacking in their lives.
“We want our children to have the opportunity to go to school … to have hope for the future..to be able to chose their own profession.”
These women, who were so materially poor, did not ask for more possessions.
Everywhere I went over the next few years, I asked the same question. All over Africa, in Latin America, in Asia, “How can we best support the dreams you have for your communities?”
The answer I heard over and over again, “Painting buildings, receiving boxes full of clothing - those things are good, but what we really need is education. We need training. We need to learn to become leaders. We want our children to become literate. We need better health care so our children can go to school.”
I listened. After twenty years of hearing the same stories all around the world: I realized that what I really wanted to do was cultivate a way to give people what they were asking for . . . education.
~ Carolyn Muir, Founder