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4 Ways to Celebrate International Women's Month

There are more sings of acknowledgement and respect towards our rights as women than there were fifty years ago and that is a reason to celebrate this month even more. Check out some of the best ways you can celebrate women during Women’s Month.

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Her Work-Women's Work

Her work, I really think her workIs finding what her real work isAnd doing it,Her work, her own work,Her being human,Her being in the world.

Ursula K. Le Guin

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What is OUR work?  The work of the feminine...the work of this gender... the meaning to the activities of our lives, day in and day out.

My mind runs to the measuring of my life by the quality of relationships; family, children, friends, coworkers and the richness felt by my personal soul when I give back to the world.

But these would simply be the by-product of an even deeper work, a work that is constant and continual and has been there my entire life.  From the moment that I get out of bed, throughout my days, into my evenings; over holidays, Saturdays, Sundays; in times of joy, in times of strife, in times of quiet reflection or chaos;  that deeper work is the discovery, re-discovery and re-birth of me along the way.

My work is to be a woman on my own terms and of my own definition.  My work is to understand that the woman I was at 19, at 32, at 45, at 55 and on and on will be ever-growing, continually developing, always learning and re-defining the meaning of me.  And it's my work to persevere in it.

And so, my work, is to understand, accept, support, educate and know, really know, the person who is me. To question, seek answers, feel the energy of the world and claim what I want from it, and, in turn encourage other women to come along with me.  And, as I travel on this life journey of defining and knowing myself, of being a part of and doing the job of living, I know that my work is to make my own personal contribution and share what I've learned with the world so you, they, whomever, too can take what is needed from my life and do your work.

Linda Rendleman  CEO/Cofounder Women Like Us Foundation

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The scars within her were used for helping other girls in Kenya...

Kim Dewitt- "I knew the scars I carried within me could enable me to be a voice for others."

Women Like Us.  Three Journeys.  One Mission.  To Change the World.
The Women Like Us Foundation Documentary is Coming Soon!

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Women Like Us Foundation is a non-profit organization supporting women’s charitable leadership. Together we’re helping women change the world.

The Women Like Us Foundation has traveled to the Olmalaika Home and spent time understanding the girls' needs.  We have supported the program and provided funds for necessities, such as clean water through a newly built water tank.  We will be returning, once again, to Olmalaika Home in June of 2016. To learn more about Kim Dewitt and her mission, visit our website at www.womenlikeusfoundation.org

Kim with the girls of Olmalaika home in Sekenani
Kim with the girls of Olmalaika home in Sekenani

“As a child I had been exposed to the ways of the Maasai tribe (…). I remember being separated from my family and led into the center of the women and girls. Later being returned with the red ocher painted on my face and beadwork hanging around my neck, I had no idea at that age that all the singing and dancing was really covering up a terrible deed – female genital mutilation.”

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“The Maasai girls in Kenya, and girls in general around the world, need a voice and someone who can understand them. I knew then that the scars I carry within me enabled me to be a voice for them. There is a home now in Sekenani, Kenya filled with giggles and hugs coming from 38 little girls. It is called the OlMalaika Home – meaning “angel.” It’s a home for young Maasai girls between the ages of 5-12 that are at high risk of FGM and early childhood marriage. I like to say, “it is a home where little angels dwell.” –Kim Dewitt

The mission of Olmalaika Home is to house and protect young disadvantaged Maasai girls, providing a warm, nurturing environment.  The home hopes to guide these young women, to see themselves as persons of value, to foster respect and appreciation for their peers, teachers, leaders, and culture, and to enable them to be a generation of educated, productive, respected and valuable young women.  

There is a growing need for medical programs, educational development, additional counseling services, tutoring assistance, and living space.  Donations of all sizes are welcome. Even the smallest amount can make the difference in someone's life. 

By: Sommer Bannan

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Mom's are getting the picture now...

Women Like Us Foundation is a non-profit organization supporting women's charitable leadership.  Together we're helping women change the world.  To learn more, visit our website at www.womenlikeusfoundation.org

Women Like Us. Three Journeys. One Mission. To Change the World.

Upcoming Documentary Film- January, 2016

Deb Myers, National President of Women Like Us Foundation and Director of the One Girl at a Time Program is a contributor to the upcoming film.  Here's a sneak peek of what she has to say on making a difference and standing up as women for the good of the world.

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Victorious Teens- Providing Support, Mentorship & Guidance to Underserved Teens in Africa

Women Like Us Foundation traveled to Victorious Teens Bridge near the Rift Valley, Kenya. After meeting with the children of the Nakuru West School, and the women who were working to meet the tremendous needs of the vulnerable children within the community, Women Like Us Foundation took the initiative to get involved and join these women in their efforts within their community.

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Ann Kabui first began her mission in her own hometown Nakuru, Kenya. Understanding the challenges teens faced during their critical adolescent years, Ann began her personal efforts to support, mentor and guide both girls and boys. “I came from Rift Valley, Nakuru County, it was where I was brought up. I initially began by supporting a few girls around Nakuru by offering mentorship, career guidance, and providing them with necessary feminine items such as sanitary towels and undergarments. Donations came from personal contributions, but soon the demand became too high.” Shortly after, Ann met Beth Mwangi, a community liason. Together they began reaching out to the entire school through a program they initiated called Victorious Teens. Victorious Teens Bridge International seeks to inform, empower and nurture the underserved teenagers towards self-realization and foster development for future leadership. They strive to be the leading organization that empowers and nurtures vulnerable teenagers and women in Africa.

As the program developed, additional issues were brought to the women’s attention. They noticed that the female children were missing school due to a lack of sanitary towels and undergarments. This absenteeism led to dropouts, drug abuse, early marriages, and prostitution. Unfortunately, they became aware of a certain instances of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as well. Together, Ann and Beth began supporting and contributing with sanitary towels, undergarments and sports equipment. Bringing in the supplies not only assisted in their monetary needs, but it also helped bring the community together. “Bringing these supplies provided an environment of respect, acceptance, and skill development to our school children in marginalized areas.”

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In the last three years, Victorious Teens Bridge International has made great strides in improving community experience and the lives of families and children living in them. School dropouts have been reduced by 20% along with a substantial reduction in absenteeism and drug abuse. Children have had the opportunities to travel into the city to see and explore life opportunities for their future career possibilities. Through this youth empowering program, the children have developed self-esteem and acquired skills that will help them in all aspects of life.

Women Like Us Foundation supports Victorious Teens by providing funds and supplies for the underserved children of the school and community. The funds have been used to provide education and training for the parents and students on topics regarding HIV and Aids (prevention and measures), Sexual Education, and Simple Hygiene.  In addition, we supported and funded the program Beyond the Classroom, a trip the students attended on June 5, 2015. Women Like Us will be returning once again to the Nakuru West School in June of 2016. If you would like to learn more about the Victorious Teens Program, please visit our website at www.womenlikeusfoundation.org.

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Written By: Sommer Bannan

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E! News Catt Sadler...coproducer of upcoming documentary film sneak peek

Women Like Us Foundation is a non-profit organization supporting women's charitable leadership.  Together we're helping women change the world.  To learn more, visit our website at www.womenlikeusfoundation.org

Women Like Us. Three Journeys. One Mission. To Change the World.

Upcoming Documentary Film- January, 2016

Catt Sadler is the International Spokesperson for Women Like Us Foundation and the Coproducer of the upcoming documentary film...She traveled to Kenya and rode in the deep inner city of Los Angeles with a rescuer to learn more about the sex trafficking and what's being done to save victims of this horrendous problem.

Here's some sneak peaks...

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The Dominican Republic- July 2015

Women Like Us Foundation

A Personal Reflection

By Sommer Bannan

Upon our departure from the Dominican Republic, Walter Cueva Diaz (one of the home-building volunteers) posted a trip picture on his Facebook with a quote from Mother Teresa, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples.”

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Where do I begin? How do I find the words for such an emotional and spiritual life experience? How does one capture the impact of an event through language: what the heart feels, what the mind has learned, how the spirit has grown? There were fifty-five men, women and children on the trip to the Dominican Republic—some of us members of the Women Like Us Foundation, others volunteers who had heard of the organization, their mission, and felt guided to contribute to this particular cause at this particular moment. Each one of us were brought together for a variety of personal reasons, but we were all there united with a similar goal, to give back in the world and to help others in need.

On the final evening of our mission abroad, after all three of our family’s homes were built and the work had been completed, we participated in a group reflection. The three housing teams sat together over dinner at a beachfront restaurant watching the waves roll to the shore, the moon shining brightly overhead, illuminating a glow on the fifty-five sun-struck cheeks and shoulders. There were sounds of happy chatter and grateful celebrations, excitement and passion for new beginnings of friendship, enthusiasm for the united contribution and hard work of new homes and new lives built for families in need. There was an air of exhilaration from the experience of communities brought together to help one another. Each team was asked to the front, and each volunteer was given the microphone to give a brief reflection, their own testimony about how the four day trip had impacted their life and what he/she would take home in their own hearts and share back in their own communities.

I was inspired by how many of our Women Like Us Foundation members and volunteers found such beautiful words and heartfelt expressions to describe their individual experience, what they had learned and how they had grown, their personal lives forever touched. It seemed like such a contradiction to me, with my own personal background in writing- and as the Women Like Us Foundation blogger, I couldn’t seem to find it within myself to articulate the words to truly describe what I felt inside. There were so many memories made and so many lessons learned in just four days. Where does one begin in capturing the essence of THIS story? Throughout the trip, it seemed that every few minutes I would whisper in my own head “now write THIS down” or “remember this because THIS is what will make a great story.. THIS is a memorable moment.” There were too many memorable moments to count. Regretfully, I didn’t stand with my team on our last night in front of the microphone. I sat at the table and tried with all my inner strength to hold back my tears; I was overcome with emotion. I truly couldn’t describe my deep sentiments into adequate words and I found myself speechless and humbled as the tears rolled down my cheeks.

Even now as I’m writing, where do I begin? Do I introduce my reflections with the trip’s beginning.. Saul’s genuine, welcoming smile when holding the Women Like Us Foundation sign as I made my way through the Santo Domingo airport customs, where I was eager to find my group congregating, friendships waiting to be made? Do I begin writing about the first impressions in the bus ride from the airport to the hotel, where Angela fittingly assessed our transportation (with the elaborate, draping curtains) as the “Scooby Doo bus?” Or, do I start by reflecting on my first introduction to my roomie in room 222, the beautiful (inside and out) Xochitl.. how we talked in bed until 2:30am getting to know one another, although terribly exhausted after a sixteen-hour traveling day (three flights and two layovers) and an early morning alarm clock awaiting? Perhaps I should first describe what we saw, the neighborhoods and landscape as we first drove our “Scooby Doo bus” onto our Dominican Republic rocky, dirt road with our wood, nails, hammers, and saws ready to be used for a greater good. Or, our initial apprehensions of beginning such a tremendously important task; the worries of how language might be a barrier in building connections with the families, or how our lack of knowledge in the expertise of building, construction, and electrical installation would be a barrier in providing a solid foundation and protection for the important new family dwellings?

When we arrived we were organized into three teams, there were three houses waiting to be built for three families in great need. My family included Ernestina Sanchez (the mother) and her three children (Dahiany-11, Darlin-5, Deivi-2). Like Ernestina, my mother was a single parent and I am a single mother. Like Ernestina, my mother raised three children. Ernestina shared with me her plan of opening a hair salon from her new home to support her family, as my mother had done in my own childhood. I talked with Ernestina while we were shopping for household supplies on our final day. Although we did not speak the same language, through Monica’s help with interpretation we recognized that we had so much in common. I’m not a religious person, but I do know that Ernestina was placed in my life and mine in hers; I do not believe it was a coincidence that I was assigned to build Ernestina’s home. I feel tremendously blessed and humbled to have been given the opportunity to make an impact in Ernestina’s life, as she and her community did in mine. I am blessed to have met such incredible and hard-working team members, and to be involved in such a dynamic organization, people coming together with like-minded spirits. On our final day, when we handed Ernestina the keys to her new home, I expressed to her that “it was built with love.” And, it whole-heartedly was!

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I will never forget the anticipation and rush I felt as I watched Ernestina and her three children walking into their newly built and freshly painted yellow and blue home. I will never forget working, sweating, drilling, and pounding nails with my new friends (my new humanitarian family) from various cities, coming from various places in our lives. I will never forget the kind and meaningful words one of my teammates repeated to me throughout an entire day, he has no idea the impact his gentle words made on my heart. I will never forget the neighborhood children waiting on the steps of the bus at the end of each day at our departure… waiting to wrap their arms around us in warm embracing hugs, despite the fact we were covered in sweat and dirt mixed with sunscreen and bug repellant. I will never forget the tremendous experience of my first (not last) humanitarian trip to the Dominican Republic. And, I will never forget that I, too, can make a difference in this world!

Women Like Us Foundation, Defender’s Direct, and YWAM- with all of my heart, thank you!

By: Sommer Bannan

If you would like to learn more about The Women Like Us Foundation, visit our website at www.womenlikeusfoundation.org

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Our Stories are Singular...Our Passions are Shared.-Linda Rendleman

Below is a SNEAK PEEK OF THE UPCOMING DOCUMENTARY: WOMEN LIKE US. THREE JOURNEYS. ONE MISSION. TO CHANGE THE WORLD.

Get to know Linda Rendleman

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CEO and CoFounder Women Like Us Foundation

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I was born in the Midwest at a time when women wore white gloves and hats and for the most part, a woman’s place was in the home. Yes, it was the 50’s. My goal as a little girl watching the world around me was to grow up to be like June Cleaver…or Donna Reed. I truly thought that I would be happy if I were wearing pearls and high heels around the house with an apron trimmed in lace, all the while being loved and cared for by the most faithful of husbands and having two beautiful healthy perfectly behaved children and, of course, a dog. I can still see the white picket fence that made my dream complete.

When I was a teenager and ready for college, I was told that a girl should become a teacher or a nurse. A faint little voice inside my head was telling me differently. I wanted to travel to New York City and be an actress. I wanted to play the drums. I wanted to see the world and be a bigger part of it.

By the time I was married at 19, and a mom by age 21…I held on to the dream of the white picket fence and all that came with it. But circumstances can be life’s teacher. And I quickly realized that I needed to dig deep, persevere and find my own way in my own right. Make my own mark on the world.

And so I began. I began to share my story, my truth, in hopes to motivate women who were searching for their voice, too. I encouraged them to come along with me as we found our way together. Through my career, I had a dream of a foundation to support the work of women. Yet, one more lesson was to come my way. The lesson of cancer. Something had to give. In my mind’s eye I laid aside the mission of my life…finding a way to help women make a difference in the world…to stand in their rightful place…to exercise their own power. And I put that dream in an imaginary beautiful little box way up high on an imaginary shelf knowing that somehow, someday, I would bring it down, when the time was right, and begin again. A healthy body would be waiting for me. And people whom I was yet to meet would be a part of this journey with me. They would believe in the same mission I believe in and would come along to make it happen.

And, indeed, that day is here. I am here- healthy. I am here-supporting women’s work in the world. I am here-championing women who have the heart, soul and fortitude to see the work that needs to be done in the world and are pitching in. They are here-women who think like I do and believe in the absolute ability that women have to make a difference.

Will you come along with me?  The more I love life...the more it loves me back! I'll help you find out how you can live your best life!

www.lindarendleman.com

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For more information, visit our website at www.womenlikeusfoundation.org

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“Our Wounds Can Transform into our Greatest Strengths”… Saving Innocence

The Women Like Us Foundation visited Chatsworth’s Saving Innocence home every other Saturday morning and began assisting in their efforts to empower and inspire the victims of sexual exploitation. Women Like Us mentored an average of 10 girls ages 14-18; topics included everything from nutrition, self-esteem and careers. The mentors were engaged with the victims on a personal level and were fully aware of each victim’s situation in and outside the home.  Women Like Us continues to assist and acknowledge women who are impacting world change like Kim Biddle. We provide support, create awareness and raise funds to help these women grow their impact and sustain their initiatives. To learn more about Kim Biddle and Saving Innocence, visit our website at www.womenlikeusfoundation.org. stephanie-biddle-7

Kim Biddle is not only the Founder and Executive Director of Saving Innocence, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that rescues and restores child victims of sex trafficking, she was once a victim of sexual exploitation herself. Saving Innocence is an organization that originated as a result of Kim's own life story, and her own experience dealing with the trauma of sexual abuse. In her childhood, Kim was raised with a father who was primarily absent from her life; when her father was involved, he was emotionally abusive. In high school, Kim turned to athletics as an escape from her tumultuous family life at home. She was mentored, coached and emotionally supported by a male teacher whom she trusted as a role model and father figure, a teacher who sexually abused Kim at a vulnerable time and a young age. In her emotional recovery, Kim found her strength in reaching out to others who had also endured circumstances of sexual abuse. Kim believes, "By overcoming the part of our story that was intended to destroy us, our wounds transform into our greatest strengths - the very tools used to set others free.” Kim believes that when victimized children are fully empowered and loved, they too can become the leaders of our communities.

In her healing, Kim began her mission… a mission to empower her self and others! Kim earned her degree in Social Work from the University of Southern California, and went on to receive her Master’s in Global Health Certification from the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma. She has earned special certifications to work with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. She is a founding member of the Saddleback Justice Task Force and a member of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Task Force Against Human Trafficking and the ICAN Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) Committee. A lead expert and sought after speaker, Kim has trained hundreds of social workers, law enforcement, educators and community leaders on identifying human trafficking victims and implementing intervention and aftercare strategies. Kim has advised state officials in the creation of public policy to ensure proper recovery treatment for victims, leading a national movement to restore the cultural value of innocence and human worth. Kim explains, “This work is incredibly inspiring and life giving, with a daily privilege to shine light in the darkest of places in this world. But the journey to this point hasn’t been an easy one. And yet, I value the difficulties I have faced because that pain has provided me with the empathy and skills needed to help others in their journey to freedom. Sometimes it takes pain to give us eyes to see the pain of others and know how to help.”

Saving Innocence is the first non-profit organization contracted by Los Angeles County, Superior Court and Probation Department to respond 24-hours a day, 7-days a week (alongside law enforcement) to provide rescue, restoration, and empowerment services for Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) in the United States. Working closely with the Los Angeles Supreme Court and Los Angeles Probation, Kim designs protocols and systems to ensure the proper identification, rescue, and treatment of child victims, as well as the appropriate criminal charges brought against the traffickers. She oversees a team who provide crisis response, advocacy and case management services to minors who are rescued from sex trafficking in Los Angeles County. To date, Saving Innocence has provided a continuum of care to hundreds of American children, trained thousands of police officers and other frontline responders in identification and aftercare of human trafficking victims, and assisted with multiple state and federal cases bringing more than 40 traffickers to justice, creating a safer community for us all.  Kim states, “We live in a time of great injustice. Some of those who have experienced the greatest injustice, are the most overlooked, the most misjudged, and most grievously abused are victims of human trafficking. These victims have their freedom stolen and their voices silenced. Experts estimate that there are up to 300,000 American children who fall victim to sex trafficking every single year in the United States. This affects every community, every state, and every level of income. These are truly modern day slaves hidden in plain sight.”

Saving Innocence’s Efforts Include the following:

  • Provide 24-hr emergency crisis response to survivors in Los Angeles County, alongside law enforcement and the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS)
  • Provide long-term intensive case management and advocacy for survivors of sex trafficking ages 11-24
  • One-on-one visitation and life-enrichment workshops for high-risk youth in juvenile halls
  • Lead “My Life My Choice” groups – human trafficking prevention-intervention curriculum for high-risk youth living throughout Los Angeles and Orange Counties
  • Human trafficking awareness presentations in schools and high-risk communities
  • Victim specialists for survivors involved in court system – both juvenile court and during testimony against their traffickers
  • Provide emergency support and resources for families of survivors
  • Train and equip all front-line professionals on how to identify and assist victims: law enforcement, social workers, therapists, schoolteachers, judges, district attorneys, etc.
  • Program development for a first-of-it’s-kind program implemented in Los Angeles Superior Court and Probation for child survivors
  • Advocate for the change of local and nationwide policy to expand resources for survivors and increase the prosecution of traffickers

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Kim advocates, “This world may never be completely free of injustice, but this earth is the only place we have the opportunity to shine the light of hope and love while the darkness exists. Our pain and our suffering is not the end of the story. Those who have navigated the darkest corridors of life can give hope to those who have yet to find their way out.”

To learn more, visit www.womenlikeusfoundation.org

Written By: Sommer Bannan

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She felt a connection to vulnerable kids who had the same childhood she did

Women Like Us Foundation- Woman of FocusStories of women who are changing the world.

Listen to our PBS radio interview with Aleanya Moore.

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LADIES UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Women Like Us Foundation continues to acknowledge and commend women who are impacting world change like Aleanya G. Moore. We create awareness and raise funds to help these women grow their impact and sustain their initiatives. To learn more about Ladies Under Construction and their efforts to recognize and empower women and our youth.

Aleanya G. Moore was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio in a low-income housing complex with her grandmother. She grew-up without a father, a mother addicted to street drugs and she lived in an environment, in a neighborhood, where she recalls she “was never taught her own value and self-worth.” When reminiscing back to her childhood, she admits she “started out with many obstacles to overcome.” In high school, Aleanya joined the school basketball team, a moment that dramatically changed the course of her life. It was through sports where she gained the tools she needed to build her self-confidence; she developed a support system, an outlet, and gained a mentor. She worked closely with her coach, Mr. Alto King, who recognized her academic and personal potential and became a role model and guide in her life. Aleanya made the decision to become the first member of her family to go to college to pursue a degree, a personal determination that became a great success!

During and after college, Aleayna’s heart was guided towards the youth. She felt a connection to unguarded and vulnerable kids who had been exposed to similar childhood struggles, those who came from backgrounds like her own. And, like Aleanya’s high school basketball coach, Aleanya wanted to give back and “lend a supporting hand” and mentorship to those children in need. Aleanya developed a mission to equip and empower the women of our youth; she became involved in multiple youth-based organizations including: Girl Scouts of America, the Boys and Girls Club of America, she was a Youth Counselor at Marion County Juvenile Center, and she worked with the Indianapolis Public Schools as a Parent Liaison. Currently, she is an Admissions and Outreach Counselor for Independence JobCorps.

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Ladies Under Construction Inc. is a nonprofit youth program in Indianapolis. It is their mission to build successful women by empowering and inspiring young girls from the age of eight to eighteen. Aleanya G. Moore and her team provide mentoring and outreach services to girls in a safe, consistent, and beneficial manner. The services include group and individual mentoring, literacy enhancement, and participation in volunteer projects. In addition, the mentor volunteers provide guidance to enhance social skills, provide strategies for managing emotions, as well as improving communication skills and building confidence. Their desire is to rebuild the girls’ individual faith and empower them to grow into strong, determined, confident women. They work on developing skills necessary to deal with life’s many challenges and obstacles.

Aleanya’s life objective is to use the difficult circumstances she has endured to inspire and empower the youth and women of today. Her message: “we are all under construction, nobody is 100% complete.” Aleanya lives by her pledge that she now shares with her organization:

We are SISTERS

We are BRILLIANT

We are LEADERS

We are SMART

We are EMPOWERED

We are POWERFUL

We are BELIEVERS

We are the FUTURE

WE ARE LADIES UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Written By: Sommer Bannan

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Abandoned in the bushes as a baby in Kenya-now she protects the lives of children.

Mrs Tom at the school in Kenya is one of the initiatives supported by Women Like Us Foundation.  And right now, they need your help.  An urgent need is a water tank so the children are not drinking water from the river.  Can you help us?  More here and how to DONATE.

Mrs. Tom is a woman like us.  Here is her story.

Years ago, a little baby girl in Kenya was born out of wedlock and abandoned in the bushes. Her life would have ended had she not been picked up and taken to her grandmother’s home. The life of women and girls in Kenya is often seen as a burden; many of them truly become beasts of burden under their husband’s rule. That is where the story of Mrs. Tom begins.

DSC_0100-2“I was happiest in my childhood while at school,” she says. “My teachers and classmates kept my mind off the life at home, a life of abuse and lack of kindness and love. I grew up very miserable, as I would term it. I can recall one particular memory where I had unintentionally forgotten to sharpen a pencil for my sister, and my sister reported to my mother. That day I was beaten and thrown out into the rains at night. I sat outside in the cold and wet while the rest of my family remained inside eating their supper. A kind neighbor took me to his house and that is where I slept until morning. Even now as I think back to that evening, I have a difficult time understanding how a mother could sleep when she didn't know where her daughter was out in the rainy night.

Mrs Tom and the teachers and helpers of the N A Noel School.

School was Mrs. Tom’s refuge. Education is a harbor for many children in Kenya. She recalls that even as a child she understood that education would be good for her and would give her a better life. Because she loved learning, she was able to attend school through 8th grade. Because there were school fees and her family had no money, Mrs. Tom’s teacher would hide her when the authorities came around to collect fees, she was not on the register; she was able to attend school for free.

Her adult journey began working at a preschool in her area. Eventually, she began her own school for children like her, in unfortunate and distressing circumstances… children who are orphans, have no guidance and no place to go. It became her mission to bring these children together, feed them and help them learn. It was in a small building on the edge of Lake Victoria where she began and where International Artist Nancy Noel found her when out one day looking for things in Kenya to photograph and paint. That was ten years ago.

Today, the N A Noel School holds over 200 children, but there is still much work to do. The children arrive to be taken in by Mrs. Tom almost daily and the school continues to grow.

N A Noel School

Through the generosity of Nancy Noel and the efforts of Women Like Us Foundation and others, the school has made strides. But the work is never done.

As part of the Women Like Us humanitarian travel effort, we traveled to Rusinga last year and met the children. While there, we taught music, played sports, and brought school supplies. Women Like Us Foundation has funded the building of latrines, sent dollars for millet, rice and beans, which is used for porridge for the children in the morning, and lunch for those who can pay a fee to eat it. There are 185 children who cannot afford to eat lunch. For the children that do eat lunch, it is only available twice per week. Women Like Us Foundation has implemented a lunch program and most

Latrines built at the N A Noel School

recently is creating a project to build a garden and teach the children and Mrs. Tom how to tend to it on their own. What Mrs. Tom started is continuing. But the job is never done in Kenya. Textbooks, teachers and more space for the children are imperative. Mrs. Tom continues to believe that children can have a better life. So do we!

Mrs. Tom and her family live at one end of the tumbled down school. The dirt floors are swept and the children sleep six across a bed and six more on the floor. The food provided for the school is shared with her family. The journey continues. It is a life of need and hope, every day.

Read more about Mrs. Tom and the school at www.womenlikeusfoundation.org.

 

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Interview with Kim DeWitt & how she's doing her part in changing the world!


Kim was raised in Kenya and has spent 18+ years of her life there. She is responsible for THE OLMALAIKA HOME, mission trips, sponsorship programs, and is passionate about the people of Kenya and ending female genital mutilation/early childhood marriage. Read her interview as she shares her story & how Women Like Us Foundation has helped her!

 

Kim with the girls of Olmalaika home in Sekenani

Tell us a little bit about yourself & your story

When I was two years old my parents accepted a call to go as missionaries to Kenya, and I spent most of my childhood there, After almost 12 years of being at home in Kenya my parents accepted a call to Beirut Lebanon. My life changed dramatically. We lived their during some of the worst years of their civil war, spending days in bomb shelters and hearing bullets and rockets whistle by, we were finally evacuated to the island of Cyprus. I flew from Cyprus to boarding school  in Singapore for 2 years. Those were some of the hardest years of my life. I was far from home, the only American student raised in Kenya. I looked at life differently than most around me - I realized then that my heart was Kenyan. My parents moved back to the US my Junior year in high school and I vowed that when I was old enough I would head back to the country that held my heart (Kenya)In 1999 my husband and I accepted a position in Kenya and moved back with our three young children . I was thrilled! In 2005 our family moved back to the US, and God opened a door for me in 2006 to be able to take medical/dental groups to Kenya  and opened the door for me to be able to work with young Maasai girls at high risk of FGM and early childhood marriage.

Why do you do what you are doing?

These girls are my passion in life. If we can bring education to both the young and the old while preserving all that is good in their culture then one day there will be no female genital mutilation and early childhood marriage. It is a very slow process but I know that each girl in THE OLMALAIKA HOME will someday leave and go back to her community and without a doubt I know her children will never have to experience what she did - thus the ripple affect that will change communities and countries around the world.

 

The Angels of Olmalaika Home

Tell us about your organization & what it does?

Global Village Ministries is a Christian non-profit 501(c)(3) organization registered in the US that provides medical and dental care in Kenya, plus long term projects that include educational opportunities for children and THE OLMALAIKA HOME - which is a home for young Maasai girls at high risk of genital mutilation (FGM) and early childhood marriage.

The mission of THE OLMALAIKA HOME - is to house and protect young disadvantaged Maasai girls, providing a warm, nurturing and loving environment; guiding them to see themselves as persons of value through God's eyes; fostering respect and appreciation for their peers, teachers, leaders, and culture, enabling them to be a generation of educated, productive, respected and valuable young women.  We currently have 28 girls ages 5-17 living at the home and attending school.

How has Women Like Us Foundation supported you?

They came to visit our home and participated in the daily activities along side the girls. They donated funds to purchase water tanks and piping to enable us to have water on the property. They continue to support and bring about awareness of FGM and early childhood marriage on their website and via the documentary they are producing. They have encouraged and inspired me personally in so many ways.

Linda & Catt with the girls  at Olmalaika Home!

Thank you for taking the time to read this! If you'd like to help spread the word about our efforts, please share this over Social Media and you can also donate funds here.

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A Woman Like Us!

burkhart_lorene027Author, public speaker, and philanthropist Lorene Burkhart is an exceptional Woman Like Us. Lorene attended Purdue University and later decided to pursue teaching, much like many women of her generation. But unlike most at the time, Lorene became a trailblazer, pushing the boundaries to start her own financial business for women. Soon, she decided to give back to the community, which is where our paths crossed. I’ve always admired Lorene’s work, and this is why she was chosen as one of the first for our WLU interview series. We sat down to discuss her passions, experiences, and advice for amazing Women Like Us.

What have you always been passionate about? 

Lorene Burkhart: My real passion and the one word that describes me is ‘teacher.' Everything in my life that I've done at some point has involved gathering information and giving it out. I have been and still am a mentor, been part of university boards of trustees and have had honorary doctorates and degrees. Basically, all revolving around teaching.

What would you say has been most rewarding throughout this process? 

LB: I’ve enjoyed the opportunity of mentoring young women and people who've worked with me at different times and influence their thinking to be more open in the way they approach things. And it's been very rewarding to have people tell me that they've followed me and watched the way I do things. It's exciting to know that you can have that kind of influence.

What words of wisdom would you like to share with women reading this?

LB: I am particularly concerned about how young women see themselves as becoming involved in government, running for office, realizing that they have the responsibility to step forward if they believe in something. I would like to see young women get involved in politics. Step forward if you believe in something. Know what kind of leader you are going to be and then communicate that effectively.

What’s your take away message for them?

LB: I think women are sometimes too hesitant to shine their own light, for some reason they think they are bragging on themselves. But if you don’t tell people what you do and what's important to you, how are they going to know it? Be true to yourself, if you have a particular skill, talent, or passion, be proud of it and find how to make it work for you and to have it be your signature of whatever it is that you do well. Let it shine who you are and what's important to you.

Lorene’s Bio: Author and speaker Lorene McCormick Burkhart is known for her leadership and philanthropy throughout Indiana and the Midwest. Burkhart has used her creative problem solving skills and talents throughout her career as a teacher, broadcaster, civic leader, and corporate executive and continues to inspire others to advocate causes for the betterment of humankind. She has served Girls Inc. at the national level and has served locally on more than 25 boards in the past 20 years, ranging from arts, girl and women’s support groups, education, health and elder services. Lorene's Twitter

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What are you doing for others?

On this hopefully relaxing day off, it is important to remember the reasons why we acknowledge this time for a three day weekend. Martin Luther King, Jr was born January 15, 1929 and from there he created a legacy of understanding and equality for all of man kind. The lessons and values that he taught decades ago are still, and always will be, relevant. Today is a day to reflect upon our lives and ask "what are you doing for others?". It does not matter what your situation in life may be, everyone has the power to help an individual. It can be a simple gesture like helping someone pick up the items they just dropped. Every action bears a consequence, so why not make it positive?

Women Like Us is dedicated to empowering the women around us every day. We believe in the power of women, of small gestures, of the strength of like minds and hearts coming together to change the world.

WLU Together

So just like Dr. King so passionately believed in and preached, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?'. For a heart will never become less by giving to others.

Will you join us? You can make a difference today!

http://womenlikeusfoundation.org/

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One Click Can Help

The holiday bustle will soon be upon us, if it has not knocked on our door already. Amongst the commercialism and stress, there is a way you can make a difference in someone else's life without leaving your house or piling on more unwanted stress. Your vote for the Women Like Us Documentary could make an overwhelming difference in someone's life. Your vote could be the contributing factor that grants WLUF the funding necessary to promote the documentary. Though it may not seem important, in order to continually help the women and children in our various programs, our documentary needs to reach the caring hearts of people across the nation. Our foundation is founded on the hearts and hard work of our supporters and volunteers like you. With women like us, and everyone else, we can change the world.

Vote here and change a life for the better: http://www.superservicechallenge.com/video/women-like-us-together-helping-women-change-the-world/

You can also help out year round by supporting our various local and international programs. Find out how you can help out here: http://www.womenlikeusfoundation.org

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Together Helping Women Change the World

"Women Like Us believes in sustainability and support, not simply a one time connection and then on to other things". Our dear friend and supporter Sally Colon-Petree accurately described the efforts of Women Like Us. We strive to bring not only change and hope to the lives we touch, but sustainability and long-lasting connections and friendships as well. Our work is never finished; there is always an aspect of a program that could be improved or expanded and more lives that could be empowered.

This could not be better illustrated than in the FOCUS magazine article featuring Women Like Us. This articles follows the adventures and work of the Kenya trip as seen through Sally's eyes. It is easy to pick up on the passion in Sally's words and the genuine love she feels for the strong, magnificent women she met along this life-changing journey. The Kenya trip was not merely a vacation; it was an opportunity to empower those who might need it most and to leave a stronger, empowered person as well.

One of the more intriguing aspects of this humanitarian trip was that the entire riveting experience was caught on video. In the new, upcoming year everyone will be able to view the lives of women all over the globe who are changing the world one day at a time. This documentary of Women Like Us' programs and more importantly the stories and work of the women featured in it will truly inspire all who have the privilege to watch it. By viewing this documentary, we wish to inspire women from all walks of life to see the issues in their community and instead of saying "someone else will take care of it" say "I can fix that". Together, we are women changing the world.

You can see the whole FOCUS article here: http://focusmag.us/moving-pictures-sally-colon-petrees-emotional-documantary/

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Updates on N A Noel School in Kenya

Thank you Mrs Tom for sending us pictures on the latrine we helped build, and the children we so dearly miss.  We are working on more to help you and the children enrich your lives through education and health.  You are doing incredible, hard work and we support you.  Together...helping women change the world!  www.womenlikeusfoundation.org MaryAnn and N A Noel children DSC00175-1 DSC00204 DSC00198 DSC00195 DSC00184 DSC00177-1 DSC00179 DSC00177  NoelLatrine

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How Catt Sadler Helps Empower Women

Want to learn more about how our very own International Spokesperson Catt Sadler empowers women? Read this beautiful, inspiring article http://www.stylebistro.com/The+Boob+Tube/articles/hqkgxDTwQ2k/How+Catt+Sadler+Helps+Empower+Women  

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Kenya: An Experience of a Life Time

To travel is to grow. When you venture out and enter a world that is not your own you will change, learn, and experience riches you could hardly ever dream. Often, you simply just have to walk off your own doorstep to experience a magical world outside your normal scope, but sometimes the pull of the journey is far greater. Women Like Us knows this sensation and just this summer we traveled to Kenya to not only give what we could, but to also learn from the vastly different cultures and heartwarmingly similar people. These are our experiences. 8.14-Carmel-WLUF-Kenya

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