I’m here as I took part of the 5th Women Empowerment Summit, which I co-founded back in 2013 with Sharon Jackson, owner of the European Sustainability Academy in Crete (www.eurosustainability.org) . This year’s theme was ENLIGHTEN.
I shared what does it take to be a LUMINARY and why is so important in the world right now.
I am still in awe with three incredible women who shared their stories: one was a participant back in 2013, and two others were speakers this weekend. Let me briefly share them with you, as I do believe this are such beautiful examples of what being a LUMINARY feels and looks like.
SEWING SCHOOL IN KENYA : Sandra was a participant back in 2013. On that seminar, she got inspired to empower young girls. She had no idea how, but she had fire in her belly. At the same conference she met a woman who through several other “random” introductions led her to meet the head of a community in Kenya. During her trip to Kenya, a young girl sewing on the street got Sandra’s attention. Sandra childhood passion was sewing, her grandmother taught her. A couple of years later, with help of local women in Kenya, women in the UK AND Sandra’s husband, she founded a Sewing School for girls, a chicken farm and training facilities. In Kenya, girls get out of school at the age of 12-13 because they start menstruating. The main product they are creating in the sewing school is the menstrual pad made of fabric. Sandra’s husband did the pattern !
Sandra travels twice a year to Kenya to be with the girls and to make sure everyone is thriving. She makes the most of her corporate and business background to “coach” the head leaders and teachers of the project to be self-sustainable and generate their own money, apart from donations.
MANAGING THE WASTE OF THE PLANET : Aruna is from India living in Dubai, Head of the Environmental Solutions Strategic Initiatives at Dulsco. She has been working in marketing, until one day she saw a picture of the “waste island” floating in the Pacific Ocean. This picture had such an impact on her, that she felt a call to “do something about it”. She then searched, within her organisation, a position where she could contribute to the cause of reducing waste. When she applied for a position on the waste management department, she was told to think twice as she should expect a not so glamorous career as in marketing. She answered that “this is about the Earth, not about me”. Her commitment and passion around waste and the Earth inspired all of us this weekend.
Her passion about waste comes from the realisation that what we call waste, is actually a resource for different goods : she learned that out of a plastic bottle, a T-shirt can be produced. She gave many other mind-blowing examples of how shifting the perspective from “waste” to “resources” her campaigns are making a huge impact in different places around the world. Her passion and commitment to her cause is what gives her the fuel to travel with her husband and 8 years old child around the world, visiting recycling premises and designing new campaigns to rise consciousness.
The conclusion of the talk was : “There is no away. You can never throw something away.”
WOW – simply WOW.
ENLIGHTENED BUILDING FOR ENLIGHTENED LIVING : Trupti is a young award-winning architect from India, living in India. She finished the Architecture Career in Mumbai in total disbelief on the values of the construction materials and techniques. “At the end of my career, I realised architects are contributing to the disruption of the Earth.” She shared the intimate moment of this realisation with us : she locked herself in the University toilet and cried for more than one hour, praying for a sign of what she was supposed to do with a career that now she didn’t believed in. We all cried with her : we could also feel the pain she was talking about, hers and that of the Earth. She then decided to focus her professional career to research sustainable construction methods.Only with three years of experience in “traditional architecture”, she rose to her vision when she found a land in South India that needed to be protected of being abused by the construction business.
Over the next two years, she fought with bureaucracy and the elite to construct a building promoting Rural Development where hundreds of students come from all over India today. She started protecting the land by planting 300 trees in one week herself, until she got the help of the local village people. The construction of the building not only transformed the landscape, it also transformed the 14 men who helped her : they left behind alcoholism, as they found purpose and contribution again. Women in the village came up to Trupti to thank her as their husbands had stopped beating them up, and they even started giving money for their daughters education.
Trupti and Samiel Carolina at the 5th Global WE Summit in Crete, September 2017.
All of these stories and women were just so amazing, so real and genuine, you can be sure we all cry : them on stage, and participants.
The world need MORE Luminaries : leaders who are so committed to the cause that CRY when they share their vision.
We are soul starved for real humans, love and impact.
What I find most inspiring across these stories is:
– the moment the call appears for us, it feels like a drama, huge challenge or frustration;
– answering the call takes patience, courage and support;
– birthing the vision makes a difference as a ripple effect reaching places we don’t even think about;
– serendipity leads the way, one step at the time;
– all this women found support of their families;
– a tribe of like-hearted women was essential for them to trust the process;
– their medicine gave substance and meaning to men;
– none of them had a business plan, neither financial back up. They just knew it was the right think to do;
– they all struggled with finding balance between self care and work (“when it becomes devotion to your cause, you can just go on and on for hours”, Aruna shared with us)
– and this is my favourite : all of them linked back their current cause to their childhood play.
In LUMINARY, we are going to work together exactly on these points. Because the most fulfilling task in our life is sharing our medicine, doing what we LOVE to do, even if it is not easy, because we know is the right thing to do, for ourselves and the common good.
I’m launching LUMINARY, a 9-month mentorship program this week.
It’s by application only. If you are feeling a call to make a difference. then I invite you to be the first one to be invited to apply to be part of this group of 12 women.
»»» Be the first one to be invited to LUMINARY by sending us an email here.