If you know me and we’ve discussed books, or if you’ve followed the blog for a while, you already know I am a pretty rabid fan of Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. I hope to write like this some day. It is one of the best examples I know of light-a-fire-under-you, rocket-you-out-of-your-comfort-zone-and-into-action writing. If you haven’t yet read it, stop everything now and get to it–really.
Launching today, is Half the Sky Movement–the Game on Facebook. This is a computer game appropriate for most ages, where you take on the character of a woman in crisis (I just played for a while as a mother in India trying to get life-saving medication for her sick daughter…later levels help procure books for the local school, and more) and navigate your virtual world to accomplish tasks that help you, and help others along the way. The colorful, animated, not heavy at all playing environment gets important messages through in fun ways, with puzzles and challenges interspersed with dialogues with other characters. Learning the art of negotiating and advocating get you further along, and at regular stops along your way, you have the opportunity to turn game play into real life action (For example: click a button to buy life-saving vaccines for actual youth around the world). It is a nice blend of intentions that I think can go a long way toward educating and entertaining…I certainly hope so. Go play for a while, the very act of playing can trigger actual donations from sponsors, so you really can make a difference just by engaging. Win/WIN!
The winner of the first Change by Doing contest is Brodie, from Los Angeles. Woot Woot (If I weren’t so vehemently against emoticons, I’d insert something here that winks or smiles or dances a jig).
Brodie won skincare products from a new line at Dermalogica, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s Half the Sky, a canvas tote bag, and a “Bullets to Bracelets” Ethiopian artisan created work made from old bullet casings melted down into beads. All he had to do was respond to this question: If you could custom design a dream volunteer vacation anywhere in the world and tackle any problem, where would it be and what would you do?
Brodie wrote: “I’ve always been attracted to ancient European historical towns that still operate much like they did hundreds of years ago. And in many of these towns, architectural masterpieces are falling to ruin. It’s not that the towns aren’t thriving, it’s just that the cost of restorations are often prohibitive for these small communities.
A great volunteer vacation would be helping to restore these towns to their former glory. Medieval churches, historical homes, and cobblestone streets would flourish again. The benefits would be countless because when history comes alive, it brings us all together.
Many of these efforts are underway now along the Italian coast, and volunteer help would prove invaluable.”
Woot Woot–what better for a Friday than a contest? This is the first Change by Doing voluntourism contest. My recent post about Nelson Mandela Day and the partnership between joinFITE, Kiva, and Dermalogica gave you a chance to try out being a Kiva loaner for free (hope you did–and then donated more to enterprising women around the world who are truly making a difference. Kiva ROCKS!)
From that blog posting, Dermaolgica has sent along some products and gifts for me to reward one reader. I’ve got this nifty box here with a copy of what I think is a truly important book—Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s Half the Sky, a canvas tote bag, 2 Dermaolgica skincare products, and a really cool sneak peek of their new holiday gift item, “Bullets to Bracelets.” For the bracelets, artisans in Ethiopia collect old bullet casings and melt them down into beads. A really great initiative, reclaiming a symbol of violence and transforming it into powerful jewelry.
You know you want this! All you have to do is answer this question in the comments section below: If you could custom design a dream volunteer vacation anywhere in the world and tackle any problem, where would it be and what would you do?
You can answer in the comments or email me your ideas (firstname.lastname@example.org). Entries will close September 1, and a winner will be chosen from all your fantastic inspiration. It needn’t be a realistic goal nor a currently existing trip, though it can be…just tell me what lights your fire, and how you dream of making a difference in the world, far away or next door.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more devastating look at life than the situations faced by women around the world in Half the Sky, by NY Times husband-and-wife team Nicholas D. Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn. You’d also be hard-pressed to find a book I could recommend more highly. It is required reading as far as I’m concerned.
You will be shattered. You will be gutted. You will also be incredibly inspired and, if you’re anything like me, jumping out of your skin wanting to find a way to help. The problem of gender-based inequality in all it’s brutal forms, is so ingrained in so many societies that hold themselves down by their actions in the name of gods or history or simply the way it has always been done. This is no man-bashing tome making men villains, though there is often cause to do so. It is a tour through widely varied cultures and societies, getting to know local girls and women as individuals (the authors cite important studies that show people get overwhelmed by statistics, but respond to individual stories–opting to help one person over helping dozens or hundreds). The big picture is examined here alongside individual lives. The magnificence of the human spirit in answer what faces so many of these women blows the roof off your own limitations. And the ease with which we can help–truly help–and truly make a difference will make you wish you had read this ages ago–even though it made you cry and a little sick to your stomach to do so.
But please do read it.