In Disney’s The Little Mermaid, the evil octopus Ursula says, “A woman doesn’t know how precious her voice is until she’s been silenced.” I saw this quote posted on Twitter the other day and I found myself getting really excited. You may think that’s a silly thing to get excited about. And you would probably be right. But I was a Com Major, and each of my classes taught me that the responsibility of communicators is to speak for the groups in our world who have no voice. This quote was exciting to me because it reminded me of what I want to spend my life doing, and some of the creative ways I have seen other people being a Voice. Tonight I want to share three of my favorite creative ways of being a Voice with you.
Kimba Langas made a name for herself in the media industry, but found herself an abolitionist when her friend and Co-Founder David Van Dam approached her about partnering with him to provide job opportunities to women rescued from the sex trade. The solution to these victim’s poverty? Providing used bras to these women that they can sell for a living. Kimba now has a basement full of thousands of bras ready to be shipped to shops in Africa that David has helped launch. Not only is this an extremely creative endeavor, it is also very practical. In many third world countries bras are a luxury item, and according to their website, some of the women Free The Girls works with can make 5 times the local minimum wage with minimal negative impact on the local economy. Think this project is as cool as I do? You can donate gently used bras to the cause! Find out more on their website.
Derrek Kayongo, a former Ugandan refugee, found himself overwhelmed during his first trip to the US. The tipping point for him was learning that the barely-used soap that housekeepers removed from his hotel room each morning was wasted. Knowing that about 2.6 billion bars of soap are thrown away each year in the US while thousands of refugees die of diseases preventable by basic hygiene inspired Derrek and his wife Sarah to start the Global Soap Project. This organization partners with hotels all around the country to recycle the soap they remove from hotel rooms into new bars that are then distributed in 22 different countries. One of the coolest things about the website is that it lists the 800 hotels that partner with the project, so you can make sure your partially used soap makes a difference, just by choosing where to stay on vacation. Derrek was honored as one of CNN’s top 10 Heroes in 2011 for his creativity.
3. The Restore Academy in Gulu, Uganda
Restore International was founded by Bob Goff. The organization works with individuals in both India and Uganda. I want to focus on The Restore Academy in Northern Uganda today. This academy offers education and character building training to middle school and high school students who have grown up in a war-ravished area. This ministry fascinates me not just because of my love for the country of Uganda, but because Bob recognized a need for mentoring and leadership training in a place where nearly a generation of people has been killed and did something about it. What did it take? A little imagination and a lot of determination. You can be involved simply by purchasing Bob’s challenging book Love Does, the proceeds of which all support the academy.
Corny as the example may be, Ariel could not win Eric’s love without her voice. And many in our world today are trapped because no one will listen to their cries for help. But Ursula was defeated in the end with the help of Ariel’s friends. Ariel got her voice back and won Eric’s heart. In the same way, we can learn to hear the voices of the voiceless, and we can help others hear them, too. Being a Voice isn’t about being famous or changing the world all by yourself. It’s simply using your gifts and abilities to bring awareness and help to individuals that have been oppressed or forgotten.
Who do you know that is voiceless? What is one creative way you can be a Voice for them today?