By Kristie McLean
One week from today I will be flying to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on a trip to highlight the issue of obstetric fistula and women’s reproductive health as a member of the SalaamGarage media team. I’ve been passionate about women’s issues for many years (education for girls, child-brides in Afghanistan, women’s groups saving for water tanks in Kenya) and am excited by this latest opportunity to intersect my creative gifts with the stories of the world that need telling.
This was my first experience with Kickstarter as a fundraising platform, and I was hesitant in the beginning, both with the concept and the technology. Like others, I’ve grown up with the desire to be independent and self-sufficient and a reticence to ask for help- especially in terms of money!
The idea, however, of raising awareness around an issue that is important to me (and especially one that is treatable and preventable!) makes it easy to want to get the word out. Why should there be women suffering unnecessarily when it’s completely possible to educate and create support structures during pregnancy, labor, and beyond? This is not a woman’s issue; it’s an issue of the world and a marker of the health of our planet’s future.
The tool through Kickstarter of setting up “rewards” for different price points is an interesting one. Fundamentally, I want to come home and share about my trip. I want to share photos and facilitate discussions and create a multi-media digital story around fistula in Ethiopia and around the globe, so this feels like a natural gift for donors and anyone interested in learning more.
I’ve been touched beyond measure by the outpouring of support for this journey. People want to share the link and the message. In the beginning, donations came in from people I knew directly: friends, colleagues, folks from the varied communities where I live and work and travel. But then a lovely thing emerged: I’ve had notes and donations from people whom I’ve never met! Just like in my coaching work, it is often the communities of our communities who are also longing to help and to be part of something broader than themselves.
A common response has been, “I’m so glad you’re doing what you do around the globe! It’s necessary and important, and I can’t wait to see your photos. Supporting you is my way of helping the world!”
This mindset is a gift and a reminder of how we are all connected. Our gifts matter. Our passions matter. Our wild-haired ideas of making a difference and working to improve the status quo: they’re important and critical in living fully our one wild and precious life!
Deep thanks to all who have donated and supported this upcoming journey to Africa- both for your monetary contributions as well as your prayers, good wishes, and energy directed toward service. And to those of you teetering on the brink of reaching out- please do, knowing that I am a good steward of your voice and hands and efforts out in the world.
All of us occasionally need a kickstart to launch a new project and to trust more fully in our own capacity. Thanks for being a wonderful part of this one!
“Women of the World: Afghanistan and Guinea-Bissau” at Blurb by Kristie McLean