Through her non-profit disaster relief organization, Headwaters, Rebecca Thomley of Orion provides aid and comfort to families and communities in desperate situations all over the world. After a devastating earthquake hit Nepal in 2015, Headwaters sent a team of volunteers to train and support first responders. As Rebecca explained it, after a terrible natural disaster such as this one, communities and especially young girls are more vulnerable to human traffickers, who descend on these areas to take advantage of the chaos and lack of oversight that follows. Staying in school and high self-esteem help to protect girls from trafficking, so Rebecca set out to create community-based educational campaigns to inspire girls to look to the future with hope.
Rebecca connected with fellow Winning Women alumna, Dr. Lisa Williams from Positivelyperfect, and they worked together over many months to create the Asha (Hope) doll in the image of little girls in Nepal, down to their school uniforms, as part of an educational campaign to raise self-esteem and help Nepalese girls stay in school. As Lisa sees it, promoting self-love begins at an early age. She creates dolls with authentic skin tones and physical features to show multicultural children they are beautiful, while they learn to be kind and compassionate.
“We know how important the embracing of one’s own beauty is in the development of self-esteem,” says Rebecca. “Traditionally, beauty in Nepal has been promoted in western stereotypes. If a child has a doll at all, it looks like a blonde-haired Barbie. I cannot describe for you what it was like for these girls to hold not only a doll but a doll that looked like them.”
Another Winning Women alumna, Elisabete Miranda of CQ Fluency, translated the educational materials that go along with the dolls into Nepalese via a long-standing partnership with Headwaters through which CQ Fluency provides translation services for many of the educational books that Headwaters creates to help children cope after disasters strike.
“This work and the creativity and commitment of the women I have met and been so fortunate to work with as a result of the Winning Women program is priceless,” Rebecca added.
I can’t echo her sentiments enough. As we work to find our way through yet another wave of worrisome pandemic news, we can find hope in the partnerships launched by Winning Women and the infinite ripples of goodness these inventive women founders generate together.