Wednesday, July 20, 2011

# giving back # guest post

Guest Post : Story Telling


What is your story?

This afternoon I watched a video of Author Chimamanda Adichie give a speech titled The Danger of the Single Story. This video is an incredible testament of our human tendency to boil the beautiful intricacies of our world down to surface level single stories. After watching this video, I began reflecting on all the ways that our culture encourages us to avoid seeing people, countries, and even entire continents as intricate works of art. Sometimes we even allow other’s misunderstandings to become the very lens for which we determine truths and make assumptions of the world around us. I do not know about you, but I want to enjoy this world in its entire splendor. I do not want a portion of the story…. No, I want the entire story; or at least I want to strive to see, hear, taste, feel, live, breath, and love in full.

Maybe our tendency is to choose a single story because it is more comfortable. Perhaps if life is made up of vignettes of single truths we can more easily comprehend. Well, I prefer a more complicated route. Maybe you agree with me. Maybe you have yourself been a victim of the single story that without your permission “defined” how others understood you. Maybe you became the boy with an addiction or the girl that struggles with her weight. Perhaps you were the man who got it wrong or the woman who is angry. I hope you know that you are far more than this single story. Please, please believe that you are more than this story.

I think it is time we stand up to the single story and show that this world is just too beautiful to be misunderstood labeled, and stereotyped. Adichie eloquently shares that she “always felt that it is impossible to engage properly with a place or a person without engaging with all of the stories of that place and that person. The consequence of the single story is this: It robs people of dignity. It makes our recognition of our equal humanity difficult. It emphasizes how we are different rather than how we are similar.”

So, today I challenge you to join me in telling another story. We each have our own passions and dreams; and we all possess knowledge of injustices that get to the core of our very being and stir up all sorts of emotions.  We have all witnessed people robbed of their dignity and now it is time to tell another story, a more accurate and truthful story.

The single story I wish to expand begins with the continent of Africa. Too often Africa is painted in the shadows of three dark topics: corruption, conflict, and disease. Unfortunately, some of this is a reality in Africa; nonetheless, there is more to this story. There is incredible beauty in which I can witness to you today after spending time living on and studying the Continent.

Today, I want to share with you about an amazing African organization that is working toward sustainable transformation in the West African country of Ghana. In Ghana, there is a vibrant culture of capable, innovative, and talented business people actively searching for opportunities to expand their businesses and transform their communities. Hopeline institute works with these business people, specifically aiming to provide egalitarian access to marginalized populations. Since 2007, Hopeline Institute has as served and invested in over 500 women-owned businesses. Many of these micro-businesses have grown to small and medium sized enterprises, creating jobs and positively transforming entire communities.  I believe this is a pretty impressive story that is lost when Africa is labeled as the “dark continent”.

This August, I have the incredible opportunity to return to Ghana as an intern with Hopeline Institute. As I work with Hopeline Institute, I will aim to energetically contribute to the restoration of hope and dignity to marginalized populations throughout Ghana by being a positive, affirming, and encouraging partner, and walking alongside Ghanaian business owners who are working to make an impact in their community. As an intern I will assist in the implementation of the small and medium size enterprise program, focusing on business training and mentoring.  I will make field visits to member businesses, gather business stories, share promising practices and lessons learned, coordinate Global Business Affiliate visits, and facilitate cultural awareness training programs.  Additionally, I will participate as needed in the Village Savings and Loan Association project, now in over 190 villages, and the Behavioral Health Change program, also run by Hopeline Institute. However, I will need to raise a total of $15,480 dollars to cover all of my travel, work, and living expenses for the entire year. At this time I would like to request that you consider joining me on a journey to tell a different story about Africa, a story of hope, innovation, creativity, and transformation.

There is another side to every story. Now is the time that this side of the story is told. May you find your story and may you tell it with deep rooted passion and belief in the beauty and intricacies of this world.

Have a beautiful day, my story telling friends.

All donations are tax deductible. Online donations can be made by visiting http://donate.partnersworldwide.org. At the Gift Designation section, choose “People” and then choose “Emily Daher (Ghana)” in the box to the right. Please make checks payable to Partners Worldwide and designate “Emily Daher” on the memo line to be sure your donation is directed toward my work in Ghana. Checks should be mailed to Partners Worldwide, 6139 Tahoe Dr. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546. 
Thank you for your time, consideration, and support. To learn more about my work in Ghana please visit http://emilydaher.wordpress.com/ .

To view Author Chimamanda Adichie’s speech visit: http://www.ted.com/talks/view/lang/eng//id/652


Emily is the younger sister of one of my friends and after hearing her story, I wanted to do what I could t help her dream come true. As of this writing, Emily still needs $8,840 dollars for her story to become a reality. She told me that she had to have half of her money pledged before she could go and then she could continue to raise funds while she is in Africa. Let's see what we can do to get her there. I know that we can do this. I have faith in us. Please share this post with anyone you know. Let's get Emily to Ghana.

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