I was fresh out of college and eager to make a difference in the world when I arrived at the airport to head to the Middle East. It was with tears in my heart but a smile on my face that I said goodbye to my parents and walked through the terminal to what would become one of the greatest adventures of my life.
I had traveled to China before on my own, but always at the other end of my journey was my parents, their home and familiar surroundings. This time, I knew six people who would meet me on the other side, but I was entering a place completely foreign to me.
Sure, I had read books on Middle Eastern culture, looked at the map, researched apartments and knew enough about how women were viewed to know to be on my guard. But it wasn’t until I drove through the streets, heard the call to prayer, and ate the food that I fell in love with this part of the world.
The falafel, schwerma, hummus and fresh pita. The sunsets. The skyline of the city dotted with minarets. The desert. The crowded streets and markets where I enjoyed wandering from shop to shop. The Dead Sea. The ancient ruins that made some of the stories from the Bible come to life.
It wasn’t just the sights and sounds that I came to love. When I began teaching English to some Jordanian woman, I began to understand and fall in love with the beauty of the people.
These women were just like me: emotional, driven, full of dreams and hopes, wanting to enjoy and make the most of their lives.
Yet, some of these women struggled in ways that I would never understand: unhappy arranged marriages, inability to pursue their dreams due to cultural and religious reasons, and poverty.
We hear about poverty all over the world but until we encounter it face to face we don’t understand the impact that it has on peoples’ lives. And it’s easy to feel like anything we might do would simply be a drop in the bucket compared to what is truly needed.
Well, I have a way for you today to help make a difference for the people in the Middle East.
Ten Thirty Three is an organization that provides impoverished women in the Middle East with marketable skills, allowing them to have a sustainable source of income. The products they make are bags — purses, totes, clutches — beautiful handmade bags that tell a story.
Just recently, 1033 launched a new campaign with a new bag to help #reversepoverty.
Appropriate to the campaign, these bags are reversible. And can I just say that I love that pink giraffe print!
Each of these bags tells a story, and I wanted to share one story with you today. Please, take just a short minute to watch this video of one woman whose life has been reversed through the work that 1033 is doing in the Middle East.
Then, click on this link and see how you can purchase one of these bags and support this campaign.
We all buy purses, right? So instead of running to Target, TJMaxx, or your favorite department store, purchase a bag that will tell a story and help make a difference in someone’s life.
Let’s help #reversepoverty in the Middle East today!
Would you be willing to help spread the word? Here are a few ways you can help:
1. Purchase a bag via this link, or donate money to support the campaign. Then, tell your friends what you did!
2. Tweet this message (just copy and paste into a new tweet) : Help make it happen for Bags that #reversepoverty on @indiegogo http://igg.me/p/1255211/twtr
3. Visit Ten Thirty Three on Facebook, like their page and then share one of the videos that are posted. The option is underneath the video, so all it takes is a simple click.
Thanks in advance, readers, for helping to make a difference in the Middle East!