Twenty years ago, my family and I spent two years in Ireland. I had a baby there, and spent a few days in the maternity ward at the Coombe Hospital in County Dublin. The amenities were different, the accents were different, the food was different. I almost refused breakfast one day because I had no idea what a “full fry” was. This was before cell phones were commonplace, and my family was too far away to call. As an observer, I found myself paradoxically lonely and completely intrigued. There were three other women in my semi-private room. One had just delivered her ninth baby, and another was celebrating the birth of her first. There was so much to take in.
Over those two years, we made new friends through our church, work, neighbors, and travels. We visited other European cities and met people from France, Belgium, England, Northern Ireland, Austria, Germany, Poland, Italy, Spain, Botswana, South Africa, Romania and Russia. I loved the constant newness of it all, but I began to realize quickly the commonalities between the people I met. No matter the language or the background, the people I met could be coaxed easily into conversations about their family, their upbringing, and their lives in general. Listening to a mother speaking to a child, I could recognize what she was saying. Mothers everywhere say the same simple phrases like, “Be Careful,” “Be nice to the baby,” “Watch out for the cars,” and, “How old is your baby?”
At one point, I found myself in a country where I knew only a few words of the language. My kids were hungry, and I pushed the stroller into a little sandwich shop. Obviously, the employees and I couldn’t communicate verbally, but through a mix of hand motions, a few apologies (one of the few words I did know), smiles, a couple of words, and a look of relief, we fumbled through and communicated. I have thought often of the kindness of those shop owners and their patience with me. More than that, I have thought of the universality of the human condition–the impulse to help the person in front of you and make life better.
All over the world, our global sisters love. They seek to improve the world around them, and they seek to share their lives with those with whom they come into contact. There are difficulties everywhere. Some are heart wrenching and seem impossible to overcome. There is poverty, lack of clean water, trafficking, famine, war, fatherless homes, natural disasters, prejudice, inequality, lack of access to education, and other hidden sorrows that are overlooked. Women have the power to positively affect these struggles. Given the opportunity, women, working with other women, meet the challenges in front of them, and devise solutions that are specifically targeted and ingenious.
As Big Ocean women, we seek to cooperate with women wherever they are to find ways to reframe and solve problems in long-lasting generative ways. We believe that intentional, focused women, have the power and the insight to invent and create new solutions. We cheer for our sisters around the globe, we pray for each other, and we seek ways to stand shoulder to shoulder in supporting and helping each other.
This month we will send a delegation to the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women. There will be women from all over the world, and our delegation will keep their hearts open as we get to know more of our sisters who are looking for solutions for myriad issues. We will bring you stories of your global sisters who are creating generative solutions, in noble, courageous ways.
There are many wise and capable women everywhere who understand their communities, and we cheer their tireless efforts, and seek ways to support those efforts in whatever way we can, remembering that we have more in common than we often realize.