Changemakers for Women
CGIU: Changemakers for Women began as a student organization in 2007, after several students attended the inaugural meeting of Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU) in New Orleans. Right away, the group agreed on a commitment to helping at-risk women and girls. CGIU attendees in 2009 were inspired by dialogue between former President Bill Clinton and Women for Women International founder and CEO Zainad Salbi. The mission of Salbi’s organization — empowering women who are victims of war with rehabilitation and education — gave the group a new focus and a goal: sponsorship for those in Women for Women programs.
The group is fundraising to provide 25 yearlong sponsorships at $314 each over the next three years. One sponsorship was secured in 2009, and students donated funds to sponsor four more women in October 2010. Read more about the group’s presentation to Women for Women Executive Director of Global Programs Karen Sherman on Mary Baldwin News.
“It is powerful to realize that so little of our money — $27 a month — can have such a big impact on their lives,” said Jessie Bleckfeld-Sztraky ’11, co-president of Changemakers for Women in 2010-11.
Each member of the student organization also makes an individual commitment to service in the Staunton community.
THE FIRST SPONSORSHIP: ADOLPHINE TUMUSIFU M’BAHATI
Adolphine Tumusifu M’Bahati, of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), is a 30-year-old mother of six who cares for four additional children. Since 1998, war and political oppression have caused constant conflict in DRC, and M’Bahati’s family is an example of the results. She has basic primary education and works as a day laborer, but a lack of money prevents any of the children from attending school and they have no electricity or running water. M’Bahati has lost family members to the war, poverty, illness, and political strife.
While attending Women for Women classes during the next year, M’Bahati will learn about women’s rights and technical and business skills. Upon graduation, she will be given access to jobs or the tools to start her own business. Education will help shape a better future for M’Bahati and her family. While in classes, she will be surrounded by 25 other women who form a support system.