The Game When you own the mind…you own the body.

The Game

When you own the mind, you own the body.

I set the alarm for 12:30 AM. I knew I wouldn’t actually sleep. Just mostly trying to rest, anticipate and be open to the mission I was a part of that cold November night. I knew to be sure to bring a jacket, as the windows would be down a lot.

They call it “the game”. The game of pimps owning girls, pimps competing with one another to steal their girls, pimps patrolling the streets to make sure the girls didn’t talk to the competition. If the girls talk to the competition, it can be dangerous. She can be abused, cut, made to pay in a number of ways.

It was now nearing 1 AM. I was in the car with Kyla, who does this every week. Connecting with the girls on the street. Showing them a way out. We saw a few young girls dressed like they had been out for the night.human-trafficking Out “clubbing”. Were they on their way home? They walked across the busy lanes of the well-lit retail area and into a residential neighborhood. We stopped at the light and we watched them disappear into the darkness.

“Look ahead…see all those cars going into that neighborhood? Do you see their taillights? Do you see how they are all turning left? Those are Johns”, Kyla told me.

We pulled across the street and took our place. It felt like we were in the drive-thru at McDonalds- waiting our turn. And when we made our left turn into the neighborhood we became a part of a mass of cars, all with one driver, some old, some young, all sharing the same common denominator of seeking sex for hire. It was a mid-month Friday night. Pay day when not so many bills were due. So extra money meant more dollars to spend on sex.

Sophia was the first girl I met. She was maybe 15 with her pimps name tattooed on her neck. Sophia was standing by herself at the edge of the street, waiting for a car to pull over and invite her in. Dressed in a red mini skirt, a faux fur black vest with a black bra underneath, and spike black and silver high heels, she walked over to us when we rolled down the window. “Hi” we said.” would you like a gift?” How about some hot chocolate? Pretty cold out there tonight isn’t it?” ‘Oh yes, thank you,’ said Sophia.

We had instant hot chocolate ready and handed it to her. “By the way,” Kyla said, “we know about the game. You’ll find a lip gloss with an 800 number on it in the little gift bag.” Sophia moved back to her spot on the street. Back to work.

There were 13 girls on the block that night. Some of the young girls were sure to have been trafficked. The young victims could have come from playgrounds, malls, online and as runaways. And some older who were probably taken years ago. Some were dressed scantily, others dressed in sweats. Some of them were Caucasian, some African American, some Hispanic…a mix of nationalities and mostly women. The young victims came from playgrounds, malls, online and as runaways.

My experience that night could be played out in many cities and towns across the country.

There’s much to learn. There’s so much to know about this billion dollar industry. How can we get involved in eradication, how can we recognize the need for us to come together and create awareness. And how can we recognize the signs of trafficking in order to help.

Linda Rendleman

CEO/Cofounder

Women Like Us Foundation

 

Her Work-Women’s Work

Her work, I really think her work
Is finding what her real work is
And doing it,
Her work, her own work,
Her being human,
Her being in the world.

Ursula K. Le Guin

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What is OUR work?  The work of the feminine…the work of this gender… the meaning to the activities of our lives, day in and day out.

My mind runs to the measuring of my life by the quality of relationships; family, children, friends, coworkers and the richness felt by my personal soul when I give back to the world.

But these would simply be the by-product of an even deeper work, a work that is constant and continual and has been there my entire life.  From the moment that I get out of bed, throughout my days, into my evenings; over holidays, Saturdays, Sundays; in times of joy, in times of strife, in times of quiet reflection or chaos;  that deeper work is the discovery, re-discovery and re-birth of me along the way.

My work is to be a woman on my own terms and of my own definition.  My work is to understand that the woman I was at 19, at 32, at 45, at 55 and on and on will be ever-growing, continually developing, always learning and re-defining the meaning of me.  And it’s my work to persevere in it.

And so, my work, is to understand, accept, support, educate and know, really know, the person who is me. To question, seek answers, feel the energy of the world and claim what I want from it, and, in turn encourage other women to come along with me.  And, as I travel on this life journey of defining and knowing myself, of being a part of and doing the job of living, I know that my work is to make my own personal contribution and share what I’ve learned with the world so you, they, whomever, too can take what is needed from my life and do your work.

Linda Rendleman  CEO/Cofounder
Women Like Us Foundation

 

She feeds the soul and the body …

Women Like Us Foundation supports women who are making a difference for humanity and specifically women who have created charities that we believe are meaningful and impactful in making the world a better place for all of us.

Laura Henderson is one of those women.  Listen to her interview on Women of Focus, WFYI Public Radio.  Hosted by Jill Ditmire.  She’s nourishing bodies and souls in Indianapolis, Indiana.

https://womenlikeusfoundation.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/junewlufwfyi1.mp3

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Growing Places Indy was launched by Laura Henderson, executive director, in  2009 and gained 501c3 status in 2012.  In 2009, the director of White River State Park reached out to Laura and her family to start a vegetable garden.  There was no specific vision or plan, but there was a space available for the endeavor in Indianapolis.  Laura saw the opportunity to use the high-profile location to engage the community in conversations about food, where it comes from, farming practices and our food system.  In the first year of the operation, she also recognized for more vegetable farmers to serve the Central Indiana market.  This prompted her to imagine using her Slow Food Garden in White River State Park as a training ground for future urban farmers.

Watch for Laura’s story in the upcoming Women Like Us Book due out Spring, 2016.

 

 

The scars within her were used for helping other girls in Kenya…

Kim Dewitt- “I knew the scars I carried within me could enable me to be a voice for others.”

Women Like Us.  Three Journeys.  One Mission.  To Change the World.
 The Women Like Us Foundation Documentary is Coming Soon!

 

 

Women Like Us Foundation is a non-profit organization supporting women’s charitable leadership. Together we’re helping women change the world.

The Women Like Us Foundation has traveled to the Olmalaika Home and spent time understanding the girls’ needs.  We have supported the program and provided funds for necessities, such as clean water through a newly built water tank.  We will be returning, once again, to Olmalaika Home in June of 2016. To learn more about Kim Dewitt and her mission, visit our website at www.womenlikeusfoundation.org

Kim with the girls of Olmalaika home in Sekenani

Kim with the girls of Olmalaika home in Sekenani

“As a child I had been exposed to the ways of the Maasai tribe (…). I remember being separated from my family and led into the center of the women and girls. Later being returned with the red ocher painted on my face and beadwork hanging around my neck, I had no idea at that age that all the singing and dancing was really covering up a terrible deed – female genital mutilation.”

“The Maasai girls in Kenya, and girls in general around the world, need a voice and someone who can understand them. I knew then t530444_3582815327627_311638698_nhat the scars I carry within me enabled me to be a voice for them. There is a home now in Sekenani, Kenya filled with giggles and hugs coming from 38 little girls. It is called the OlMalaika Home – meaning “angel.” It’s a home for young Maasai girls between the ages of 5-12 that are at high risk of FGM and early childhood marriage. I like to say, “it is a home where little angels dwell.” –Kim Dewitt

The mission of Olmalaika Home is to house and protect young disadvantaged Maasai girls, providing a warm, nurturing environment.  The home hopes to guide these young women, to see themselves as persons of value, to foster respect and appreciation for their peers, teachers, leaders, and culture, and to enable them to be a generation of educated, productive, respected and valuable young women.  

There is a growing need for medical programs, educational development, additional counseling services, tutoring assistance, and living space.  Donations of all sizes are welcome. Even the smallest amount can make the difference in someone’s life. 

 

By: Sommer Bannan

Victorious Teens- Providing Support, Mentorship & Guidance to Underserved Teens in Africa

 

In 2014 Women Like Us Foundation traveled to Victorious Teens Bridge near the Rift Valley, Kenya. After meeting with the children of the Nakuru West School, and the women who were working to meet the tremendous needs of the vulnerable children within the community, Women Like Us Foundation took the initiative to get involved and join these women in their efforts within their community.

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Ann Kabui first began her mission in her own hometown Nakuru, Kenya. Understanding the challenges teens faced during their critical adolescent years, Ann began her personal efforts to support, mentor and guide both girls and boys. “I came from Rift Valley, Nakuru County, it was where I was brought up. I initially began by supporting a few girls around Nakuru by offering mentorship, career guidance, and providing them with necessary feminine items such as sanitary towels and undergarments. Donations came from personal contributions, but soon the demand became too high.” Shortly after, Ann met Beth Mwangi, a community liason. Together they began reaching out to the entire school through a program they initiated called Victorious Teens. Victorious Teens Bridge International seeks to inform, empower and nurture the underserved teenagers towards self-realization and foster development for future leadership. They strive to be the leading organization that empowers and nurtures vulnerable teenagers and women in Africa.

As the program developed, additional issues were brought to the women’s attention. They noticed that the female children were missing school due to a lack of sanitary towels and undergarments. This absenteeism led to dropouts, drug abuse, early marriages, and prostitution. Unfortunately, they became aware of a certain instances of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as well. Together, Ann and Beth began supporting and contributing with sanitary towels, undergarments and sports equipment. Bringing in the supplies not only assisted in their monetary needs, but it also helped bring the community together. “Bringing these supplies provided an environment of respect, acceptance, and skill development to our school children in marginalized areas.”

 

1436429293158In the last three years, Victorious Teens Bridge International has made great strides in improving community experience and the lives of families and children living in them. School dropouts have been reduced by 20% along with a substantial reduction in absenteeism and drug abuse. Children have had the opportunities to travel into the city to see and explore life opportunities for their future career possibilities. Through this youth empowering program, the children have developed self-esteem and acquired skills that will help them in all aspects of life.

Women Like Us Foundation supports Victorious Teens by providing funds and supplies for the underserved children of the school and community. The funds have been used to provide education and training for the parents and students on topics regarding HIV and Aids (prevention and measures), Sexual Education, and Simple Hygiene.  In addition, we supported and funded the program Beyond the Classroom, a trip the students attended on June 5, 2015. Women Like Us will be returning once again to the Nakuru West School in June of 2016. If you would like to learn more about the Victorious Teens Program, please visit our website at www.womenlikeusfoundation.org.

O1Written By: Sommer Bannan

Mom’s are getting the picture now…

Women Like Us Foundation is a non-profit organization supporting women’s charitable leadership.  Together we’re helping women change the world.  To learn more, visit our website at http://www.womenlikeusfoundation.org

Women Like Us. Three Journeys. One Mission. To Change the World.

Upcoming Documentary Film- January, 2016

Deb Myers, National President of Women Like Us Foundation and Director of the One Girl at a Time Program is a contributor to the upcoming film.  Here’s a sneak peek of what she has to say on making a difference and standing up as women for the good of the world.

E! News Catt Sadler…coproducer of upcoming documentary film sneak peek

Women Like Us Foundation is a non-profit organization supporting women’s charitable leadership.  Together we’re helping women change the world.  To learn more, visit our website at http://www.womenlikeusfoundation.org

Women Like Us. Three Journeys. One Mission. To Change the World.

Upcoming Documentary Film- January, 2016

Catt Sadler is the International Spokesperson for Women Like Us Foundation and the Coproducer of the upcoming documentary film…She traveled to Kenya and rode in the deep inner city of Los Angeles with a rescuer to learn more about the sex trafficking and what’s being done to save victims of this horrendous problem.

Here’s some sneak peaks…

Dianne Hudson, former Oprah Producer, contributes to WLUF Documentary

Women Like Us Foundation is a non-profit organization supporting women’s charitable leadership.  Together we’re helping women change the world.  To learn more, visit our website at http://www.womenlikeusfoundation.org

Women Like Us. Three Journeys.  One Mission.  To Change the World.

Upcoming Documentary Film- January, 2016

Dianne Hudson, past special advisor to Oprah Winfrey and President of the Oprah Winfrey Foundation and Oprah’s Angel Network, is a  contributor to our upcoming documentary film, lends her insight and thoughts for women’s leadership and change in the world in this sneak peek clip below.

 

Manny wanted to be a part of a better world…

Manny Santayana

 

Unknown

Supporter of the Women Like Us Foundation
Investor for the upcoming Women Like Us Documentary

Three Journeys. One Mission. To Change the World

Women Like Us Foundation is a non-profit organization supporting women’s charitable leadership.  Together we’re helping women change the world.  To learn more, visit our website at http://www.womenlikeusfoundation.org

 

 

Manny Santayana grew up in a rural town in Pennsylvania. He and his parents lived a modest life, his mother was a seamstress and his father worked on a dairy farm. “My parents were such kind people, they always believed in doing the right thing, always!” When Manny left high school his parents had saved their money to enable Manny to pursue his desires to attend Penn State University to study Psychology; he was fascinated to learn about the human condition, the human spirit. Manny decided to do something to make a difference in the world.

In 2004, Manny was headlined by ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings as “Person of the Week” for his contribution in Vietnam and return of US military dog tags to those who served and their families. Sponsorship of his work with Veterans was advised by Robert McNamara former Secretary of Defense- -under both JFK and LBJ, The Pentagon, Rudy Giuliani/Giuliani Partners, Senator John McCain’s Office and Senator James Beach of New Jersey. In 2007, Manny was appointed to the National Education Center Corporate Council by Jan Scruggs, founder of the VVMF and “Vietnam Wall” memorial, chaired by Christos Katsakos and Colin Powell. Manny is currently launching an electronic trading platform for security finance with BLACKLIGHT.

While his achievements are admirable, Manny defines his success quite differently than the accomplishments on his resume. “Success is about creating quality life experiences, whether it is with a client or with the staff. The essence of what our life story is about is determined by our quality of life. What’s important is the spirit of the human condition.”

Passionate about the growth of women in the financial arena he says, “We have had 40% women on the trading desk over the last 13-14 years, hoping to create a more realistic workplace that is reflective of larger society.  Adding female employees to the workplace adds stability… stability to your marketing, branding, and sales message to your clients.  The diversity adds normalization.”

Manny first heard about The Women Like Us Foundation and their efforts through his friend Andy Waldman, a fellow Wall Street friend who is now the owner of the popular women’s magazine, FOCUS. Manny became a supporter and investor in the foundation after hearing about their efforts to create awareness and to bring change and opportunity to others in need. “I support The Women Like Us Foundation and their mission to support women in their efforts to improve the lives of others both locally and globally.”

To learn more about our upcoming documentary, visit our website at http://www.womenlikeusfoundation.org

Written By: Sommer Bannan

The Dominican Republic- July 2015

Women Like Us Foundation

A Personal Reflection

By Sommer Bannan

Upon our departure from the Dominican Republic, Walter Cueva Diaz (one of the home-building volunteers) posted a trip picture on his Facebook with a quote from Mother Teresa, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples.”

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Where do I begin? How do I find the words for such an emotional and spiritual life experience? How does one capture the impact of an event through language: what the heart feels, what the mind has learned, how the spirit has grown? There were fifty-five men, women and children on the trip to the Dominican Republic—some of us members of the Women Like Us Foundation, others volunteers who had heard of the organization, their mission, and felt guided to contribute to this particular cause at this particular moment. Each one of us were brought together for a variety of personal reasons, but we were all there united with a similar goal, to give back in the world and to help others in need.

On the final evening of our mission abroad, after all three of our family’s homes were built and the work had been completed, we participated in a group reflection. The three housing teams sat together over dinner at a beachfront restaurant watching the waves roll to the shore, the moon shining brightly overhead, illuminating a glow on the fifty-five sun-struck cheeks and shoulders. There were sounds of happy chatter and grateful celebrations, excitement and passion for new beginnings of friendship, enthusiasm for the united contribution and hard work of new homes and new lives built for families in need. There was an air of exhilaration from the experience of communities brought together to help one another. Each team was asked to the front, and each volunteer was given the microphone to give a brief reflection, their own testimony about how the four day trip had impacted their life and what he/she would take home in their own hearts and share back in their own communities.

I was inspired by how many of our Women Like Us Foundation members and volunteers found such beautiful words and heartfelt expressions to describe their individual experience, what they had learned and how they had grown, their personal lives forever touched. It seemed like such a contradiction to me, with my own personal background in writing- and as the Women Like Us Foundation blogger, I couldn’t seem to find it within myself to articulate the words to truly describe what I felt inside. There were so many memories made and so many lessons learned in just four days. Where does one begin in capturing the essence of THIS story? Throughout the trip, it seemed that every few minutes I would whisper in my own head “now write THIS down” or “remember this because THIS is what will make a great story.. THIS is a memorable moment.” There were too many memorable moments to count. Regretfully, I didn’t stand with my team on our last night in front of the microphone. I sat at the table and tried with all my inner strength to hold back my tears; I was overcome with emotion. I truly couldn’t describe my deep sentiments into adequate words and I found myself speechless and humbled as the tears rolled down my cheeks.

Even now as I’m writing, where do I begin? Do I introduce my reflections with the trip’s beginning.. Saul’s genuine, welcoming smile when holding the Women Like Us Foundation sign as I made my way through the Santo Domingo airport customs, where I was eager to find my group congregating, friendships waiting to be made? Do I begin writing about the first impressions in the bus ride from the airport to the hotel, where Angela fittingly assessed our transportation (with the elaborate, draping curtains) as the “Scooby Doo bus?” Or, do I start by reflecting on my first introduction to my roomie in room 222, the beautiful (inside and out) Xochitl.. how we talked in bed until 2:30am getting to know one another, although terribly exhausted after a sixteen-hour traveling day (three flights and two layovers) and an early morning alarm clock awaiting? Perhaps I should first describe what we saw, the neighborhoods and landscape as we first drove our “Scooby Doo bus” onto our Dominican Republic rocky, dirt road with our wood, nails, hammers, and saws ready to be used for a greater good. Or, our initial apprehensions of beginning such a tremendously important task; the worries of how language might be a barrier in building connections with the families, or how our lack of knowledge in the expertise of building, construction, and electrical installation would be a barrier in providing a solid foundation and protection for the important new family dwellings?

When we arrived we were organized into three teams, there were three houses waiting to be built for three families in great need. My family included Ernestina Sanchez (the mother) and her three children (Dahiany-11, Darlin-5, Deivi-2). Like Ernestina, my mother was a single parent and I am a single mother. Like Ernestina, my mother raised three children. Ernestina shared with me her plan of opening a hair salon from her new home to support her family, as my mother had done in my own childhood. I talked with Ernestina while we were shopping for household supplies on our final day. Although we did not speak the same language, through Monica’s help with interpretation we recognized that we had so much in common. I’m not a religious person, but I do know that Ernestina was placed in my life and mine in hers; I do not believe it was a coincidence that I was assigned to build Ernestina’s home. I feel tremendously blessed and humbled to have been given the opportunity to make an impact in Ernestina’s life, as she and her community did in mine. I am blessed to have met such incredible and hard-working team members, and to be involved in such a dynamic organization, people coming together with like-minded spirits. On our final day, when we handed Ernestina the keys to her new home, I expressed to her that “it was built with love.” And, it whole-heartedly was!

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The family receiving the keys to their home.

I will never forget the anticipation and rush I felt as I watched Ernestina and her three children walking into their newly built and freshly painted yellow and blue home. I will never forget working, sweating, drilling, and pounding nails with my new friends (my new humanitarian family) from various cities, coming from various places in our lives. I will never forget the kind and meaningful words one of my teammates repeated to me throughout an entire day, he has no idea the impact his gentle words
made on my heart. I will never forget the neighborhood children waiting on the steps of the bus at the end of each day at our departure… waiting to wrap their arms around us in warm embracing hugs, despite the fact we were covered in sweat and dirt mixed with sunscreen and bug repellant. I will never forget the tremendous experience of my first (not last) humanitarian trip to the Dominican Republic. And, I will never forget that I, too, can make a difference in this world!

Women Like Us Foundation, Defender’s Direct, and YWAM- with all of my heart, thank you!

By: Sommer Bannan

If you would like to learn more about The Women Like Us Foundation, visit our website at http://www.womenlikeusfoundation.org

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Working together and building a home.

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One of the teams pushing their Scooby Doo bus to get it going.

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Day 3 of building the homes.

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Monica and Angela building the roof.

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Our arrival trip from the airport to the hotel on our Scooby Doo bus.

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