MAMA OF THE MONTH: BECKY STRAW

What an honor it is to introduce the Somebody’s Mama community to our next Mama of the Month. If you’ve been hanging out with us for awhile now, you may rememberJody, our very first M.O.M. who co-founded The Adventure Project. Our newest M.O.M. is Jody’s fierce leader/partner at The Adventure Project, Becky Straw.

Our focus this quarter is economic empowerment, and there is no one in our circle who represents more what it means to empower women around the world through economic development than Becky. After earning a Master's in Social Enterprise from Columbia University, Becky spent three years helping launch the non-profit, charity: water from couch to conference room. Since 2010, Becky has been leading the team at The Adventure Project. In four years, they have created 745 jobs that have resulted in helping almost one million people in Haiti, India, Kenya, and Uganda.

We asked Becky some questions, so our Somebody’s Mama community can understand who she is and why we’ve chosen her organization as the recipient of the proceeds of our next quarterly project.

Why do you do the work you do?

“The Adventure Project is focused on creating jobs in developing countries. We channel charity strategically towards jobs that lift people out of poverty while transforming local communities with life-saving services. We do this work because it gives people dignity. The number one wish for people around the world isn’t a hand-out—it’s a good job. People want to be able to care for their families, send their kids to school, and lead healthy lives. Our goal is to create jobs that empower, while saving as many lives as possible.”

What lessons have you learned from your mother that shape how you view the world?

“My mom was my best friend. She passed away six-months ago from a short-battle with a rare lung cancer. It came out of nowhere. One day she was fine, the next she was sick. Really sick. I’m still processing and stumbling to figure out my grief. People describe loss as a hole in your heart, but it feels more like a thousand small holes right now. She was so interwoven in my daily thoughts and who I am as a person. She was my sounding board for my concerns and joys. The hardest part has been when I instinctively grab my phone to call her and realize I can’t. 

During our last few months together she would say things like, ‘How much do you think this chemo costs? Think of how much our insurance is paying to keep me alive, yet how cheap it is to save someone’s life in a developing country.’ Even during her deep, personal pain, she was encouraging me to keep working.”

This quarter, as our community focuses on economic empowerment, we are partnering with Becky and The Adventure Project to “hire” fifteen women. Here’s how it works: it is only $30 per month ($360 for one year) to provide the skilled training and support for one woman to become a health care promoter in Uganda. Once she’s working, she cares for an average of 700 people in her community, paying special care to pregnant mothers and children. After the health care promoter is working, she earns a living from the commission of her sales. She is thriving and self-sufficient.

What does that $360 do? Women complete a training program through Living Goods to learn how to diagnose and treat the majority of preventable illnesses plaguing their neighbors. Then, once they pass the government-licensing test, they are able to sell over 60 different health products in their community, at prices that are affordable to the poor. They sell everything from malaria meds, fortified food to solar lights. Often, this is the first skilled health worker to live in the community. For the first time, hundreds of households have someone nearby when their kids get sick.

To read more about one woman whose life has been transformed and in turn whose community has been transformed, read Gertrude’s story told by Becky here.

So are you ready for this, Mamas? We would like each Love Club to decide how many women they want to hire. It takes $360 to hire one woman, and our goal is to hire 15 women total, which means we need to raise $5,400. Piece of cake, right?

What’s beautiful about the Somebody’s Mama community is that several of you are giving monthly (huge round of applause), and a couple of you have already donated toward this project because you just couldn’t wait for the launch! We’ve already raised $1,080—20% of our project goal—which means Somebody’s Mama has hired three Ugandan health care promoters before the project even began. Talk about some awesome.

As we celebrate Becky today, we celebrate one individual’s willingness to lead the charge in changing thousands, possibly millions, of lives. This is it, Mamas—this is why we exist—to turn ideas into action, and we thank Becky and The Adventure Project for letting us be a part of this tremendous effort! For more information about what it means to "hire someone," click here.

We’re looking for Mamas ready to rally their friends to do good! If you are ready to host a Love Club, contact at somebodysmama@outlook.com or on our Facebook page. If you're ready to donate directly, click here and put any amount in the Somebody's Mama box.

Photo credits to Esther Havens.