Posted: by Jo Monday, 25 January 2021 @ 16:53
Inspired to be their best selves
Over the last 4 years, we have been running
our #mybestself campaign, to learn from different women about what makes
them step up to be their best self in any given situation.
We have learned what it is in someone’s
upbringing which spurs them on to greater things; role models who provide
inspiration to go above and beyond; and how people use mantras to inspire a change in their behaviour.
In 2021, we decided to focus on a
particular audience, to understand what drives them: the women and men who set
up or work in the charities which we support through our ‘Mantra Changes Lives’
initiative. Does it take a particular kind of person to
devote their working life to helping people? Is it a calling? Or did an event
occur in their lives which drew them to this work?
I’m sure we will get 12 different answers
from 12 different people, and I am fascinated to find out what those answers
are. Stay with me through the year as I interview some remarkable people who
work in the charitable or not-for-profit sector, who are changing lives every
day. They are people who have truly stepped up to be their best selves.
One of our long-standing charity partners is Women for Women International (UK Charity Registration Number 1115109).
I was excited to find out more about what
drew Sarah Wyns, Corporate Partnerships Officer, to work for the charity; what drives her day-to-day through the
inevitable difficulties and challenges; and what her greatest desire is for the
charity in 2021 and beyond.
Jo: Tell me a little about Women
for Women International – what are the charity’s aims?
Sarah: We believe women
have the power to transform their lives; but when women are undervalued, they
lose this power. Conflict and war deepen this injustice. Our global community
invests in women survivors of war and conflict, providing them with social and
economic skills to transform their own lives and make their voices heard at
home and in their community. They pass this knowledge to those around them,
creating a more just world – a world where every woman’s voice, role, and
contribution is visible and valued. A world where women realise their power.
Women for Women
International supports women in conflict-affected countries including Iraq,
Afghanistan, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Rwanda to
overcome the horrors of war and rebuild their lives.
tell me – what was it that prompted you to join this amazing charity?
Sarah: Before joining
Women for Women International, I was working in in the fashion industry. I
rapidly realised that I didn’t feel fulfilled, and spent some time re-thinking
my ambitions. I was looking for a job that would allow me to drive change when
I came across a role in the fundraising team at Women for Women International.
The charity’s mission spoke to me straight away. Being
of part-Rwandese heritage, I already had a strong understanding of the
disproportionate impact conflict has on women. Learning from the aftermath of
the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, I also knew how crucial women
were to repairing society. It is essential to invest in women for many reasons,
including for countries to rise out of poverty and build a hopeful future. This
is why I was immediately attracted to Women for Women International’s
incredible work. It means a lot to me to be able to help women around the world
who have gone through similar experiences as some of my family members did.
Jo: What does the charity hope
to achieve 2021, and longer term?
Sarah: We are so proud to have been able to continue to
provide critical resources and knowledge to the women we serve in 2020. The
women in our programmes were able to access knowledge and power, build
resilience, and drive positive change within their communities. However, women
in conflict-affected countries continue to deal with the long-term consequences
of the pandemic and repeated lockdowns: to name only a few, financial
insecurity and increasing rates of gender-based violence. In 2021, our focus is
therefore to continue to raise awareness around the deep inequalities women
survivors of war face as well as raising vital funds to provide them with the
skills, knowledge and resources they need to build back better after the
about long-term aims also requires reflecting on successes that have already
been achieved. Since Women for Women International began in 1993, we have
reached over half a million women survivors of war. In the next ten years, we
want to be able to reach millions more of women around the world.
Jo: There must be innumerable
challenges – logistical, political, financial, emotional – to delivering on the
charity’s aims, especially now with the impact of Covid. How do you stay
motivated and focused, through all of that?
Sarah: The COVID-19 crisis has led to a severe
decrease in income for the global charity sector, at a time where our work is
needed the most, placing charities under strain. Despite the unprecedented challenges of 2020, I am so proud of our global team and thankful to our community for
everything we have achieved – that is what keeps me motivated. To recap 2020 in
a few numbers: Women for Women international served 14,340 women during the
pandemic, distributed 5,900 hygiene kits and emergency cash assistance to over
6,000 women. I’m
so lucky to be surrounded by supportive colleagues who are incredibly hard-working,
resilient and care deeply about our work. They inspire me to do better every
Jo: Did you plan, when you set
out in your career, that this is what you would be doing?
Sarah: Not at all! As I
mentioned before, I studied Fashion Management at university and was on my way
to pursue a career in the industry. In a way, I feel like working in corporate
fundraising combines both of my interests. I love that through my work, I get
to build relationships with great businesses in various sectors – including
fashion – and connect people to our cause.
Jo: Do you have a mantra, or
positive phrase, that you live your life by?
Sarah: A phrase that has
stayed with me over the years is one that is as old as the hills: everything
happens for a reason. The philosopher Marcus Aurelius said: "Everything
that happens happens as it should, and if you observe carefully, you will find
this to be so."
This quote really helps me to take a step back
during challenging times, reflect and trust the process. As we often hear, life
is 10% what happens to us and 90% of how we react to it and I find that the
philosophy behind everything happens for a reason is really effective in
changing my perspective to situations that may initially appear as negative.
Jo: I love your
mantra. I also firmly believe in that philosophy. We can’t change the events that
happen in our lives, but we can absolutely have control over how we respond to
them, and we can influence how they shape us. It really helps to believe that
there is a reason behind why things happen.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me,
Sarah. Women for Women International does truly valuable and necessary work,
and we are honoured to play a small part in the fundraising efforts.
Our Mantra Collaboration
We help to support Women for Women
International’s (UK Charity Registration Number 1115109) vital work, by donating 25% of the sales of our ‘Sisterhood’ Necklace
to them. Take a look at our ‘Sisterhood’ necklace here:
This month, there is a chance to win one of
‘Sisterhood’ necklaces for your best friend. With
its mantra, ‘We are all sisters, by birth or by bond’, it brings together women
everywhere, and celebrates our closeness. Visit our Competition page page to see how to enter, or follow us on our
Competition closes midnight on Sunday 28th February