352: What shall we do now? Global voices are rising hopefully. Add yours!

 Betty Makoni leads a Zimbabwe parade
R
ead this line — and hear the chorus of hope:
    It is always great to cast a vote for someone you want to see president and know that vote is not rigged.

    This is a brand new comment about the swirl of hopes surrounding the inauguration of President Obama. But you may be thinking:
    What a strange thing to say! “It’s always great to cast a vote … and know it’s not rigged?”
    There is hope rising from these words — if you understand that the person is speaking from Zimbabwe, one of the most corrupt and dangerous corners of our planet Earth right now.
    And your spirits will rise further when you understand that the woman uttering these words is an courageous hero on behalf of some of the most vulnerable people in our global family.
    The speaker’s name is Betty Makoni — and she wrote this line just days ago for the PeaceXPeace (read it as “Peace-by-Peace”) Web site. This month, PeaceXPeace is partnering with ReadTheSpirit in celebrating the 2nd Annual Interfaith Heroes Month.

 2 Betty Makoni parade in Zimbabwe
    Who is Betty Makoni? Just reading about her accomplishments makes you want to spring from your chair and, as President Obama puts it, “pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin again …”
    Betty is a former schoolteacher who in 1998 started an organization with 6 girls that eventually grew to reach 500,000. She called her group the Girl Child Network, because its aim is to encourage girls to stay in school — and it combats the widespread abuse of girls in Zimbabwe.
    That work has been honored around the world and would have been enough — but, now, Betty is struggling to keep her voice echoing around our little planet at a time when Zimbabwe is suffering a complete collapse under the continuing dictatorship of Robert Mugabe. In recent days, news stories are telling of horrific conditions both inside the country and for refugees fleeing the poverty, the starvation and the rampant disease spreading through dirty water. Betty has a Zimbabwe-based Web site for her group, but despite repeated attempts from the ReadTheSpirit home office — we couldn’t get through in recent days.

    And yet —

    And yet — Betty managed to Email a message of hope around the recent U.S. elections. Can you believe that? How can you not be moved on a January morning by a woman whose spiritual wisdom moves on that level of global concern?
    If you want to talk with other readers, right now, about our own American responses to this historic moment, visit http://www.OurValues.org/ — or check out the other links under “Care To Read More?” at the end of this story.

 3 Betty Makoni speaking
HERE IS BETTY’S OWN MESSAGE, sent out to women in America in response to the inauguration. And, as incredible as this seems, she is writing not to complain about her own dire situation, but to encourage Americans to get busy in our own land. Here are her words — and her punctuation!!!!
.

Again and Again, Congratulations, Sisters!
    We were all glued to Botswana television and watched USA make history on inauguration of your first young, energetic, intelligent and black president. I follow every story when the Obama girls take to the world stage with their Dad, and that marks also a new beginning for all girls in the world. It says, Yes, we can do it, and what our fathers can do we can also do!!!!!!!!!!!
    Sisters, we want to congratulate you for the new era of hope and change. It is always great to cast a vote for someone you want to see president and know that vote is not rigged.
    Listening to Obama speak, though he did not mention names, here in Africa his message was very clear. Leaders in our part of the world must unclench their fists and stop blaming the West for their own manmade disasters. The message on food on the farms and clean running water was general, but we all embraced it in Zimbabwe because where I stayed myself I had no running water for a year, and now Zimbabwe has been struck with a cholera epidemic. Let’s hope our leaders in Africa embraced this message!!!!!!!
    Just last year I was invited by the current Vice President Joe Biden`s office to testify to the US Senate on the International Violence against Women Act. Then this was postponed due to the election campaigns. Now that elections are over, maybe sisters in the US can help him and us pass this bill into law. It will support groups like the Girl Child Network working to stop violence against women and girls in Africa. Also it would allow the US to intervene in cases like Jestina Mukoko`s, when women human rights defenders are incarcerated.
    We are fully aware of the many challenges our sisters in the US have during this transition. We will be with you in spirit and learn from your coping mechanisms.
    Once again, congratulations, our sisters. When I received emails from many of you or when we met, you sounded anxious and hoped for something new. Rest assured, you will all be okay.

 4 Betty Makoni in Zimbabwe with a child
    Our countries are in the same universe, but so different! Since 1980 when I turned 11, you sisters in the US have had more than 10 presidents. My son who turned 13 recently and myself have had ONLY ONE PRESIDENT in our lifetime. It is quite possible that my grandchildren will see the same. However I have been lucky because in neighboring beautiful and democratic Botswana I saw presidents do transitions smoothly and its people protected by the government. This also ushers hope for Africa, because leading democratic countries like Bostwana are good examples of what Africa can do if committed.
    Congratulations to you, sisters, and Michelle Obama too!!!!!! Your new administration has women and girls and children at heart.
    For the next few years we will work closely together to overcome the challenges women and girls face in both our countries.

— Betty Makoni

CARE TO READ MORE?

    Read another remarkable woman’s voice — this one from Kenya. You’ll be jumping to the Web site of our friends at PeaceXPeace.
    And here’s yet another PeaceXPeace voice, this one from an American woman who was in Addis Ababa as she contemplated her hopes for a changing spirit in America.
    Here’s a story on a UN-related Web site about Betty’s work with girls in Zimbabwe.

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    (Originally published at https://readthespirit.com/)

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