Guest writer Janeen Halliwell details her efforts to help local communities move forward
An outreached hand is hard to ignore and is commonplace wherever one travels today. It is especially prevalent in the developing world, where it is difficult to turn away without feeling guilt. Unfortunately, giving
is often accompanied by many unknowns – who will end up with the money given, and how will it be spent?
Most travellers I have met want to give back and show gratitude for their ability to visit countries where many citizens don’t have the luxury of taking a holiday, let alone get on a plane. I too strongly value giving back and wanted to make it easy to do for the women attending We Move Forward, a 3-day International Women’s Day event held on Isla Mujeres, The Island of Women, Mexico.
When I created We Move Forward in 2011, I began by identifying four core values that would guide my actions and business practices – Goodness, Diversity, Creating Positive Change, and Giving Back.
Through We Move Forward, I intended to create a community of good-hearted and like-minded women
who are supportive of one another. I also believe that diversity spurs compassion, understanding and enlightenment, so I included strategies to attract a good blend of women for the event.
I wanted to create an experience that
prompted women to turn inspiration into action – yes, there would be motivational talks, but there would also be interactive discussions and activities.
Most importantly, giving back would be threaded throughout We Move Forward in ways that benefit all the women who attend,
including local women and the community of Isla Mujeres.
Here’s what else I’ve done to give back:
- We Move Forward is priced modestly to provide opportunities for all women, including those on a tight travel budget, to attend this “crazy amazing conference.”
- For every 10 women that register, 1 local woman is sponsored to attend at no cost.
- On International Women’s Day, Consejo Maya Nuevo Sol (Mayan Council of Grandparents of New Sun) gives a blessing, and a donation is made to the Council.
- A portion of each registration goes to a local charity. In 2014, the charity will be The Ron Brown Scholarship Fund, which supports local Islena youth to further their education.
- A ‘We Move Forward Connection Session’ is held for 2 hours on the first day of the event, and conference participants and local women can share information about their businesses and sell wares.
In 2013, a 10,000 peso donation was made to the Isla Mujeres Department of Infants and Families (DIF) for mobility aids – wheelchairs, walkers, crutches and canes – to help locals move forward.
Other things We Move Forward has done? Well,
- One conference session in 2013 involved five 10 minute presentations from female charity leaders. This was a great opportunity for the women to share information about their passion and purpose.
- And each year, there are speakers who draw participant’s attention to good work happening by women and for women around the globe, such as Founders: Molly Fisher of Peace Mexico, Karen Sugar of Women’s Global Empowerment Fund, Angelina de Galdemaz of Casa Guatemala, and Alison Sawyer-Current of Isla Animals, who entertains the crowd and brings them to tears with stories about her work – including the rescue of over 4,000+ dogs.
I know there are some Worldettes out there who would love to re-energize all that makes them whole – body, mind, and soul – while giving back to local women and the community of Isla Mujeres this International Women’s Day. Let’s connect in March 2014 on tropical Isla Mujeres!
Will I see you there?
Janeen Halliwell is the Founder & Director of We Move Forward. She is a firm believer that we are all ordinary women that are capable of extraordinary things. Taking time out to get clear on our desired future brings us closer to experiencing it. Surrounding ourselves with like-minded & hearted women is the perfect environment to build our confidence to take our next step forward. Believe in yourself and pay attention to those who believe in you too. You can follow her on We Move Forward’s webpage, Facebook, and Twitter.
How have you contributed to your local community? Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to be featured.