Toronto’s Women’s Expo

For those of you who live in Toronto or close by, here’s an opportunity you won’t want to miss!

A Celebration of Women

 will be participating in the Toronto Women’s Expo and

are offering our clients, friends and associates

 a FREE Pass to the June expo!

Need a fun day out of the house?
Spend time with your friends?
Want to find a new look, product or service?
Want to learn something new for you or for your business?
Participate in a Speed Networking Event to increase your business contacts and leads, after the expo!
Spend the day out…..
You will gain information on;
·    how to empower yourself
·    find new and innovative products and services
·    attend a seminar
·    improve upon your physical and mental outlook
·    entering the business world
·    business improvements (seminars, workshops, presentations & speakers)
·    meet new people
·    find anything from hair, clothing, makeup and skin care to marketing, web design, and other business topics

We’ve created an event where women can come see, touch, hear, get educated, and see the latest products and services , in an event specifically targeted to women.

This full day event will Present itself on Sunday June 10, 2012 from 10am until 5pm at the Days Hotel, North York, 185 Yorkland Blvd. @ Hwy 401 & Hwy 404.  Speed networking will go from 5:30pm – 7pm.  FREE Parking!

You will find us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Blogs, Affiliates, Partners, YouTube, and Meetup.

Come unearth your feminine side at the Toronto Women’s Expo
Sunday June 10, 2012!

Pre-Registration is $10 and you will receive FREE gifts for pre-registering
Without pre-registering, entrance will be $14 at the door!

Click HERE to Pre-Register or go to http://torontowomensexpo.com/event-registration/?ee=1

A Celebration of Women associates, please use coupon code ‘celebrate’ to register for your FREE Pass to the expo. 

WOMEN of ACTION that want to participate at our Tables,

with your goods, services,

 please email via REPLY HERE to make agreements.

**Please remember that you must register before 6pm, Sat. June 9/12 for this to be active.**
Stay tuned for a coupon coming to the local area to receive 10% off participating retailers!

We look forward to working with you!

Team Celebration

Encouraging Words: Your Daily Devotion

Recently I have subscribed to receive daily devotionals for Women and today I received this encouraging devotion.

today’s versefrom the New Living Translation
“I look up to the mountains—
does my help come from there?
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth!
He will not let you stumble;
the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
never slumbers or sleeps.”Psalm 121:1–4

encouragement for today

The psalmist looks to the mountains, seemingly so strong and stable. Can his help come from there? No, his help comes from the One who created those mountains and the whole earth and heavens besides! When tempted to trust only in earthly things, go to the true Source of any power and solidity there is—God. The One who constantly watches over you and all of his people, without even a nanosecond of a pause, is eager to come to your aid.—Diane Eble, author of Abundant Gifts: A Daybook of Grace-Filled Devotions

 

This is so true.  God is the One we turn to when we are hurting or need help.  Countless times I have turned to Him when I am hurting or am troubled.  He is always there, just ready to step in and offer a helping hand.  He cares about us.  We are His children.  He is the loving Father who longs to pick us up when we fall or enfold us in His arms when we need comforting or the shoulder we cry on.

The psalmist wrote, “God is our shelter and strength, always ready to help in times in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).  Peter encouraged us to cast all of our anxiety on God because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).

There are times when God is the only One you can run to.  He knows what is going on.  You don’t have to tell Him.   And He is in control.   He is that Rock of strength you can cling to when you feel like you are sinking or unable to cope with what’s going on in your life or around you.  Sometimes there is no other where to look but up.  And remember that God is able and very willing to come to your aid.  Just let go and let Him.

Mother’s Day Gift

Mother’s Day is very special for me.  I love getting cards from my four year old.  I enjoy going to the annual Mother’s Day tea party held at his daycare because I get to see him interact with other kids and I get to chat with his teachers but most of all, I get to spend time with him in his environment.

For me the best gift was the miracle I was given from God four years ago.  I will never forget the day my son looked up at me with his big beautiful eyes as he lay on the hospital bed.  His face was the only visible thing because he was wrapped in the blanket.

I became a mother late in life but for me it was the right time.  I had met the man of my dreams and I was ready to have a family.  Unfortunately, in some parts of the world, girls and women are forced to become mothers before they are ready.  In the Cameroon, early and forced marriage is a practice that is harmful to a girl’s health and well-being.

Association for the Promotion of Girls’ and Women’s Rights (APAD) empowers survivors of early and forced marriage in the Extreme North region of Cameroon, Africa, and educates communities about the intrinsic human rights of girls, including the right to choose when and whom to marry. Led by young women who escaped or avoided forced marriage, APAD is the only organization of its kind in the region (source:  globalgiving).

This year help to support the global movement to ensure every girl’s and woman’s right to a just and healthy life and the fundamental right to choose when to marry and have children.  Give the gift of hope today by sending a card to a loved one.  Not only will you brighten their day but you will be making a difference in someone else’s life.

International Women's Health Coalition
Give a gift this Mother’s Day that will last much longer than flowers.
Honor a special woman in your life by supporting IWHC’s partner APAD, a local organization that empowers survivors of early and forced marriage in the Extreme North region of Cameroon. Your loved one will receive a personalized card electronically or through the mail.APAD educates communities about the intrinsic human rights of girls, including the right to choose when to marry and when to become mothers.With each card you send, you support a global movement of women who are working to ensure the right of every girl and woman to a just and healthy life.
www.iwhc.org communications@iwhc.org
.

Protect Your Brain–Avoid These Common Food Additives

I got this in an email from Food Matters and thought that I should share it.  I hope that this will motivate all of  us to watch what we eat and to be proactive in learning what foods to avoid so that we can enjoy great physical and mental health.

(NaturalNews) In the following interview, Dr. Russell Blaylock, renowned neurosurgeon, author and researcher, talks to Mike Adams about MSG, aspartame and other brain-damaging excitotoxins that are widely used in our food supply today. Dr. Blaylock is the author of ‘Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills’ and other important books on this important topic as well as others. In this interview, find out why Dr. Blaylock was shocked at what he found out about the effects MSG and aspartame have on our brain function and pathology and much more.

Health Ranger: Hello and welcome everyone, this is Mike Adams, the Health Ranger for Natural News.com and today I’m joined by neurosurgeon and author, researcher, Dr. Russell Blaylock. He’s widely regarded as the foremost authority on excitotoxins, and we’re going to be talking about MSG, aspartame, and other issues as we interview him today via Skype video. Dr. Blaylock, thanks for joining me today.

Dr. Blaylock: Well thank you, Mike.

Health Ranger: It’s great to have you on, you know I’m a big fan of your work and your books. In fact, one of your earlier books, ‘Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills’ is one of the first books I read that helped get me into the business of teaching people about health.

Dr. Blaylock: I’m glad I contributed- you’re a great person to teach people about these things. I’m a great fan of yours as well.

Health Ranger: Well, I’m a huge fan of your work, but for those watching, most people are probably familiar with you and your work and your books, but for those who may not be, can you give us just a brief background of how you got started in this, what encouraged you to write that book and so on.

Dr. Blaylock: Well, I was a neurosurgeon and during my residency training, I was interested in what causes all these neurological diseases and I was particularly interested in something that most of my colleagues were not interested in. That’s nutrition and its effect on the brain and recovery from brain injury. So that naturally led into looking at things that produce these problems. And I came across a book by George Schwartz on the MSG syndrome and as I read this little book about it, I said well there’s a lot of things in here I wasn’t familiar with. So I started researching monosodium glutamate and what it does to the brain and I was astounded by what I found. This is a very common additive to food and most people have no clue as to what it’s doing to the brain function and pathology, particularly in the developing brain, a child’s brain. I amassed all of this research, and so I decided to write a book, my first book, and I put it together and I presented it to the publishing company and they liked it and printed it.

Health Ranger: Now, most people who read that book are truly astonished by what you unveil in there. You talk about how the excitotoxins overexcite nerve cells and cause those cells to die, how it passes through the blood/brain barrier and so on. Just how toxic is MSG really and then, might you also add, what have you learned since writing the book that would add to the weight of the evidence?

Dr. Blaylock: Well actually, this book was written in 1994 and updated a few years after that but the amount of information we have about this toxicity has grown by leaps and bounds. There’s an enormous amount of literature, so the weight of the evidence on my side is just overwhelming. Now, what we’ve discovered is that this is a very toxic substance, particularly to the developing brain. So if a mother is consuming it while she’s pregnant in these high amounts, it not only passes through the placenta to the developing baby, but the amount or concentration of glutamate in the baby’s blood is twice as high as the mother’s. And of course this is a very delicate developing brain, the brain is under very complex development and we know that glutamate plays a big role in brain development. If the levels are too high or too low it can cause significant abnormalities in how the brain develops. Well women have been consuming this stuff and children have been consuming this stuff since 1945. And the amount in the food has doubled every decade since that time. Massive amounts of this stuff- and a study, a research foundation found out in fact that the amounts humans are consuming is the same amount that produces lesions in animal’s brains. So of all the life forms on earth, humans are the most sensitive to the MSG toxicity.

Health Ranger: Well let’s make sure we cover two of the basic concepts again for those viewers who may be new to this. Number one, why is MSG added to foods and then number two, what are the most common symptoms that people might observe in their own physiology that would be a clue that they’re experiencing MSG toxicity.

Dr. Blaylock: Well it was previously added to food during wartime into the sea rations, into the Japanese rations for the soldiers to increase taste, to stimulate taste. And they had discovered long ago that if you add a little bit of monosodium glutamate, it stimulates certain cells in the tongue to make food taste very good- so you could take a very bad tasting food, particularly canned foods, they have that tinny type taste to it, a metallic taste, and you put MSG in it, it just tastes scrumptious. Well, all the food manufacturers discovered this as they were introduced to it by the military and so all the major food manufacturers started adding MSG to food, including baby foods. So, up until 1970 it was placed in the baby foods itself and then when Dr. John Olney, a neuroscientists, discovered this toxicity to the brain and the serious implications of that toxicity, that’s when we started giving a little bit more attention to it. As far as symptoms, of course the first group of symptoms that came to the public’s attention was the MSG syndrome in which people would have flushing of their face and heart palpitations and sometimes pains going down their arms and even episodes of GI discomfort and diarrhea. Well those are the obvious symptoms. What was discovered after that in fact that there’s silent damage to the brain in which there’s very few symptoms. But over time, we see destruction of major important areas of the brain, things that can cause Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, ALS and that if you have these diseases it’s make them progress much faster.

Health Ranger: Now, as a neurosurgeon, have you ever actually seen brains that you know those those tissues have been damaged by MSG, is it something that’s visible when you’re actually looking at a living brain or is it not visible?

Dr. Blaylock: Well it’s not visible to the naked eye, you would have to look under a microscope to see it, but we know there are certain areas of the brain that are very sensitive, for instance the hypothalamus. There’s a nucleus in the hypothalamus called the arcuate nucleus, that controls your energy supply. That’s where leptin receptors are located and growth hormones. And it is the most sensitive place in the entire brain, it’s virtually wiped out by high doses of MSG. We know there’s a lot of damage to that nucleus and there’s good evidence that this obesity epidemic is caused by damage to that nucleus by the large amount of MSG put in food. Germans knew this, the German research scientists are writing about this regularly. In America, they don’t want to talk about it because of the enormous wealth.

Health Ranger: It’s really extraordinary, the food lobby has so much influence in Washington that they’re able to keep the FDA off of this issue or the USDA off of this issue. And it’s not just MSG, they’re able to put sodium nitrite in processed meat for example, to the point where today if you go buy beef jerky and you look at the ingredients, it’s got both MSG and sodium nitrite in it. It’s like a double dose of a toxic chemical cocktail, it’s amazing.

Dr. Blaylock: Well if you look at a lot of processed food you’ll see they do contain multiple toxins and multiple forms of glutamate, this excitotoxin. So I refer to them rather than MSG I refer to it as excitotoxic food additive. And they put it in virtually everything. Every processed food and those that don’t put it in there have trouble selling their food because they can’t get the taste hyped up enough to be able to sell it.

Health Ranger: You know that’s a good point, Dr. Blaylock, I also have noticed because I’m very sensitive to MSG and I have been for as long as I can remember- decades. Causes severe headaches, face flushing and things like that so I know if I’ve had some MSG. I’ve learned to look for it on labels. And I’ve found that, of course, the food companies hide it under all these different names. And my pet peeve name today is yeast extract because it’s used by many of the so-called natural food companies and even the vegetarian foods. They’re loaded with yeast extract. Can you talk about yeast extract and other hidden names for a minute?

Dr. Blaylock: Yeah When I first spoke on this issue in Chicago at a convention one of the chief manufacturers of processed foods came up and told me, he said if you convince everyone of the toxicity of this, we’ll just change the name. We’re gonna get it in the food one way or another. I told him, well, I’m gonna tell everybody the story of our conversation and I do, I repeat this story because it’s very important. And the government allows them, if it’s less than 99 percent pure MSG they can call it anything they want to. Caramelized yeast, caseinate, carrageenan, natural flavoring, vegetable extract, protein concentrate, soy isolate, the names just go on and on and on and on, and they’re very benign sounding like natural flavoring. Well people think that’s natural, or it’ll say hydrolyzed protein or plant protein, people think that’s natural. That’s why you see it in so many natural foods and these natural food stores.

Health Ranger: Yeah, it’s sickening, it’s insidious, I mean this is an age when consumers want full transparency, consumers want to know, are there GMO’s in the product, They want to know, is it organic or not, they want to know is there MSG in there and these companies just keep trying to hide it. Now to their credit, some companies have placed claims on their labels that say no MSG added and generally I find that to be an honest claim. And some of those companies are very much doing the right thing in that realm, but other companies just hide it under a different name. Seems to be a wide diversity of ethics in the food industry.

Dr. Blaylock: Well you see they do this quite commonly. When my book came out and a lot of people were talking about it, it had a big impact on these companies. They began to remove MSG on the label. And they would even put NO MSG and I would look at the label and I would see about three to four different forms of disguised glutamate in it. So they learned very quickly to just disguise the name, most of the public’s not going to know what it is and they’ll say well it says plainly on the label, no MSG, but in fact it contains more glutamate.

Health Ranger: Incredible, I want to urge those watching right now to learn more from Dr. Russell Blaylock and his website is RussellBlaylockMD.com did I get that right?

Dr. Blaylock: That’s right.

Health Ranger: Russell BlaylockMD.com, put it on the screen there, and then also you could check out his books at bookstores everywhere, including Amazon.com where he’s got Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills and Health and Nutrition Secrets, is that another one? What’s your book on cancer, Dr. Blaylock?

Dr. Blaylock: Natural Strategies for Cancer Patients.

Health Ranger: Ok, good,Natural Strategies for Cancer PatientsI really want to encourage you to check out his books, you’ll learn a wealth of information. It’s just astonishing. Dr. Blaylock, you, as a neurosurgeon, you are of course well informed about the structure and function of the brain and yet, I’m sure you often find yourself either arguing with or debating with some sort of MSG pusher who says things like, Oh, it’s perfectly safe, it doesn’t affect brain function at all. Is that a common piece of feedback that you hear from the industry?

Dr. Blaylock: Well not anymore. In the beginning, I did. When I first started giving lectures, when the book first came out. I did an interview with Chicago Tribune and I pointed out all these different dangers and then they had the representatives of the company that makes the product come back after me and say, well it doesn’t enter the brain because of the blood/brain barrier, and I’d already discussed that with the reporter. That in fact there’s compelling evidence and now absolute proof that it does pass the barrier. And that there’s many tissues in the body that have glutamate receptors. Virtually every cell in your body has glutamate receptors, and there’s no barrier. Now they know I’ve accumulated so much powerful evidence they never try to confront me directly, they know I’ve been to an audience, they never try to come back and defend themselves. There’s no defense. All the evidence is on my side.

Health Ranger: They just hope people don’t pay attention to your message?

Dr. Blaylock: Exactly. That’s right. They just ignore me, have the major media ignore it because they evidence I have is so compelling, most of the scientific world would agree with what I’m saying once they start looking at it, and more and more articles are being written on this.

Health Ranger: You mentioned the scientific world. That’s one of the most extraordinary things happening today is that the so called scientific world, in many cases they simply abandon the science and they become a priesthood of defenders of a certain narrow mythology. Such as, MSG doesn’t harm the brain or all vaccines are safe and effective, for example, complete quackery. But that becomes the line of the so-called scientist who abandoned the science. I mean are you concerned about the reputation, the credibility of the scientific community because of that, or what are your thoughts on that?

Dr. Blaylock: Well, you’re exactly right and this is a major problem and a number of studies and articles have been written in some of the clinical journals, very good journals, pointing out this fact. The fact that the pharmaceutical companies, the food industry is having such a massive affect on publication of papers and research articles that it’s really polluting the scientific world. They’re trying to make this more stringent, where there’s transparency and you know that these people work for the company. For instance, when I look at an article that says MSG is good for the elderly because it makes them eat more nutritious food or that it’s safe, I can almost assure you if I look at who wrote the paper it’s either someone that works directly for the “geno-modo” company or is connected and is being funded by the “geno-modo” company [sic], the principle maker of monosodium glutamate and its other additives.

Health Ranger: What do you think about the theory, there’s something that I’ve noticed as a very keen observer of this, that Chinese people in particular seem to not suffer the migraine headaches that many white people do when they consume MSG. Is there a metabolic difference in the way different people process glutamate?

Dr. Blaylock: Well, actually, the difference is they don’t consume near as much of this as we do.

Health Ranger: Really?

Dr. Blaylock: When they eat, they eat small portions, and now we’re starting to see in the Japanese population that are eating these higher portions, they’re getting grossly obese, they’re having neurological problems, Alzheimer’s increasing, ALS, Parkinson’s disease- all increasing significantly in Japan and these countries that traditionally ate a smaller amount. The other thing is the rest of their diet. For instance, they eat a lot of omega-3 fatty acids, they have one of the highest flavonoid intakes from fruits and vegetables of any population in the world. These are protective against a lot of this toxicity. Americans don’t do that, they do just the opposite. They’re eating things that enhance the toxicity of glutamate.

Health Ranger: Yeah, that’s a really good point. Instead of the antioxidants, they’ve got other junk food, other fried food and then maybe a couple vaccines on top of that and some chemtrails on top of that. It’s like a toxic stew.

Dr. Blaylock: Fluoride and aluminum, it just goes on and on and on. Pesticides, herbicides, all add to the toxicity and have been shown to enhance the toxicity of glutamate additives.

Health Ranger: Incredible. Alright, one last question for you in this segment, Dr. Blaylock, and then we’ll wrap this up. What about the critics of your work who say, hey well glutamate appears naturally at some level in tomatoes or seaweed or other natural foods. What’s your response to that criticism?

Dr. Blaylock: Well it does, but it’s almost always bound as a protein so when it’s released in your body, it has to break down the protein. It’s a slow release so your blood levels really don’t go up that high. Now we know in people with, for instance, ALS, if they eat, for instance, a steak their blood level goes twice as high as a person that does not have ALS. So with certain neurological conditions, you do have to avoid foods that naturally have high glutamate levels, like meats and pureed tomatoes. When you eat a whole tomato, it’s very slow release of the glutamates and your blood level really does not rise that high. If you’re physically active, that glutamate, instead of going to your brain, goes into your muscles. If you’re sedentary and you eat the very same diet, most of it’s going to go to your brain and have toxicity. So there’s so many variables there.

Health Ranger: Yeah, that’s interesting. So there’s a fitness level impact on the way your body metabolizes it. That’s fascinating. I want to bring up one last question, sorry, one more that just came to mind when you were speaking there. People talk about glutamine, the amino acid, and the dietary importance or applications of glutamine, and then some people confuse glutamine with glutamate. Can you briefly describe the difference for those watching?

Dr. Blaylock: Well, glutamine is an amino acid that’s converted to glutamate. In your brain, in order to make glutamate, your body has glutamine that is converted in your brain cells into the glutamate neurotransmitter. If you feed an animal a lot of glutamine, you will produce excitotoxicity in the brain. You will produce these brain lesions. Patients who have ALS, if you feed them a lot of glutamine, they will get worse and die a lot sooner. So there is a conversion of glutamine into glutamate. They’re related amino acids, so there’s a relationship. As far as the health effects of glutamine, that’s just way overblown and I get this question a lot when I lecture. People want to say, well isn’t it good for gut repair and good for immune stimuli and I say well, yes, your immune cells have glutamate receptors that have to do with producing the free radicals they use to kill microorganisms. So, to a limited degree, yes, it’s good for that. Now as far as for gut repair, the new results show that glutamine is not that good for gut repair. Things like pyruvate are much more effective. Pyruvate also protects your brain against glutamate.

Health Ranger: Oh really. Pyruvate, which, any mineral bound in pyruvate form?

Dr. Blaylock: Magnesium or calcium, it doesn’t matter, its’ the pyruvate that protects you. Pyruvate’s used in the Krebs cycle to produce energy. When you produce energy in the brain, it protects the brain against excitotoxicity. And it’s an antioxidant.

Health Ranger: Now you’re getting me fascinated, I’m going to ask you one more question, sorry. People often ask me what is the defense against high glutamate foods. For example, if they know they’re going out to eat, with a social group let’s say, they know they’re going to get some MSG in the soup or whatever, can they take something beforehand to reduce the effects of MSG?

Dr. Blaylock: Well there are several things. One of the most important is magnesium. One of the most prominent glutamate receptors, one of the regulators of its over activity is magnesium. So people who have low magnesium, that eat soup for instance with MSG in it, they’ll have a terrible headache, terrible response to the glutamate. If they have a higher magnesium level, if they take magnesium supplements, then get their brain levels up higher, they’re much more resistant to the toxicity. Also, curcumin, all your antioxidants, vitamin E, vitamin C. These things protect against glutamate’s excitotoxicity in the brain and its toxic response. And the pyruvate.

Health Ranger: That’s really interesting, so there is a strategy you might call defensive eating. Again, if you know you’re gonna subject yourself to the toxicity, obviously it would be wiser to not do that. But, if you want to, you could protect yourself in advance with better nutrition. That’s fascinating.

Dr. Blaylock: If you combine these nutrient protectants, and I’ve protected the literature about how to protect yourself against glutamate toxicity. If you combine them you could produce tremendous protection against this toxicity to the brain. But like you say, you don’t want to expose yourself to a toxin just because you can reduce the level of damage.

Health Ranger: Right. It’s like putting a helmet on your head so you can strike yourself with a sledgehammer.

Dr. Blaylock: That’s exactly right. You brought up the migraine headaches. I want to expand on that a little bit- the interesting thing, when you look at people who have migraine headaches, number one they have very low magnesium levels. When they have an attack of migraine, the spinal fluid glutamate level goes up tremendously. Once the attack stops, the glutamate level falls. And this is why glutamate in your diet can trigger a migraine headache. And usually when I was treating migraine headaches that were very resistant to treatment, the first thing I’d tell them, get off all the glutamate. I’d make a list of things and tell them how to get off the glutamate. Their attacks would get dramatically better, they were less intense and easier to control. And you put them on the magnesium or the pyruvate, they got even better. A lot of them never had a migraine attack again.

Health Ranger: That’s fascinating, you’ve got so much great information here, we’re about out of time for this segment. Let me just give your websites again- RussellBlaylockMD.com, folks, sign up there for Dr. Blaylock’s email newsletter and you can stay informed on issues like what we’ve talked about here. Also, you have a wellness center website, is that right? Can you give us the URL?

Dr. Blaylock: It’s BlaylockWellnessCenter.com

Health Ranger: Perfect, BlaylockWellnessCenter.com, and there you can find books, DVDs, lots of information Dr. Blaylock has put together to educate you about how to protect your health against excitotoxins. Dr. Blaylock I want to thank you for joining me in this segment. We’ll do more in the future, but I thank you for this time.

Dr. Blaylock: Thank you, I appreciate it.

Health Ranger: Alright, folks, that was our interview with Dr. Russell Blaylock. Share this video, it’s very important to get this out there. Check out his websites for more information, and also search YouTube and TV.NaturalNews.com for more videos interviewing Dr. Russell Blaylock. We’re gonna talk to him about vaccines and other topics in future videos. Thanks for joining me today. This is Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, reporting for NaturalNews.com

Source: http://www.naturalnews.com/035555_Russell_Blaylock_interview_excitotoxins.html#ixzz1sQzrpvXG

Help Kids, Make Mom Happy

I got this email from Save The Children and wanted to share it with you.  These are great ideas for Mother’s Day. You are shopping for Mom and helping children at the same time.  This is a great opportunity.

Help Kids, Make Mom Happy
If you cannot read the information below, please click here.

Your gift recipient will receive a personalized card featuring the gift you choose. If you select an item for their personal use, we will send the card to your recipient along with the item.

*Free shipping applies only to standard, U.S. domestic shipping. We can only ship within the continental U.S.

Donations made through this catalog represent a donation to the entire mission. To help the largest number of children, we use your donations where they can do the most good, pooling them with the donations of others. Because you are helping to change children’s lives, your donation is tax deductible.

Leymah Gbowee

She is a woman of many facets–nobel peace prize winner, peace activist, Christian, humans rights warrior, wife and mother.  She was responsible for leading a women’s peace movement which brought an end to the second Liberian civil war in 2003.  This led to the election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia’s first female president.  She and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf along with Tawakkul Karman, the Yemini journalist, were awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace prize “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work”.

Leymah was born in central Liberia on February 1, 1972.  When she was 17 years old and living with her parents and three sisters in Monrovia, the first Liberian civil war erupted in 1989.  The country was thrown into a bloody chaos until 1996.  “As the war subsided…. I learned about a program run by UNICEF,… training people to be social workers who would then counsel those traumatized by war,” wrote Gbowee in her 2011 memoir, Mighty Be Our Powers.

Leymah did a three-month training which made her aware of her own abuse at the hands of the father of her son and daughter.  In her search for peace and sustenance for her family she followed her partner to Ghana where she and her growing family (she gave birth to a second son) lived as homeless refugees and almost starved.  She fled with her three children and returned to the chaos of Liberia where her parents and other family members still lived.

Her journey toward beign a peace activist began when she became a volunteer in a program operating out of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Monrovia where her mother was a women’s leader.  It was here that Leymah passed her teenage years.

Leymah studied and worked her way toward an associate art degree, she applied her training in trauma healing and reconciliation in an effort to rehabilitate some of the ex-child soldiers of Charles Taylor’s army.  Surrounded by the images of war, she realized that “if any changes were to be made in society it had to be by the mothers”.  Leymah gave birth to a second daughter.  Now a mother of four, she embarked on the next chapter in her life–rallying women the women of Liberia to stop the violence that was destroying their children.

Just recently my husband and I watched season 7 of 24 and was appalled to see children recruited into the rebel army.  One child was forced to kill a man while two others were shot as they tried to escape the round up.  As a mother, I can relate to her determination to protect the children from the war and their exploitation by Charles Taylor.

Leymah became the coodinator of Liberian Women’s Iniiative following the launch of Women in Peacebuilding Network (WIPNET) in Liberia.  This was a result of a WANEP conference she attended in Ghana.  There she met Thelma Ekiyor of Nigeria who was a well educated lawyer who specialized in alternative dispute resolution.  Ekiyor told Leymah of her idea of approaching WANEP to start a woman’s organization.  Within a year, Ekiyor managed to secure funding from WANEP and organized the first meeting of WIPNET in Accra, Ghana which Leymah attended.

At that meeting, in the sympathetic setting of other women hungry for peace, Leymah shared painful parts of her story for the first time.  She shared how she slept on the floor of a hospital corridor with a newborn baby for a week because she didn’t have any money to pay the bill and noone helped her.  This was a cathartic experience for her.  “No one else in Africa was doing this: focusing only on women and only on building peace”.  This is a testimony of how crucial and vital it is to have organizations which address the needs and issues of women.  Leymah had this to say about that first meeting:

How to describe the excitement of that first meeting…? There were women from Sierra Leone, Guinea, Nigeria, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Togo – almost all the sixteen West African nations. In her quietly brilliant way, Thelma had handwritten an organizer’s training manual with exercises that would draw women out, engage them, teach them about conflict and conflict resolution, and even help them understand why they should be involved in addressing these issues at all.

Laymah spent her days doing trauma healing work and her evenings as the unpaid leader of WIPNET in Liberia.  She now had five children (one adopted) living under her sister’s care.  One night when she fell asleep in the WIPNET office, she awoke from a dream in which God told her, “Gather the women and pray for peace”.  She told two other women who told her that it was a dream meant for her and that she was to act on it.

After a WIPNET training session in Liberia, Leymah and others, including a Muslim women went to mosques on Friday after prayers, markets on Saturday and two churches every Sunday armed with flyers which read:  “We are tired! We are tired of our children being killed! We are tired of being raped! Women, wake up – you have a voice in the peace process!”  They also handed out simple drawings explaining their purpose to the many women who couldn’t read.

By the summer of 2002, Leymah was recognized as the spokeswoman and inspirational leader of the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace, described as a peace movement that started with local women praying and singing in a fish market. Working across religious and ethnic lines, Gbowee led thousands of Christian and Muslim women to gather in Monrovia for months. They prayed for peace, using Muslim and Christian prayers, and eventually held daily nonviolent demonstrations and sit-ins in defiance of orders from tyrannical President Charles Taylor.

Leymah had a bout with alcoholism.  It was her way of coping with  with the loneliness of constant separations from her family, the strain of poverty and war-engendered trauma, and the stress of never-ending demands on her time. Her family didn’t realize that she had this problem until they gathered to celebrate Leymah’s daughter’s 14th birthday.  During Amber’s birthday party, Gbowee’s children noted that she drank 14 glasses of wine. The next day she passed out. When again conscious, suffering from an ulcer, she begged James to take her to the doctor: “Then I saw the kids gathered around us, their terrified, helpless faces. After all their losses, this would be the final one. No. Not possible. It might sound too easy, but that was the end for me. I still don’t sleep easily and I still wake up too early, but I don’t drink anymore.”

Despite her personal struggles, Leymah received accolades for her philanthropic work.   The first award she received from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard in early 2006.  The other awards were as follows: recognition by Women’s eNews, the Gruber Prize for Women’s Rights, the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage award, the Living Legends Award for Service to Humanity, and several more. In July 2011, EMU announced that Gbowee had been named its “Alumna of the Year.” (Gbowee’s eldest son, Joshua “Nuku” Mensah, entered EMU as a freshman in 2010, overlapping by one year with Sam Gbaydee Doe’s eldest daughter, Samfee Doe, then a senior.) The crowning honor came in October 2011 when the Norwegian Nobel Committee made Gbowee one of three female recipients of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize.

In addition to be an activist, nobel prize winner and recipient of numerous awards, Leymah is a woman of faith. She gives credit to God.  She expresses devotion to her Christian faith. She opened the acknowledgment section of her memoir with these words: “All praise, glory and honor to God for His unfailing love and favor toward me.” She told students attending an EMU chapel in 2009:

I didn’t get there by myself… or anything I did as an individual, but it was by the grace and mercy of God…. He has held my hands. In the most difficult of times, he has been there. They have this song, “Order my steps in your ways, dear Lord,” and every day as I wake up, that is my prayer, because there’s no way that anyone can take this journey as a peacebuilder, as an agent of change in your community, without having a sense of faith…. As I continue this journey in this life, I remind myself: All that I am, all that I hope to be, is because of God.

Gbowee told the EMU students that she went from being an angry, broke, virtually homeless, 25-year-old mother of four children with no idea of what her future might be, to listening to the voice of God in 1997. She said God spoke to her through a five-year-old boy, a son whom she had nicknamed Nuku. Comments made by Nuku made her realize that she had succumbed to “crippling hopelessness,” and that her low self-esteem and sense of helplessness were destroying her family, which was already under assault from Liberia’s brutal warfare. Gbowee said she began taking one tiny step at a time, asking for God’s help with each step. And that God sent her angels in the form of human beings who reached out a hand at just the moment when she was most desperate.

In 2008, Leymah was the narrator and central character in the documentary film Pray the Devil Back to Hell.  The documentary consists of scores of film and audio clips from the war period. It took Best Documentary Feature in the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival in New York. It has been broadcast across the United States as part of the “Women, War & Peace” series, which aired over five successive Tuesdays in October and early November 2011 on public television stations. Pray has been used as an advocacy tool in conflict and post-conflict zones, such as Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq, South Africa, Rwanda, Mexico, Kenya, Cambodia, Russia, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the West Bank: “The reaction was remarkably similar: no matter how different the country and the society, women recognized themselves and started talking about how they could unite to solve their own problems.”

In the documentary, Gbowee emerges as someone able to laugh and enjoy life, despite what she has lived through: “Gbowee comes across as a sharply strategic, scrappy, political maestro interfaith mobilizer of merriment. Not the balloons-confetti-cupcakes-clown-type fun, but rather solidarity-inspiring conviviality. You see women dancing, singing, smiling, wearing beautiful, white-as-doves clothing, and you even see laughter during sit-ins and protests.”

Notes to Women salutes this phenomenal woman who rose above adversity to bring freedom in Liberia and an end to Charles Taylor’s regime.  She proved that anyone, no matter who they are could make a difference.

“The person who hurt you–who raped you or killed your family–is also here. If you are still angry at that person, if you haven’t been able to forgive, you are chained to him. Everyone could feel the emotional truth of that: When someone offends you and you haven’t let go, every time you see him, you grow breathless or your heart skips a beat. If the trauma was really severe, you dream of revenge. Above you, is the Mountain of Peace and Prosperity where we all want to go. But when you try to climb that hill, the person you haven’t forgiven weighs you down. It’s a personal choice whether or not to let go. No one can tell you how long to mourn a death or rage over a rape. But you can’t move forward until you break that chain.”

“Organizations like the UN do a lot of good, but there are certain basic realities they never seem to grasp …Maybe the most important truth that eludes these organizations is that it’s insulting when outsiders come in and tell a traumatized people what it will take for them to heal.

You cannot go to another country and make a plan for it. The cultural context is so different from what you know that you will not understand much of what you see. I would never come to the US and claim to understand what’s going on, even in the African American culture. People who have lived through a terrible conflict may be hungry and desperate, but they are not stupid. They often have very good ideas about how peace can evolve, and they need to be asked.

That includes women. Most especially women …
To outsiders like the UN, these soldiers were a problem to be managed. But they were our children.”

“You can tell people of the need to struggle, but when the powerless start to see that they really can make a difference, nothing can quench the fire.”

Leymah Gbowee

Sources:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leymah_Gbowee; http://leymahgbowee.com/; http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/2011/gbowee.html

Exalt Him

The most beautiful name I have ever heard is Yeshua.  The first time I heard it praised was in the beautiful song, Baruch Haba Yeshua by Karen Davis.  Watch the video.  This is my favorite song by her.  The song expresses all of our hope and desire to see our risen Lord.  Today, we celebrate His resurrection.

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