A Missionary for God

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God – 2 Corinthians 1:3, 4

Consider the plight of women in South Asia.  Here are some horrifying facts:

  • Young girls throughout Asia are ravenously abducted and forced into a life of prostitution with every agonizing day one step closer to an early death from AIDS.
  • Widows in India bear the blame for their husbands’ deaths. They’re shunned by their communities, rejected by their families and forced into an inhumane lifestyle. Tens of thousands take their own lives just to end the pain.
  • Every year in India, more than 7,000 women are doused with kerosene and burned to death—by their husbands. The wife’s crime: an insufficient dowry.

Suicide rate among women in India is up to 21 times higher than the world’s average.  Lately, the number of incidents of rape have increased following several high-profile cases of young girls being brutally raped in public areas.  According to a global poll conducted by Thomson Reuters, India is the “fourth most dangerous country” in the world for women, and the worst country for women among the G20 countries.

Women in Asia are constantly faced with misery, violence, degradation, rejection, abuse, etc.  Yet, there is hope in the midst of this vicious cycle.  Women missionaries are dedicating their lives to reaching out to these women, bringing the love of Christ to them and showing them that there is light at the end of the tunnel.  One of these beacons of hope is Ruth.  Ruth was once like these women–living a life filled with pain and heartache.  Unloved, unwanted, underfed and forced to work at the age of five simply because she was born a girl.  Her parents had desperately wanted a son after having three girls. Ruth’s father hated her and when she asked him why, he shouted that she should have been a boy.

Ruth’s life changed years later when women missionaries from Gospel for Asia shared the Good News of a God who loved her.  She had never known what it was like to be loved and here these women were telling her about a Father who loved her.  What amazing and wonderful news.  Watch her story here and see how God called her to change the lives of women through missionary work just as He had done for her.

The wonderful thing about Ruth’s story is how God transformed her father, making it possible for her  to have the relationship she had always wanted.  The last time Ruth had seen her father was when she had tried to touch his feet, out of honour and he had kicked her in the face.  After that experience, she left home, not intending to ever go back. While she was at Bible college, preparing to serve God, God was working on her father, changing his heart.  And when the time was right, God brought them together.  It had been three years since she had seen him.  At the train station where he went to meet her, she knelt down to touch his feet but this time, instead of kicking her away, he took her by her arms and lifted her to her feet. And for the first time in her life, Ruth felt her father’s arms wrap around her in a warm embrace.  She felt two arms drawing her to him instead of pushing her away.  She felt loved and accepted.  For Ruth, it felt, “like heaven has come down.”  Yes, heaven had come down.  God had made this precious moment possible.

It was through women missionaries, God turned Ruth’s life around so it is not at all surprising that she responded to His call to be a missionary so that through her, other women could find “triumphant, redeeming hope in Christ!”  As a missionary, she could make a difference.  There was purpose in her life now.  She could go from place to place, sharing her testimony and praying with women and bringing them hope.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope – Jeremiah 29:11

As I watched Ruth in the mission field, I thought of Jeremiah.  When Jeremiah was still in his mother’s womb, God had planned for him to be a prophet.  It’s the same with Ruth.  Before she was even born, God wanted her to be a missionary for Him.  He had a purpose for her life.  Even if her parents didn’t want her, He did.  She was to be a light in the world for women who only knew darkness and despair. She was to be His messenger of hope.

You can help other women find hope and hear the incredible news about a God and a Saviour who love them and would like to change their circumstances.  Sponsor a Woman Missionary

I love to tell the story, it did so much for me; I love to tell the story, for some have never heard

 

TD11-07086 (1)

Sources:  Women in Asia; Gospel for Asia

International Women’s Day

Sunday, March 8, 2015 is International Women’s Day.  Gospel of Asia Canada is celebrating this day in South Asia by:

  • Giving new saris to widows
  • Encouraging women by sharing stories of women found in the Bible
  • Distributing food and blankets to poor children and families in the slums
  • Visiting women in prison and encouraging prostitutes with Christ’s love
  • Meeting the basic needs of some of the poorest women in society

I encourage you to watch a clip of the movie, “Veil of Tears” about a woman named Suhkwinder who almost committed suicide because her children were born girls. As you watch the clip and celebrate International Women’s Day, find out how you can help to change the life of a woman just like Suhkwinder’s. In a society where boy babies are preferred, the worst words a parent could hear are, “It’s a girl”.

In India girls are unwanted.  I read in an article that came out a couple of years ago that a three month old girl died from cardiac arrest at a state-run hospital in Bangalore after battling for life for three days.  Her father had battered her because he wanted a son.  Little Neha Afreen sustained head injuries, abrasions and bite marks all over her body.  This caused public outrage which led to her father’s arrest.  Her mother said, “My husband was enraged with me for delivering a girl,  He hated her. He wanted me to get rid of the child or abandon her as he wanted a son.”

Sadly, there are several horror stories of baby girls who have been abandoned, tortured or killed because they were unwanted.  We live in a world where there is gender bias.  As a Christian this is very hard for me to accept.  God created both man and woman in His image.  Little girls are as precious in His sight as little boys.  And if society keeps killing the baby girls, how will they have the boys they want so much?  And what about the boys when they grow up and want to get married and there is a shortage of women?  Many of them will have to go elsewhere to find wives. In Asia, baby girls are tossed aside as if they are garbage and women are raped.

There is the documentary, India’s Daughter, the story of the gang rape and murder of a young woman which shocked the world and sparked riots and protests all over India. Grieving parents and one of the rapists tell the story of the night six men brutally assaulted 23 year old medical student, Jyoti Singh while driving around Delhi, India’s Capital, in a bus.  Women should have the right to feel safe in their own communities. In Canada, you can watch India’s Daughter on March 8 on CBC or online for 30 days after broadcast.

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I know of some fathers who have daughters and adore them.  In fact, they want daughters.  God bless these men.  Jyoti’s parents were happy to have her.  She had dreams like everyone else.  One night, her dreams and life were brutally taken away from her.

On March 8, let us celebrate our mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, nieces, friends, teachers, etc.  Let us celebrate women and reflect on the marvelous contributions they have made and will make to our society.  Each life matters.  Girls matter.  I pray that one day, the words, “It’s a girl” will be met with joy and acceptance.  Until then, let each of us who has a little girl of our own, encourage her to stand up and say, “I am a girl and I matter.”

Sources: http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/south-asia/baby-girls-killing-reveals-indias-crisis-of-gender-bias; http://www.cbc.ca/passionateeye/episodes/indias-daughter

Persecutions in Pakistan, Jordan and Niger

I received these recent persecution and prayer alerts from The Voice of the Martyrs Canada.  Please take time to read each one.  Pray for the loved ones of those who died for their faith and pray for those who are suffering for their faith.  Visit each story’s link to find out more and to see what you can do to help.  Each one of us can make a difference.

The Voice of the Martyrs Prayer Alert

I subscribed to receiving prayer alerts from The Voice of the Martyrs, a wonderful organization which is reaching out to persecuted Christians who need encouragement.  Here is a prayer alert for a mother and daughter who are under fire for their faith.  Please read their story and visit the prayer wall and offer your prayers for their safety.  I am so thankful that I live in a country where there is religious liberty and have a husband who shares my faith.  Let us lift up our voices in prayer for those who face opposition from their communities and family members who do not share their faith.

SYRIA: Mother and Daughter Persecuted for Christian Faith

Sources: VOM USA, Release International


Pray for safety of family members standing strong for the Lord.

A Syrian mother and her daughter are under fire for their new Christian faith. Three years ago, “Karima” learned about the love of Jesus and became a devoted follower. As the married mother of three, she hoped her husband “Ismaeil,” a Muslim, might also believe. Instead, he became even more devoted to his Muslim faith and trained as an imam (an Islamic spiritual leader).

Ismaeil forbade Karima and their daughter, who had also converted to Christianity, from reading the Bible or sharing their faith with others. About two months ago, he also began beating Karima. Fortunately, recent health challenges have prevented him from abusing her further.

Elsewhere in the country, other Christians are facing opposition from Islamic radical groups. Much of the north, for example, has come under the control of militant groups attempting to impose a strict Islamic ideology on the area.

Pray that God will shield and protect Karima and her daughter, surrounding them with His favour (Psalm 5:12). Also lift up her son who has recently started attending church. May his faith grow and be deeply rooted. Pray that Ismaeil will repent of his abuse toward his wife and recognize his need for a Saviour, joining his family in worshipping the one true God. Please also intercede on behalf of all believers throughout Syria, that they will continue to follow Jesus at any cost.

To share your own prayers for Karima and her family, please visit our Persecuted Church Prayer Wall.

The Malala Fund

I got this in an email from Vital Voices and thought I should share it with you.  The mission of Vital Voices  is to identify, invest in and bring visibility to extraordinary women around the world by unleashing their leadership potential to transform lives and accelerate peace and prosperity in their communities.  Help them by supporting the Malala Fund so that they could fulfill this brave teenager’s dream of access to education for all.  Think of the little girls you will be helping.  Think about your daughters and granddaughters and how fortunate they are to be able to graduate from high-school and college and enter into the workforce.

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Dear A.,

 

Last month, teenage activist and blogger Malala Yousafzai was targeted for her outspoken advocacy and support for girls’ education. She was shot by the Taliban near her school in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, and the world took notice. Hundreds of thousands have voiced their support and sent messages to Malala, who continues to receive critical care on her long road to recovery.

In commemoration of Malala Day — November 10 — championed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN Special Envoy for Education Gordon Brown, Vital Voices is launching the Malala Fund on behalf of Malala and her family, working together with supporting advisors and friends of the cause, including the United Nations Foundation and Girl Up, and several other organizations and individuals.

I spoke with Malala’s father this week from her bedside at the hospital in Birmingham. He said Malala is doing well on her long road to recovery, and they feel blessed with the outpouring of support. She’s received cards and messages from girls all over the world thanking her for her courage and for giving them a voice. The Fund will support the education and empowerment of girls in Pakistan and around the world by providing grants to civil society organizations and individuals focused on education. It will be advised by a committee comprising education experts and entrepreneurs, as well as Malala — when she is well enough — and her family.

This is such an important cause and we are proud to do our part to contribute. Today, the right to education is denied to 61 million children of primary school age, including 32 million girls. This is a statistic we have the power to change.

Please raise your voice on behalf of Malala and the millions of girls who struggle to get their voices heard. Support the Malala Fund and together, we will help a teenage girl from Pakistan fulfill her dream of access to education for all.

Warmly,

 

 

Donate Now

Summer News: SOC Films Documentary Series

I wanted to share this email from Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, the first Pakistani woman to win an Oscar for her film Saving Face in 2012 and one of TIME Magazine’s most influencial people of the world.

Dear Friends,

A lot has happened since the Academy Awards in February in LA…I have begun work on a new series of documentary films which are being aired for the first time on TV Channels across Pakistan-

In a unique partnership with Coca-Cola, my production company SOC Films has launched a 6 part documentary series titled “Ho Yaqeen” featuring Pakistanis doing extraordinary things and transforming their communities.

The first episode of the series launched 2 weeks ago: Please do tune in to watch it, links are below:

Part1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMO2M9s4Lxs
Part2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uZXt3hJBno

Please do share these links with friends and family….

In other news, i was very fortunate to have been named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most Influential people in the world- (http://goo.gl/OFVhZ)
This positive reinforcement helps us get the message of our Academy Award winning film Saving Face out.

As more episodes of Ho Yaqeen become available i shall send them out on this mailing list. I am also involved in two more exciting documentary ventures outside of Pakistan which i shall share with you later in the summer….

All my very best
Sharmeen

You can check out Sharmeen’s website at:  http://sharmeenobaidfilms.com/bio/  I will keep you posted on Sharmeen’s exciting ventures. 

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
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SUMMIT of Women Leaders that Care

I got this email today and wanted to share it with you.

A Celebration of Women TM
presents…
SUMMIT of Women Leaders that Care 

“WOMAN of ACTION: Key to Equity, Justice and Peace “
Saturday, March 24, 2012
10:00am until 5:00pm, networking & meet the Speakers until 7PM
A Celebration of WomenTM is a global organization born to celebrate the lives of women leaders from around the globe. Conceived in 2009, this organi…zation today houses hundreds of women leaders inside an Alumni named WOMEN of ACTION. Each and every woman attached to this SUMMIT is a member of our Alumni.

 

From Dr. Chen’s work with the Body Shop’s Stop Sex Trafficking campaign, Dr. Sharif’s account of “An Afghan Woman’s Journey”, Dr. Shabnam Nazli, founder of Hope Development Organization now A Celebration House™, Mama Zuma with Rosetta Standard’s organization ZIMELE, talking about sustainable micro business development, Diane Longboat, A Mohawk from Six Nations, Grand River Territory and after all of this, we will be surprising you with a Celebration of our premiere MAN of ACTION – a treat that you will not want to miss ( this gent is a real Gem, and A Celebration of Women will find those Gems inside the matrix of our society) …..

After this journey you will never be the same, as these women will awaken, inspire and motivate you to TAKE ACTION where and when you are, transforming the world around you. This experience will leave you breathless, in tears of joy and filled with the energy required to act, loving wholeheartedly the simple truths of being a WOMEN of ACTION.Limited seating so reserve your tickets now at www.acelebrationofwomen.org
**************************************************************
TICKETS $80.00 per person before March 23; $90.00 at the door; Groups of 10 for $500.00Saturday, March 24, 2012 from 9:30am – 5:00pm
Networking 5:00pm -7:00pm
@ The Centre for Women’s Studies in Education (CWSE) in the OISE building at UofT
252 Bloor Street West
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Featuring….

Dr. Loretta Chen, PhD
Social Activist
Ambassador to The Body Shop’s Stop Sex Trafficking
Hermes’ PS I Silk You outreach program for underprivileged girls
Evian’s Live Young Campaign

Dr. Sharifa Sharif, PhD
Author – On the Edge of Being: An Afghan Women’s Journey
Cultural Advisor for Afghanistan in Canada

Rosetta Standard and Mama Zuma
Zimele, A program which seeks to develop self-sustainable communities through creating self-help savings groups, microbusinesses, mentorships, and non-profit projects

Diane Longboat
Kahontakawas is from the Turtle Clan
A Mohawk from Six Nations, Grand River Territory
Traditional Teacher, Ceremonial Leader

Dr. Shabnam Nazli, PhD
Founder, Hope Development Organization now A Celebration House focuses on Women’s Rights in Pakistan

Monika and Graham Burwise
Founder, Global Awakening Institute

and much more…

ORDER Online at www.acelebrationofwomen.org
Tickets $80.00 before March 23rd – Get your tickets now!

About US

A Celebration of Women™ is the FIRST global forum where Women Leaders are being ‘celebrated’ for spearheading positive action. A transformation of the Women’s Movement has begun through our WORLD HUB ~ Wheel of Women Leaders that Care. Through the creation of our alumni WOMEN of ACTION the butterfly effect has begun through local changes resulting in global differences.

Our WOMEN of ACTION are trailblazers in this millennium pioneering the new woman’s movement, “Equality of Women among Women”, working to create a sustainable socio-economic independence for all Women. True to its advocacy mandate, A Celebration of Women™ is the world hub for all NGOs to celebrate their founders, collaborate in their missions and TAKE ACTION.

We haven’t forgot you MEN, our MEN of ACTION aren’t that far behind, we’re actively looking for YOU! Come and join us and meet our FIRST MAN of ACTION. Through our celebration of positive action that is taking place in our world, we attract more women and men to become leaders and TAKE ACTION in their communities.

Are you ready to join us, and become a WOMAN or MAN of ACTION?

Let’s Talk

Mental illness is something that not many people feel comfortable talking about–at least from where I came from.  I didn’t know that people suffered from depression or bi-polar disorder.  In Guyana we used to see people walking around, dishevelled, shaking their fists and shouting and we stayed clear of them.  They were simply called mad people.  Now I realize that these people could have been suffering from mental illness and were not getting the care they needed. 

I came from a society where people kept things to themselves.  No one liked to talk about private matters.  So I was stunned when I came to North America and watched talk shows where people talked freely about very personal things.  They spoke about their relationships, sometimes giving very intimate details.  They spoke openly mental illness, addictions, abuse, etc.  It was therapeutic for them.  They could finally face up to what they had and deal with it.  I never knew that a few members of my family suffered from mental illness until years later.  I didn’t see any signs.  People were good at hiding things.

Mental illness is not to be feared or dismissed or swept under the rug.  It is something that we need to talk and educate ourselves about.  We need to understand what it’s all about so that we can offer better support to our loved ones and friends who have had to live with the stigma all their lives.  Bi-polar disorder is something I have become very familiar with.  People close to me have it and I have seen what happens when they come off of their medication.  It is very upsetting and unsettling.  They are not the same people.  They do things that they wouldn’t ordinarily do.  They dress differently.  They are either manic or depressed.  They spend money on things they can’t afford.  They become paranoid.  They believe that someone is out to hurt them.  They seem to have a beef with certain people.  They might get themselves in trouble with the law.  They end up in hospital where they stay for a while.  Sometimes they are discharged before they should be.  The more often they come off of their medication, the longer it takes for them to get back on track. 

It’s a vicious cycle.  Their families get tired of it.  They wonder why their loved ones don’t stay on their medication so that they don’t wind up in the psychiatric ward.  That part of the hospital is depressing.  I can’t imagine that it’s conducive for the patients.

February 8, 2012 is Bell Let’s Talk Day. Canadians are invited to join Bell in the conversation about mental health by talking, calling, texting or retweeting.  For every text message and long distance call made by Bell and Bell Aliant customers on this day, Bell will donate 5 cents to mental health programs.  Bell also launched this year’s Let’s Talk Community Fund.  This community fund is part of the Bell Mental Health Initiative, a $50 million multi-year national program in support of mental health.  Through the Community Fund, Bell will provide grants of $5,000 to $50,000 to organizations, hospitals and agencies focused on improving access to mental health care and making a positive impact in their communities from coast-to-coast-to-coast.

The Let’s Talk campaign is a testimony to Bell’s commitment to fight the stigma of around mental illness.  The spokesperson is Clara Hughes, the only athlete in history to win multiple medals in Winter and Summer Olympics.

Every time I saw Clara Hughes, she had a huge smile on her face.  I never imagined that behind that smile was a dark and lonely place for the six-time Olympic medallist.  For two years she battled depression.  She is proud to be the spokesperson for Let’s Talk.  She speaks openly about her own struggles with depression which began after she won two bronze medals in cycling at the 1996 Olympics.  Read about her story.  The struggle is still there for her as it is for others with mental illness.  The good thing is that it’s out in the open.   It is not a battle that they are facing alone.  Hughes’ goal  is “open up the dialogue” for Canadians struggling with mental illness.  On February 8 she will be joined by singer-songwriter Stefie Shock and actor-comedian Michel Mpambara who share their own stories of struggle and recovery. 

Hughes is making a huge difference in this campaign.  Last year Canadians responded to her call with a total of over 66 million messages and long distance calls.  This year marks the second annual Let’s Talk Day.  The goal is to beat last year’s total. 

On Wednesday, February 8, take action–talk, call, text messages.  Watch the new documentary Darkness and Hope:  Depression, Sports and Me hosted by TSN personality and ‘Off The Record’ host Michael Landsberg airing on CTV at 7 p.m. ET and CTV Mobile.  Help to support this campaign that will make mental illness visible and remove its stigma. 

If you are interested in being a part of Let’s Talk Day or need more information, visit Bell’s website

A lot of people don’t realize that depression is an illness. I don’t wish it on anyone, but if they would know how it feels, I swear they would think twice before they just shrug it.
Jonathan Davis
 
For too long we have swept the problems of mental illness under the carpet… and hoped that they would go away.
Richard J. Codey
 
I have suffered from depression for most of my life. It is an illness.
Adam Ant
 

Sources:  http://www.clara-hughes.com/; http://www.cbc.ca/sports/olympics/story/2011/02/06/sp-hughes-q-a.html; http://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/story/2011/02/06/sp-hughes-q-a.html; Read more: http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/Health/20100921/bell-mental-health-00921/#ixzz1lNRfQCMF

The Benefits of Education

I am so thankful that I was born and raised in a country where education was easily accessible.  My gender was not a factor in the quality of education I received as it is, unfortunately in some countries.  I learned History, Geography, Social Studies, French and I loved English.  My interest in writing began when I was in school. 

I read a post today about the benefits of education.  On a recent visit to the UAE, Penny Low, Singapore’s People Action Party member, explained how women can become productive members of the society through “education, empowerment and enhancement” that will benefit the community at large.

She said it is the realisation that what one makes of circumstances and situation that makes life fulfilling, especially changes for the betterment of all, specifically the marginalised.

Low then explained what social innovation is and how women can contribute to the social cause to strengthen the community and the civil society. 

Low said that women can only contribute to the social cause when they are open to their surrounding and observe what is going around them, adding that there is a rise of a global concern for “green and ecologically-friendly” lifestyle. 

Low used Florence Nightingale, a celebrated English nurse, to demonstrate how her nursing care during the 1850s Crimean War evolved into the nursing profession today.  I can think of another example–Eva Smith. 

Eva Smith was a community outreach worker and counsellor who knew and understood people in despair, particularly youth. She was a woman of action, determination and persistence.

In 1987, she helped to found the North York Emergency Home for Youth. Her work and advocacy resulted in the construction of our first shelter, Eva’s Place, which was named in her honour. Eva Smith’s mission was to use her skills and her knowledge of how the social services system works to help people find solutions to their problems (http://evasinitiatives.com/who.php). 

“Each one of us has potentials inside,” Low said, pointing out that with social innovation comes the responsibility to propagate the three “D’s” namely education, empowerment and enhancement.  She urged women to use their potential.  “People work for a living and live for a cause. Woman or man, find your cause, and live it to the fullest.” (http://gulftoday.ae/portal/1cb93e89-b52a-444a-80d0-0b3cdb88fbe3.aspx).

There is the old adage that “a mind is a terrible thing to waste”.  I urge the women to educate themselves, find interests, passions, causes, keeping in mind that they are building themselves up to be pillars of strength and inspiration for their communities.  Take Eva’s initiative and use your skills and knowledge to make a difference.