"Sometimes life presents a moment and you have no choice but to act."
In the 1990's I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Huitan, Guatemala I worked with Dominga, a young indigenous woman with a new born baby. Dominga hoped to become a teacher but when she and her boyfriend got pregnant - he stayed in school and she dropped out. If it weren't for Dominga being in my women's group - we would have never succeeded with the community garden and pig project we started. I encouraged her to not give up on going back to school but my two year service ended and when I left Guatemala, Dominga was pregnant with her second child.
Fast Forward 4 years... and I went back to Guatemala to shoot a photo assignment. I squeezed in a short visit to Huitan. I found Dominga in her in a small windowless house, pregnant with her third child. She told me her husband was an alcoholic and was physically abusing her. I just wanted to scoop her and her kids up and bring them to safety. Dominga asked me for $100 dollars so that she could buy a gas stove so that cooking wouldn't take her so long. I seriously wondered how $100 could possibly make a difference, but I gave her $100.
Ten years later I brought my kids to Guatemala to meet my friends in Huitan. I was told I would find Dominga at the school. When I got there Dominga was in an office, her office. She cried when she saw me and then through tears she told me her story.
"With the $100 I bought the stove so I could cook enough food in the morning to allow me time in the afternoon to return to school and then heat it up on the stove. I could barely afford the uniform or the books and I wore the same clothes everyday for two years, but I worked and I worked and I became a teacher. They gave me a job at the farthest possible school to get to and after two years I made my case that I should be moved closer because I had children at home. Eventually they gave in and moved me closer. I taught for 8 years and then I became the Director of this School. You told me I could do it. You listened to me and encouraged me and gave me the $100 when I needed it. Nobody believed I could do this and now look around. I was the first mother to go back to school and now there are so many other mothers that have followed my lead. I have five children now and I earn more money than my husband. He respects me and doesn't beat me any more."
Just because I listened to Dominga and gave her what she really needed, her whole life changed. Sure I gave her $100, but really I simply witnessed her. That stuck with me. So in 2016 on International Women's Day, I launched me&EVE knowing that women really need a place to be seen and heard. Since then I've witnessed and featured over 300 women on my blog and I've photographed and given free prints to hundreds more. What I know is listening to someone for ten minutes will change the world. Now I am growing me&EVE into a production company that specializes in finely distilled storytelling. This studio will produce all forms of visual communication including; video, photo-essays, social media campaigns, blogging and events.
AND - I am continuing the me&EVE blog and I have big plans.. just you wait.
If $100 can change a woman's life & launches a social change movement, just imagine what's possible.