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Author Brita Fernandez Schmidt
Executive Director at Women for Women International – UK
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How sponsoring a woman survivor of war changed my life

Building a personal connection with my sponsor sister, Amela, became a source of strength for me

Almost ten years ago, in 2009, I sponsored my first woman through Women for Women International’s year-long training programme. Her name was Amela. I remember receiving her photograph in the post. I instantly felt a connection – a sense that, although we had vastly different life experiences, we might be friends.

We exchanged several letters over the course of the year, as Amela took part in the training programme. She told me about the skills she was learning, how they were helping her to start her own business and earn an income to support her family. She told me about the new friendships she was making with the women in her class – they shared their problems and were always willing to help each other out.

The women behind the news stories

Together we can tell more stories of hope and change

Inspired by her first sponsor sister, Amela, and the resilience of the women in our programme, Brita talks about our work with women survivors of war and how we all have the power to reach out and connect with women.

As she prepared to graduate from the programme, Amela wrote to me:

I want to thank you for being my sponsor sister. I’m so happy that you know that I exist, and that you think of me.

She told me she had used some of her savings to buy tulip seeds to plant in her garden, so she would always remember me.  

Amela inspired me, and gave me hope – she was incredibly hard-working, determined, and optimistic about the future. I knew she would achieve her dreams, and I felt so lucky to be able to help her on her way and be a small part of her journey. Over the years, I have often wondered how she was doing. 

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Celebrating the Nobel Peace Prize win – but what's next?

Our Executive Director, Brita Fernandez Schmidt, reflects on the awarding of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize to Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege for their work towards eliminating sexual violence in conflict. How can we make this award meaningful for the millions of women who are the target of horrific violence around the world?

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Graduates Meet First Lady Rula Ghani in Afghanistan

Using skills learned in our “Change Agents Programme,” our graduates worked together with Women for Women International – Afghanistan and the Afghan Women’s Network to create an opportunity to advocate for women's rights and opportunities in rural Afghanistan.

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Humanitarianism: A Daily Workout

This World Humanitarian Day, we are reminded of our shared responsibility to support those caught up in global crises. Find out three ways you can exercise your humanitarianism from our Executive Director, Brita Fernandez Schmidt.

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