Over the last two years, more than 100 Herman Miller women have volunteered to be monthly sponsors for “sisters” in war-torn Kosovo through Women for Women International, a nonprofit organization that provides women survivors of war, civil strife, and other conflicts with the tools and resources to move from crisis and poverty to stability and self-sufficiency.
Women for Women was founded in 1993 by Zainab Salbi, who grew up in Iraq during Saddam Hussein’s presidency. Imprisoned in her own country by fear and terror, she became a survivor who fought to free her spirit. Now she helps free the spirits of more than 30,000 women who have survived war and the weapons of war, such as rape, in eight war-torn countries.
Women for Women participants are provided with financial aid from a sponsor to help them deal with the immediate effects of war and conflict, such as lack of food, water, medicine, and other necessities. They continue to receive sponsorship support as they enroll in a life skills program in order to regain their strength, stability, and stature on the path to becoming active citizens. Because so many women at Herman Miller volunteered to help, the financial contribution was shared by both the company and its employees.
Sponsors provide another important element of support: monthly letters of encouragement and hope for women who may have lost everything and feel isolated from the world. Ask anyone who participated in the program how the experience impacted their lives and view of the world, and they will likely tell you how rewarding it was to nurture hope for a woman through writing.
By Marcia Davis