Guest Blog by Taylor Washburn and Emily Chandler, Global Ambassadors for Rockflower
What follows will be a series of blog posts recounting our trip to Uganda as Rockflower Global Ambassadors. To learn a little more about myself (Taylor Washburn) or Emily Chandler you can go to the Rockflower website.
First, a little background on our trip and how we got involved with Rockflower. While teaching at a boarding school in Massachusetts, we were introduced to Tine Ward, the mother of two of our students - Fran and Lulu. For those of you who follow Rockflower, you will recognize all of these individuals for the incredible work they are doing on behalf of women around the world. Fran and Lulu introduced us to Rockflower, the not-for-profit investment fund founded by their mother. Rather than identifying and developing projects around the world to empower women and girls, Rockflower invests in projects and groups already on the ground, projects run by the very people they will impact. This model resonated with us as teachers because we have seen first hand how much more powerful and lasting intrinsic motivators can be compared to extrinsic motivators.
Rockflower believes that investing in women is the key to global peace and prosperity. Their Five Keys are the fundamental framework which women and girls need to build prosperous and successful lives. This framework provides a holistic approach to addressing the most critical challenges facing women and girls within their communities and larger societies - challenges such as poverty, malnutrition, infant mortality, violence, conflict and lack of education. This felt like something we wanted to invest ourselves in and make a long-term commitment to. We reached out to Tine with a simple question, “How can we get more involved? Involved in a way that we can see the impact of the investment of our time and resources?” Our conversations with Tine led to the creation of the Rockflower Global Ambassadors. In this role we would work to support Rockflower and get a chance to go see some of the results of Rockflower’s investments first hand. This would be an opportunity not only to see that work up close but also for those organizations to have face to face personal interactions with Rockflower ambassadors.
Our first project was to raise funds and awareness around Rockflower’s partner S.O.U.L. Foundation. We were able to reach out to some of the communities we have been involved in and saw incredible support for this project. We thought more about the value of these dollars and the impact they would have on these communities and we decided to ask guests at our wedding to redirect money for wedding gifts towards this cause. Again, we were awed by the generosity of friends and family.
The second phase of this project, and arguably the more important phase, was to actually go to Uganda to visit S.O.U.L. Foundation. Even more, there are seven other Rockflower partners in Uganda and we planned to visit with all of them. This was an incredible opportunity not just for us but for Rockflower to finally meet the people they had invested in. If we have learned anything through this experience it is that you invest in people, people make the difference. Our trip was going to be a whirlwind, but well worth it. We would depart on Wednesday, July 11th with the following itinerary:
July 11th: Depart for Uganda
July 12-19th: Visit with SOUL Foundation (Bujagali Falls)
July 20th: Travel to Kasese
July 21st: Meet with Hope for Rural Women, RWICOD, Rwenzori United Group for Life Improvement
July 22nd: Listening Session w/ 50+ potential Rockflower partners
July 23rd: Travel to Kampala
July 24th: Meet with Hope for the Future, Rainbow House of Hope
July 25th: Travel to Mbale
July 26th: Meet with UWADS
July 27th: Travel to Kamuli, meet with UCF
July 28-3th: Return to SOUL Foundation
July 31st: Depart for United States
We were excited to be able to visit with each partner and also a little intimidated by the sheer volume of it all. The trip was made possible by the generosity of many and we are excited to share with you what we learned, both personally and as Rockflower Ambassadors.