The first expedition of The Briana Project has finally concluded and it’s time to tell the story! Come to listen to the inspiring, the beautiful, and the so, so hard story (with a few sprinkles of lions, creepy crawlies, and a mystery slimy/stingy something).
You’re invited . . .
Monday, October 8, 2012
The Larson’s Backyard (email TheBrianaProject@gmail.com for the address)
Bring a picnic blanket. Food and Families welcome
To My Mother the Midwife
YOU are brave and powerful.
From the very conception of this idea that you and Briana dreamt up together, you two have been brave.
Go to Africa. A calling neither of you could shake or deny. Go. To. Africa. You have to.
Your journey to get to this point has been a long time comin, and it’s been hard. But you have been brave.
Briana was brave.
“Suit up and show up” That’s what you always tell me. And that’s what you’ve done.
Even in the face of disappointment. Even in the face of tragedy. Even through the loss of a very important piece of this puzzle: You have showed up.
Because you know, and Briana knew, that this is just something you have to do. You are needed there.
And so became “The Briana Project” which is about so much more than being a midwife. Because through all of this, you have become a voice. A voice for the women in Africa who aren’t being heard. A voice for Briana, and all of her hopes and dreams. A voice to tell women that there is a better way.
You and Briana shared the same powerful belief: There is a better way. That as women, we were gifted something amazing. The ability to bring life into this world. And that it should feel like a blessing and not a burden. That it is time for all women, even those as far as Africa, to take back their power.
Go to Africa. A calling from someone, somewhere, to the both of you.
And now its finally here. You are here. And she is here. She is here, and she is in you, and in Africa. She is everywhere. And you two are going.
Because the two of you were gifted something amazing. And you have let it become a blessing, not a burden.
This is MY mother: The catcher of the brand new life, lover of the underdog, traveler to the far away places, mover of the mountain. MY mother, the midwife.
And I know I’m not the only one who hopes that when the time comes for us to figure out what our callings are – that we are able to stand in our power and light the way that you are. Because it is bright and beautiful. And your reach. Is. Far.
Written by Christine Larson
Cathy Larson is a “dream it and do it” sort of woman. She trusts the Universe to just bring the pieces into place. And somehow, miraculously, they do. Creating The Briana Project, from conception to completion, in two months wasn’t just a bold undertaking, it was actually pretty insane!
Just wrap you head around these numbers . . . and you have to start with a budget of $0.00
400 bars of soap
50 shower curtains
200 razor blades
75 yards of twill tape
200 cloth diapers
200 safety pins
100 baby socks
100 baby blankets
200 pair of underwear
1400 cloth menstrual pad pieces
200 drawstring bags
And then there are all the other million “to do” items to prepare for international politics and travel. It could spin your head and make you say, “That’s a good idea, and I’ll for sure do it as soon as I have more time and more resources.”
As Cathy has said, “I’ve realized that patience isn’t always a virtue. Sometimes it’s a crutch, an excuse for treading water and just thinking about doing hard things. I’m gonna take our work forward now, in a straight line. It’s time to just do it! The best of the best are being called to do good work, organizing, and preparing with you as the wind in our sails, Bri.”
And there’s no better way to say it than “the best of the best” have come together to make this project a reality. We are pleased as punch (or if you’re in Senegal, Hibiscus tea) to announce that our 3 major projects–200 Clean Birth Kits, 100 Newborn Kits, and 200 Woman to Woman Kits are FINISHED!
Our Clean Birth Kits were the first to be born. The Parkway Stake lovingly put together these little babies.
The Clean Birth Kits have proven to reduce infant and maternal mortality simply by providing a clean space to give birth. These simple little gifts of life contain:
1/4 of a shower curtain
1 single edge razor
1 piece of twill tape to tie off a cord
1 piece of soap
The next beauties to come earth-side were our Newborn Kits.
These sweet things were sponsored by the Salt Lake Granite Stake. This is a wonderfully eclectic group of Hispanic, Japanese, Deaf, aged and young women.
Imagine giving birth but not having anything to bring your baby home in. These kits provide a new baby:
1 Pair of booties
2 Diaper pins
1 Bright colored, gauzy baby blanket large enough to become a baby sling
Our last labor of love was the Woman to Woman Kits, an effort by a host of various women. This last party, to celebrate the maiden voyage of The Briana Project, was done Briana Style. We think she would have been pleased.
The food was beautiful and abundant.
Tin can lights and tiki candles made the mood.
There were letters of love and gifts to bless women on the other side of the world.
And there were many hands making the work joyful.
The Woman to Woman Kits are designed to simply bring a little bit of goodness to another woman. These kits contain:
1 Wash cloth
1 Piece of soap
2 Cloth menstrual pads
1 pair of underwear
A personal letter and gift from a sponsoring woman
1 Drawstring bag
The days to departure are drawing short. The list-long tasks are being checked off. The bags are packed. There are still many financial pieces to cover. If you’ve made a pledge of support, and are ready to give, you may do so HERE or HERE.
And here we go, Briana, another drop, a ripple becoming a wave.
“It’s amazing that when we love it somehow always finds it’s way back home to our hearts, with joy and healing on its wings.”
When The Briana Project made the call for support of our Woman to Woman kits we received a flood of loving letters and gifts. Every one of them was deeply touching and personal. However, one letter and gift stood out to us in particular, and we wanted to share the poignant story of a wonderful woman—Rosa Herzog.
Rosa was born in 1941, the fourth child of Mary Magdalene, a rural nurse for the panhandle of Florida. Mary loved her children, but couldn’t recover from her postpartum depression after the birth of Rosa. At the age of two, Rosa was given up for another family to raise.
Rosa was private and quiet about what the next fourteen years of her life were like, except to say it was obvious they were full of struggle and suffering, shame and dis-empowerment.
At the age of sixteen, Rosa was reunited with her mother for a year before she was married at 17. When asked what she learned from her mother in the short time they were together Rosa said,
“Everybody is somebody’s child, no one is more important than another, and it’s what’s inside that matters!”
This is what guided Mary in her rural nursing practice as she cared for the wealthy and well known to the old backwoods fisherman. When Mary Magdalene died it was the biggest funeral ever held in the area, which made Rosa feel so proud of her mother.
Rosa has lived her mother’s legacy. Throughout her life others have been drawn to her because of her care, compassion, and respect for them.
Graduation from high school escaped Rosa, but she later finished her GED. It sparked an idea in her that she might be able to attend college. She found the courage to take the entrance exam, and despite her lack of formal preparation her scores were so high that she was offered a scholarship. A family member suggested that she shouldn’t attend college because she wouldn’t want to be a mother and a wife anymore. Without other counsel available to her, Rosa chose to let her opportunity for education pass her by.
For 27 years she served as a supervisor and trainer for the Utah State Tax Commission. Despite her challenging youth and her lack of formal education, Rosa gave to others in ways that empowered them and increased their opportunity and abilities.
When she learned of The Briana Project Rosa felt a unique connection to these young sisters in Senegal. Her life has given her a deep understanding of how critical it is to empower young girls with value, self-respect and education.
Her goal was to make 50 necklaces for us to take with us. But when she learned that we would be taking 200 Woman to Woman kits she worked day and late into the nights to complete a remarkable 200 necklaces.
She says of the project,
“When I was asked to make necklaces for the young girls in Africa, I couldn’t say ‘yes’ fast enough. As I make each necklace, I think about the girl who will wear it, and I say a little prayer for her . . . If I were any happier, I think I would burst with joy. There is nothing like being needed to breathe new life into an old body.”
As a young girl standing at critical crossroads of her life, Rosa lacked the counsel and wisdom that she desperately needed, but a young girl in Africa won’t because she now has Rosa.
There will be a grown woman somewhere, someday that takes a worn note from her purse and tells the story of how the words there guided and inspired her throughout her life.
And these are the words on that note,
Hello my Dear Young Friend,
I am so happy to be writing to you; a beautiful girl who is becoming a wonderful young woman. Oh, the wonders you will see and the things you will do. The world is waiting for you. And you will be ready to meet that world if you have a good education.
If I may give you the same advice I have given my daughters, it is this: Always keep your mind and your body clean and stay in school, no matter what happens.
Remember, there is only one of you; and nobody can take your place. Keep believing in yourself, because you are as wonderful as you are beautiful. May God bless and keep you in His care.
Your new friend, Rosa Herzog
God can’t help but hear and answer your prayer for each of these two hundred young girls, Rosa. What a remarkable legacy of your own!
We’ve received our first Woman to Woman Kits sponsor submissions. They were such beautiful examples of simple messages of hope. These gifts are sure to not only lift the spirits of our Senegal sisters, but inspire and empower them as well.
Learn more about the Woman to Woman Kit project HERE.
“Hello-my name is Paula Hostler. This is the photo from my Midwives College of Utah graduation. I was so proud as it had taken me 6 long years and so much work to complete this goal. I encourage you to find something you love and work hard to achieve it-there is nothing greater than the satisfaction when you finish something big. All around the world other women are cheering you on and believing in you, especially through the hard parts. Many blessing in your journey to be all you can be!”
“My name is Paula Hostler and this is a photo of me with my daughter Amanda. I am 44 years old and have had a passion for birthing women and babies since my first son was born 14 years ago. I believe that women are so strong and powerful-we have the ability to change the world! Whatever your talents and gifts may be-nourish them and use them. Teach your daughters to be strong and believe in themselves. Many blessings to you for a bright and prosperous future!”
Gifts included in her notes: Hair clips, hair bands, simple bead necklaces
“Honeybees depend not only on physical contact with the colony, but also require its social companionship and support. Isolate a honeybee from her sisters and she will soon die.
“I believe that we, like bees, need our sisterhood in support of our physical and spiritual lives. I hope to see this sisterhood expand well beyond borders, oceans, and cultures that we can bless each other’s lives in our lifetime and the generations to follow. My name is Melanie Lennon. I am a student midwife living in the state of Wyoming, USA. My heart is nin midwifery and helping women to realize their strength and potential through motherhood. I hope to be practicing by 2013 and be able to touch lives throughout the world. Believe in yourself! Believe you have a specific purpose to fulfill here on earth, then go and do it!”
Gift included in her note: Honeybee charm
Learn more about the Woman to Woman Kit project HERE.
The mission of The Briana Project (www.theBrianaProject.com) is to support indigenous birth attendants and midwives to create safer birth spaces and respectful care for women and babies.
You can give a personal touch to this project by sponsoring one (or more) of our Woman to Woman Kits.
If you would like to sponsor a Woman to Woman Kit we need the following three (3) things:
1. Write a brief personal letter from yourself to the woman who will receive your kit.
2. Provide a picture of yourself.
3. Include a small personal item or gift for the woman who will receive your kit. (Space is a premium, so examples of small gifts would be fingernail polish, a necklace, a bead, etc.)
Your note, picture and personal item/gift will then be placed in a kit that also includes a bar soap, washcloth, 2 fabric menstrual pads and 1 pair of underwear.
Your note, picture and item/gift must be received no later than JUNE 28, 2012.
Please send your items to:
2331 South 700 East
Salt Lake City, UT 84106
Thank you for supporting a woman and a sister in Senegal.
Little miracles for completing the Senegal 2012 project are happening every day.
Women everywhere are sewing, and sewing, and sewing cloth menstrual pads, infant blankets and drawstring bags.
Julia Farrell is our Sewing Projects Coordinator. She is taking care of managing and tracking approximately 2000 individual sewn items. Thank goodness for fabric grace!
This beautiful fabric has just arrived in Washington to be transformed into baby blankets. Just imagine the baby beauties that are going to be wrapped up in this pretty stuff!
The Tender Mercies Group in Salt Lake is meeting every Thursday to put together 200 drawstring bags for our Woman to Woman kits.
And, you’ve got to see what 100 pairs of panties looks like! These little treasures were gathered from our various Panty Raid projects.
It’s a beautiful thing to know that so many beautiful hands are bringing it all together. Thank you for the touch you’ve given to this project either through your donation of time, money, talent, or by clicking a button to share The Briana Project with your friends.
You can continue to support The Briana Project by DONATING HERE. We could also use shower curtains for our clean birth kits, and personal letters written to include in our Woman to Woman kits. If you’d like to provide any of these items please contact us at TheBrianaProject@gmail.com
Keep the love unfolding for our sisters in Senegal.
Cloth Menstrual Pads for Woman to Woman Kits
The Briana Project will be taking Woman to Woman kits to Senegal. These kits will include items such as:
A bar of soap
A wash cloth
2 fabric menstrual pads
1 pair of underwear
A personal note, picture and a personal item, e.g. fingernail polish, necklace, or bead from a kit sponsor (To sponsor a kit please email TheBrianaProject@gmail.com)
All tied up in a 5″X7” drawstring bag
This Saturday (June 2, 2012) will be a Cutting & Sewing Party at Julia Farrell’s home. Their goal is to make 400 cloth pads, 800 liners, and 200 drawstring bags within the next two weeks. They need as many volunteers to help with any part of the project as possible. If you can come, or if you can sew at home please contact Julia at Julia@TheNurturingTree.com or call at 801.661.6683.
Can’t cut or sew? Click HERE to find other ways to support The Briana Project.
The Tartine Shortbread Cookie was one of Briana’s favorite ways to celebrate beautiful company, a memorable event, or just bring some sweetness to an ordinary day.
Celebrate the sweet joy of having others to love, of being able to touch and serve someone for good. Make a Tartine Shortbread just for the love of life. Find the recipe HERE.
Support The Briana Project and bring some sweetness to a sister in Senegal HERE.