Online I’ve come across a myriad of organizations that work to alleviate poverty in underdeveloped countries by creating more sustainable markets for women artisans, artists and craftswomen. And story after story tells of these artisans including their friends so that they too can earn a living. They set an example for their daughters who in turn learn to be self-reliant themselves. Consequently, each organization’s goals are realized exponentially!
I’ve wondered how all of these organization’s leaders become involved initially? What inspires them to start these social ventures and nonprofits? These are men and women who could easily make a much more lucrative income in another line of work. I’ve spoken with a number of accomplished social entrepreneurs and of course these questions always come up. I’ve heard so many heart-healing, spirit-lifting, inspirational stories that it’s hard to choose only one to share with you. But this blog is about Linda Egle, Executive Director and Founder of Eternal Threads, a woman who embodies inspiration.
Eternal Threads is a nonprofit organization that wholesales gorgeous hand woven scarves, linens and other hand crafted items. Linda’s first project in South India employed 20 women and has since grown to employ 250 women, full time. She now also runs projects in Nepal, Thailand, Madagascar and Afghanistan. Eternal Threads
Her efforts started in 1988 when Linda traveled to India with her church team to set up children’s educational sponsorships. She especially enjoyed meeting and connecting with the women. She realized their desperate need to create an income:
“They had these amazing skills that had been handed down from generations, but there was no market. I knew they had to try to find a way to support their families (by working) from home. I also realized that by making an income they were protecting their children from being trafficked.
Part of this comes from my faith. I have a strong desire to help people. I took a huge risk but I persevered because of the women I came in contact with.
I saw that helping them was very doable and that I could make a difference. These women would take the help I offered and seized it. They made the most of it. They would do so much with so little. I gave one woman, Goretti, the money for her order and with that money she built a stand and built a business. She was a widow with 5 children. I didn’t tell her, now invest this money in your business, she did it all.”
That inspired me. Seeing that keeps me going. What they do with the money made keeps me going. I could have given up but decided to get to a place where I could give them more orders.”
And this is only part of Linda’s story. We had this conversation shortly before she left for Nepal with the Red Thread Movement, an organization that raises money to end trafficking in Nepal. They generate awareness for the global human rights crime of the sexual exploitation of women and young girls. Linda provides a safe house and job skills so when the girls go back to their village; they’re less likely to be trafficked again.
Webster defines inspiration as “the act or power of moving the intellect or emotions.” Doesn’t Linda make you want to, do….something? Doesn’t she make it easier to believe that you can do something?