Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July Donation - The Blossom Bus

I know that I've been making most of my donations to nonprofit organizations that involve reproductive rights because health care has been a controversial issue lately. This month, I decided to go in a different direction and donate to an organization called The Blossom Bus, which is a fabulous organization that provides girls in India with transportation to school. I donated $150, which will provide one girl with daily transportation to and from school for one year. Read on to find out more about this wonderful organization.



The Blossom Bus project will employ local vehicles in rural India to transport Muslim minority girls to secondary school, clearing the single greatest obstacle to their continuing education.


What is the issue, problem, or challenge?

Mewat, Haryana is largely populated by the Muslim Meo tribe whose misfortunes clash sharply with more affluent surrounding areas. With a female literacy rate of only 2%, Mewat ranks among the most regressive districts in terms of girls' education in all of India. The scarcity of secondary schools combined with conservative local attitudes toward female mobility has terrible consequences for an adolescent girl in Mewat: if there is no school in her village, she is forced to drop out.


How will this project solve this problem?

The Blossom Bus project will hire 12 local mini-buses to each transport 12 girls to school daily in a pilot program that will demonstrate reliability to protective parents as well as set an example of responsible governance for local authorities.


Potential Long Term Impact

By supporting female education, the program will mitigate gender imbalances by delaying marriage and childbirth, bolstering individual self-esteem and fostering a greater, more active role in society for women.


Project Message

"Why can parents send girls alone to fields for work but cannot send them alone to schools? All these girls sitting here have proved their competence - give them a chance to shine."
- Shina of Pachanka Village, Mewat native, college graduate, LEARN role model

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Woman of the Week - Sally Ride

Sally Ride, America's first female astronaut to travel into space, died on Monday at the age of 61. She was battling pancreatic cancer for 17 months. Only a few close family members and friends knew about her disease. Sally was a role model to many women. After her first trip into space in 1983, more than 42 other American women travelled into space. In addition to being an astronaut, Ride was a physicist, professor, and writer. She wrote five children's science books, and she dedicated much of her life to educating and inspiring young people.

Ride's obituary revealed that her life-partner was a woman. Sally Ride was very private about her personal life, and I applaud her for that. She received some criticism about not coming out because people thought that she could have been an inspiration to people who were feeling confused about their sexuality. Well, there are plenty of LGBT role models out there, and I have a lot of respect for Ride for keeping her personal life out of the spotlight.

Ride received several awards during her long career. She was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame as well as the California Hall of Fame. There are also two elementary schools in the United States named after her. Sally Ride was an amazing person, and she inspired so many people. It's a shame that she died at such a young age. My thoughts are with her friends and family.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Woman of the Week - Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir is one of my favorite writers of all time. She was a French feminist theorist, existentialist philosopher and political activist. De Beauvoir was born in 1908, and she died in 1986. Her most famous book is "The Second Sex." I have read most of it, but it's a huge book, and I’m still working on finishing it.

Her novels are amazing. I love "The Woman Destroyed." The main character is a woman in her mid-forties who discovers that her husband is having an affair. Her life unravels as it becomes clear that her only option is to stay with her philandering husband because she doesn't have any means of supporting herself. It's Simone de Beauvoir's cautionary tale about getting married and then losing your self-worth and independence.

Simone de Beauvoir never married. She and Jean Paul Sartre were partners, but they never got married. They had an open relationship, which they both claimed to be okay with, but their relationship was volatile. Sartre's most famous book, and his masterpiece, "Being and Nothingness," was heavily influenced by De Beauvoir. Her novel "She Came to Stay," which was written before "Being and Nothingness," outlined several existentialist ideas that were featured in Sartre's book. No one likes a copycat!

One of my favorite experiences in Paris was visiting Simone de Beauvoir's grave in Montparnasse cemetery. While we were trying to find the cemetery, my husband and I took a wrong turn, and we ended up in front of the apartment building where De Beauvoir lived for over 20 years. That was pretty exciting! Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre were buried in the same grave. I suppose that's romantic...in a creepy way.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Woman of the Week - Katie Holmes

I was surprised when I heard that Katie Holmes filed for divorce from Tom Cruise. I am sure Katie will have support from her family, and I hope she will be able to recover quickly. She has kept the details of her divorce private. Good for her – TMZ can take a hike!

I have always liked Katie Holmes. When I was a teenager, Dawson's Creek was one of my favorite shows. Holmes has also starred in several movies. I loved "Pieces of April," a movie in which Holmes plays a misfit daughter of a woman with cancer. It's one of those depressing movies that can still make you laugh out loud.

Holmes is about to start filming a movie in New York called "Molly." Appropriately, it's about a single mother. Holmes co-wrote the movie, and she will co-produce it as well. It's good that she's starting to work on a new project as it should help keep her mind off the divorce. Katie Holmes is such a talented actress, and I know she will continue to have a successful career.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

I Don't Know How She Does It

Movie night! I decided to stay in tonight and watch "I Don't Know How She Does It." I actually read the book several years ago. It's a memoir of a working mother of two children. I remember that at the end of the book, Kate Reddy, the woman who "had it all," decided to quit her job to stay home with her kids. I was wondering if the movie ended the same way.

It turns out, at the end of the movie, Kate Reddy doesn’t quit her job. She does, however, have an epiphany. She says, “I have two lives, and I don’t enjoy either one of them…and trying to be a man is a waste of a woman.” She tells her boss that she can’t go on last-minute business trips anymore because she wants to spend more time with her kids. I’m glad the movie ended that way. Sometimes you have to compromise in certain places in order to balance everything.

I always promised myself that I would find a way to balance career and family. For a few years, I was adamant that I would never have children. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to handle a full time job and little kids. I also cherish my free time. I love to read and travel; and I know that having kids will change the nature of my leisure time for about eighteen years or so.

Now, I'm pretty sure that I do want kids in the next few years, but I know it's going to come with a lot of challenges in terms of balancing career and family. Everyone says it's worth it, but I guess you never really know until you dive in and try it. I know my husband will be a great father, but I'm a little scared that I won't be the best mother. My mom is amazing. She stayed home to raise three kids, and she was so attentive and caring. She came to all our little league games and dance performances. I hope that I will be able to be half as good as my mom was at raising kids. I'll just have to find a way to balance my career and being a semi-super-mom.

I just read an article in The Atlantic entitled, "Why Women Still Can't Have It All." It was written by Anne-Marie Slaughter, a working woman with two teenage sons. She talked about how women from my generation are starting to quit their jobs to take care of their kids. I completely understand why women are choosing to give up their careers when they have children, but I just don't think I'll be able to do that. I complain about my job a lot. A LOT. But I get so much satisfaction from my job because it's challenging and rewarding. I feel important when I'm at work. It also feels good to pay half the mortgage and bills. I can't imagine giving all that up. Just like everyone says, people always figure it out once they have children. I hope everyone is right!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Woman of the Week - Dara Torres

I have enjoyed watching the Olympic Trials over the past couple weeks. I was impressed that Dara Torres was competing to be in the 2012 Olympics as a swimmer at the age of 45. On July 2nd, she placed fourth in the 50-meter freestyle, and only the top two made it on the 2012 Summer Olympic Team. So Torres' 28-year Olympic career came to an end.

I think it's fantastic that she was still competing at age 45. Torres admitted that she wasn't expecting to end her swimming career on July 2nd, but she confirmed that she will now be retiring from competitive swimming. Over her long career, she has competed in five Olympic Games, and she has twelve Olympic medals. Torres also has a career as a television reporter. She majored in telecommunications in college, and she has worked on NBC, TNT, and ESPN. Torres is not sure what she'll do with her life now, and she is going to take some time off to decide.

I am sure Dara Torres will continue to be successful. She has written two books: "Age is Just a Number: Achieve Your Dreams At Any Stage In Your Life" and "Gold Medal Fitness: A Revolutionary 5-Week Program." She has been an inspiration to many women. Torres was the first female athlete to be featured in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. She also won the ESPY (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly) award for best comeback in 2009. I am looking forward to seeing what is in store for her in the future. Whatever she chooses to do with the rest of her life, I am sure it will be grand!