Podcast

Episode 52 – International Women’s Day Special

Today we celebrate the stories, lives, and empowerment of women. Joining Jessica are three amazing Noonday artisans: Moon Sharma, Jalia Matovu, and Anne Nzilani. These four friends sit around the table and get deep into what it means to be a woman who lives of dignity and purpose.

TRANSCRIPT

Jessica: Hi everyone. Welcome to the Going Scared podcast, and I am so excited about today’s episode because it’s a special episode in honor of International Women’s Day. And I am actually sitting here with three international women world changers, and I am on fire in their presence. So, let me introduce them really quickly. Jalia Matovu, as you know, if you’ve read Imperfect Courage, was my very first Artisan Partner and my sister across the globe. She is a huge part of the reason that Noonday exists. And her business in Uganda employs hundreds of people in her community. We also have Moon Sharma, who is the president of Tara Projects, which is based in India. Moon’s father was one of the founders of the Fair Trade Movement in India and she is carrying on his legacy by creating fair work for thousands of artisans across the country. And then we have Anne Nzilani. Did I say that right?

Anne: Yes.

Jessica: She’s the managing director for Bawa Hope, which is an artisan business in Kenya that focuses on employing some of Kenya’s most marginalized people, including those living in the Kibera slums, the largest slum in the world. And I have had the pleasure of getting to visit each of you.

Together: Yes.

Jessica: So, you have hosted me, and I am so thankful to get to host you.

Anne: Oh, thank you.

Moon: We’re so happy to be here.

Jalia: Yeah, we’re so blessed to be here.

Jessica: Well, welcome to the podcast.

Together: Thank you.

 

Empowering Women Worldwide

 

Jessica: So, it’s International Women’s Day. This is a time where we bring recognition and acknowledgment to everything that women have come to overcome as women in the world. I would love to hear first off, in particular, what have women had to, when you think about the history of women in your country, what have women had to overcome in your country? And Moon, I think I’ll start with you.

Moon: Yeah, it’s a strange thing because when you see we also have women goddesses, you know, when we see our history and religion and they are worshiped and respected. On the other hand, in reality, it doesn’t happen because we have, you know, they’re the victims of dowry, for example. And if a woman, the girl child is born, she’s not still welcomed in the rural areas, though urban things are changing with education. So, it’s very much a paradox. On the one hand, a woman is worshipped as a goddess, on the other side you see she doesn’t get that recognition which she should.

“So, it’s very much a paradox. On the one hand, a woman is worshipped as a goddess, on the other side you see she doesn’t get that recognition which she should.” Moon Sharma

Jessica: So, you just used this term and I don’t know if I’ve heard you use it before, “victim of dowry.” Tell us a little more about that because I don’t think my American audience, they might not be as familiar with the concept of a dowry?

Moon: Dowry is a tradition, and I should say it is an ill tradition, I’d say, ill practice, because where if the girl has to get married, because often we have arranged marriage, the girl’s parents have to give money in the marriage. She has to spend huge, huge. And it is somewhere the rich people they can spend a lot of money in their daughter’s marriages but it’s not the case for the middle class and the poor class. And when they get married, I mean, you are like sold, you know, you’re sold. Because if you’re an engineer you want a husband you have to pay maybe 1 million rupees. If you are a doctor, you have to pay 2 million rupees.

So somewhere the families they don’t know what to do because they look for a good husband and because of the tradition they have no other option than to take the credits and then they go on paying for a long time. So, this has become an integral part, and of course we are fighting against it. And I myself was from the very beginning, I’m single and I think somewhere it impacted me, I chose that I don’t want that my father would have to pay dowry because I said no way. And I’m very happy, of course, it has its own challenges.

Jessica: What a stand, though, that in some ways your decision to stay single was informed by this idea that you are gonna stand up against this dowry system?

Moon: Yes, of course, there were quite a few reasons. Dowry is one of them and when I see the families how the girls and there is a difference of treatment within the daughter and a son, a son always get preference even for the food. He gets better food because the girl has to go to other family, and she’s somehow look down on. And this was always touching me, and I could not accept that. Though my mother also did not believe in those ideas, still, when I see what’s going on around, for me it was like protest. And I decided I don’t want to become the part of the system. And I want to prove as a woman that woman can do more than a man when she’s at par with men.

Jessica: Wow. And you certainly are changing the trajectory of so many legacies of women in India, which I cannot wait.

Moon: I try. I’m a small drop in the ocean but I think we all need to be the drops. And like we are all the drops, and we can change things in our lives and also in the lives of the people with whom we’re working.

“I’m a small drop in the ocean but I think we all need to be the drops. And like we are all the drops, and we can change things in our lives and also in the lives of the people with whom we’re working.” Moon Sharma

Jessica: That’s right. Jalia, what about you, women and Uganda? Some of the things they’ve overcome.

 

The Second-Class Birthright: Commodification and Abuse

 

Jalia: Yeah. Women, especially in Uganda, maybe in Africa, are very strong. They work hard, they keep the family together. But sad to say that they are usually despised. They’re despised in their communities. They are mistreated and abused by their husbands. And there’s a way that a woman is expected to be just below, like below the man. And because of that pushing them down all the time, it kills their spirit. Yeah, women in my community, especially those who have come up and said, “I’m tired of the abuse.” They’ve ended up as single mothers. And the men just, they just go on, they don’t care for the children, they don’t care about anything. It’s in Africa where you find a woman carrying a baby on the back, carrying big loads of food on the head, holding a whole or anything in their hand, and the man is walking behind them reading newspapers or maybe just holding a stick. All the load is on the woman.

So, in Kampala, you see some women have come up to do school. But in the villages, it is still that bad. Yeah, I mean we are trying all the best we can do to preach the gospel of empowerment to women, creating jobs, thankful to London for the impact they’re doing in Uganda, creating jobs for women so that they feel that dignity and so that they’re able to say, “I’m strong enough, I can work, I can take care of my family, I can do this.” And some of them have been able to come out of bad abusive marriages because of the empowerment through the jobs that we have. So yeah, that is the picture that I can paint to you about the women. They are strong, they’re hardworking, they keep their families together, but yet they’re despised and looked down upon, and it’s terrible. Yeah.

Jessica: Anne, do you see similar things in Kenya?

Anne: Yes, a lot of similar things. So, for Kenya, when a man hears that the wife has given birth to a boy, they’re like, “Yes.” When they hear it’s a girl, they’re like, “Oh, that’s good.” So automatically when you’re born as a woman, as a girl in Kenya, you’re like, second class. There are some things that if the parents don’t have enough money to educate two kids, a girl and a boy, they’ll definitely choose the boy to educate because they still believe that a woman’s place is still in the kitchen. So, you grow up, you’re not told but you feel like you’re second after your brother, you’re second after that particular man. So, it’s a very sad situation. And for some communities, the parents are waiting for you to be ready when you reach puberty. Then they can marry you off because they know when they marry you off, then they’re going to get cows and goats.

“If the parents don’t have enough money to educate two kids, a girl and a boy, they’ll definitely choose the boy to educate because they still believe that a woman’s place is still in the kitchen. So, you grow up, you’re not told but you feel like you’re second after your brother.” Anne Nzilani

Jessica: The dowry.

Anne: So as a woman, you kind of like feel like you’re a commodity. So, in Kenya, we’re fighting a lot. Over the past few years we’ve also been fighting about the female genital mutilation, which has been practiced and so many girls have died because of the crude ways that they do it. But there have been campaigns from cooperates, from women that are in places of influence against it because it’s not right, yeah. So, there are people that have come up just to fight for the rights of women, just to encourage the girl, that you can do. We’re not saying that we want to be better than men, but we believe that we can do, like you’re born with everything that you need as a woman. So, you could be a leader, you could be a president, you could be the CEO of a particular company. Yeah. So, we’re pushing more for the girl child, and we can say, we’re not where we want to be but at least we are getting there.

Jessica: There’s a vision. Let’s talk a little bit about that because each of you grew up in these cultures where you’re automatically born believing that you are second class. So, Jalia, I’d love to hear from you, how have you overcome that so that you can now give women a vision of their strength and their power? Or did you come out of the womb just like, “I am leader.”

Jalia: Well, it’s been a journey. But I cannot say that I have overcome yet completely because in the mindset of many people, sadly, even in the churches, they still believe that the woman should not be a leader, that a woman should not be in the same place as a man. Yet like we see throughout the whole Bible, how God is using women. For me, I’ve always looked at women like in the Bible, women like Deborah was a judge. I look at God giving power to Gail, to be the one to slay that guy. What was his name? Cesirah. I see people like Damary in the New Testament, like Dorcas, powerful women. That is what I believed of myself that I can be a leader, I can be a change.

“We see throughout the whole Bible, how God is using women. For me, I’ve always looked at women like in the Bible, women like Deborah was a judge. I look at God giving power to Gail, to be the one to slay that guy. What was his name? Cesirah. I see people like Damary in the New Testament, like Dorcas, powerful women. That is what I believed of myself that I can be a leader, I can be a change.” Jalia Matovu

But even just recently, I was—we founded a church and some elder came and said, well, I was among the elders. But he says, he pointed me out and say, “You are not supposed to be an elder because you are a woman.” And he said, “I have these materials. I’ll give them to the guys. I’m training the guys to be elders, but you are not supposed to be an elder in the church.” I felt so beaten. I cried the whole night. I felt, I was like, “God, did you really create people in different classes? The Bible says that you made us all in your own image.” I really felt tortured. So, it is still there. We are working on it but the communities, they look down on us. The man should be more powerful, more strong. Yeah.

My personality is more of a bold character, I’m more talkative than my husband, but I’ve always been compared to my husband, and people say that he’s more humble than me, but I should be more humble than him. So, to try and be more humble than Daniel is like impossible. Daniel is like the highest of being humble and quiet. I tried it but I could not fit in that because that’s not who I am.

It’s only when I shared with you and Jessica and you encouraged me saying, “Jalia, you’re just okay, just fine being you.” You’re not too much because I have grown up being told you’re too much, you should be quieter, you should be leading from behind or don’t lead at all. Like a woman’s position even in the church is to put the chairs and to clean up and serve in the kitchen, but you cannot be an elder, you cannot be a preacher, you cannot lead. That is a message I’ve been hearing. So, when you encourage me and say,” Jalia, you’re just fine being you. And Daniel is just fine being himself,” it kind of gave me peace. Yeah, it kind of gave me peace. And I’m hopeful that with this world-changing, that maybe my child will not be put down. I’m worried about Zoe because some people have already started telling her, “Be humble.” Even when there is no reason for that. Like “Be humble.” Only because she’s a girl, she’s not supposed to speak up about anything. Yeah. So.

Jessica: You are standing in your bigness now though. Yeah, you are standing in your bigness.

Jalia: Because I remember that night when I was talking about what I went through, I just remember feeling like if I give up now, what is going to happen to all the women in the church? Some of them are in the choir, some of them are hoping to lead. If I give up now what is going to happen to them? And I chose to go back and I said, “No, our God has called me. This is my place. I must lead.” I did that because I was like if I give up now this is going to continue. And my husband thankfully was on my side. He said, “We have to found a church that believes in women because if we take you down right now, it will be a legacy that you know what, women are always get behind.” So, I’m there as an example to show that women can be leaders too, women can be in these positions too, women can be used by God. We are not a curse, we’re a blessing to the community.

“I’m there as an example to show that women can be leaders too, women can be in these positions too, women can be used by God. We are not a curse, we’re a blessing to the community.” Jalia Matovu

 

A Fight Worth Fighting

 

Jessica: That’s right. That’s right. Moon, what about you? What has been your journey into standing in your power as a woman in a country that has treated so many women like second class? Even from, I know you’ve shared some about even when you were born that your family was disappointed that you weren’t a boy.

Moon: Yes, my grandmother, I heard she added tears. And I think, I don’t know, my mother told me, and that I never forget. And maybe that was the triggering point that you realize why it happens with you. So, my journey, I think we all have somehow the same journey, what we felt, be humble. You’re not even the mentor, talking together. Women are not supposed to be there. You are not supposed to say because your brother, or your father, or your ex, all the men, they know the best. And I always had a question. No, that’s not right. I used to have a lot of our mentors. So, because I wanted to say what I felt as a person, and I thought three important man to have to understand, we are also sensitive and emotional people. We need dignity, we need to respect, and I felt that education was very important for that. So thankfully, I could go to university and which gave me the power. And then I came in fair trade where gender equality was one of the important principles. And that was the point I said, “Yeah, I wanna work in this field where I can empower myself, and at the same time I can be the instrument in supporting other women to be themselves and to get dignity, what is their right.”

Yeah, it has been difficult of course and still it’s a process actually, because somewhere the men, they’re born I think with this thinking that they are super, and that they know better. And it’s a very psychological game which goes, and you have to assert yourself. And it can also be hard for you basically because you have to fight for that.

Jessica: There’s an energy that you’re constantly putting forward.

Moon: There are powers which can also try to suppress you all the time, but you have become. So, we’re very happy that we’re at the Shine Conference. Yes, we are right, and we’re in the right direction and the life so far and how we have lived it, it had to be like that. And we were destined for that.

Jessica: You were destined for that.

Moon: … to others and yeah, we are the game changers.

Jessica: Game changers. Creating new legacies. You’re creating legacies so that when little girls are born, the family rejoices. That’s a new legacy.

Moon: Yeah, exactly. And I see some of the women who are autism, they had living worse like than me and I see that. They’re even confined to houses, don’t get an opportunity to go to school. And so, if you can be a catalyst to bring them out and help them and speak to them and be there for them, that’s great. I mean, you have heard about there being a lot of crimes against women, rape and all, and we all had been somewhere abused. It happens, and you don’t speak about that. And we said, “What can we do?” So, we have started recently self-defense classes for the women, the girls, and they start kicking, that’s how they can save themselves, and then show that they’re not really a commodity. Yeah, it’s a continual struggle, and we have to keep on working.

“You have heard about there being a lot of crimes against women, rape and all, and we all had been somewhere abused. It happens, and you don’t speak about that. … We have started recently self-defense classes for the women, the girls, and they start kicking, that’s how they can save themselves, and then show that they’re not really a commodity. Yeah, it’s a continual struggle, and we have to keep on working.” Moon Sharma

Jessica: That’s right, to fight worth fighting. Anne, what about you?

 

Creating Change by Creating Dignified Work

 

Anne: I’m very grateful for my family. When my mother was a young girl, when she turned six years old, almost six, seven, like my son right now, she was sent to go and live with the grandmother who was very old to take care of her. So, my mother would go to school. Then when she’s coming out of school, she would go and get firewood, come cook for my grandmother and make sure that she’s OK. Sorry, not my grandmother, cook for her grandmother, make sure that she’s OK. And her grandmother was blind.

So, my uncle who is my mom’s brother, he was living his best life. I mean, he’s going to school. He’s not being sent to go and get firewood. It’s my mother who is taking care of the grandmother. But I remember one time my mother telling me that she worked so hard, and she said one day the story is going to be different. “I want my kids to have the best life. I want my kids to go to good schools. And I know I am in this small village as a little girl, six-year-old, but one day it’s gonna be a different story.”

So, my mom worked so hard. She went through education, finished her school, and she mobilized the women in communities, and she identified the things that the women could do. And coming from the Kamba culture, our women are good at weaving because it’s one thing that is moved from one generation to the other, weaving of basket. So when she created a job for the people, and she registered a company, Mango True Mirage, and she became part of the Fair Trade Movement, and I can tell you are sure that so many kids, so many families have been impacted by the job that my mom did, because she made a decision that even if she’s a woman, one day she’s gonna make a difference. So that really helps me as a woman also to feel that, I’m at a better place than she was. So clearly, I can also do something for the next generation. So, she started something out of nothing.

And sometimes you’re in this desperate situation that the only thing that you can do is to be bold and brave, because if you don’t take action, who will? Yeah, so well, about women empowerment, like I said, I know we are not there but I’m glad that we’re doing something. We could be a drop in the ocean, but many drops are going to make…

Jessica: A tsunami!

Anne: That’s right.

Jessica: It’s possible. It is possible. So, let’s talk a little bit more about fair trade and artisan businesses because there are so many ways to elevate the worth of women around the world. But obviously, our calling and destiny has all been to do that through business, through artisan business. So, tell us a little bit more about how Moon, you have seen artisan business economic opportunity create empowerment for women that you work with?

Moon: Yeah. But, you know, in fair trade, we have different principles around 10 principles out there. And gender equality and fair wages is very important. And of course, apart from them working with the marginalized artisans’ community. And there, we are instrumental, we are working. So, if you see in a normal business what’s happening, what I see often now women are there. But of course, even in the when you have to pay, they get less money than the men. This is very common practice.

And also, of course, I mean, the question of dignity, equality, it doesn’t accept. I mean, it’s more, I mean, they are also the victim of exploitation. There are different kinds of exploitation. So fair trade I think that is the only alternative, I think, which is the most relevant today and which really helps the women to come forward and to have the respect they deserve and the money they deserve. And yeah, it has really impacted their lives positively. I think things have gone better for the women in fair trade. I never found any difference, and we really worked for that. So, I think fair trade is the only way, what I feel.

“Fair trade I think that is the only alternative, I think, which is the most relevant today and which really helps the women to come forward and to have the respect they deserve and the money they deserve.” Moon Sharma on creating dignified jobs for women.

Jessica: Of course, we all feel that way.

Moon: Also you can say that, because that’s where your women can. And I think it also, a Fair Trade Movement also become a good example for others to follow, because now big multinational companies are also recognizing fair trade. Sometimes they are using it also for their marketing tactics but when they come back, they think something is wrong with the society and the fair wage concept is not accepted or women are not as factored. So, we also go towards fair trade. So, I think the movement is becoming spreading and becoming stronger. And also, it is giving a due dignity to woman artisans. And of course, also those who are men also. I mean, who are not recognized or who were the victim of exploitation.

Jessica: That’s right. That’s right. Jalia, what about you? Job creation, economic empowerment? What difference have you seen that make for woman?

Jalia: I see that fair-trade job creation is the best way because I know that we’ve tried different ways to empower women. But the real empowerment is also something that elevates their spirit, something that gives them that, what should I say?

Anne: Dignity.

Jalia: Dignity, yeah, and the esteem. Because when you wake up and dress up and come to work, you know that “I’m not just getting a handout because somebody is out there feeling sorry for me. But I’m able to work with my hands, I’m able to use my brain and create something beautiful. So, an American will appreciate it and pay me for my work.” So that really does not only provide income, but it also elevates their spirit and gives them that dignity. We are not just beggars. We work.

“I see that fair-trade job creation is the best way because … real empowerment is also something that elevates their spirit … [They think] “I’m not just getting a handout because somebody is out there feeling sorry for me. But I’m able to work with my hands, I’m able to use my brain and create something beautiful. … That really does not only provide income, but it also elevates their spirit and gives them that dignity. We are not just beggars. We work.” Jalia Matovu on empowering women through fair-trade artisan business.

And I’ve seen that in my workshop, women who were really beaten by poverty. I am one of them. I’m one of them. Yeah, poverty has a way of crippling your mind and your dreams. And the only thing you think about is survival, food survival, security. You can’t dream bigger. Yeah, but when you’re able to know that, “you know what, my art is beautiful, people love it.” I remember the first time I came to Shine, at first, I thought they were buying these things because they help, you know, like feeling sorry for us. But I saw the women looked really beautiful in that. I mean, looked smart. Looked smart and beautiful in their necklaces. I said, “Wow, they really like them.” So, it gives me such dignity to think, “OK, I can create something beautiful and somebody can appreciate and pay me for it.” That’s what we’re trying to do when we give these women that job. We are giving them that power. Yeah.

I’ve also seen how some women have been stuck in bad marriages, like one of the women in my workshop. But when she was given a job, and she worked for some time, she met you, Jessica, and said, “I’m now ready to leave my marriage.” Because before that, she was staying in the home because she needed the shelter, and she was in an abusive marriage only because you could not afford to pay a house to like rescue herself and her children from this guy. And when she got a job, she’s like, “I’m now able to leave this man and be like, be on my own and sustain myself.”

So that and then another thing that fair trade has done, this job creation has done … so many women in my country, they look at themselves like they’re objects for men to buy. You know like a commodity. You see like when I grow up, I’ll get married, a man will pay money to my family, he’ll take care of me or I can go to the street and be a prostitute and sell my body, get money. But this is another way of saying you can use your mind, you can use your hands, you don’t have to sell your body. You don’t have to be that, you can be more than just, you know, a commodity. So fair trade has really transformed us, not just financially that we are now able, but our spirits have been encouraged. I was just telling Jessica today, I said, “Jessica, you have really transformed me.” Because before, you know how we did the first podcast, I would never talk like this. I was very soft, shy. I was so shy but now I feel like I’m a different person. Yeah, thank you.

Jessica: Empowered women empower women.

 

Dignified Women Give Dignity to the Future

 

Moon: Yeah, you need inspiration, you need positive energy.

Jalia: Yeah, and a job gives us that power. Yeah, we see ourselves not as beggars or people who get handouts, but as professional people who can work with our hands and our brain and create stuff. Beautiful stuff, others can appreciate and pay us for our work.

Moon: Emotional and financial—all solidarity. Because sometimes women have money they are living in rich houses, but they’re not happy, there’s no guarantee. I mean, they have maybe gold, they have everything, but not what the woman wants, self-esteem.

Jalia: That’s what we get from Shine. That’s what we get from you, Jessica. From what Noonday has done for us, you have empowered us truly, truly, not just economic empowerment but total empowerment.

Jessica: Well, it’s mutual, it’s mutual. Empowered women empower women. So, you all have empowered me to step into my story.

Moon: It’s a very special company, I should say.

Jessica: It is, yeah.

Moon: Because you’re not helping only to give livelihood, but also giving powered women. And courage.

Jalia: And the encouragement. I’m like, you can do this, you can do this, just move forward.

Moon: There are many companies, fair trade, but the leaders are not like that. They just do their work. If you can also be a leader or icon for others who can say, “OK, I can be like that.”

Jalia: Some organizations have given out, handed out, some things like sanitary pads to women, like few things here and there. Yeah, that is good but giving a woman a job is better than all of that. Because she can work and buy those things and feel like, “OK, I’m providing for my family.”

Moon: And make her respected, that’s the most important.

Jalia: Make her respected.

Anne: Can I say something? One of the things that I also like about fair trade is the part of no child labor, because if there’s no child labor, that makes the parents in this workshop take their girls to school. So, what we do is like … we do random checks for our workshops. We go to Kibera, we go to Rongai, just to check and just to train the people that, “You know what? These kids are going to be the future generation. These girls …” You know, there’s an African saying that says when you educate a girl, you educate a community, or you educate the nation. So, we remind them that these girls are the future of tomorrow. So, if you don’t take them through education, what are you really doing? So, like that part of fair trade protects education.

“There’s an African saying that says when you educate a girl, you educate a community, or you educate the nation. So, we remind them that these girls are the future of tomorrow. So, if you don’t take them through education, what are you really doing?” Anne Nzilani

Anne: Fair trade protects the rights of workers, it protects the rights … I love fair trade.

Moon: Yeah, environment, it takes care of the environment also. Yeah, we learned that we have to use the eco-friendly resources.

Jessica: You guys have turned this podcast into a great advertisement, so can’t complain about that. Well, I actually crowdsourced for the very first time some questions for you all. I threw it out on my Instagram account that you were in town and that we were doing a special podcast. And so, many people commented and had questions for you. So, I am going to ask you. The first one is what do you want women in America to know about your work? We might have covered that a little bit, but Anne, why don’t you share?

Anne: That they’re doing such a great job. They’re creating a marketplace. One of the things that I was looking for before I met Noonday, that was in 2016, was the marketplace. Then I was invited to come to Shine. And I remember sitting there and looking at these girls, I’m like, “This is the market that I’m looking for.” So, it’s like a prayer that has been answered, it’s a dream that has come true. And when I scroll through Instagram, and I’m seeing all the jewelry that they are wearing, it’s very encouraging.

So, the women in America, they need to know that they’re very special for us in Kenya, in Africa, and they give us a reason to move forward with a lot of hope, so we’re not scared like we were scared before we met Noonday. So, we appreciate them, and we know that the next five years, I can’t wait to see how it’s gonna look like. That it’s going to be a beautiful story of more orders and more work. Yes, so I know right now we have like about, is it 450, 500 ladies coming for the Shine. I can’t wait to see how another five years it will look like.

Jessica: So, to let you guys know, Shine is Noonday collection’s annual ambassador conference. It’s like a UN-style summit TED talk business planning extravaganza, and that is why we have these women in town right now. So, if you’re wondering what Shine is, you can be a part if you become a Noonday Collection Ambassador. OK, Jalia, let me ask you a question. How do you define courage?

 

Drops of Courage Make Tsunamis of Change

 

Jalia: Well, courage is, I have my own definition of courage. But courage is not giving up. Courage is having a purpose and working on achieving it despite your circumstances. Courage is when you take on a child and keep her in your house knowing she could die any minute and you’re scared to death. But you do it anyway because you have to do it. Courage is when you do something that you could have avoided, but you have to do it because it’s life-saving—because, I mean, you put down all your fears and just go because it’s the only choice you have, to go and do what you have to do. That’s how I define courage.

“Courage is when you do something that you could have avoided, but you have to do it because it’s life-saving—because, I mean, you put down all your fears and just go because it’s the only choice you have, to go and do what you have to do. That’s how I define courage.” Jalia Matovu

Jessica: That’s good. You have a lot of it. You’ve inspired me to be more courageous, time and time again. Moon, this podcast is called the Going Scared podcast.

Moon: Going Scared.

Jessica: Going Scared. So, what we mean by going scared is really what Jalia just described. That courage is being afraid but not letting that hold you back, going forward anyway. So, this listener wanted to know how are you going scared right now in your work or in your life? Or how are you practicing courage is another way of saying it.

Moon: I think everything which is wrong, which is unjust, you have to speak against that. Not to take wrong things or any kind of exploitation and you accept it, you have to raise your voice. You have to speak against. You have to be strong. You should have courage. Maybe you’re afraid but you have to speak against that. And that’s what I do in my work. And I know there are some things go wrong sometimes. But if for example, bribes are taken, other women not expect it. You have to raise your voice. That’s what I believe and not to take your own things. If you’re conscious you have to listen to your conscience, you have to believe in yourself. And you have, of course, the God Almighty support, you have to listen to your heart and do that, what should happen and what your heart and mind says.

Jessica: Awesome, awesome. So, Anne, someone wants to know, what were some of the challenges facing your day-to-day life before you went in partnership with Noonday Collection?

Anne: The challenges were, you know, people give you a phone call, “Hi, do you have work? Hello, I need my child to be paid for, you know, some money, because they’re sick.” And I remember the first time when Tamara was sent by Noonday to come to Bawa, and she went to visit some of the artisans and she asked, “How long would it take to make 5,000 bracelets?” And then the artisans were like, “Are you kidding me? 5,000? Did you just say 5000, or you meant 500 bracelets?”

And after that, we began to get orders, and I’m telling you, the truth is that right now the artisans know, you know, Noonday gives a calendar of when the orders are coming, when the samples are coming. So, our artisans are busy right now. We have less people complaining about hospital bills. We have less people complaining about the fact that they cannot afford to afford health care and school fees and things like that. So, Noonday has created that opportunity for us. You know, like in Africa, some of the things are not automatic. Like to have three meals, or two meals in a day. It’s not automatic. It’s automatic to have clothes, food, clothing and shelter, just the basic needs. But now, working with Noonday, our artisans now that is a story of us. I’m sure some of them don’t even remember how it was.

“In Africa, some of the things are not automatic. Like to have three meals, or two meals in a day. It’s not automatic. It’s automatic to have clothes, food, clothing and shelter, just the basic needs. But now, working with Noonday, our artisans now that is a story of us.” Anne Nzilani

Jalia: They do.

Anne: They don’t remember how it was before.

Jalia: Like how they felt before?

Anne: Yeah, yeah, because nowadays, it’s a very good place in life.

Jalia: I don’t think they can forget. You’ll always kind of remember.

Anne: Yeah, I’m saying like in terms of, you know, like they’ve overcome that challenge, of not being able to afford health care. And nowadays when someone is sick because they’re getting orders from Noonday, they can go and just pay.

Jalia: Yeah, you’re right. Yeah.

Anne: So, I’m very grateful for Noonday. And what does Noonday mean to us? Marketplace.

Jessica: And we are going to continue to create the world’s largest marketplace, for artisan made goods here in America. And it is such a delight to walk with each of you. Thank you so much for joining us today. And I can’t wait to have you on again. And we’re gonna continue to be empowered and women who empower women. And we will create a tsunami of a legacy in our wake. So, thanks for joining us today.

Together: Thank you.