I will have a week of meetings with The BOMA Project staff on this trip but I am also leading a safari for a group of BOMA donors through the national organization Dining for Women. In 2010, I led the first safari for this unique nonprofit, whose mission is “to empower women and girls living in extreme poverty by funding programs that foster good health, education, and economic self‐sufficiency …”
Dining for Women is a dinner giving circle. Members “dine in” together as a chapter once a month, each bringing a dish to share, and their “dining out” dollars are sent to programs empowering women worldwide. Hundreds of chapters support carefully selected international programs each month and twice The BOMA Project has been a beneficiary in our work to economically empower the women of Northern Kenya.
In 2010 I spoke at Dining for Women’s Global Summit and I congratulated them on their thoughtful and effective work: “You work to support small grassroots organizations like BOMA. You do your homework on identifying organizations that have powerful and effective models for fighting poverty and helping women in poor countries. You demand reports and accountability and then you spread the word about our work to a diverse audience of women around the United States. You give your members an opportunity to be part of something bigger, all within the fellowship of other women.”
“And then you let us do our work, without asking for anything more than the opportunity to understand our program, the women we work with, and the knowledge of your impact. That is why the greatest, the most selfless act of compassion on behalf of women living in poverty is to write a check. Every month, Dining for Women does just that … and I believe it represents one of the best collective efforts of philanthropy in the world.”
I’m proud to be once again leading a group of travelers from Dining for Women. Already, four of the travelers have arrived in Nairobi and we had a delightful dinner talking about important and powerful projects in Nepal and Cambodia. Some of the travelers serve on the selection committee and others help women start their own DFW chapters. Tonight the rest of the group arrives and tomorrow we are off to visit a Dining for Women funded organization, Shining Hope for Communities, in the Kibera slums of Nairobi. This inspiring organization, founded by Kennedy Odede & Jessica Posner, is doing ground-breaking work. I was inspired a few years ago by the Op-Ed that Kennedy wrote in the NYTimes entitled “Slum Dog Tourism”. In the morning we will be visiting Shining Hope’s Kibera School for Girls, not as poverty tourists, but as collaborators and partners who are working hard to be part of the solution.