Tag: Women’s Empowerment

Creating a Safe Space: An Interview With Moriah Peters Smallbone

Moriah Peters Smallbone is a Mexican-American recording artist, actress, and academic. Her sophomore album, BRAVE, hit number nine on Billboard’s Christian Music Charts, and she has toured with acts such as MercyMe and Tenth Avenue North. She has since launched TRALA, an alternative, all-female band. She is married to Joel Smallbone, a member of the Christian pop duo for KING & COUNTRY.

Moriah recently spoke with Doree Donaldson, Vice President of Convoy:Women, about her partnership with Convoy of Hope. Below are excerpts from their conversation.  

 

DOREE: How did you connect with Convoy of Hope? 

MORIAH: I first started following Convoy of Hope very much from a distance. I think I saw something on Twitter and thought, “Oh cool. I love what they do.” Then I was performing at a church, and someone I was with offered to introduce me to you, Doree. It was refreshing to realize that you didn’t just preach kindness because you are a part of Convoy of Hope — it’s actually who you are. 

DOREE: I know authenticity is important to you and your husband, Joel.

MORIAH: What Joel says from the stage is truly what he lives out, and I have the honor of getting to see that firsthand. I certainly try to live with that same level of integrity and authenticity.

Doree: I’m curious to know how you even got involved in the industry to start with. Tell us a little bit of that story.

Moriah: It honestly boils down to the support of my parents. 

As a kid I didn’t have a very pleasant voice, but I loved singing, so I would sing backup for my sister and we’d harmonize. I was the one in the background and, to be honest, to this day that’s still my favorite place to be — it’s why I love singing in church with a choir when I can just be a small part of the big picture. 

My father, although he was a judge for 30 years, played the bass and always had a very refined musical taste. Growing up we weren’t allowed to listen to certain genres due to the musicality not being up to par. I grew up on a lot of jazz and funk, R&B, and soul. My parents put me in singing lessons when I was 7 or 8 years old and would take me to anything that provided an opportunity for me to sing, from soccer games to chili cook-offs. They bent over backwards for me. And what’s sweet is I don’t think they ever really thought I would or could make a career of it — they just saw that I loved it and wanted to support me.

As I got a bit older, I was very focused on school. I had a scholarship to go to Cal State Fullerton and got accepted into the pre-law program there. I wanted to be a lawyer and was determined to follow in my father’s footsteps, but right after High School graduation there were opportunities stirring in Nashville. It was the first major crossroads I had ever experienced in life. If it weren’t for my parents being so gracious and encouraging, and my dad painting a realistic picture for me, I’m not sure where I would be. He encouraged me to explore the doors that were opening in Nashville, and to view them as something I had the power to investigate. It was their support that really helped me dive in and move to Nashville at age 17. I started living in people’s basements and couch surfing. I signed a record deal and then toured, and it has been the most adventurous, eventful, decade-long experience of my life. 

It was at times difficult to be away from family, but my mom actually just moved out to Nashville and so my family is together again. It’s so wonderful at the age I am at now to get to experience the relationship with her in a new way. I am able to see her as a fellow woman, and vice versa. She’s sharing things that are new to me, and I’m doing the same. It can be painful for her to hear, as a loving, protective mother, about some of the hard experiences I had when I was younger. And yet I’ve realized that every scarring experience — every hurtful, terrifying experience — was helping me grow in my identity, and to build a deeper foundation for my faith. I am grateful through it all to have kept my passion for music and my desire to make an impact, specifically in women’s empowerment. 

DOREE: I’ve loved seeing your passion for women’s empowerment.

MORIAH: It goes back to my high school days. I went to a large public school in Southern California. It was so diverse in its makeup and that made for a truly invaluable experience. During that time, I started a small Bible study for girls. By my senior year, it was standing room only. That experience allowed me to see the power of creating a safe space for women and girls to come together. I think that experience was so fulfilling and shaping for me that it set me on a path — a trajectory — to care about women’s empowerment. 

These days, I seize opportunities to work with other female musicians, to interview other women and share their stories, and to see and support women’s empowerment work internationally.

DOREE: How did you get involved with Convoy of Hope’s programming for women?

MORIAH: It was through research on social media, believe it or not. I was looking at the different Twitter accounts for various philanthropic organizations, and there was something different about Convoy of Hope. I felt like there was no bias there. Convoy of Hope doesn’t give help to people to get something in return, but for the sake of giving. In every connection I’ve had with Convoy, I’ve seen a commitment to excellence and a desire to give your best for others based on the belief that they deserve the best. 

DOREE: You’ve seen Convoy of Hope up close. Any experiences stand out? 

MORIAH:  When I was in El Salvador, I got to witness a Girls’ Empowerment graduation ceremony. It was so reminiscent of my quinceañera. In Hispanic culture, the quinceañera is a massive event. I tell people that my quinceañera was bigger than my wedding! But that’s because the quinceañera is so symbolic of stepping into womanhood. I remember being 15 years old, surrounded by so many witnesses, as my parents speaking about my value and my worth. 

That day in El Salvador, I got to share in their moment as they were told that they are priceless. Many of the messages my mother taught me may never be taught to these girls except by teachers in this program. This is an opportunity for these girls to establish a trajectory for their lives and transform their future legacies. It’s amazing to see how Convoy is creating safe spaces for women and girls around the world. 

Doree: That’s so powerful. And you’re right, it’s not just about these girls but about their children and so on.

Moriah:  Absolutely. I had the opportunity to share with these girls how that moment — their Girl’s Empowerment graduation ceremony — was one from which future generations would benefit. I told them how I learned many of the lessons they had learned when I was a young girl, too: what it means to be patient and wait for the right opportunities, to pursue greater education, and how to set goals. 

Going into the graduation ceremony I had an understanding of the reality — that most of these girls would not have the chance to learn these lessons except through the Girl’s Empowerment program. That’s why it was so special for me to see firsthand how Convoy steps in, in a Godmother-like role, almost, to just speak this life into these girls and empower them to break generational chains. 

In my own life I’ve seen how all it takes is just one person choosing to do things differently to break generational chains. My mother did that when she chose a different trajectory for her life.

Doree: Tell us a little more about your mother.

Moriah: She was the first person in her family to leave El Paso and the first to pursue higher education.  She was also a trailblazer in that she made wise decisions and avoided the teen pregnancy that had become practically the standard in the family. Even with her faith, she was a pioneer and has faced opposition throughout her journey. Yet it has been her faith that has grounded her and helped her follow a different path. 

Doree: She sounds like an incredible trailblazer. 

Moriah: Yes, that’s a perfect characterization. She had to really stand up for herself and defend this new hope and way of life she had set for herself. And I can only imagine it’s just a taste of what some women and girls around the world face when they are choosing to view themselves differently than their culture, when they choose to go against the social norms of their communities and even families. 

Doree: It’s interesting that a moment ago you mentioned teen pregnancy as something that was common in your family. Teenage pregnancy is so prevalent and a real issue in El Salvador and so many of the countries where Convoy serves.

Moriah: Yes, it is a genuine and pressing issue today. I know for me having my mother’s example was invaluable in terms of how that influenced me to make wise decisions in my own life. Going back to not just the Girl’s Empowerment program, but all of Convoy’s Women’s Empowerment programming — the power of a woman to influence the women around her, her family members, and an entire community, can’t be underestimated. 

To learn more about Convoy:Women, click here

To learn more about Convoy of Hope’s Women’s Empowerment program, click here.

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Program Updates

Ivania’s Story – Women’s Empowerment

Since piloting Mothers’ Clubs in 2012, the Convoy of Hope Women’s Empowerment program has been training, educating, and empowering women in Honduras. Ivania — a wife and mother of three — has experienced the success of the program and looks forward to new opportunities in the future. 

Before attending Women’s Empowerment classes, Ivania cared for her three young children and ran her own business while her husband, David, worked at the local gas station. Despite their hard work, they struggled to provide for all of their family’s needs.

“Before, there were a lot of bad situations,” she says. “For example, there was no food for lunches. It was hard. The kids often didn’t have diapers or milk. I didn’t have the money to afford them. There were a lot of struggles before.”

With just a sixth grade education, Ivania joined the Women’s Empowerment program to help get her business off the ground. She cherishes the information she has learned since being involved in Women’s Empowerment, such as customer service, business accounting, and investing. “I didn’t know any of this before I met Convoy,” Ivania says. 

Ivania has set a goal of saving 6,000 lempira and has managed to save more than anyone else in the program. In order to meet her goal, she spends a majority of her business days delivering and fulfilling orders for her customers. She continues to grow her business through word of mouth but hopes to have a brick and mortar store someday. 

Ivania is thankful for the experience and knowledge she has gained through the Women’s Empowerment program and the impact it has had on her life. 

“Convoy taught me everything I know about business, and I’m putting it into practice. This is all a reality because of everything that Convoy taught me. The Convoy staff gave me confidence, and now I consider them my friends.” 

Thanks to friends like you for supporting the efforts of Women’s Empowerment and changing the lives of women around the world. 

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Women's Empowerment
Convoy of Hope trucks carrying relief supplies crisscross the country. Convoy of Hope trucks carrying relief supplies crisscross the country.

Convoy of Hope Receives ‘Four Star Charity’ Rating for 17th Consecutive Year

Convoy of Hope is happy to announce that, for the 17th straight year, we have received Charity Navigator’s ‘Four Star Charity’ rating!

Financial accountability and transparency are vital when considering which charitable organizations to support. To that end, Convoy of Hope works tirelessly to ensure we meet and exceed the best practices of our industry. That’s why every year since 2002, we’ve done what was necessary to obtain Charity Navigator’s highest possible rating.

Currently, nearly 90% of every dollar raised by Convoy of Hope goes directly to programming. The remaining covers our administrative and fundraising costs. Convoy of Hope’s commitment to keeping our overhead low demonstrates our determination to efficiently deliver help and hope to people in need.

Convoy of Hope’s profile on Charity Navigator can be found here.

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In the News

Hope for the Holidays

As 2019 comes to a close, families around the world are preparing for the upcoming holiday season. For many of the 200,000 children in Convoy of Hope’s Children’s Feeding program, the hope found in a warm bowl of food each day may be the only gift they receive. The support they receive from supporters like you is what makes the holidays so special.

Nine-year-old Olvin is one of the 11,000 children whom Convoy feeds in Honduras. When he’s not caring for his chickens or attending classes, he is most likely playing soccer with his friends. But the thing he loves most about going to school?

“The food is good!” Olvin says. “Sometimes they give us soup. They give us rice and eggs, too.”

Through Convoy of Hope’s Children’s Feeding program, Olvin receives the nutritious meals he needs to stay healthy and focused. Since starting the program in Honduras in 2011, Convoy of Hope has partnered with more than 100 Honduran communities.

While many are preparing shopping lists and putting up Christmas trees, Olvin’s family is looking forward to their own holiday traditions.

Olvin lives at home with his parents and two younger brothers. His father works long hours, and his mother, Ivania, runs a small business that Convoy’s Women’s Empowerment program helped her start. For them, the added support they receive from Convoy has been the glimmer of hope they desperately needed.

“Normally, we can’t give the kids gifts for Christmas,” says Ivania. “But this year, we will be able to give them gifts.”

Like many families, Olvin’s is looking forward to the Christmas season, because everyone is together and they attend church as a family. Ivania loves to prepare the holiday menu, which includes chicken, rice, potatoes, and bread.

“This year is going to be different from other years, though,” Ivania says. “This year, they will get new clothes for Christmas, and I can add a little something to the menu.”

As Convoy of Hope looks back on the last 25 years, we are humbled to be a part of empowering so many families and their communities. While many will struggle to keep food on the table this holiday season, Convoy of Hope continues to fight for the poor and suffering in hopes that families everywhere can “add a little something to the menu.”

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25 Stories That Shaped Convoy of Hope / Children's Feeding

Makena Goes To The Market

Makena starts her day at the Ewuaso Market in her home country of Kenya. Metal saucepans reflect the beams of sunlight peeking through the shade trees above as neatly packaged bowls, cups, and cooking utensils line tables at her quiet corner store. She laughs and smiles with friends from the community.

But Makena knows struggle.

Just eight months ago, she was staying at home to care for seven of her 10 children. Barely able to provide enough food for her family, she was in desperate need of a second chance. A second chance — like the one she found in Convoy of Hope’s Micro+ program. 

Since completing Micro+, Makena started her own business to provide for her large family. Now, instead of staying home, Makena sells household goods and kitchenware at three weekly markets.

While a lot has changed for Makena and her family, one change stands out the most. “Now there’s plenty of food,” she says with a smile. 

Your kindness has helped break the chains of poverty for Makena and her family. Thank you for empowering women like Makena and providing second chances to families around the world.

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Women's Empowerment