I’m pleased to welcome Brooke Sulahian to the #BeBoldGirl series. Brooke is sharing her story of boldly serving women in need. Thank you for sharing, Brooke. #BeBoldGirl!
Are you bold, idealistic or foolish? Which word best describes you? Could you be, like me, a bit of all three?
Over the past few years, people have called me bold. Why? People describe me as bold when they hear that during a two-year period, I read two books that opened my eyes to the world’s needs, felt God’s call, and took action.
Looking back, I agree it required boldness to step out. It also took a measure of idealism to choose the pursuit of hope and justice, a dash of foolishness to believe we would make a difference, sacrificial support from others, and the provision of our ever-present God…a proven, fruitful recipe.
What action did I take? I learned about fistula, a medical condition resulting from obstructed labor and/or trauma. Fistula leaves a woman with incontinence, isolated from family, friends and society. It can also steal her dignity and hope. I opened my heart to the women and girls in Angola, the Congo and Nepal who suffer from this condition and started a volunteer organization raising awareness. After one year, with the help and support of my husband, friends, mentors, and team members, we registered our organization as Hope for Our Sisters, Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit.
Why did I do this?
I received a call from God that answered my deep desire for purpose.
The plight of those with fistula made a permanent home in my heart. Fistula awareness and eradication became my life’s calling as God utilized my natural bent toward action, my desire for those deemed “lesser” to overcome, and my willingness to believe we could make a lasting impact on the 2-5 million women suffering from fistula. Our chosen focus? Changing the lives of women, one woman at a time.
What do you think? Is our organization bold, idealistic or foolish? I believe we are and have been all three in different measures at different times as we strive to obey the calling on our hearts.
We are building bridges of hope to and within Angola, the Congo and Nepal.
The women and girls with fistula are in need of our partnership. Their voices have been reduced within both their own cultures and our fast-paced, distracted culture. I have seen effective bridge building utilizing boldness, idealism and a dash of foolishness.
However, I am not always bold, idealistic or foolish. At times, I am scared. I question if I am leading well, cut out for this journey, or somehow limiting this calling. At times, I am weak. While in Angola, my first trip to Africa, my heart was shredded through culture shock and multiple bouts of heartbreak as I heard the stories of my sisters with fistula.
I lost part of myself…forever changed. However, it was worth the cost.
Through my sisters with fistula, I was able to witness a different type of boldness. Boldness resulting from the strength, perseverance and dignity inherent in our sisters. After all they had endured, they still held their heads high and grasped onto hope of healing and a future. Each day for them requires a sense of boldness I will most likely never possess. I admire them greatly.
We can do none of this work on our own. When I lead from the perspective that Hope for Our Sisters is God’s organization, He can fully utilize the team’s collective mix of boldness, idealism, and foolishness for His purposes. He provides our team with just enough of each.
Boldness to stand firm when life’s realities sink in, when the number of fistula cases attempts to paralyze us, and when I question my capabilities.
Idealism to inspire others to action, expand our vision beyond our imagination, and pursue the hope that we can one day celebrate the eradication of fistula with our sisters.
Add to these enough foolishness to be dangerous and believe we can make a lasting difference.
How about you? I invite you to step out and, through Him, live a life of boldness and idealism with just a dash of foolishness…a recipe ripe with potential.
Following a successful thirteen-year career in Human Resources and four years as a stay-at-home mom, Brooke’s eyes were opened to the suffering and injustice that afflict her brothers and sisters around the world. The plight of women and girls suffering under the weight of fistula captured her heart. As a result, she co-founded a volunteer group in October of 2010, which led to the founding of Hope for Our Sisters, Inc. in January of 2012. She serves as President and Co-Founder.
In addition to her work with Hope for Our Sisters, she founded Gathering for Hope in 2010 and led the Lexington, MA chapter for the first four years. Gathering for Hope is a social justice resource focused on equipping and mobilizing others to serve those in need.
Brooke is driven by her hope that women and girls around the world will one day be fully cherished and valued as God intended. Brooke lives in the Boston area with her husband and two young children. Connect with Brooke on the Hope for Our Sisters blog and at Hope Sightings. You can also donate to support Hope For Our Sisters here.