Support of U.S. Sisters

A couple weeks ago the Vatican attacked American nuns for spending too much time working to help the poor and fight poverty, rather than attacking same-sex marriage. The criticism, considered formal disciplinary action against the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) which represents over 55,000 nuns in the United States, was labeled as “grave and a matter of serious concern” that nuns are not sufficiently denouncing abortion, Obamacare, and women’s ordination.
Consequently, there has been a ground swell of support in the United States for Catholic sisters:

1. The Nun Justice Project, a group of Catholic justice organizations working to support the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), is planning a series of weekly candlelight prayer vigils across the country this month, with confirmed in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle and Boston.

2) NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote a powerful article on April 29th entitled “We Are All Nuns”. Read it here!

3) Parishes throughout the country are speaking out. At St. Andrew Catholic Church in Portland, Oregon, Fr. Leo Remington, the celebrant, opened the prayers of the faithful with the following: "For women religious in the U.S. and throughout the world, in thanksgiving for their service to the church and world, may we stand in solidarity with them during these turbulent times, we pray."

4) And soon the following ad will appear in the National Catholic Reporter. An email is currently circulating requesting signatures from people who stand behind U.S. Sisters.
As people of faith, we reaffirm our love and gratitude to the thousands of women religious in the United States who have stood with and served the poor, healed the sick, sheltered the homeless, accompanied immigrants, taught our children, sought peace instead of war. By their many good works and adherence to Christian principles, U.S. Sisters have kept the church from moral bankruptcy. 
Yet today, these women and their communities have come under fire by the Vatican’s actions against the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) for their humanitarian stance on a variety of issues, including universal healthcare, the role of women in the church , the LGBT community, and economic justice. In the spirit of Vatican II, we lay claim to the belief that “the church is all of us.” We are all made in the image and likeness of God. Authentic religious freedom supports the free exchange of ideas, and the primacy of conscience in pursuit of the Common Good. 
We lament the Vatican’s effort to foreclose dialogue and to impose their authority on women religious and the broader community. We reject some Bishops’ claim to be the ultimate authority and sole arbiters of truth. History has documented the fallibility of all human institutions, including the Roman Catholic Church. We are deeply concerned by the timing of these actions and the perception they create: namely that the Vatican and U.S. Bishops are seeking to limit discernment and manipulate the upcoming political elections in the United States to advance a narrow political agenda. Our democracy was founded on the principle of the separation of Church and State.

Our church was founded on the principles of love, forgiveness and communion.
We invite all within and outside the Roman Catholic community to express support for our Sisters and their good works in service to the poor and for a more just, compassionate and humane world. We call upon our leaders – especially religious leaders -- to stand with our Sisters. We pray for the courage to live by the gospel invocation to “Do Justice, love kindness, walk humbly with our God. “ (Micah 6)

For more information and ways to get involved visit:
To sign this ad, please email your name, address, phone number to before May 15th when it will be published!

To help defray the $2700 cost of the ad, please make a donation online at Click on the orange “Donate” tab in upper right hand corner; then click “donate on line;” scroll down, fill out the information, and click on “program designation” Support Our Sisters/NCR Ad.

Or send a check to SHARE. Make your check payable to: SHARE Foundation/Stand with the Sisters. Mail to: 2425 College Ave., Berkeley, CA, 94704

Please consider offering your support to these selfless women who have tirelessly dedicated their lives to serving others!

World Pulse: Voices of Our Future

Grassroots women leaders are changing the world.
 © Andrea Leoncavallo    
It’s inspiring to read about the impact one empowered women can make on her community. Last year World Pulse, an organization using the power of interactive media to build a network connecting the world of women, selected Achieng Beatrice Nas from Kampala, Uganda to be one of three finalists for their annual Voices of Our Future training to become grassroots women citizen journalists and speak out as agents of change. This unique opportunity, which creates an “editorial cycle of empowerment” to bring women’s voices out of the shadows and onto the world stage, motivated Beatrice to start Rural Girl Child Mentorship Uganda, seeking out sponsors for Ugandan girls wanting an education.

Here is an excerpt from one of Beatrice’s PulseWire posts at World Pulse: “For decades, 98% of the children and especially girls in rural Ugandan communities have been unable to complete high school. Only 0.5% will continue further for a tertiary training and graduate at a diploma level. This is due to the effects of chronic poverty, HIV, cultural beliefs that education is wasted on girls, and domestic violence. Although these girls currently live in situations where they have little hope for a future that doesn’t include poverty and marriage at a young age, they have dreams of becoming educated, independent women who can effect change in Uganda in a variety of ways. Rural Girl Child Mentorship Uganda (RGCM Uganda) project is a one-on-one girl-to-mentor project aimed at empowering Ugandan girls through financial assistance for continued education, shared knowledge and wisdom, and creative thinking.”

In just 39 days after starting RGCM Uganda on January 1, 2012, Beatrice had 37 committed mentors from Austria, Australia, England, Germany, Sweden and the United States. But despite her best efforts, only 40 girls were identified who met the basic requirements as most school age girls were already married. In the existing rural primary and secondary schools, administrators have little success in keeping girls enrolled due to the parents’ lack of understanding of the value of education.

Here is a personal story from one of the girls chosen to participate in RGCM Uganda and receive an education: “My parents force me to get married, sometimes they just bring for me a man to marry but I ignore and sometimes I ran away from home and hide until the man goes away. They normally bring men aged 35-60 years old. In the past I used to stay with my grandmother because my parents do not value girl child education. When she died, I forced my way back home. I live with my parents who never went to school and they do not know the value of education. I always make my own school fees and buy my scholastic materials. I cut trees and burn charcoal and I leave some of the trees as firewood and also sell. I also grow vegetables and sell in the market. 
I value education so much, I know that what a man can do, a woman can also do. My dream is to become a lawyer and fight away the violence against girls who are taken as source of making money.” 
Aboth Regina, 19.

RGCM Uganda has recently partnered with the Pearl Community Empowerment Foundation (PCE-Foundation) to create awareness of the value of educating girls, as well as boys, in rural communities by targeting 5000 students and 700 parents/guardians in 50 schools from April 30 to August 31, 2012. By doing so they hope to help communities understand the importance of education as a sustainable solution to household poverty.

The 40 girls selected by RGCM Uganda for 2012 are now attending boarding schools and communicating often with their mentors…both “happy to have found each other." And all this is happening because one empowered woman found her “voice” to become an education advocate for potentially thousands of young girls in Uganda, who could eventually help effect positive change in the world!

Women's Empowerment Part I: Economic Access

Watch this video on Women's World Banking - Investing in Women

Do you know the majority of the 1.3 billion people living in poverty around the globe are women and by virtue of being poor with few assets, they are more likely to be excluded from the financial sector and abused? Do you also know that micro-lending is an effective way to increase the status of women and protect them from abuse?

Studies have shown that when women in underdeveloped countries can access income they will spend it on educating their children, providing healthcare for their family, and starting small businesses. When women have access to financial services they are also empowered beyond the tangible benefits. It expands their confidence, skill sets, knowledge and networking ability to make a better life for their family and their community. In fact, women are more reliable borrowers because they often follow a more conservative investment strategy, which in turn, results in lower default rates.

With that in mind, how can we expect to eradicate poverty on a grand scale if half of the population is excluded from the economy?

Enter Women's World Banking.

Women’s World Banking is committed to providing access to financial services for both financial and personal empowerment outcomes. They work with institutions to create products that have the greatest financial and social impact possible by creating products that work for women. They design product offerings in a way that takes into account women’s needs so they are tremendously successful when it comes to empowering women in the economic sector. They understand the powerful effect of women in the economic development of underdeveloped countries, how securing a financial future for women can alleviates domestic violence and poverty at the most basic level.

To learn more about Women's World Banking, and the impact of empowering women through micro-lending, check out this blog post at!

Free Trial Loan Offer!

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You have the power to make this world a safer place for women and girls by joining our Kiva team! All it takes is one $25 loan to a female entrepreneur of your choice. And once your loan has been repaid by the entrepreneur, we hope you will continue to re-lend. In less than two years we now have 246 members from 9 countries making 1,158 loans totaling $30,475! This is testimony that when a lot of people each do a little, it can make a very big impact.

With a small financial investment -- just the cost of a large pizza --YOU can be part of the solution, by helping a woman create a better life for herself, her family, and her community. We really do believe the key to alleviating poverty and achieving world stability, for our children and our grandchildren, certainly lies in unleashing the potential of women.

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How Kiva Works

Kiva began in 2005 after a young couple, Jessica Jackley and Matt Flannery, traveled to Africa to assess how micro-finance affected poor communities there. They grew increasingly concerned that the dependence of micro-lending on local banks, who charged high interest rates, discouraged potential entrepreneurs. Soon after returning home to San Francisco, they launched Kiva, a micro-lending website where individual people can make small affordable loans to the working poor of the world.

This is how it works!

1) Kiva partners with 142 micro-finance institutions around the world that identify low-income entrepreneurs in their service area, who are considered low-risk for defaulting on a loan.

2) These micro-finance institutions, called Kiva Field Partners, post the photo, profile and loan request of these vetted entrepreneurs on the Kiva website.

3) Kiva lenders browse these listings, choose an entrepreneur they want to help, decide the amount they want to contribute toward the loan request, and make an online payment. Since the average Kiva loan request is $500, it typically takes 20 individual lenders, loaning $25 each, before a loan is fully funded.

4) Once the loan is fully funded, Kiva transfers the money to their Field Partner that administers the loan for the entrepreneur.

5) During the term of the loan, the entrepreneur makes small repayments to the Field Partner, which are transferred back to Kiva and credited to the lender’s account.

6) Once the loan is fully repaid, Kiva lenders can choose to re-loan their credit, contribute their credit to Kiva's operating expenses, or request a refund. 80% of Kiva lenders re-loan their credits over and over again.

It’s important to understand that Kiva lenders are not making donations or giving handouts, rather, they are engaged in transparent partnerships with low-income entrepreneurs. Most of the poor in the developing world are self-employed, thus, a small loan can help them sustain their business and EARN their way out of poverty. Kiva borrowers have said, beyond receiving financial assistance, it gives them hope and self-respect knowing many people trust their ability to run a successful business and repay their loan.

The Kiva model is so simple. Lend $25 and change a life; get $25 paid back, re-lend it, and change another life! 100% of the money from Kiva lenders goes to the entrepreneur.

Since Kiva began just 7 years ago, it has facilitated $303,554,000 in loans to 769,000 entrepreneurs with an incredible 98.9% repayment rate! 
We hope you're inspired to learn more about this new type of philanthropy called micro-lending by joining our Kiva team and becoming a Kiva lender today!