It Happened! Lusaka Meet Up!

Corine Milano
Posted July 27, 2013 from United States

The most amazing part of traveling to Zambia has been meeting the women who utilize World Pulse to connect and get their voices out into the world. It is a transformative experience to go from online relationships to offline relationships—to meet in person, to hug, to laugh, to cry, to express!

Yesterday marked the official World Pulse Lusaka Meet Up. A group of 20 World Pulse sisters gathered in the heart of Lusaka to connect in person and discuss how World Pulse can best support the women of Zambia in their efforts to transform their country.

We sat together in a circle in an open-air restaurant, surrounded by the hustle and bustle of Zambia’s largest city. We had the place to ourselves, and the energy was electric. There was nervousness, there was excitement, there was passion, and there was a sense of solidarity amongst the women. We’re in this together, they said. We can do this.

I’ve attended a World Pulse meet up before, in Kenya, and it’s always an amazing experience to put faces to names. In Lusaka, we had journalists, university students, social workers, representatives of the Ministry of Education, in attendance—and so many more! The make up was a mix of women who have been on our site since the beginning in 2007 and those who just signed up a month or two ago. There were women there who write regularly, and those who sit behind the scenes, quietly reading the stories on VoicesRising and gaining strength from their global sisters.

I learned that there is a hesitancy to post in their journals, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a willingness to get involved. Each woman I met showed a dedication to lifting the voices of their Zambian sisters, and they eagerly strategized about how to encourage each other to post and get their voices out into the world. I have a feeling we’ll be hearing more from the women of Zambia in the months to come!

We talked about life in Zambia, about the issues they face daily: HIV/AIDS, child marriage, sexual harassment, gender-based violence, poverty, government corruption. The list was endless, the ideas behind how to tackle them flowing.

We talked about World Pulse’s programming—about our community, our content, our training. Women asked questions and learned about how World Pulse can best support them. There was excitement about opportunities to be published, excitement about opportunities to connect, excitement about the potential for becoming World Pulse correspondents through our Voices of Our Future training program.

And of course, we talked about how World Pulse can best support Zambia’s women’s movement. We rattled off lists of ways World Pulse can be doing better: a mobile platform so that those who may not have a computer can easily access our site and be heard; on-the-ground offices run by regional ambassadors to facilitate women speaking for themselves; technology that allows those with disabilities to connect; crowd sourced translation so that even those who speak Tribal languages can participate; regular in-person meet ups like this one so that the women can support each other in generating story ideas.

World Pulse is eager to listen to these voices and is eager to make these requests reality. We are feverishly working from our home base in Portland, Oregon to improve our site and grow our strategies to best facilitate connection and action. Your voices guide us. It is your strength that encourages us every day.

I’d like to open this question of how we can best support you to all the women and men in our community. What can we be doing better? How can we reach those who may not have regular access to the Internet? What questions do you have about how World Pulse can best serve you? What ideas do you have for growing the community and involving more women?

Lastly, I want to encourage all my World Pulse sisters to organize meet ups in their countries. World Pulse staff may not be able to be in attendance, but there is power in gathering in person, there is momentum that happens when women come together to discuss the most pressing issues in their communities.

As my trip to Zambia winds down, I am holding these experiences close to my heart. I am strengthened by the power of the community here and grateful for the lasting connections and bonds I have made. Zambia, you are amazing!

Comments 7

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Cali gal Michelle
Jul 27, 2013
Jul 27, 2013

Corine- First let me say that I have been eagerly awaiting your blog post from Zambia! This post carries with it excitement, hope, and expresses need and desire of these women. I have been pondering this for a while now the idea of having regional connection points to provide cohesion and a person or place, physical or figurative. This would allow for a better focus of issues and happenings in that region, and indeed give women and girls a platform from which to launch campaigns, etc. Overall, I think it will allow women to connect at an even deeper level. So, I am excited you are on this venture, and look forward to the results of it.

Zambia is close to my heart, and I do hope that the women you met with will be encouraged to and be able to connect with women around the world; that resources and technology will be found so that all who desire may be able to access the internet and the WP site.

There IS power in presence, and momentum that is only spurred on when we congregate. So here's to the power of Zambian women, may their voices be raised!

Jul 27, 2013
Jul 27, 2013

Wao! It gladdens my heart to read about such powerful connections, offline. One love to the WP women of Zambia, may such communions facilitate change in Zambia. I am hoping for the day that Cameroon will commune in the name of World Pulse, we should really be working towards that. Thank you Corine for facilitating this meeting. Thank you Zambian Pusarians for answering women rock! Sending you love from Cameroon. Nakinti

Jennifer James
Jul 28, 2013
Jul 28, 2013

I love this! The meet-up turned out so well. Congratulations. Thank you for sharing and I am so happy that everything was so successful.

Safe travels home!

limpo chinika
Jul 29, 2013
Jul 29, 2013

Corine, it was such a great pleasure to meet with you and my colleagues from Zambia.

I look forward to more meet-ups with my fellow colleagues and thank you WP for connecting us.

We are eager to learn, connect and share a lot more with everyone.

We can do this!!

Jul 29, 2013
Jul 29, 2013

It was great to meet with you Corine. And I want to say that World Pulse Zambia chapter will grow to give a voice to voiceless. It was wonderful to ponder about how we can strengthen ourselves in a bid to help women in our communities. Indeed World Pulse is doing things that individually would have been difficult but collectively we can achieve and together we will. I can assure you that you will hear more from Zambia, so that we can share our experiences and find solutions to the various problems affecting our communities. I also want to believe that these meet ups will lead to even bigger and greater ones both regionally and intercontinental. Women let us continue to give a voice to the voiceless. If one woman talks the neighbours will hear but when more than a hundred women speak the entire world will hear. Sharp!

Precious Nkeih
Jul 30, 2013
Jul 30, 2013

Corine, it such a sweet experience to meet women you once knew only virtually. Discussing with them is even better. There is so much strength when women get together to talk about issues that affect them. Like Nakinti said, it would be nice if the WP sisters in Cameroon commune similarly. Thanks for sharing this story.

Love, Precious

Vega Tom
Aug 16, 2013
Aug 16, 2013

What a fabulous post and so exciting to see the sharing and learning and responses from those you connected with in Zambia.