Voices of Our Future 2011

2011 Global Correspondents

We invite you to view an interactive map of our Correspondents, or read their profiles below.


Mentor: Kat HaberEditorial Midwife: Becki Roberts

Pioneer. Fighter. Mother. Achieng knows what it means to follow a dream. She has pioneered the use of Internet communication technology to respond to Uganda’s HIV/AIDS crisis, which has ravaged her own family and left her with 17 orphaned nephews and nieces. Knowing the importance of education, she sponsors the school fees of several nieces to give them the opportunity for a brighter future. Achieng is committed to turning around the lives of youth in her community and in her country and giving them the tools they need to make a difference.

"I believe everybody has the potential to live a better life. Given the opportunity, education and motivation ANYONE can become someone admirable.”

KENYA: Amani K

Mentor: Nancy SiegelEditorial Midwife: Marissa Brodney

AmaniK struggles against the rising tide of political violence in Kenya and the increasing numbers of HIV/AIDS orphans in her community on a daily basis. She works tirelessly to promote non-violence and peace education programs throughout Africa, advocates for the rights of girls and women, and has created the first ever Women’s International Grassroots Peace Congress in east Africa. AmaniK is forging strong networks of grassroots women who are tackling pan-African issues, crafting viable solutions to poverty and bringing about social change.

“My goal is to inspire others to reach down inside themselves to find the place where 'Peace' resides—and once found, to stretch out and share it with others.”


Mentor: Elaine MillamEditorial Midwife: Lisa St. John

An adventurer and evolving soul from the island nation of the Maldives, Amei struggled under the yoke of overwhelming responsibilities to family, friends, and community until she said “enough!” She was given the opportunity to travel abroad, and left her comfort zone and familiar identity for an unknown adventure. Amei has used Web 2.0 to connect herself with women around the world and to create a platform where she feels empowered and able to freely express herself. She wants to use the power of Web 2.0 to tell the stories of those in her community who do not have access to technology and to work towards the development of her island nation.

“I am not sure of the future but I am adamant not to let history repeat itself. I am willing to commit myself to educate and work with others who have similar passion, values, and motivation to realize a dream.”


Mentor: Mary BennettEditorial Midwife: Jinx Faulkner

Living in a country ravaged by AIDS, and political and economic meltdown, Jacqueline guides young people through a process of self-discovery and self-respect through Kufunda Learning Villlage, a learning community and demonstration village on the outskirts of Harare. She believes in the power of stories of resilience, respect, and love and is using her writing to tell the world about the strength and beauty of Africa, of ordinary people and the “art of the possible”.

“I want to make visible the forgotten stories, the hidden stories that show that dreams are alive, that we believe in a future.”


Mentor: Linda LubinEditorial Midwife: Sonia Lowman

Coming from a region suffering from alcoholism and early pregnancy, Carole sees IT as a tool for addressing these issues and empowering women. Recognizing that she is one of the more privileged in terms of access to internet services, she hopes to create an e-information center in her province to address the lack of knowledge and education, and connect women to technology. Her vision is for women to be enabled to speak out, and better themselves, their families and their livelihoods.

“I hope that the more we interact with people outside of our society, and other developing countries and developed countries, we will gain an understanding of how people do things and how support can be given to people, so that we can break these barriers.”

PHILIPPINES:Emie Zozobrado

Mentor: Ruth BeedleEditorial Midwife: Anna Sontag

One of seven children, Emilia lived under the weight of martial law in the Philippines, facing long lines to buy rice and sharing her home, clothes, and what little her family had with refugees from the conflict. She now works for the government’s sustainable community development and peace-building efforts to ensure that millions of other little girls living in poverty and hunger have an opportunity to find their way out and up.

“Women have the amazing magic touch that have nurtured the male specie into heroes, kings, and leaders since time immemorial. If women can deliver power to this world, we have the source of power within us.”


Mentor: Maura Conlon-McIvorEditorial Midwife: Jana Potter

Born and raised in Saudi Arabia by parents from Bangladesh and Pakistan, Farhaa’s childhood was filled with questions about identity and struggles against racism. Every morning, she gets up and looks in the mirror to remind herself that she is a woman and a woman of color. Farhaa doesn’t waste much time talking about problems and seeks to bring communities together through positive connections, storytelling, and shared achievements. She envisions a world where women of any economic class can hold public office and be part of the decision making process in her country.

“I am stunned to find women engaging and communicating with other women not based on class but courage, not based on employment or education status but on energy and enthusiasm. With World Pulse I feel pure optimism in my heart and happiness in my hair!”

ZIMBABWE:Fungai Machriori

Mentor: Pat FinneganEditorial Midwife: Jan Askin

Fungai discovered her personal confidence through writing—and a gift for telling intimate stories of pain, endurance, and victory normally unheard in traditional media. An avid blogger, she takes on taboo subjects deemed too shocking for mainstream audiences, such as domestic violence, sexual and reproductive rights, and AIDS’s impact on women in her country. Her vision for her life is to be “an incandescent light shining out of the darkness of ignorance,” and to spread her knowledge of Web 2.0 and writing to other women in her community.

“I have a voice and I will always and forever use it. Listen to it in my words—it is strong, bold, beautiful. Nothing will take it away from me.”


Mentor: Patricia O'ConnorEditorial Midwife: Lydia Holden

Growing up in a rare household where her father cherished and respected her as much as her brothers provided Armelle with an understanding of what can be accomplished when men are supporters and equal partners in women’s empowerment. Working with rural women and men in the Ivory Coast, she strives to educate women and girls, building self-confidence and addressing HIV/AIDS in her community.

“I want to praise those men giving us the place we deserve, fighting for our wellbeing, they are in the dark, pushing us as they can. Nobody see them. You will never hear them or feel their presence. But they do stand beside us and whisper ‘go ahead, you can make it.’”


Mentor: Vera Salter Editorial Midwife: Lisa Teberg

In 2009, after dealing with traumatic and difficult family circumstances, Iffat entered into a year of silence and despair. But the pool of talented and brave women of PulseWire inspired her to wake up from her year of hibernation and writers’ block and she is now once again energetically engaged in her work as a youth activist and founder of the People’s Development Organization, a youth rights non-profit based in the Punjab Province of Pakistan. Iffat’s vision for her future is to design innovative and groundbreaking solutions to empower women living in poverty, dependence, solitude, or shame.

“I feel I have woken up from a long slumber and am ready for a fresh start, knowing I now have friends all over the world who are actually listening to me! This feeling of wakefulness, sharing, and emotional caressing is more than what I can ask for.”

BURMA:Insha Allah

Mentor: Barbara HellerEditorial Midwife: Lisa Cox

Growing up in a country where political freedom and democracy have been brutally and frequently oppressed, Insha Allah chose to become a humanitarian aid worker to bring development to her fellow countrymen and women. In 2008, she and several friends established Metta Moe Myanmar, an organization whose vision is to create change agents and sustainable development through youth education and activism.

“I believe we all can struggle these burdens together and are capable of making a positive change which will create a better future for all of us and the reputation of our mother land.”

LIBERIA:Laura Golakeh

Mentor: Judy KugelmassEditorial Midwife: Laura Stull

Born during Liberia’s first civil war, Laura saw friends and family die from hunger and violence at an early age. Vowing never to let her country return to those dark days, she has become an advocate for young women in her community who suffer from drug addiction, sexual assault, and hopelessness. As Laura says, “You can break a single stick, but not a bunch of sticks.” She works towards creating a community which breeds strong, inspiring, and influential women, and views her advocacy on PulseWire as part of the process to create a healthy generation of young African women.

“I want to tell my story to millions of young women out there who are coming from such background and do not know their way out. I want to tell them there is always light at the end of the tunnel. I want them to be inspired by my story.”


Mentor: Usha SharmaEditorial Midwife: Alice Wood

As a female journalist, Leina was often subjected to workplace gender-discrimination and was forced out of more than one job. Her dream is to create a media center for the women of Cameroon where articles, radio spots and video documentaries on gender based violence, including the noxious traditional practices widows are subjected to, are broadcast nationally and online to alert the world of the plight of these women while also searching for solutions. Leina has built a network of trust with female victims of domestic violence and hopes to continue to tell their stories and hers, letting all women know that hope is not lost—our voices must be heard.

“My dream is to one day have the opportunity to reach out to thousands of women worldwide whose voices have been shut by the vices of culture. A former patient can make an excellent doctor.”

COLOMBIA:Martha Llano

Mentor: Nancy CosgriffEditorial Midwife: Angela Uherbelau

Struggling with the loss of her father at an early age, Martha rediscovered her home and her happiness at 7,500 feet above sea level in the cloud forests of Colombia. In each person she met in her new home, she discovered love, tenderness, and faith and learned how to build a new family. With her love of nature, Martha founded Sentir, a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of endangered ecosystems and sustainable development for vulnerable communities. She envisions each woman reconnecting with her feminine pulse to heal ourselves, the planet, and to achieve our dreams.

“To be able to change we need to forget, to forgive, to heal our hearts, and our souls. To be able to change we must embrace change as if today was the first day to change. We have to be willing to come out of our comfort zone and leave behind all our fears.”


Mentor: Isisara BeyEditorial Midwife: Maura Bogue

The only girl in her middle-class Afghan family, Marvah had to sneak past Taliban officials to attend the neighborhood school her mother established in secret. Seeing the suffering of women around her, including child marriages and crippling poverty, Marvah has dared to take a step and raise her voice for her country. Believing that knowledge is power, Marvah wants to see an overhaul of Afghanistan’s education system, including establishing gender-sensitive curricula in high schools, more schools in rural areas, and more women’s universities. She hopes that one day Muslim women will be equal decision makers within the family, society, and the world.

“World Pulse is like a gate between two worlds: One world is dark and I can’t see where to go and I have no guide to help me reach my goal; the other world is full of light and I can learn by asking questions to people who will guide me and help me step toward my dreams and make them real.”


Mentor: LeTonia JonesEditorial Midwife: Sana Saeed

Having lost her corporate job due to discrimination because of her sexual orientation, Melissa chose to see the hurdle as a blessing in disguise. She now focuses on combining her passion for teaching yoga, meditation, and organic gardening and is in the process of creating her own non-profit organization. She strives to foster creativity, empowerment, and organic growth for the queer community and beyond.

“I love empowering women who are scared even of their own voices that have been lost so long, and helping them learn to sing and express again, and always.”


Mentor: Piper AndersonEditorial Midwife: Rebecca Weaver

Finding courage and her voice through her studies at the Asian University of Women and her participation with World Pulse, Mursal discovered a deep desire to bring out women’s talents and voices in her own country. Debilitated by 30 years of war and oppression, only 12% of Afghan women are literate. Mursal seeks to address this problem by creating her own non-governmental organization that tackles both the educational and economic aspects of poverty and brings voice to the voiceless women of Afghanistan.

“It is human beings who empower other human beings, and so it is women who empower other women. We can be as strong as anyone in the world, but the only thing we need is unity.”


Mentor: Debra LachEditorial Midwife: Roz Siegel

As a dedicated teacher in a nation where freedom of information is nearly nonexistent, Ni Ni Aye is passionate about bringing ideas to fruition in the classroom and in the community. Struggling against the severe restrictions placed on internet access by Burma’s military junta, Ni Ni Aye seeks to create bridges between her community and the outside world through Web 2.0. At the same time, she is working to create an organization for women that will provide legal support for human rights abuses and social support and training on how to raise their voices.

“When I teach, it is not just teaching. My students are learning and thinking at the same time. They are trying to find the cause and solution for world problems, all while bringing their ideas to life.”


Mentor: Tami BriggsEditorial Midwife: Sarah Meyer

When Nilima was born, her mother was expelled from their house in a small Nepali village by her grandfather, who thought that having a girl child was a disgrace. Her early struggle imbued her with a sense of determination that she has used to develop her community and promote women’s rights—from helping collect funds to build a school, to fighting against her best friend’s forced marriage at the age of 15. Today, Nilima uses her knowledge and passion to educate young girls about their reproductive rights and encourage them to continue their education.

“The journey—from a frustrating struggle to walk with the world to this place—where I am making a different walk for the world, was breathtakingly difficult, yet I am much satisfied where I am today with the success I have got.”

SOUTH AFRICA:Rudzanimbilu

Mentor: Cindy BishopEditorial Midwife: Amy Maroney

Working from the tiny room that serves as her living room and study by day, and bedroom for her and her two children at night, Rudzambilu defies a culture which would have her fail for being a single mother and a woman. She has tackled poverty since the age of 14 when she founded her own non-governmental organization, and envisions creating a free training and information hub for women and girls in her community.

“World Pulse has given me a part of my life back. I know now that I can redirect my focus and I can stand and be counted and I will achieve something bigger than me. Yes, it's hard but I can raise my children and be proud. I know there is nothing wrong with me.”


Mentor: Eunice ValentineEditorial Midwife: Pushpa Achanta

Ruun’s family encouraged her to pursue her education, despite the challenges of growing up in a country racked by civil war and violence. She persevered to become the only woman in her high school class to graduate with top marks and went on to earn degrees in telecommunications engineering, community development, and social work. Ruun works to strengthen the role of women in peace-building, and continues to encourage young women to pursue higher education.

“I can see and smell the change waves through web 2.0. We will never be defeated unless we admit it, we should keep going and there is no turning back.”


Mentor: Beth JohnsonEditorial Midwife: Morgan Garcia

A Yemeni woman, Sahar is a humanitarian aid worker focused on assisting refugee women and children overcome poverty and addressing gender-based violence in her country. An informal diplomat, she overcomes stereotypes of Muslim women by reaching out to audiences around the world, replacing myths with facts. She has enabled audiences in the US to change their perceptions of Yemen, and of her, from “that girl with the headscarf” to “Sahar, the Yemeni woman.” She is dedicated to the development of her country and the self-empowerment of women.

“Moreover, I saw myself as a traveler, roaming the universe, seeking and providing knowledge. I still recall what one of my teachers said about me: ‘You are United Nations.’”


Mentor: Dorothy OrszulakEditorial Midwife: Caitlyn Henry

Raised by her mother in Bombay while her father worked aboard a ship captain for most of the year, Sapna was vocal about issues of gender inequality from an early age. The apathy of her middle class neighbors to the abject poverty around them also caught her attention and she decided to use her training in media to empower the voiceless around her. She established Women Aloud Videoblogging (WAVE) in 2009, a unique digital platform for Indian women to voice their perspectives on issues that matter through video blogs. Sapna’s ultimate vision for WAVE is to establish a pan-Indian, women-led TV channel that airs high-quality, creative, educational, and inspiring programs for and about the NGO sector in India.

“Participating in Voices of Our Future will boost my self-confidence and provide me with a nurturing new community of like-minded doers.”


Mentor: Monica Lehner Editorial Midwife: Elizabeth Fautsch

The only literate person in an extended family of 35, Sarvina has overcome poverty to become a leader in her community. She seeks to address gender inequalities and violence against women in her rural village through increased access to education and economic development. Sarvina recently carried out human rights training in her village, and is already seeing a change in attitudes and behaviors, including more girls going to school and a reduction in domestic violence. Her vision is to have a community of women who are empowered to stand up for their rights and are equal participants in society.

“Through World Pulse I have received so many inspired ideas and encouraging comments, which has helped me find my footing and become stronger so I can make changes in my village. I have just started walking to my goal and when I feel stuck, I can turn to World Pulse for solutions and learn from all these powerful women from around the world.”


Mentor: Marcie Lesnick-Taylor Editorial Midwife: Tara Gilligan

Sharon believes that each of us has the power to affect change. An immigrant from Cameroon to the United States, she uses her talents to draw together a tapestry of immigrant women’s experiences around the world through her Threads of Our Fabric Project. Having come through the rough process of adopting a new country, culture, and language, Sharon plans on starting a program for recently immigrated adolescent girls, creating a space for them to address important identity and cultural issues and to be themselves.

“Free to be me—that is my vision for my life, community, and the world. Women and girls emboldened to dream, create, live, and inspire.”


Mentor: Carol AdamsEditorial Midwife: Julie Tomlin

Overcoming corruption, strikes, and weeks without electricity, Slaw dares to dream about happy endings. Driven by her conviction that “every human being is a treasure worthy of love,” she uses Web 2.0 to connect with communities across Nigeria to galvanize youth into action for the restoration of a just and compassionate society.

“Through World Pulse, I intend to reach the farthest corners of the earth to find listeners for the 45-million unheard voices of the youth in Nigeria.”

UNITED STATES:tainadelsol

Mentor: Colleen DurkinEditorial Midwife: Gretchen Lee

Dayanara is a devoted single mother and the executive director of Casa Atabex Ache, an organization focused on the self-empowerment and collective transformation of women of color through holistic and alternative healing techniques. She is dedicated to creating a space for young women to reclaim the power of their minds, bodies, and spirits. Dayanara envisions using Voices of Our Future to help break the silence of the women around her, and to connect the spiritual aspect of change with the social justice movement in Afro-Latina communities.

“I am excited to see how I can bring Web 2.0 to young women globally so that they don’t internalize the oppression and violence they face every day and instead start their healing and transformational journeys as early as possible.”

BRAZIL:Thais Moraes

Mentor: Sarah Whitten-Grigsby Editorial Midwife: Ayobami Famurewa

Growing up middle class, 19-year-old Thais does not hide behind the walls of her life in Brazil, but instead struck out into the surrounding impoverished community to dedicate her time and energy to teaching underprivileged children. As a G(irls) 20 Summit delegate, Thais has demonstrated her commitment to empowering girls and women around the world. She has made the struggle to put more women in decision-making positions personally and is studying to become a lawyer.

“I want to use this space as a platform to denounce violations on the rights of women that often go unnoticed and to expose and share globally possible solutions that have been used in my country.”


Mentor: Constance HaqqEditorial Midwife: Jocelyn Edelstein

From a childhood darkened by abuse to a young woman suffering with serious health problems, Vivian has emerged onto the world stage as a passionate educator of women’s health issues. With her years of experience researching and working in areas of reproductive/sexual health and life building skills, Vivian authored a book at the age of 24—Healthy Approach Towards HIV/AIDS, Prevention, Care, and Support—and has not slowed down since. Vivian’s vision is to create a youth friendly center to help girls who have been abused and to develop a community magazine called About Her which will focus on women and girl’s health awareness, education, and empowerment.

“It is one thing to run, it is another to be a runner. I want to be a runner for the Voice of Our Future program to establish a platform for women and girls to learn, be empowered, educated, connected, and happy.”


Mentor: Natalie Safir Editorial Midwife: Kristin Miller

Warona decries the virus and rampant alcoholism that threatens to destroy her small mining community in Botswana, a country with one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS in the world. Warona has faced her own struggles—from watching her mother die from poisoning, to searching high and low for a doctor who would operate on her new-born daughters deformed foot so that she might live a normal life. She now seeks to mentor poverty-stricken mothers in her community and to help them develop small businesses so that they do not have to turn to prostitution to earn a living. Her vision is to see HIV/AIDS eradicated and the poor and underprivileged of her nation taken care of.

“The suffering of women in my community made me rise up to seek help. It is my duty to educate myself and acquire boldness so I can talk for my people. With World Pulse, I know I can do it. If we share our knowledge, I believe my country will become uplifted and our communities will be educated. Then, my land will be healed.”