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A Sisterhood Without Borders

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Urmila and Olutosin together at last in Bangalore, India. Photo © Aneesh Acharya

Before Olutosin and Urmila met in person, they had already changed each other’s lives.

"There isn’t any difference between a 'real life' and 'virtual' friend—there are just true friends."

Urmila Chanam

Although they are divided by their geography—Urmila lives in India and Olutosin in Nigeria—the two women see themselves as sisters. Their online friendship has boosted Urmila’s confidence as a journalist, strengthened Olutosin’s evolving role as a mentor, and surprised both women with the depth of love that can grow from a few supportive messages sent through the Internet. Here they join their voices together to tell their story.

Olutosin: After three years of online friendship, I couldn’t believe I was finally in my dear sister Urmila Chanam’s home in Bangalore, India. Her whole family was there to welcome me with food, love, storytelling, and eager conversation. Urmila’s sister-in-law confided in me, “We have never had such a huge feast in this house before, and I have never anticipated the visit of a foreigner like this.” Her mother went into her wardrobe to decorate my neck and ears with her precious jewels. Her elder brother said to me, “Young woman, I have heard so much about you from Urmila. Please make yourself comfortable. Our home is your home.”

“My daughter,” Urmila’s father advised me, “Go and write your story. Make it into a book for the next generation because I made a mistake. I did not write the story of my experiences in the Indian army. Now I have forgotten everything and it will enter into the grave with me. Write about your experiences, make others read and learn from those facts.”

Later that night as I lay in my bed I reminded myself of Urmila’s father’s advice. I whispered into the wall in the thick darkness: “Olutosin, go and write the story of sisterhood before your memory fails.”

2011: A Friendship Sparks

Urmila: Our relationship began through a medium most consider frivolous—the Internet. Olutosin would read my articles on World Pulse and leave comments. I don’t even remember how the comments on my stories transitioned to undivided support, to affection, to understanding, to love. I began to share everything with her and she returned by sharing everything with me. From messages on World Pulse, we also began communicating through Facebook and Gmail. We used Skype to talk to each other, share our dreams, our aspirations, our thoughts, and our souls. We also shared our disappointments and our heartaches. We shed many tears for each other’s hardships.

Olutosin: On World Pulse, I had already experienced incredible support, motivation, love, solidarity, and kindness. I received six months of citizen journalism training. I was mentored by two great women who were committed long-term to my cause. I had access to help in times of distress or sickness, and recommendations for leadership programs, grants, and awards. I knew I had a home in more than 100 countries. I had a mountain made of sisters. I had international recognition, respect, improved writing skills and self-confidence. I had new dreams. After receiving so much from World Pulse, I decided to give back to every aspiring sister who raised her hand looking for friendship and sisterhood.

Finding a Shoulder to Lean On

Urmila: In the afternoons my bedroom gets very warm. I remember a day when the back of my neck was wet from perspiration. I was drowsy and demoralized like never before. But I knew I could not rest yet. I had to look up more job portals and apply for more jobs. I needed a job and I needed it badly. I had lost count of how many interviews I had been to.

A good job is hard to come by in India, where it seems journalists are sworn to poverty. I was a social development journalist and I couldn’t find newspapers with a beat other than politics, crime, fashion, travel, business, and food! My self-esteem and my resources started to dwindle. There came a time in my life when I began to think how much a meal would cost me and if I could make do with eating just boiled corn in the street before I got home. . . .

Comments

Rochelle White's picture

This is beautiful

Lately I have not been on Worldpulse. I am finding myself busy, learning, and progressing but after reading this article, I remember what drew me to worldpulse in the first place, the powerful and supporting community. This story is a reminder of that. Thank you for sharing! God bless your sisterhood and may you guys continue to florish in everything you do:)!

Best

Rochelle

Urmila Chanam's picture

Support is a biiiiiiiiig word!!!!

Dear Rochelle,

I am so encouraged and warmed by your words. You are so right when you say that support from sisters was what brought you first to World Pulse. In my journey I found that it's very rare to receive support in a world thats becoming more and more competitive. In here, I have found a world outside of the other world.

love and hugs
Urmila Chanam
Bangalore, India

It takes just one to change many

aimeeknight's picture

This brought tears to my

This brought tears to my eyes, so much love and beauty! True friendship.

Love,

Aimee Knight

"One shoe can change a life" ~ Cinderella

Urmila Chanam's picture

Tears and understanding

My dearest sister Aimee,

How have you been???? I am like you- when I am touched I cry tears :) Olutosin and I are not two people anymore, she often tells me, we are one.

Much love
Urmila Chanam
India

It takes just one to change many

Y's picture

How wonderful! I am so

How wonderful! I am so honored to be included in the circle of communication with these two wonderful women.

Y

Dear Y,

In Olutosin's words, we are the world. We have a pulse. And we have blood. World Pulse is made of people who are yet to meet.

These words inspire me, and I am convinced we will meet too. Till that day let us do our bit, let us walk together

Love and hugs
Urmila Chanam
India

It takes just one to change many

O Praise's picture

This is encouraging

This has given hope, and an understanding that world pulse is truly a sisterhood. Being a new member i feel so blessed knowing am going to meet a match like this and together iron will sharpen iron by the grace of the must high.

Urmila Chanam's picture

The blessings will pour now

Dear sister,

Welcome to our family- World Pulse!!!!!!! We are 60,000 women from 180 countries and each day we have a new family member.

In solidarity,
Urmila Chanam
India

It takes just one to change many

HOPE tOWELA's picture

amazing story

Am so happy for you two, and this is such a wonderful experience for both of you, and also for the rest of us Women to learn from, there is nothing that can separate the Love of God.

When there is Love in your heart, you can do the impossible for even someone who have never met or know. God's Love is true & amazing. I agree with you, there is nothing that can stop us from supporting each other, as sister's if we all speak one voice.

Not even manmade barriers, can stop us. This is something we can all embrace and pratice with time, beacuse the problems we go through are the same, and we all have deferrent ways of seeing things and how we approach certain problems is deferrent.

We can do all things through christ who strenghtens us. Let us not give up.

All the best in the projects you are doing.

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale and Urmila Chanam

Stay Blessed.

Hope.TMT

Urmila Chanam's picture

When there is love

Dear Hope,

I so believe in the words you spoke, " When there is love in your heart, you can do the impossible for even someone who have never met or know. " Love truly is the motivating force and this very force is abundant in our global sisterhood. I hope this story keeps you bound to our global family at time you lose sight and you lose hope.

Much love
Urmila Chanam
India

It takes just one to change many

Osai's picture

Beautiful - Sisterhood is global

We should celebrate more sisters working together, sharing their experiences because this smashes all the myths about women not liking each other and pulling each other down. Tosin and Urmila show us that you can connect with anyone - even people you have never met, if you are open, non-judgmental and you listen.

I appreciate all my relationships and especially those I have made on Worldpulse. Lets keep the flag flying.

Best wishes,
Osai

Twitter: @livingtruely

Urmila Chanam's picture

Myth broken with us.

Dear sister Osai,

In my experience, women are capable of bonding, of overlooking differences and deep compassion. I celebrate Olutosin's friendship everyday. Celebrate yours!!!!

In solidarity,
Urmila Chanam,
India

It takes just one to change many

Osai's picture

Re: Myth broken with us

Dear Urmila,

I cannot agree more! I'm celebrating already.

In solidarity,
Osai

Twitter: @livingtruely

Urmila Chanam's picture

Myth broken with us

Dear sister,

Wish you in advance a merry Christmas!!!!

Hugs,
Urmila Chanam,
India

It takes just one to change many

Precious M's picture

Waoh, Sisterhood without boundaries!

This is just so good. I enjoyed every bit of this story about the wonderful friendship between Urmila and Olutosin. Thank you World Pulse!

Love,
Precious

My pen speaks

Urmila Chanam's picture

Thank you World Pulse

Dear Precious sister,

I am most delighted to see so many sisters from around th world respond to Olutosin and my story and relate to it, relate to us and aspire for a friendship that we saw, found and kept.

I still remember us thinking aloud together that hey, we must share this with our sisters!!!!!But it was tougher than we thought. One day sitting in Olutosin's guest house, we sat to write and we didn't know where to begin!!!! We were aware of our individual style of writing and didn't know where we would converge.

I am happy the convergence of words happened. Perhaps minds in sync often do that :)

Love and prayers,
Urmila Chanam,
India

It takes just one to change many

Precious M's picture

Great convergence

Yes the convergence of words happened and it couldn't have been better.
Beautifully written!

Love,
Precious,
Cameroon

My pen speaks

Urmila Chanam's picture

Thank you

Dear Precious,

Thank you so much.

Hugs
Urmila Chanam

It takes just one to change many

How gorgeous is that?! Dear Urmila and Olutosin, your story is beautiful, uplifting and, for me, familiar. How heartily I agree that we can support and love each other across many miles, across cultures and across any perceived great divide! No divide is too great when true, devoted friendship is in play.

And Olutosin, I also appreciate what your wonderful mentor said about others sometimes not liking what is right with us. That, in fact, may be the essence of many obstacles. But you both already know never to hide your light under a bushel -- do you know that term? -- just to make others feel less insecure. That is, stand up and shine brightly, and let others follow you. Because, you are leaders now. Oh, yes you are!

With Love,

Sarah

Urmila Chanam's picture

My motto now

Dear sister Sarah,

Your words:" Never hide your light under a bushel, just to make others feel less insecure. Stand up and shine bright and let others follow you," is my newly acquired motto sister!!

Thank you for your kind words. I am confident it will keep me to carry on when I am down or disillusioned.

Much love,
Urmila Chanam
India

It takes just one to change many

. . at the top of the article. Symbolic of how two women can sit on different sides of a pillar, but it's the SAME pillar in the SAME sunny courtyard!

olutosin's picture

Thank you sister

I love every word from your comment, so loving and so uplifting. Thanks darling sister.

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale
Founder/Project Coordinator
Star of Hope Transformation Centre
512 Road
F Close
Festac Town
Lagos-Nigeria

https:

Sarah Whitten-Grigsby's picture

Keep in touch!

Dear Olutosin,

Keep in touch and love to you, too.

- Sarah

Urmila Chanam's picture

Never thought that way before

Dear Sarah,

I loved the interpretation you have of the picture of sister Olutosin and me. It is strange how photographs capture so many things other than the obvious. Thank you.

Love and hugs,
Urmila Chanam
India
E-mail: urmila.chanam@gmail.com
Face book: https://www.facebook.com/urmila.ch

It takes just one to change many

Sarah Whitten-Grigsby's picture

Yes!

Dear Urmila,

Yes! So much lies just under the surface . . . and THAT is the really wonderful stuff!

Love & Support,

- Sarah

Urmila Chanam's picture

I will try it now

Dear Sarah,

You know what, I think I will try it myself now- to try and see under the surface. It would be an interesting exercise. I wonder what all will I discover???

Love and hugs,
Urmila Chanam,
India

It takes just one to change many

jacollura's picture

Beautiful story!

What a beautiful story of love, sisterhood, and support! I, too, have met World Pulse sisters in person after developing a relationship online. When at last we embrace, it's as if we've grown up together. Thanks to World Pulse, and thanks Urmila and Olutosin for this lovely journal of connection.
With love and peace,
Julie

Urmila Chanam's picture

Thank you

Dear Julie,

I am not surprised you have a similar experience. I speak to so many women who have been under the umbrella of World Pulse and tasted what it is to be a one sisterhood, one dream community. Most of all, I have personally tasted how it is to trust and be trusted through these relationships. In today's times, multitudes of people come in and go out of our lives but how many people do we trust and are trustworthy? Very few.

Looking forward to hear more from you.

Love and prayers,
Urmila Chanam,
India
E-mail: urmila.chanam@gmail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/urmila.ch

It takes just one to change many

shamee's picture

Awesome

I simply love this story and the commitment and support behind it.

https://www.facebook.com/Shameela2013

Urmila Chanam's picture

Make your own story

Dear Sister Shamee,

I feel so happy that the story we saw unravel in our own lives (Olutosin and I) is a thing to hope for, for other women. I pray you make your own story my sister. With WORLD PULSE, you will.

Much love from India,
Urmila Chanam
e-mail: urmila.chanam@gmail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/urmila.ch

It takes just one to change many

Leina's picture

Knowing these two sisters

Knowing these two sisters closely,I will state without mincing words that if women could follow this model in being one another's keeper,we will be half way gone in our journey to a better world for women!
I love you my sisters!
LEINA

olutosin's picture

LOVE YOU TOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We love you my darling sister and YOU KNOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale
Founder/Project Coordinator
Star of Hope Transformation Centre
512 Road
F Close
Festac Town
Lagos-Nigeria

https:

Urmila Chanam's picture

Women look out for women

Dear sister Chi Yvonne,

If only women looked out for women, we wouldn't have to look for support elsewhere!! Thanks a lot for always standing by like a rock of support! You are loved and cherished by me and Olutosin :)

Much love
Urmila Chanam

It takes just one to change many

Barbara M Bracewell's picture

Color is Skin Deep

The story of your sisterhood is extremely touching and teaches each and everyone of us that our pigmentation is always only skin deep. Love, trust, genuine friendship, and real connections between people (no matter where they hail from) will triumph every time. Thanks for this inspiring narration of two women who reached across the miles, continents and geographical artificial barriers to create an everlasting bond. God bless you both and may your wonderful friendship and sisterhood continue to grow and blossom.

BMBracewell

olutosin's picture

GOD BLESS YOU TOO

Thanks so much for this comment, distance is a space that is not recognized by love and sisterhood, we close the space with words, e mail, Skype, etc and ultimately by creating a new space in our hearts for our loved ones.

Thanks again.

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale
Founder/Project Coordinator
Star of Hope Transformation Centre
512 Road
F Close
Festac Town
Lagos-Nigeria

https:

Barbara M Bracewell's picture

Re: God Bless You too

You are welcome! Keep being an inspiration and great example to women and people everywhere about how peace, love and good will can be spread from one end of the globe to the other if we are only open to trying.

BMBracewell

olutosin's picture

I will do my best always

Thanks so much sister, I will always work towards change in our communities....and our women

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale
Founder/Project Coordinator
Star of Hope Transformation Centre
512 Road
F Close
Festac Town
Lagos-Nigeria

https:

Urmila Chanam's picture

At a time like this

Dear Barbara,

I am distressed over the recent racial,discrimination of people who come from north- east part of India, where a guy can just be murdered in broad day light just because he looks different from other Indians and they don't like his hairstyle(Read Nido Tamia case). It is at times like these, we need more people who rise above race and caste and make a new world.

I am encouraged by your words.

In solidarity,
Urmila Chanam
India

It takes just one to change many

Barbara M Bracewell's picture

Re: At A Time Like This

Isn't it a sad commentary on us as human beings when we can discriminate against our sisters and brothers because we are "different" from each other? I am so sorry to hear about the possibility of a person being murdered just because he looks "different" and someone has issue with the way he styled his hair? Unbelievable and outrageous to say the least. Yes, indeed ALL people need to rise above judging others just because they are from a different caste or race or religion or whatever other criteria. I pray that there will come a time when people are never judged and always respected and viewed as being a part of the human race. Period. Thanks for responding to my comment and keep up the great work, Urmila.

BMBracewell

Urmila Chanam's picture

Raise voice everytime

Dear sister Barbara,

I am left to believe that we must rise each and everytime there is a violation. Perpetrators should be told that they cannot flee.

Prayers,
Urmila Chanam

It takes just one to change many

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