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An Advocate, A Writer, a Cause

Being raised by a passionate, intense and very intelligent single mom showed me what women can achieve when they are given the tools of independence, health, education and community support.

She raised an advocate.

I know that my life would have been much different had I grown up as an oldest daughter most other places in the world. When my father died, I would most likely have been pulled out of school to help my mom keep food on the table, help her gather fuel and water, and work to support the family. But, here in the United States, I was raised with more than enough. I was able to travel, to get a college education and to live independently.

I realize that my story is much different than those of my sisters from around the world. Their first-hand reporting of the world, as they experience it, is of the utmost importance. Their stories are the ones that need to be heard, shared, and re-told.

Now, as a grown, empowered and educated women, I have realized my life calling as an advocate, a communicator and a feminist. I work for a nonprofit that is trying to shift the model of international development to include women in every sector, at every level. It is our foundational belief that women hold the key to sustainable development.

My mentor (and employer, Jamie Bechtel, the women who co-founded New Course,, recommended that I join PulseWire as a way to learn from and connect with women around the world. And, after one short week, I have already learned so much. My initial intention: to hone my writing skills, receive some training and read a few stories has entirely changed. Now, when I read what others have written, I have in my mind the women who are involved in programs that we are funding. What are their stories? What would they write if they could?

These women- the women for whom I work, advocate and fight- are among the very rural and very poor of the world. They don't have access to electricity or running water. They lack education and food security, let alone access to the internet. They are not able to connect to the web 2.0 and share their stories.


Hopefully, women who are participating in our projects and programs will soon be able to access online resources and share their stories. Whether this occurs via someone who visits their community and then relates their story on their behalf or whether this occurs when women are able to connect directly, it is the ultimate goal. Women must be able to tell their stories. WorldPulse and PulseWire's dedication to this goal is what keeps me engaged, the stories shared via this forum are what keep me reading and the belief that all women deserve education, access and empowerment is what keeps me working.


Monica Clarke's picture

Connecting the Pyramid

Hi Colleen, thanks for this insight. It is evident to me that you are following your path, for life has placed you in exactly the right place at the right time. Connecting women from the top to the bottom of the pyramid in our hierarichical society is an on-the-pulse problem which organisations like yours are created to facilitate! I shall be in touch with you soon to see how we can link up our women and children in South Africa. See as an example.

Keep smiling and doing what you do best! Monica in France

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive.
I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well.
(A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

NEWCourse_Colleen's picture

Thank you Monica re: pyramid


How wonderful it is to have this network/ forum for connecting organizations and women around the world!

The vision/mission of the organization the organization that you shared with me, The Saartjie Baartman Centre of SA, :
"Our vision is the creation of a safe and secure society and a human rights culture where women and children are empowered to exercise their full rights." is very on-point, inspirational and powerful.

Indeed, sharing the voices of these women would benefit us all! - we currently have proposals out to partner and develop programs in SA and I will certainly look to partner with you if/when those come through.
Fingers crossed!
Colleen - thank you for your kind words, your encouragement and your determination.

Colleen Robertson
Project Manager
New Course
Twitter: @NEW_Course

NEW Course is a 501 (c) 3 not-for-profit created to empower rural women in vulnerable ecosystems to sustainably manage their resourc

usha kc's picture

Hi Colleen,, very great

Hi Colleen,, very great article sis,, i loved it.

MaDube's picture

And you will learn more

One thing I have learnt from my interactions on this platform is that just when you thought you knew a lot you realise that you actually know very little. We will all keep learning from each other and thence lies the beauty of web 2.0. Great post.

Diane Dillon's picture

From a single mom

Hi Coleen, I raised 3 sons as a single mom since they were 2 years of age. I also had a foster child I supported for 4 years and I worked a second job to do that. I apprecaite what your mom has done and would love to have known her. I now have 4 grandchildren and i took my 2 year old grandaughter to a polictical office to teach her to exerscie her rights and also her responsibilties. I took my first born son at 6 weeks old on march in california for the farm workers.

They all learend at an early age they had choices and decisions to make and made some very good ones. it taought them to think about others and not just themselves

sahar's picture

You are a role model and a

You are a role model and a daughter of a role model too.


Sahar Nuraddin

follow me @snuraddin
"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."
- Helen Keller

RocioG's picture


I think you are a respectful lady with your writing very honest in your view. and I thinks this is the wold variety of stories.

ck's picture

great writing

Thank you, Colleen for a great story. Your transformation from your original goals to your enthusiasm for listening to and helping spread women's stories is inspirational. I really loved reading your essay. Thank you!



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