In one of my first posts, I introduced Ellen Sojka, who at the time I met her was volunteering with an organization called Emerge Global. You might recall I explained that Emerge Global supports young women who become pregnant as the result of rape, helping them earn a living through a jewelry-making cottage-industry, as well as educating them and teaching them to care for their children. Then a few weeks ago I met Sharmini who manages the Books for Asia program for the Asia Foundation–their goal being to match libraries and other learning institutions in need of books with the books donated to them by American publishers. I knew Ellen’s organization had a teaching/learning component since one of their key goals is to teach the girls English and other marketable skills, thus making them more employable, and I thought maybe Ellen would like to get some books from the Asia Foundation program. So I tracked her down, put her in touch with Sharmini, and last Monday I went to the Books for Asia office and helped two very enthusiastic women pick out books. Ellen was thrilled to be getting them, and Sharmini is so enthusiastic about any organization that helps the needy in Sri Lanka, especially when it’s done with the goal of self-sufficiency, so it was really a great match.
Ellen has found funding for her job since I first met her; she is now committed to being in Sri Lanka for the next 18 months, working to keep this fledgling program up and running as the Country Director, along with the organization’s State-side counter-part in Boston. It’s a big job for a woman who just graduated from college last year, but when I talk to Ellen about the goals of the organization and how the girls it serves are transformed, I have no doubt about her dedication to this mission or her ability to make a difference in the lives of the people she’s working with.