How does one American woman end up living in Ethiopia helping girls stay in school in the rural areas of Ethiopia?
It may have begun in her unusual childhood. Her parents lost two girls in a horrific accident, one five years old and one three years old, exactly a year to the day later Becky was born. Her parents carefully raised her in Colorado Springs, CO in an atmosphere focused on helping others. This meant no television, bunches of books but only those that built her up, her siblings and lots of foster children surrounding her in a big circle of love. Everyday before school she was sent out the door reminded that she was born to serve and that her life had purpose and destiny, it was just up to her to follow that path.
Business was her background and she started helping her father in his multimillion-dollar business as early as she can remember. This allowed her to layer her skills, sales, accounting, design, and maybe most important, the ability to look at a problem and immediately wonder how she could be part of the solution.
Becky was married young and enjoyed raising her son and daughter but by the time she turned forty years old both her children were away at college and her life could now take a new step. She began her favorite career, an independent sales director with Mary Kay Cosmetics and was invited to help bring the products and lifestyle to the remote areas in the Philippines. This gave her experience in living in remoter and difficult areas.
On one of her travels, it was 2003, she was in Ethiopia and woke up one morning in a remote area in a clinic with a rusty IV in her arm and a spider climbing on the cracked wall. She had typhoid. It was her travel guide that found her passed out in her hotel room and took her to the clinic. In order to thank him she stopped back in Ethiopia, after conducting a women’s entrepreneur seminar with Penny Kelly, in Ghana.
Her tour guide needed help with his sister who had obstetric fistula. What in the world was that? Becky discovered that it was an unusual condition that caused women who were either too young, too small, or too far from medical care to birth children. The prolonged labor could leave a tear in the woman’s bladder and or/rectum causing her to leak waste for the rest of her life. Becky’s heart was broken.
Thus, began the adventure of trying to help women with obstetric fistula have a productive life. Through the school of “hard knocks” Becky housed, fed, provided surgery, provided skills training, and lots of love to one thousand five hundred women/girls with obstetric fistula. During this time many social and political changes came to the country and conditions were changed so that obstetric fistula was rare. This allowed Becky to change her focus from just the women who had already been physically and emotionally damaged to helping in a more proactive way, keeping girls in school in the areas where they were more vulnerable thus reducing their chances of becoming victims of poverty.
By 2014 it was clear that the time had come to find a way to keep girls in school, a best practice for reduction of poverty. Being a “rule follower”, Becky received permission to begin the first Trampled Rose Keeping Girls in School project. To date, Trampled Rose has seen nothing short of miracles. Over two thousand Ethiopian schoolgirls have received the chance to finish their education. Many of these girls were orphans, disabled, lived as much as a nine hour walk from the nearest school and had no other hope. Now they are joining universities, graduating as doctors, engineers, business leaders, and coming back to help others in their villages.
Becky could have never done this alone. There has been help, encouragement, advise, support, and love through every step of the way. So, the real story of how it all began might be Becky, but the continuation, success and growth is because of YOU!