November 2019 – Brazil was, as all Vital Voices programs are, a life changing experience. Being able to sit down with 16 women from all over the world that are literally changing lives and humanity is not only an honor, but pure energy for the soul. There is so much to do in this world to repair the damage that we, as human beings, have created, and it’s so inspiring to not only see but interact with 16 women from different backgrounds who have decided to give their lives to it. And when I say give their lives, I mean literally “give UP their lives”.
While in Brazil for a VV100 Wellness Gathering, hosted in partnership with Vital Voices partners Johnson & Johnson, we all came together from different backgrounds. But one thing that all women had in common was a lack of tune for self-care and wellness that we dedicate to ourselves. We are so caught up in the day-by-day fight that we forget that our well-being is a crucial part of moving forward. We are so caught up in our causes that we have to be reminded to breathe. Brazil, and the power of bringing 17 women coming together, did just that.
Being in a room where we were taught the basics on self-love, self-care, and wellness was a huge opportunity. But for me, being in a room and hearing our 16 different stories of amazing women trying to change the world was so powerful and moving in ways I could not put into words. Sitting alongside women like Priti Patkar and Carmelita Nuqui, who have been working to save the lives of children and women in the most marginalized situations is, without a doubt, a privilege. Being able to talk to and spend time with them gave me a different perspective on how important it is to take care of oneself in order to be able to help others. The experience that they have, staying committed to their causes after decades of work in the direst situations, inspired me to continue working and focusing on high impact projects to change not only individual lives, but address problems from the root. Seeing them, in a context focused on wellbeing, helped me realize that we sometimes channel our energy without realizing that there are other ways to create great impact without burning out.
For me, Vital Voices has been a lifesaving experience. My life has changed since I became a part of the Vital Voices family, because I now know I’m not alone. I have a network where a simple email can put me in contact with the necessary people in order to solve a problem. Creating networks and friendships like those I have created with Vital Voices makes life as an activist so much easier – and will help me, the 16 other women in Brazil and the thousands more women around the world continue our work for years to come.
This post was written by Saskia Niño de Rivera, founder and President of Reinserta, which works to break the cycle of crime in Mexico by intervening on behalf of children born in prison, mothers in prison and juvenile offenders. Saskia is a member of VV100, was honored at the 2019 Global Leadership Awards and was a VVLead Ambassador.