Bangladeshi conviction

One of the most significant impressions I took away from the time I spent in Bangladesh is the giant divide between the silence of young girls and the brilliant, almost piercing voices of older women who have been empowered. For the first few days the contrast left me disoriented until over and over again I witnessed just how patriarchal their culture still is.

In 2000, about 50% of women in Bangladesh were married by the time they were 15 years old, and in 2003 the average age of marriage was 16. Many of them immediately become pregnant (adolescent girls are five times more likely to be injured in childbirth). Many of them don’t finish school. Many of them do not know that they can change their future.

Our days in Bangladesh were packed and frenzied. We usually climbed into our van by 7 AM and did not finish our day until 11 PM. We visited slums, villages, hospitals, clinics. It was really easy to get discouraged by what I saw, because the poverty stretches out and does not ever stop. And we met many teenage women living in villages who were pregnant with their second, maybe third child.

The highlight of the trip for me happened on our third day when two women who work for BRAC took us outside of the city to see a girls program called SoFEA (Social and Financial Empowerment of Adolescents). We met with a dozen or so girls in a village, all between the ages of 11 to 18, who have a building where they can gather every day for a couple of hours to work on projects, perfect skills that can land them jobs, and learn that they have options. That they can delay marriage. That they can finish school.

One girl spoke up and said she wanted to run a beauty shop. Another wanted to work with computers. And then another coyly mentioned that she’d love to be a model.

For the first time on our trip I saw hope in a young girl’s eyes.

It was also the first time I heard a young girl speak with what I will call Bangladeshi conviction. Just imagine 150 million people — that’s half of the population of America — all crammed into a space the size of Iowa. They have to stake their place, and the conditions in which they do have given them a strength I can only aspire to.

So when you’re having a conversation with someone, they will be heard. You will listen. Especially if that someone is an educated woman.

On our final day we got stuck in infamous Dhaka traffic for almost five hours and ended up being several hours late to an appointment we had to meet with The Family Planning Association of Bangladesh, a member of International Planned Parenthood Foundation. Once we arrived we toured the facilities and then were shown to a packed room where over two dozen women were waiting to speak with us. They had waited for us, and they were ready to talk.

All these women are volunteers who work tirelessly in their community to educate women about family planning, and all of them had that Bangladeshi conviction. Especially a few of the women in the front of the group who were so eager to share their message with us that they frequently yelled over each other. Why do they do this without compensation? Because the work is so important to them. Because they had been given the chance at a better life and wanted to pay that forward.

I don’t know how many of you saw the skirmish that played out this week between me and a journalist who implied that I was a “poverty tourist,” and that Christy had given me a free trip to an exotic country. Yes, we were popping back martinis and assuaging our white guilt by feeling really sorry for the poor people. That journalist quoted my website and twitter feed, so she could have contacted me and asked about my trip without publishing assumptions or implying that my trip was ultimately meaningless.

The truth is that I paid my own expenses. The truth is that this is just the beginning for me, and I plan to get more involved wherever I can, wherever it is the best place for me to get involved. If a reputable organization wants to use me, I am here for the using.

And then a certain blogger who has been antagonizing me and members of my online community for years jumped in and started mocking my intentions. She started publishing false assumptions. And when I saw the language she was using, the flippant way she wanted to wave this off and turn it into something ugly, I had an imaginary conversation with those women sitting at that family planning clinic in Dhaka.

You see, yes, a corporation wants to work with me to give a large sum of money to an organization like the one you volunteer for. Yes, someone is making fun of me over this, publicly, and inciting others to make fun of it. What? No, I can’t say anything. Because I have to take the high road. It’s an unwritten code of conduct that I and many of my colleagues cannot stand up for ourselves. We have to remain silent and take it because they have the “right” to publish lies and twisted assumptions about us because we are semi-public figures. If we do say anything, if we ask those people to stop lying, to stop spreading their parasitic negativity, then we are the ones who are wrong.

And I can guarantee that if I really did speak Bangla, those women would tell me that this is the most insane thing they have ever heard. How desperately the women in their community would like to have the luxury and privilege of standing up for themselves.

So I stood up for myself. I stood up for the other women in my community who have had to be silent when their name and causes were mocked mercilessly. I stood up because it’s not just a luxury and a privilege anymore. After meeting those brave women in Bangladesh, it’s now a duty.

So, no. In so many ways, this trip was not meaningless.

  • smithie1996

    Thank you for putting faces and names to what for some of us was a nameless faceless issue in a far away country. Thank you for your stunning photos and for being brave and fighting battles that you should not have to be fighting but fight anyway. You are an incredible woman and I am so excited for you and this next phase of your life. Thank you, as always, for taking us along for the ride.

  • rivetergirl

    I believe that so much of this mean-spiritedness among women stems from our culture. I am mother to a lovely 11 year old and I see how girls will sometimes treat each other with so poorly. They seem to be constantly in competition.

    In response to this trend, I do see organizations, such as Girls on the Run, attempting to teach girls how to cope with their emotions and each other in kind and supportive ways.

    My wish for American women would be for us to spend our time bolstering each other, supporting each other and building communities based on positivity and respect. And most importantly, teaching these tenets to our daughters.

    Thank you, Heather, for standing up for all of us. And for reminding us all that we should always at the very least be civil, if not down right kind to one another.

  • TanjaK

    It is my true belief that to make the world a better place it really means the world. Ultimately, our wellbeing is improved if we live in a healthy neghbourhood – healthy meaning also economically, politically, ethically healthy. I do think that providing knowledge, work and other posibilities to women and men either in Bangladesh or other countries benefits all of us. The fact that Bangladesh is thousands of kilometers away and deals with problems that feel so foreign to us does not mean we should not be compassionate and helpful. Helping Bangladeshi women also does not exclude helping our local community, or doing good somwhere else. So Heater, keep on, and speak up. You are heard.
    As to the Guardian journalist, at first I thought she was just getting high on her selfrightoiusness, but after rereading, I think she was intentionally malicious. Shame, really.

  • AmyMilstein

    I am glad you stood up for yourself. I have always admired people who use their ‘celebrity’, so to speak, for good. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If more people would do it, the world would be a better place. And if a corporate entity wants to use some of its’ profits for good, we should all applaud that, and not bicker about motive. Truthfully, if the money is helping people in need, I’m on board.

    My daughter, who is 11, and a few of her friends started a group called “The Donators” and they raise money in 3 month increments, donating to a different charity after each three month period. I’m really proud of them for this, and currently they are raising money for Heifer International. Believe it or not, they were the target of criticism from a member of our homeschooling community, who went on a rant about their choice of charity and their motives, etc. The kids were upset, but in the end it made them even more determined to meet their goals.

    So my family and I, along with The Donators, are all behind you, Heather. We love what you are doing and are tweeting our support every day. There is a great Jewish proverb that says, “He who saves one life saves the world entire.” That’s you, many times over.

  • kdw

    Thank you, Heather, for your words and for sharing your experiences. It’s such a different perspective, no?, after you’ve met people who haven’t been heard— and you have to deal with people who won’t, fucking, shut up.

    I wish so very much that those people who get such gratification from slinging around all that negativity could just take a smidgen of that energy and use it IN A POSITIVE WAY.

    Please keep speaking up— it’s important.

  • D.Paul

    Heather,

    I haven’t read through the comments, simply because they’re so voluminous, so what I say will probably be a reiteration of what someone else has already said. And probably far more eloquently.

    I haven’t kept up with whomever has been making a mockery of your trip abroad. All I’ve been doing is reading your posts, soaking in the photos, and just hungering for more. Because while you may be writing about abject poverty and social conditions that would boggle most Western minds, I’ve been taking nothing away but an effervescent hope: that things can change; that things will change; that we can all make a difference.

    Basically, I get chills whenever I come and sit with Dooce for a spell. And you’ve inspired me to act wherever I can to make a difference, as well.

    So to the naysayers, I’ll take the high road as well, and avoid the usual Anglo-Saxon epithets I’d so readily hurl their way. And it’s because we’ve got more important things to worry about. And you to thank for reminding us of that.

    So thank you. And keep doing what you’re doing, ’cause it’s making a change.

  • sandi

    I LOVE the way Jon loves you!

    I am proud of you for all of it…. The trip, The trolls, The blog, ALL OF IT! You are a good egg Heather Armstrong!

  • martywombacher

    I don’t know who this “journalist” is, or what this person wrote, but if they didn’t try to contact you then it’s complete and utter bullshit and shows they were just trying to trash you. A proper editor would never let a story from a writer go out without trying to contact the subject of the story. And as far as the blogger goes, it’s just pure jealousy. You have a successful blog and they’re definitely some loser who wouldn’t have the guts to say “boo” to you in real life. Online bullies are usually people that are so socially inept, they wouldn’t be able to look you in the eyes in person. Keep doing your great work, Heather, it’s appreciated by many. I know it’s tough to ignore the haters, but please try. You work hard for your success and you give back as well. Good for you!

  • GingerPeach

    You gave me chills, literally, and I usually say that in the metaphorical sense. Wonderfully well-written and honest piece. Can’t wait to hear more about your trip.

  • coffeemomma

    *I* was one of those people on Twitter the other night telling you to take the high road. Then I went and read the blog of the person in question. I was shocked at all the snide comments, the mentions that were sideways and half veiled, all of it couched in the same kind of academic drivel-speak that we used in college to pad our papers from two pages to ten.

    I take it back. I take it all back. DON’T take the high road. You are right, it’s time that someone call these people out.

    The article mentioned something about “poverty tourism” being okay as long as you aren’t asking people on the side of the road to wave their limb stumps at you. I stopped reading at that point and decided that it was not taking an approach that included the journalistic integrity I wanted to read.

    You go, Heather. I’m happy to help. I’m happy to be a loyal reader as you grow and evolve and let us all be a part of it.

  • LisaAR

    I’m proud of you, Heather, for a number of things, and this Bangladesh chapter is just one of them. You are doing good–period. Rock on, my friend.

  • missmagpie5

    I’d just like to give you a resounding “f*ck yes” Heather. Yes, there are women throughout the world that are markedly less well-off than we are (regardless of how much each of us has).

    Yet, I think there is a reluctance for women world-wide to speak up for themselves, to have their voices be heard. Thank you for a reminder that no matter who you are, where you are, what you do, your voice matters. We all matter.

  • Dawn DeVries Sokol

    I say use your notoriety for a good cause. I like when celebs do work like this. Because those with “names” usually can get the media’s attention… I admire you for all you do. Thanks, Heather!

  • MsRachelC

    BAWLING. Overwhelming emotions I wasn’t fully expecting. I’ve been so anxious for you to come back and share and I cried over the first post too.

    I guess I don’t browse the community or read enough blogs because the thought hadn’t occurred to me someone would see this trip as anything but a blessing.

    You’ve brought back fuel to ignite so many of us to practice living. Tell us more!

  • dfunkmcgunk

    That chick is very lucky you don’t have the dfunkmcgunk temper. Actually, the world is lucky you don’t have the dfunkmcgunk temper.

    MUAHAHAHA!!!

    I love you, Dooce. If you weren’t already married to Jon, and if I weren’t married to Matt, and if *gay*-marriage wasn’t illegal in both California and Utah, I would marry you.

    The sad thing is, for every lover there is a hater. Luckily, the haters die miserable deaths and we can all laugh at them while they rot in a hell that’s surely full of 1 billion Dr. Phils.

    Thanks for being an inspiration. Thanks for all you do. Thanks for caring about others, even others super far away that the rest of us like to pretend don’t exist or we feel too bad about doing nothing.

    Thanks for not only standing up for yourself, but for showing many of us it’s not OK to sit back and take abuse, and that it IS OK to speak up. Women have a fear of defending themselves, and it makes me sad.

    Thanks for making me happy. You complete me. Well, no, I think it’s Coco that really does it for me. Yeah, Coco.

  • Rhiannon129

    So proud of you! You are doing amazing work and I cant wait to read more of how you are changing the world.

  • ahamsmom

    You’re awesome Heather. I’m sorry it’s been a rough week for you.

    Another organization doing awesome things for the girls and women of Bangladesh (and throughout Asia) is Asian University for Women: http://www.asian-university.org/index.htm. The Chronicle of Higher Education recently wrote a nice article about AUW: http://www.asian-university.org/documents/NewUniversityGivesWomenaShotatLeadership.pdf
    My friend Joanne is an English professor at AUW. Her and her family’s lives have definitely changed in the last year as they’ve lived in Chittagong. I know she looks forward to reading about your experience in Bangladesh.

    If you’re at all interested in communicating with Joanne, please let me know. I know she occasionally reads your blog, but I don’t know if she’s part of the community.

    Once again, thanks for sharing about your trip and experience.

    Jennifer

  • kristanhoffman

    For the record, I say this as a longtime fan:

    I think there is a world of difference between Rowan Davies (who wrote the op-ed) and Anna Viele (who has apparently harassed you for years). I truly believe you overreacted in your response to the former, but based on what I’ve read, the latter has pushed and provoked you beyond anyone’s reasonable limits. I’m not trying to argue or change your mind — you are fully entitled to your feelings — but I do feel it’s important that *someone* speak out for the distinction. Because — although this is taken from a completely different context, I think it’s highly relevant to the topic of female empowerment — “I find it depressing that, in 2011, a woman is presumed guilty if she isn’t innocent.” (Judith Thurman, The New Yorker)

    Moving on…

    I was surprised to read that the young women are the ones who feel they cannot speak out, while the older women have “piercing voices.” If I were to have guessed, I would have thought the opposite. Perhaps because what I’ve seen in my own bicultural heritage (Asian/American) is that the older generations are more traditional and conservative; they tend to adhere to the long-standing ways of thinking and living. Meanwhile we “youngin’s” are often considered outspoken and headstrong and overly liberal. (I’m generalizing, of course.)

    It’s all very interesting, and I’m looking forward to reading more about your experiences in Bangladesh. To seeing that place and those people through your lens. Thank you for sharing your stories, as always.

  • mamatabea

    Then what the hell are we supposed to do if not welcome and seize opportunities to help in any way we can? I just don’t get it. This kind of criticism doesn’t just attack you, Heather, but anyone who dedicates his or her life to serving others. We don’t always choose the place where God calls us to go. In this case you were called to go to Bangladesh and you went. And I know that you will be blessed.
    Sincerely, tabea

  • Kerrin

    Thank you for going to Bangladesh, thank you for writing about your trip, thank you for caring, thank you for standing up for yourself, and thank you for being you. Women need build each other up, not tear each other down. I read your blog because you’re funny and dorky (in a good way!) but also because you’re not afraid to share your story. Please don’t ever stop sharing; I like knowing there’s someone else out there who is dealing with the same things I am. I look forward to reading more about your trip and learning about how I can help. I wish I had the courage to do what you do, keep it up!

  • amyrollo

    1. Dooce is the epitome of unprofessional. And why I aspire to be unprofessional, too.

    2. To quote John, “you are an inspiration” indeed!

    3. Ms. Troll’s website is horrific – unsearchable, unusable (couldn’t even find the article on you – per chance she removed it?). I’m sorry I gave her a unique visit.

    4. Your website is beautiful. With every new iteration I am always impressed with the improved usability and subtle, lovely graphics.

    5. Rock on. It’s what you do best with your tall self.

  • terebrun

    Heather. . . You have to be brave so others can be. Thank you. Keep following your heart.

  • kriselmer

    The worst part is that your harassers are women – something I will never understand.

  • Marinka

    I think it’s awesome that you went, and amazing that you are sharing the stories of what you saw and learned. I look forward to reading more.

    Personally, I wouldn’t have cared if your trip had been paid for by a sponsor and if you’d been outfitted in diamonds for the occasion. What is important to me is your writing and that it reaches so many people.

    And I adore you for standing up to the bullshit that’s been going on for far too long and shining a light on it.

  • kmo0678

    I haven’t read all of these comments. I’m not a dooce die-hard, but very much enjoy reading her posts because they are entertaining and heart-felt and provocative. I don’t know shit about twitter (yeah, I know, get your head out from under that rock). I don’t know shit about the mommyblogger community. Unfortunately, though, I’ve found out more about mommybloggers and twitter feeds in the past hour because I’ve been going from twitter feed to twitter feed and to mommy blog back to twitter feed to try to piece together what the hell this drama is all about. The worst part of all of that? That hour I became embarrassingly consumed by the drama of mommy bloggers and “journalists” and I had no thoughts about the plight of the women (and men) in Bangladesh who are stoically working toward the healthcare and freedoms that I so often take for granted as “givens” in my western world luxury. Shit. That sucks. I’m not sure it’s about the high road or convictions or standing up for yourself; rather, those 1.5 million people’s attention has been diverted away from an important and sobering real-life human experience and instead is focused on who said what about whom on twitter. My apologies to the people of Bangladesh for the absurdity of internet feuds and my gratitude to dooce for working to bring important issues to light.

  • jacqueline

    Rock on, Heather.

    And on a hopeful note, this in development from the brilliant brain of a friend of mine:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PElSn7IxjQ

  • qatey

    Keep up the good work, Heather!

  • DeeDeeBee

    Dooce, I very much admire what you’re trying to do here. I think some of the hate and misunderstanding is coming from the fact that blogs are relatively new and maybe people aren’t used to getting this kind of information written in first person. Normally we’d be watching Oprah guide these people into telling their own stories, and we’d see and hear Oprah sharing her reaction. This is an approach we’re used to.

    But your blog is all about your voice. If you made a video of these people talking for themselves and presented it to us, we probably wouldn’t watch it. We just don’t come to this particular place looking for documentaries. I think if you posted such a thing, it would be the equivalent of Oprah standing on her stage reading her book club pick to us for an hour.

    You’re delivering messages we’re not used to receiving in this way. And we’re not used to bloggers having this kind of influence. We’re not used to women, or even men, being able to seize this kind of power without having it doled out to them from some lofty place where the ‘important people’ decide who’s worthy. You’re our first superblogger, you’re pioneering this. And you’re doing it without a net. I’m sure as the years and decades pass you’ll find all kinds of creative and interesting ways to give us information and make us feel things you think will edify us and improve our world. You’ll do this because that’s who you are, because you have the talent and you don’t wait for people to tell you what you can and can’t do. You seized the power, and you continue to seize the moment. You’re heartbreaking at times, hilarious at others, and frequently entertaining enough to give a World Wide Web of baby animal vids a run for their money. This is the work of one person.

    I feel inspired and empowered by that.

    Huck the faters.

  • preppypitbull

    Heather, You rock. You use your voice in the best way possible. Most days to make me smile and laugh while I enjoy pictures of Chuck and giggle over Marlo’s dangerous exploits. I never assumed or thought of your trip to Bangladesh as pointless, or at all like a PR trip for your own benefit. The haters are only jealous that they can’t be backed by huge companies because they themselves do not have the convictions to stand up for those without a voice like you do. Don’t stop what your doing. Don’t give up, those women are SO much better for you having been there. I back you all the way. Thank you for doing what you are doing.

  • Mom101

    I have such a lump in my throat reading this–it’s just so personal for me. Almost to a tee how I might have described my own trips to Sarajevo (though I doubt as eloquently). You bring back memories of those women describing dreams that I wondered whether they could ever fulfill, knowing full well that the fact they were still here at all was so much already.

    This is just perfect. Every word. Every photo.

    Thank you for giving a voice to women who don’t always have one.

    I can’t wait to read more, and see just where this journey takes you.

  • Laura in Paradise

    OMG, I wanted to jump up out of my chair and applaud (maybe even whistle real loud and pump my fist in the air, Arsenio Hall-style) after reading that.

    I too hate having to take the damn high road all the time. Sometimes I just want to punch those people in the face (and I mean that in the nicest possible way) and have every one cheer that I took down the bully. Just once!

    But alas, the world is not an episode of iCarly.

    Get em girl!

  • Reese Dixon

    Once again you’re blazing the trail for Mommybloggers. The old media rules don’t apply when it’s us out there by ourselves. There is a big difference between taking the high road and enabling abuse, and shockingly few people know it. It’s brutal work being a pioneer, but it’s in your blood.

  • retromummy

    I want to say it’s unbelievable but I totally believe that you have been on the receiving end of this. Because it happens at all levels of blogging. A minority seem to think it’s perfectly acceptable to say whatever they want online without knowing the facts. And the attacks always come from a person filled with jealousy.

    I wonder what the critics are doing for poverty? for bangladesh? for developing countries? Because you know that they are wasting their own time criticising others without knowing the facts.

    Whenever I get a nasty comment on my blog that attacks me I love to just let off a bit of steam on facebook and let the love come in because my readers remind that for one bad apple there are thousands more who love what you do!

    I admire your restraint and not saying what you really want to say!

    stay strong and keep doing what you are doing! and let the critics know the truth!

    Corrie:)

  • Laynie

    Wow. I need to apologize. I was one of those people telling you to ignore them, that trolls feed off the reaction of those they’re trolling. If this had been just any other troll or any other issue, I might have been right. (It’s true, ignore the troll and they soon grow bored and move on.)

    But this explanation? Yea, this really does explain why you felt it was important to stand up for yourself and more importantly for the women you’re fighting for. I’m a women’s health advocate myself. I run two communities that help educate women about their bodies, their birth control options, and their options and rights as strong women. Had I been in the same situation you were, there’s no doubt how I would have reacted.

    I’m sorry for suggesting you back down. You’re right- the Bangladeshi women deserve more, and frankly so do women in general, wherever they happen to be. You rock. Thank you.

  • DisposableWombat

    Fuckin’ A!!!

    Wait……Am I allowed to say that?

  • rebeldivine

    Sweetheart, your and Jon’s and da girlz’ lives have been irrevocably changed for the better. It’s difficult to have a passion such as yours and I hope your relationships grow because of it. Just keep your humour and the Chuckles in it. A passion can become all-consuming, and therein lies the danger. Stay balanced (hee hee!) and keep the love going! Hugs, Denise

  • Katesss

    Thank you Heather. You are an inspiration to me, and these women all the way on the other side of the world, with so much against them, are also an inspiration to me. I have nothing like their hardships, but their message still moves me and gives me hope. You are doing good work, don’t listen to miserable people who aren’t doing anything good themselves, just sitting behind their computers writing about people who are actually doing something.

  • Pandora Has A Box

    First of all, thank you. Period. Full stop. End of story.

    Second of all, I read your posts religiously, but I rarely comment, saving my energies for the DoCo side of things. That said, I am proud of what you are doing, what you and @jon together are accomplishing. I am proud to be a regular reader and a community participant. That does not make me a “minion”, btw. I have no problem telling you when I think you’re wrong. But, it does make me devoted.

    Third, you are a pioneer, as @Reese Dixon said (and welcome to the DoCo!). You have a fighter’s spirit and a pioneer’s soul. You ask “Whys?” instead of spouting “Why nots.” Be strong in yourself and your convictions. Your voice is powerful, not simply because you have a large audience but because you are able to speak to us all in a way that cuts through the “noise” of our daily lives and causes us to pause, reflect, and want to do better.

    Fourth, you have our attention. Harness our attention, our energy, our capacity for change.

    Fifth, never be afraid to direct righteous anger toward someone who deserves it. Trolls are bullies. Often, they can be ignored. Often, they will get bored and walk away. However, when they mount a full on assault and disparage not only you, but an entire country of women, they have crossed a line. You’re allowed to defend yourself, especially if it means defending others.

    Sixth, I have a thing for tall blonds. Just so you know. ;) I married one. If gay marriage were legal in my state, I’d propose to you as well.

    Go get ‘em.

  • JaneE

    Hi Heather

    I have no idea if you’ve decided where the money should go, but I’m suggesting you consider donating it to a microfinance business. These businesses have been shown to be good investments, to empower women and to reduce the birth rate!

    Thanks & keep doing what you’re doing.

    Cheers

    Jane

  • allegrapostsforrose

    If you bring awareness to just one person your trip was important!

  • 1greenblogger

    I’ve been reading your blog, but not commenting, for years. I’ve been repeatedly impressed by your courage. I’m with those who thank you for taking on this enormous project and I admire you for having the guts to believe in the possibility of making a difference.

  • jenwilson

    I love Jon’s comment to this.

    I can’t imagine what it was like to meet those women. Such an live-changing experience.

    You are an incredible woman, and I could not agree with you more, on all of this.

  • Lauren3

    Fuck yeah, H-dawg. I gave a short spiel on Jon’s post, so here I will just leave it at “Fuck yeah.”

  • josephine

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with these women, Heather. It’s inspiring.

  • filmlady

    You’re helping other women make groundbreaking differences in their world, and you’re modeling for your daughters how to live a responsible and caring life. Thank you. Thank you.

  • denise karis

    Hey Lady. Just had a chance to finally read through your trip…. definitely stuck a chord – all of it – That women there don’t realize that they have a choice – that they’re robbed of their youth… thank you for posting. As far as ridiculous people who do nothing to help… even when you don’t speak up, other people will speak up for you – I have no doubt that every time someone has spoken out against you, so many more have spoke up defending you (including me). You helped me when I became a new mom and you continue to do so much with your life, your writing, your humor, your generosity etc etc etc. I did my tiny part by having my team at work click your link to make yahoo our home page – I am happy to see that you can do things on a larger scale – it doesn’t make it impersonal or commercial, it shows you give a shit.

  • Wine Before Five

    Yes, Jon said it all.

    You have long been an inspiration.

    And now, for this newest endeavor, as Shakespeare said,
    “I can say but Thanks, and Thanks.”

    And as for those who critique… shame on them. Their time could be spent helping others. Doing good. Making a difference. Instead they opt to take the low road, take the cheap shots. No need to rise above them, Heather; you are SO far above them.

    Be proud. Your gratitude for your own life has made you even more awesome than you were before.

    You are simply inspirational. Awesomely inspirational.

  • Sue Who

    Haters gonna hate. So sad.

    And for anyone who thinks that you raising awareness of issues accomplishes nothing, I couldn’t disagree more.

    I found your blog when I was struggling with crippling post partum depression. I can’t even begin to tell you how amazingly helpful it was for me to read the story of a woman who knew what it was like to feel how I felt! It empowered me to get help so I could be the mother my son needed.

    I followed along when you were pregnant with Marlo. I read several of the books you mentioned you read when you were expecting. It empowered me to advocate for myself to have a healthier birth and hire a doula (against the wishes of my OB/Gyn) with my second son. A more positive birth experience helped me bond and breastfeed my baby more easily and ask for help when I needed it in those critical first hours and days.

    And it’s not even really about what an amazing help it was to me — it altered the future trajectory for my sons’ lives in very powerful and positive ways.

    So, thank you. It’s great when people use their words and their talents for positive instead of negative things.

  • aggmy

    Glass houses and stones. I was born in and grew up partially in a very poor 3rd world country, and know firsthand that people who are that destitute and desperate do not give two craps why or how they are being helped — it’s enough to be helped. It’s hubris and utter ridiculousness that Ms. Davies and other people would even begin to condemn or criticize the mode in which Dooce and other people are trying to help the world’s needy. At least THEY are trying to do something instead of making snarky comments whilst in the comfort of their own country.

    It just reminds me of other types of ill-meant and ignorant snobbery that in the end, don’t matter, as long as the hungry are getting fed and those who need help are getting it.

  • fivefletchers

    Heather,

    The cool thing is that you took the risk to step out of your comfort zone of wacky children, crazy dogs, spin class, and cans of tuna in order to step into the chaos of another culture.

    Change tends not to happen in our lives when we are not feeling uncomfortable about what is around us. I am grateful you took this trip for the change it has brought about and will bring about in your life and the multitude of lives that will be touched from the decisions you are now making.

    It’s been a long time since I stepped so far and was so rewarded, but 15 years ago my husband and I spent a year in Nepal. We brought home a little Nepali girl who was 13 months old and weighed 9 pounds. We changed her life and she changed ours. Pavitra is now a normal 16 year old salt lake teenager, in pursuit of her driver’s license – watch out!

    One of my favorite quotes of all time is this, “Nothing in our lives is set in stone. Today I’m a working girl in New York and you’re an intrepid do-gooder. Tomorrow you could be eating pate and wearing black tights and I’ll have run away with a lion tamer. Thank god for the unknown future.” Hilary Liftin

    Thanks for going.

    Rachel