singing my song [Noonday ambassador]

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Baraka.

Her name means blessing, and a blessing she is.  Baraka never liked her name, but once her pastor father told her the meaning, she wouldn’t dare change it. Her name gave her identity, it brought freedom and empowered her, as she says, to bless people and be a blessing. 

Baraka is the client care team leader for the IJM field office in Kigali, Rwanda and she is my hero. As we sat around the table, leaned in, and sipped our coffee this week we learned about the ridiculously hard but worthy work that IJM is doing around the world to transform lives and entire justice systems.  My friend Jen wrote a fantastic post yesterday explaining the importance of the work that IJM does in developing countries, and I urge you to go read her post (here).  Can we go back to my friend Baraka?  Good, because I like talking about her.  Baraka is the woman who makes IJM’s clients feel safe.  She accompanies them to their interviews, facilitates counseling for them and more than that she gets to know them.  It’s all about relationship with Baraka, and once she establishes that trust, her clients feel safe with her.  Her goal, as a client care worker is to help her clients reach a level where they can freely share.  

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Rwanda has a young justice system, and counselors + client care for abused girls is still a developing program, yall.  Baraka is paving the way and going before so many.  I’m confident she’ll watch this country continue to raise from the ashes.  In her words, “When God creates you with a purpose, he gives you the energy and passion you will need.  Knowing God and knowing it’s not my work but Gods work through me.”  If that doesn’t make you want to pull up a chair and have a cup of coffee with her, then well.  

Baraka is the new face of advocacy in this country.  She is rising up, building relationships and giving her life away for others.  

fighter.  campaigner.  promoter.  spokeswoman.  ADVOCATE

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photo cred: Kelle Hampton

the same words could be used to describe every single one of our 600+ Noonday ambassadors around the country, and most definitely our leader + founder, and my good friend Jessica Honegger.  

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We too are advocates!  We too are all about building relationships.  This is a new way – and while it’s an idea that might be hard to grasp at first, please hear me out on this.  

The reason why we advocate for and are able to create economic opportunity for the vulnerable in 10 countries around the world?  

It’s our artisans.  

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The passion in our hearts is to empower them to create their own sustainable business.  We aren’t giving them a hand out, but a hand up.  We don’t believe giving these artisans a “hand out “is a sustainable long-term solution to poverty.  Instead, we come alongside of them.  We cheer for them, we are spokeswomen for them, we promote their work by creating a marketplace for them.  We are creating dignified work for them.  

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Our desire is not only to advocate and empower them, but to watch them grow.  We are delighted in the beauty of their work, and when they grow, we grow.  We work together, the artisans and us.  We are women, and they are women.  Neither is better.  We are growing and learning from each other along the way.  

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I learned so much this week from our seamstresses about hard work.  I watched as Grace + Esperanze designed their first item all by themselves.  I watched as they kept their cool working with material they hadn’t worked with much before.  I watched their strength to press forward, to not give up, and to be proud of their work. 

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With all the #StyleForJustice team, 25 Noonday ambassadors and 13 seamstresses gathered today, Charlotte declared that our ambassadors give them more zeal to work knowing that their are women in America representing them.  

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With tears in her yes, Jessica told our group today that together we are “singing a song of empowerment, a song of justice” and I love the picture that we are each singing our notes and together creating a more beautiful world.  

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For me personally, becoming a part of our ambassador family has allowed me to be an advocate and voice for our artisans in vulnerable places all over world.  The relationships I’ve built within the ambassador family and several of our artisan groups in east Africa are irreplaceable.  These are my people, and I’m honored to use my voice and advocate for our artisans alongside of the ambassador family.  

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photo cred: Kelle Hampton

Join CTAI’d love it if you would think about how you could use your voice and advocate as a Noonday ambassador.  Why not?

Hey, I'm Wynne!

Hi, friend! First, I truly am so giddy that you are here. I want you to know I 100% believe in you and all the ways you are growing towards living a more intentional life. I can’t wait to get to know you and your story, and I genuinely hope you are encouraged from our time together here.

A little about me, I’m a type 7 on the enneagram, a total extrovert + people lover, entrepreneur, connector, storyteller, people gatherer, and passionate wife, mama + friend. I feel most alive when I’m exploring new places and surrounded by people I love. Give me a day in the outdoors disconnected from wifi, and I am a happy girl. I run on oat milk lattes, Jesus, gratitude journaling and kitchen dance parties with my three kids.
Welcome, come on in!

let'e be friends

  1. Shannon Riesenfeld says:

    Wynne, totally crying over here. I just love your words girl. You’re such a talented writer and photographer and you captured my heart exactly. I wasn’t there with you in Rwanda, but I feel like I was. These were the same feelings I had in Guatemala! So honored to be on the same team as you, Jessica, and all of the other women! Can’t wait to see you again in January! p.s. hope we’re on a trip together someday!! <3

  2. Laura Gehron Wilson says:

    Thank you, Wynne, for sharing your heart. It is a blessing to be a Noonday Ambassador. I’m so thankful that this trip has really highlighted the impact we have as ADVOCATES and not just salespeople. Frankly, I had no idea that I was joining such a dynamic group of women, but I am so very grateful that has provided me with this community and this opportunity in this season of life. See you in January!

  3. Becca says:

    Hi! I just found your blog after seeing a post on Pinterest. I’m going on a Guatemala service trip in March with my school and I love your posts about your trips & experiences! I myself am not religious but I love how devoted you are to advocacy and being a good person. I hope to make helping others as big of a part of my life as you have in yours. Best wishes!

  4. Paige Leverette Knudsen says:

    this is beautiful. i’m forever changed! so thankful to be a part of this time. love you friend xo’

  5. […] loved getting to share about Baraka and the work that IJM is doing in the field and how like her, we can all be advocates.  We can all sing a song of empowerment and justice together – think of what could happen […]

  6. Kelli Magee says:

    Wynne, Thank you so much for writing this. That day in the pictures above made it all real to me. That moment, dancing with the Umucyo ladies, changed my heart forever. The trip to Rwanda was the first time I had ever been around fellow ambassadors for any extended period of time, and I can say that they + our artisans + Rwanda in general increased my faith in ways I did not think possible!

  7. […] in Rwanda, I feel more in love with my Noonday family knowing that these are in fact “my people”.  I was empowered by our artisans, encouraged by my fellow ambassadors, and rejuvenated to go home […]

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