This year’s SheSustains event was going to be cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic as its sole intention is to share stories that matter in a safe space and in a way that we truly feel authentically heard, connected and inspired. However, everything about this period pointed to the fact that now more than ever, our stories need to be shared and heard for they help us understand that while we are unique as individuals, collectively, we are part of a greater story than ourselves.
Dr Nina Bogerd of Birth Your Way was our second storyteller and her story encapsulates the very essence of sharing stories of everyday, ordinary women. Her journey speaks of courage in overcoming inner fears and ego by allowing herself to be vulnerable in the face of adversities, including the push back from her father and father-in-law, as both insisted she was making a huge mistake and wasting valuable time. Despite the unsettling voices, she chose to listen to her heart and the strong encouraging voice that was still closer, that of her husband. And she made the leap from her familiar world of academia into an unknown one through which she now makes a difference, one woman at a time as a Doula.
We each want to make a difference and Nina's story reflects the necessity of taking one step at a time with perseverance and patience, for little drops eventually add up to create an ocean of possibilities. 5 years on, by taking creative risks and actively volunteering, Nina has supported about 80 refugee families, making a huge impact in people's lives that was once turned upside down. She wholeheartedly supports refugee mothers to bring forth their babies to their new homes, offering the same quality service as she would to an expat mother who requests her birthing guidance. For Nina, this has come to be her path to slowing down to connect better with her family and paradoxically, connect to a much wider world beyond the walls of university, research, and academia. It is how she discovered true balance and happiness.
Happy is how most of us felt after listening to Nina’s story from the comfort of our homes as zoom, thanks to Lucy Lu of Sunshine Au pairs, became the platform for safe sharing. This virtual reality offered us the privilege of sharing precious moments together while listening to Nina's remarkable philanthropic journey that was born during Europe’s refugee crisis. Thus, reminding us that crisis, such as the one the world is currently battling with can also be a source of great opportunities, including the possibility of transforming Nina's story into a podcast for your listening pleasure.
SheSustains is founded by Veena Joseph and Christy Aikhorin. Though we are from completely different backgrounds, we have a common vision to impact women by reminding them of their inner beauty, authentic talents and unique creativity. This non-for-profit initiative, based in The Netherlands, offers a safe space and ample time for reflection and sharing in the form of an annual Retreat and Sharing Stories that Matter events. We believe through these get-togethers, we can support, inspire and nourish each other, on our individual journeys and collectively have sustainable impact in making our world better. SheSustains is building a community fostered by friendships and sisterhood, by bringing together Dutch locals & institutions, foreign nationals, expats and their spouses as well as international students, thus acting as a bridge for exchanging cultures, experiences and ideas for collaborative ventures and social projects. SheSustains also has a social online presence for sharing, listening, caring and growing together, managed by Gaayathri Periasami, who lives in Australia. Most recently, Melvina Lakhichand-Abrahams of ISHA has collaborated in transforming stories of our storytellers into podcasts so that others may have the possibility to listen at their convenience. If you are interested in future collabs, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org