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My name is Eliza McMullen, and I'm a 27 year old work at home mom to 3 beautiful boys and 2 crazy and lovable dogs. Since I was a teen I've had a heart for social justice, and had huge dreams to one day travel the world working for NGOs, changing the world one life at a time. I went on to college to study intercultural studies with a focus on global development, and communications with a focus on media arts and visual communication. I was convinced I would be a hard hitting writer, or documentary maker, or SOMETHING huge and important. However, life happened -- as it always does -- and a few years later I had dropped out of school, still dreaming those big dreams but feeling very defeated, lost, and unsure of where to go or what to do. Shortly after that I got married and started having children with the love of my life. I truly LOVE staying home and I love my boys with everything within me and then some. But I still felt a longing to do more, but as a stay at home mom I felt a little lost as to how I could do anything. How could I change lives while chasing three toddler boys around all day? After a long season of feeling unfulfilled, I came to the conclusion that I was going to do my part in changing the world by how I raised my boys. I decided to raise the best humans I possibly could, and that in itself would create a ripple effect, and once they were grown then I could move on to those big bold dreams I had as a teenager. And I was happy. I truly was. Then one day I heard about an amazing ethical fashion company named Sseko, a company that's entire sole mission was to empower and educate women. I joined Sseko as a fellow (essentially a sales rep) within 36 hours of hearing about the company because I felt that this was it. This was how I could make my mark, even before my kids left home! Even after I joined though, I was hesitant. Still convinced I was too little, too small, too unimportant to make any real difference in a world so full of complex problems. And then one night I was sitting down watching The Daily Show (one of my favorite shows) and the guest, DeRay McKesson (who, by the way, is an amazing human being), that night said something that forever changed me, and how I now go about life. “You’ve gotta have hope. And there’s a difference between hope as magic and hope as work. Hope as Magic doesn’t really mean anything. But hope as work, we know our tomorrows can be better than our todays because people WORK to make it happen. And that's what gets us through." And in that moment, right there on my couch as I ate a bowl of ice cream, I knew I had to change my view. I knew I had to have hope. Yes, the world IS full of incredibly complex problems, and yes, I AM just one person, but I can work. I can do GOOD work. And in that, there is hope. With hope as work, I can change lives. One person at a time. So I made the decision to go out and do whatever works of hope I could do to help others, no matter how small. A few months later, I found out from my best friend that we lived very close to one of the top human trafficking cities in the country. A women's group she was a part of had put together bags of toiletries and essentials for survivors of human trafficking who were currently working on reintegrating into normal, every day life. I felt that same fire inside of me in that moment that I did when I heard about Sseko, and when I heard DeRay McKesson speak to Trevor Noah. I knew I needed to do something. I knew I COULD do something. Something to give these women hope, to know they are seen, valued, and loved. I called the local Justice Initiative (Virginia Beach Justice Initiative) my friend had worked with to ask what the women they were working with could use. She said “These women feel lonely, unworthy, ugly, and forgotten. They could really use items to make them feel seen, valued, wanted, and beautiful. Items such as jewelry, nail polish, and cosmetics really help these women feel good about themselves. Gifts let them know they still matter." So that is exactly what I plan to send these women. I will be filling individual care packages for each of these women with a Sseko Brave Bracelet, a freedom, strength, or bravery charm, cosmetics, and a hand lettered encouraging quote. Everyone deserves to feel beautiful. Everyone deserves to know that they are valued, important, and loved. Everyone deserves to be seen. My goal for this project is 50 bags, as that is the amount of women that VBJI is currently working with. If you are interested in helping sponsor a care package, you can do so by sending money via paypal.me/elizamcmullen . If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out and ask me. My email is sseko.e.mcmullen@gmail.com

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, and for having a heart for this.