Fundraiser Spotlight: Rye Shaw

What inspired you to leverage your jewelry-making business for a cause, and why did you choose to fundraise for Kakenya’s Dream?

While I consider what I do to be a form of art, (and I’m constantly grateful I get to make a living being a creative) body decoration can also be a sort of vain industry at times- and while 90% of the time I LOVE what I do, I also must admit I have sinking moments where I realize there are much bigger and more important things happening in the world than what I’m doing. The deep introspective time 2020 gave us to reflect made me realize I want to feel more connected to this planet and the people in it and the way I see it, you can either feel guilty for your blessings or pay your blessings forward. I wasn’t sure how my business would survive COVID-19 – but I decided to focus on the abundance I still had to give rather than my fear and lack. I chose Kakenya’s Dream to share proceeds of my earring sales with because I feel fortunate to be a woman in this country who was able to get an education and start a business.

I sometimes consider that my female soul could have been born into any flesh body, anywhere in the world, into any circumstances. I could have been one of these beautiful young women who just wants one shot at all of the blessings I was handed without even asking for it. I am them and they are me. I want to lift them up in any small way I can because they deserve to be lifted up and if everyone of means helped others in some small way, this world would start healing.

Why does our mission matter to you?

Perhaps because I was raised by a strong single mom – I just have always had such deep reverence for women and the incredible strength we possess. While I respect other cultures are different than my own, I dream of a world where all women have a chance to make the huge impact on the world they were meant to. To have respect within a community, to feel physically safe, to be mothers and wives only if they choose to be; to have the chance to thrive outside of those roles if they choose. Education is the first step towards that. Education is power.

Do you have an anecdote about Kakenya’s Dream that really moved you?

I think watching the TED Talks and hearing the story of how Kakenya’s Dream started made me realize how personal this organization is for the people behind it. It also moved me to hear that there were some brave fathers who were bold enough to go against their cultural norms so their daughters could be educated. So much of the empowering of women can come from men if we stop thinking of them as the enemy and shift focus to highlighting the ones who are lifting us up. My heart goes out to all of the families who are sending their daughters off to be educated by Kakenya’s Dream. I’m sure it comes with sacrifice and uncertainty but it’s an incredible choice to make.

What advice would you give to others who want to start a fundraiser for Kakenya’s Dream? Any important lessons learned?

Some organizations speak for themselves. What Kakenya’s Dream is doing is so authentic that all you really need to do is show the faces of these beautiful girls and tell their story. Give their voices a platform if you have the means.

Asking people who cannot financially contribute to just simply “share” via word of mouth or their social media platforms is super helpful. I didn’t always sell the earrings, but every time somebody shared about the organization that meant hundreds or thousands of eyes were on Kakenya’s Dream that might never have been otherwise, and that’s still a win. Awareness is the first step to action.

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