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Issue 14-3

Looking for Passionate People

Dear Friends,

A letter came back to our office marked “DECEASED.” My heart grabbed; it was our donor letter returned and addressed to Miriam Hazzard. Miriam began sending monthly donations to the Global Bag Project in 2005—the year we started our microenterprise experiment in Nairobi, Kenya. Over those years, Miriam contributed almost $2000 to the GBP.

I felt awful. David always writes personal notes on our receipts for general Mainstay Ministry donations, and I write an additional thanks on Global Bag Project donations. Through the years we have established many friendships with the people all across the country who have supported our ministry, some for as long as decades. But I didn’t know a thing about this faithful donor.

So I went to the Internet, typed in “Miriam Hazzard” and found an obituary that gave scant information, but enough for me to sketch in some details. Miriam died last April at the age of 95 in the Life Care Center of Leominster; she was the mother of four grown children and a widow; her husband died in 1979. For many years she worked as a machine operator at Ray-O-Vac. Three brothers and four sisters predeceased her. “A devout, active member of First Baptist Church, she was a member of its Women’s Missionary Committee and taught Sunday School for 35 years.”

Again, how my heart clutched. How can any 95-year-old life be summarized in a short obituary? And this is the kind of human that the world gives little acclaim. She was elderly and declining. But I remembered all those donation receipts to the Global Bag Project that I signed through the years (since 2005) thanking Miriam, who I didn’t know, for her faithful generosity. I wished I had picked up the phone and spent a little time getting acquainted.

The question I ask myself is: Who will step into the shoes of God’s people of this older and diminishing generation—people who the world doesn’t much notice—but those who are faithful, despite widowhood, despite advancing age, who send in regular checks, teach Sunday School for 35 years and are faithful members of Women’s Missionary Societies?

Through the sales of handmade reusable shopping bags in the U.S., the Global Bag Project seeks to provide income for vulnerable women, many Christian sisters, who are existing below the poverty line in Africa and struggling to feed their children. Sales provide funds for them to buy food, pay for tuitions, and meet rent on their slum dwellings.

The African women are eager workers, but because of the many crises in my life over the last two years, I have not been able to focus my attention on building the Global Bag Project sales and marketing apparatus here in the United States. So I have been fervently praying for skilled volunteers to step beside me who have the passion, the desire and the time to join our U.S. Global Bag Project team.

The question still remains: In the days ahead, who will replace the Miriam Hazzards whose faithful financial generosities have underwritten the work of the Global Bag Project?

• The women in Nairobi, Africa have not had enough sewing work to employ them full-time.
• We do not have funds to pay Mary Ogalo, our Kenyan GBP director, the $800-a-month stipend for February or March; that is a total of $1600.

Would you like to empower women around the world? Would you like to help them lift themselves out of poverty?

I am looking for people who have a passion about the plight of women internationally. We need volunteers who understand that when girls and women are educated and given employment with fair wages, the whole of their society benefits. This is not wishful thinking on the part of Karen Mains; it is a proven truth certified by varieties of international studies.

Womenomics is a phrase that is all over the Internet these days. An article in The Economist titled “A Guide to Womenomics” states: “In poor countries, the under-utilization of women stunts national economic growth.” A study last year by the World Economic Forum found a clear correlation between empowering women (the statistics measured economic participation, education, health and political empowerment) and improved GDP (gross domestic product). In the relief and development sector, the causal effect of disempowering women on local and regional economies is all too apparent.

I am praying and fasting for others who will step into Miriam Hazzard’s shoes. Could that be one of you? For the next weeks, we will send out a Soulish Food notice sharing ways that you might want to be involved.

This week I am praying for:

Regular donors who will underwrite Mary Ogalo’s Kenyan salary with monthly gifts. Her annual salary of $6900 equals $800 per month. To that we would like to add the $200 rent for office space. This breaks into 10 people pledging $100 per month, or 20 people pledging $50 per month (you get the idea). I’m personally opening the donation pool with a gift of $300.

By underwriting Mary’s salary with tax-receipted donations, we can turn over more of the bag sales income directly to the seamstresses. A snail-mail donation to Global Bag Project, Box 30, Wheaton, IL 60187, works well. Or go to the Web site, and click the DONATE button, or you can make a credit card charge by phoning the Mainstay office at 630-293-4500. Leave a message and your phone number, and Heather Ann Martinez, U.S. Global Bag Project Director, will return your call and take your information.

Karen Mains


fabric market

This is the fabric market where supplies are purchased to make the Global Bag Project products. More photos coming.

GBP kanga-cloth
Global Bag Project made from colorful East African kanga-cloth displayed for sale.

cutting table
Cutting table in GBP sewing room.

Three Global Bag Project bags.

Karen's Blogs

Karen is blogging three times a week in the new year and also posting regularly on her Facebook page. Blog address is Next week's blogs (for March 30-April 3) are "Serrated Edges", "Getting Used to Internet Insufficiency" and "The Pietà Corner."


The Soulish Food e-mails are being posted biweekly on the Hungry Souls Web site. Newcomers can look that over and decide if they want to register on the Web site to receive the biweekly newsletter. You might want to recommend this to friends also. They can go to

Karen Mains

Karen Mains

I am looking for people who have a passion about the plight of women internationally. We need volunteers who understand that when girls and women are educated and given employment with fair wages, the whole of their society benefits. This is not wishful thinking on the part of Karen Mains; it is a proven truth certified by varieties of international studies.
"Quiet" by Susan Cain
To Be a Friend Is Fatal:
The Fight to Save the Iraqis America Left Behind

by Kirk W. Johnson

This month our Read and Intercede Book Club discussed the book To Be a Friend Is Fatal: The Fight to Save the Iraqis America Left Behind by Kirk W. Johnson. This is a beautifully written and appropriately disturbing book.

Quoting portions from the back-cover copy: “In 2005 Kirk Johnson, then twenty-four, arrived in Iraq as USAID’s only Arabic-speaking American employee. In Baghdad and Fallujah, he worked alongside idealistic Iraqi translators who were sick of Saddam, filled with Hollywood slang, and enchanted by the idea of a peaceful, democratic Iraq. As sectarian violence escalated, however, they found themselves subject to a campaign of kidnapping, torture, and assassination.”

On a leave from war-torn Iraq, Kirk, while vacationing with his family, entered what his doctors diagnosed as a “fugue state,” and unconsciously crawled onto a ledge outside his hotel window, falling to the pavement below. His face was shredded; his jaw and two wrists were broken. The next year was given to recovery, periods of despair, PTSD and a haunting fear of failing his friends in Iraq.

“One day during his recuperation, Johnson received an e-mail from an Iraqi friend named Yaghdan: People are trying to kill me and I need your help. That e-mail launched Johnson’s ongoing mission to hold the US government accountable to the thousands of Iraqi allies it had abandoned.”

Kirk is the founder of the List Project to Resettle Iraqi allies. He is a University of Chicago graduate and a former Fulbright Scholar. He is also an excellent journalist.

I highly, highly recommend picking up this book and reading it with a group of friends. The discussion questions our Read and Intercede group asked ourselves were:

1. Have you ever made promises to someone you that you have broken or have promises ever been made to you that were broken?

2. Were there any things that surprised you in Kirk’s account?

3. What are the author’s intents?

4. What practical ways can we leverage this knowledge of the betrayal of our Iraqi friends?

5. Knowing all that the author reveals about American politics and government bureaucracy, how does this make you feel as an American?

The Read and Intercede Book Group meets on the third Sunday afternoon of each month. We do have room for new members. If you are interested, contact Karen Mains at Informed intercession is part of our activity. At least 45 minutes of every book-group gathering are allotted to prayer. We prayed for Kirk Johnson and his Iraqi friends and the plight of the Middle East this Sunday. Reading books by international authors, fiction and nonfiction, or books about international locations and situations for the last six years, has allowed us to pray and read our way around the world. You are more than welcome to join us.

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