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Sunny Star: Julia Gallagher

There are some people that I meet during my travels that I will remember forever. Julia Gallagher is one of them. One of those kind-hearted souls that you encounter and immediately like, Julia is a friend to many. I first met her during my trip to Tulane University in January of 2014 to help with Chi Omega’s recruitment. Julia was a standout member and I got to see her ability to lead when I visited the chapter once more for their annual visit later that spring. Julia was gracious enough to show me around New Orleans and I will also be thankful for her hospitality and generosity.

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Now, Julia has a mission that is making a tremendous difference. She has partnered with Mama Maji, a small non-profit that uses water to help women flourish. I interviewed Julia and her answers shed light on this issue that often goes unnoticed. Ultimately, Julia has a goal of raising $4,000 and it is my sincere hope that you will help her with this.

Here is my interview with Julia so that you can learn more:

1. You’ve been working with Mama Maji in New Orleans, Louisiana. Can you tell us more about this mission and what called you to it?

The mission of Mama Maji is to empower women to change their world through water. I was first called to this organization and mission because I was interested in the water crisis. The water crisis is the fact that there are 748 million people living on earth without access to clean water. This is a pressing crisis because water is so essential to life and humans truly cannot live a healthy life without it! However now that I have learned more about this organization and the water crisis, what really calls me to the mission of Mama Maji is the women’s empowerment. Mama Maji is just as much about solving the water crisis as it is about empowering women. Women are an intense part of the mission because in most developing countries, women are the ones collecting water for their families…whether it is clean or not! Therefore it is disappointing to know that only 14% of water projects worldwide involve women in the planning process. Doesn’t that seem silly when THEY are the ones who know most about it?! I am called to Mama Maji’s mission because I know that involving women is the key in attempting to solve the water crisis.

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2. How do you see Mama Maji bringing happiness to those in need?

I definitely see Mama Maji bringing happiness to the women who get to participate in the community trainings. One method that Mama Maji uses for women’s empowerment is hosting trainings for community members to learn skills such as small group management, sustainable business practices, public speaking, and grassroots marketing. With these skills they are able to seek new opportunities and let their passions manifest. They find happiness in knowing they are creating positive change in their communities.

Also in the simplest way… without thinking about all of the other things that water is used for, simply drinking water brings happiness. Do you know when you’re feeling kind of slow, feel a headache coming on, have trouble concentrating, and start getting kind of irritable… and then… you realize you haven’t had a glass of water all day! If you are someone who is really good at staying hydrated I applaud you. But I know that sometimes all it takes for me to turn my mood around is remembering to stay hydrated.training 2

3. What has been the greatest challenge that you’ve faced in this work?

My greatest challenge is feeling small against a huge issue. It is easy to feel like nothing can be done. When millions of people don’t have water and water projects rarely involve women, it feels like the barriers are too big. Thankfully I am able to confront this challenge with a poem by Emily Dickinson that serves as a motto in my life, because I know that each moment of my life can have a positive impact on something no matter how small.

Not In Vain

If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain: 
If I can ease one life the aching, Or cool one pain, 
Or help one fainting robin Unto his nest again, 
I shall not live in vain.

4. What moment of pure inspiration have you had that motivates you to continue offering help?

I have a lot of strong women mentors in my life. They span from peers, to family, to former bosses, to sorority advisors. Whenever I have conversations with these people I both feel inspired by what they have to say and simply by their presence in my life. I know women all over the world have it inside of them to be this person for others too, but when they are burdened with the task of spending hours each day collecting water this isn’t always a possibility! I am motivated to continue offering my time so that I know women in other parts of the world can experience the opportunity and inspiration that is an empowering part of my life.

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5. How can we help?

I have a crazy goal of raising $4,000 to help complete a water project in Kamrongo, Kenya. This money will finish the piping for a water kiosk as well as train community members so that the women can run the kiosk as a successful business! Truly any dollar amount is effective and appreciated toward this cause. If you are not interested in giving financially but know that people you know would find this interesting, have fun by sharing on social media! You can make a social media post with the hashtag #wherewomenare and fill in the blank of what you believe happens where women are. For example I believe #wherewomenare there is motivation! Either way here is the link to my fundraising page which you can visit or share!

www.mamamaji.causevox.com/wherewomenare

6. Last thoughts?

I love how you talk about how a part of happiness is giving back and especially that Millennials are more philanthropically minded. I read articles about both of these facts all the time but often I don’t see them in practice! I challenge young people reading this to take a look at my fundraising page and do it with a critical eye. If this is something you believe in as well, please consider making a donation! If it is not and you are passionate about something else, I challenge you to live your creed, do some research, and figure out the organizations who are BEST contributing to that cause. I can verify to you that Mama Maji is an organization that is making an efficient and effective use of their money fundraised because of their involvement of women within the water crisis. We, as philanthropically minded millennials, have so many organizations in front of us to give back to, but it is SO important to do your research first and make sure they are having an effective impact.

Let’s support Julia in this cause–don’t you think it’s worth it?

Keep shining,

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook
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