Fierce Female Friday: Liz Forkin Bohannon

liz_girls_2012-copy

“Liz Forkin Bohannon is the founder of Sseko Designs. She is passionate about social justice and believes that the empowerment of women is a fundamental piece of working towards a more just and powerful world.”

Organization/Issue: Sseko \say-ko\ Designs is a not-just-for profit sandal company that provides employment and thus opportunities for women in Uganda to afford university.

Brief Background: Graduated from the University of Missouri with a Master’s degree in Journalism in 2008. She now lives in Portland, Oregon with husband Ben where they run Sseko U.S.

I first met Liz on October 30th, 2012, and since then she has become my role model. From her not only did I draw my first true inspiration for female empowerment, but also a new vivacity and fearlessness for life.

At the small lecture she gave to a handful of young women like myself, Liz told us about  Sseko and her journey in creating it. Liz told us she was passionate about global issues, specifically poverty and women’s rights, but upon graduating college, she realized she had not experienced the effects of poverty first hand. So, of course, she did the typical. . . She went somewhere completely unfamiliar, and where she knew no one. Uganda. But hey, at least they spoke English!

The plan, she said, was to use her communication skills to help a youth development organization in Kampala. But then she made some friends. She learned their stories. She made some stories of her own with her new friends. And she knew she had to take action.

You see, Uganda has something called a “nine month gap year” in between high school and university in which students are to raise enough money to pay for tuition. The problem is university in Uganda costs around $2000-$5000 a year. To us, this would be a dream come true–the Holy Grail of colleges. However, when the typical Ugandan woman makes $2/day, roughly $60/month, this is no way, shape, or form could possibly allow them to accomplish their dream of attending university. Oh, and by the way, this is even if the women can get a job. In a male dominated society, most women have no chance in obtaining a job, let alone raising enough money to pay for tuition.

All because of their sex.

Just think about that for a moment.

Complete bull, right?

Well that’s what Liz thought too. So she put her passion into action and created Sseko Designs. The young Ugandan women hand-make the leather sandals and their interchangeable fabric straps.

In the first year of Sseko, Liz sold the sandals out of the back of her car, only wearing Ssekos, and telling everyone she met about the women behind the sandals. She put three women through university. THREE WOMEN! By selling sandals out of the back of her car! I cannot emphasize enough how much this amazed me. All I could think was, You go, Liz. You go!

But the story doesn’t stop there. Nope. Like I said before, Liz opened up my eyes and taught me to see the world in a new, beautiful, fearless way. (And all of this was in under one hour, by the way.)

From Liz I learned to embrace the awkward moments, rejoice in the unknown, and welcome the failures. Because you know what? It’s nice to be comfortable, to be knowledgeable, to be successful. But what are we learning from it? Absolutely nothing. It’s from our failures that we learn the most about ourselves. When we break, we mend, and when we mend, we grow.

So instead of fearing failure, welcome it! Don’t be afraid to be optimistic when everyone around you is telling you to be pessimistic. Life is what you make of it, and if you mess up enough times, it can be a truly amazing thing.

Liz, if you’re reading this, I’d like to thank you.

Thank you for the bravery you’ve given me.

For the confidence you’ve instilled in me.

For the empowerment you’ve empowered me with.

For the wisdom, the laughter, the love, the adventure that I now know is awaiting me. You unlocked a passion for empowerment in me that I doubt I could live without.

http://ssekodesigns.com/ 

http://ssekodesigns.com/the-sseko-story/

Advertisements

40 thoughts on “Fierce Female Friday: Liz Forkin Bohannon

  1. Attractive section of content. I just stumbled upon your site and in accession
    capital to assert that I get actually enjoyed account your blog posts.
    Anyway I will be subscribing to your feeds and even I achievement you
    access consistently quickly.

  2. Hello there! This is kind of off topic but I need some help from an established blog.
    Is it difficult to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty fast. I’m thinking about creating my own but I’m not sure where to start. Do you have any tips or suggestions? Thank you

    • I’m a HUGE fan of WordPress. I’d started a handful of other blogs with blogspot, and for some reason or another, they never panned out. While you have less creative freedom with WordPress (unless you’re willing to pay), I find it to be quite user friendly, and if you are serious about committing to a blog, this is definitely the site to commit with. Best of luck!

  3. Hmm it looks like your blog ate my first comment (it was extremely
    long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I wrote and say, I’m thoroughly
    enjoying your blog. I too am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to everything. Do you have any tips and hints for inexperienced blog writers? I’d certainly appreciate it.

    • Sorry to hear about the malfunction, but I’m glad you still commented. So wonderful to hear you’re enjoying it! To be honest, I’m pretty new to the whole blogging thing, as well. The main piece of advice I can give you is that you have to be committed and passionate to your blog. Treat it like a job. . . a very fun job, but a job nonetheless. You have a responsibility not only to yourself, but to your readers to keep up with your posts. Best of luck in your ventures in writing!

  4. Woah! I’m really enjoying the template/theme of this website. It’s simple, yet effective.

    A lot of times it’s tough to get that “perfect balance” between superb usability and visual appeal. I must say you have done a excellent job with this. Also, the blog loads super quick for me on Safari. Exceptional Blog!

  5. Pingback: Wednesday Word Day | You, Me, We Empower

  6. Heya i’m for the first time here. I found this board and I to find It really useful & it helped me out a lot. I hope to give something again and help others like you aided me.

  7. Pingback: You Me We Empower | Tips From Liz

  8. Hello there! This blog post could not be written any better!
    Looking at this article reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He always kept preaching about this. I am going to forward this information to him.
    Pretty sure he’ll have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!

  9. Pingback: You Me We Empower | How To Be a Fashionable Do-Gooder

  10. I blog frequently and I seriously appreciate your information. The article has truly peaked my interest. I’m going to bookmark your blog and keep checking for new information about once a week. I subscribed to your Feed too.

  11. Excellent site you’ve got here.. It’s difficult to find excellent writing like yours nowadays. I seriously appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!

  12. You could definitely see your skills in the article you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to say how they believe. All the time follow your heart.

  13. Hello! I’ve been following your site for some time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Dallas Tx! Just wanted to say keep up the excellent work!

  14. Hey there! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be ok. I’m undoubtedly enjoying your blog and look forward to new updates.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s