–By Sara Johnson
As I sit down to write this, we have exactly three months and 12 days until we depart for Asia. This trip is a dream come true for me, and more than that, it is the culmination of many dreams coming together.
I’ve had a passion for humanitarian work and world travel for years now. I’ve circled the globe and then some, stopping along the way to feed my soul, learn from different cultures, and literally feed others. It has been my greatest joy and a blessing I often feel I don’t deserve.
In 2007 I began traveling to Asia with my dad, sister, and extended groups of people. Our day-to-day activities varied, but the heart of the mission remained the same, to do our small part to right the injustices of the world. Through repeated trips, I grew to love my family members in new ways, to have my eyes opened to the plight of many women in the world, and to fertilize a seed of an idea that was building.
As a woman in the developed world I have had remarkable opportunities that just a few generations ago would have been incomprehensible. I’ve led staff, birthed companies, sold companies for profit, and have been able to make a comfortable living for myself. Yet over time, working just for myself began to feel empty and I realized that part of what nagged at me was that all the opportunities I’d been given are not available to the women I meet around the world. In light of that, just as generations of women before me fought for my right to equality and opportunity, I realized I had a responsibility to use my position to do the same for others.
A seedling of an idea for a non-profit organization began to grow. The Million Girl Army is the result of years of prayer, thought, conversation, and brainstorming with wise people. It’s essential premise is to educate and compel young girls in developed countries to donate $10 a year to support efforts to gain the same rights for young girls in the developing world. In doing so, it is my greatest hope that young girls worldwide become empowered to do more and to be more for one another, advancing their positions along the way.
This trip to Asia in January 2014 is essential to the initial launch of The Million Girl Army. Not only will we secure testimonies and stories from young girls throughout Asia which can be used in future marketing, but it’s my chance to take a selection of bright, young women with me. Women who I know will be inspired and changed by what they see.
The fact that the trip is now a reality amazes me. It has come together against many odds. When my father was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer over two years ago, I thought I would never travel with him again, and in fact had lost my desire to return to Asia. Yet now, an unexplainably dormant tumor makes it possible for him to join us. When I heard the cost of the trip for the full eight people scheduled to go, the hurdle seemed insurmountable. Through the generous donations of people, we are now nearly fully funded and ready to go, a blessing that is difficult to put into words.
We haven’t even left American soil and already the miracles are stacking up. I feel God’s hand on this trip and am filled with anticipation for what it will bring. To me, to these special women traveling with me, and to the young girls we meet along the way. I look forward to our departure with great anticipation and am counting down the days to take off. What a wonderful journey it will be, thanks for taking it with us.