Welcome to Give Me Dignity, and thanks for taking the time to visit our website. Behind every passion there is a story, and indulge me while I share mine, and that of GMD.
I migrated to the US from Jamaica where I was born and had spent my formative years. Yes, we were poor, and though by no means were we at the bottom of the barrel, I had seen my share of abject poverty. Never, however, had I seen a homeless person, or even knew homelessness was a condition. Imagine my horror when having moved to Brooklyn, New York I saw homeless people—men and women.
The odd brain with which I’m blessed worried not about the cold or the lack of food or the lack of a bed but rather on what homeless women did “at that time of the month.” I had just seen a woman, padded with all her earthly belongings that made her look like a rancid version of the Pillsbury Doughboy, and wondered how she could ever maintain her dignity when she would have to peel years of life from her back just to change her pad, assuming she had access to pads of course.
The thought lagged wherever I went: Australia, Austria, London, France, Spain, wherever. It accompanied my relationships, was there in university, present for through the raising of my girls, it was always there. Then in 2009, it became more than a thought, it became the prevailing thought. Like so many folks across the globe really, I had been blessed with a layoff from a job I enjoyed but with which I was starting to feel too familiar. Opportunities came knocking, folks came calling but I hadn’t the urge to explore anything other than finding out what homeless women did do ‘at that time of the month.’
I found that they used whatever was available: dirty paper towel, rags, newspaper, nothing. Then my daughter returned from Australia. I met her at MIA and having not seen her in a year, all I wanted to do was hug and squeeze her back into the familiarity of my arms. I reached; she recoiled. “What’s the matter I asked?” “Don’t touch me!” she said. See, she was in the middle of her cycle and the nearly 20-hour trek from Sydney to Miami had left her feeling dirty and disgusting. But alas, she could do something about it!
And there it was, I would start a charity that helped a woman, regardless of her situation, have access to the basic necessities during her menstrual cycle, a program that would help a woman satisfy that urge to just feel fresh during her period. We all have that feeling; we don’t all have the means to achieve.
Give Me Dignity was born. And now it’s growing to include another very close and personal issue: Childhood Sexual Abuse. As a survivor, it is my responsibility to help shed light on the pervasiveness of the problem in my beloved Jamaica, and to offer preventive steps as well as rehabilitation/resources for those already affected. Having written a book, Everyday Jamaica: Culture of Complicity, on my experiences, I know first hand the healing power of therapy and support, and hope to impart the same on my sisters and brothers touched by the evil hand of molestation, incest and rape.
I hope you join me in helping to stem the tide of abuse in Jamaica and the Caribbean, and that you also see fit to help restore dignity to a woman in need, especially during her menstrual cycle.
Wishing you a life of dignity, peace and love!