Six years ago, Lovern Gordon, a lady social entrepreneur, decided to give hope to many women victims of domestic abuse. Instigated by her own personal and family story, she set up Love Life Now Foundation in the US, an organization which, throughout the years, has helped collect thousands of dollars for shelters and raise awareness about domestic violence worldwide. In this interview for the Horyou blog, Lovern shares her thoughts on feminism and social media as an awareness tool, as well as her hopes for the future.

Lovern Gordon in a  Teen Domestic Violence Workshop
Lovern Gordon in a Teen Domestic Violence Workshop

Briefly, tell us a little about the beginning of Love Life Foundation and its main advances.

Love Life Now Foundation, Inc. was established in November, 2011.

I worked tirelessly to promote Awareness Against Domestic Violence as a platform after winning 2 beauty pageants (locally in Boston and nationally in Los Angeles in 2010), but did not want to stop there with advocacy, so Love Life Now was formed.

I am a survivor of abuse from a 2 year relationship, and was also a child witness to it…my mother was abused at the hands of our father throughout their marriage. My mother and I were unaware at the time of the tremendous and valuable resources available to victims and survivors that help save lives daily, and is the reason I seek to spread awareness on a daily basis today through the Foundation’s work.

Through the formation of the Love Life Now and its initiatives, we have been able to donate thousands of dollars to shelters statewide, raise awareness about resources available nationwide and assist victims and survivors in finding the necessary help as it relates to this issue.

Volunteers give brown bag lunches and toiletry filled care packages to homeless affected by domestic violence and beyond.
Volunteers give brown bag lunches and toiletry filled care packages to homeless affected by domestic violence and beyond.

What are the main inspirations for your work?

My mother. For all that she has endured, never letting it break her spirit and still coming out on top…she’s my hero.

What kind of impact does the organization want to make in the world?

When Love Life Now was formed, all I sought to do was help anyone that needed it. Over the years I have observed that our initiatives leave folks with a desire to do more as bystanders when it comes to this issue. If we can continue to help change the narrative while continuing to inspire, that will be more than I could have ever asked for.

Lovern Gordon
Lovern Gordon

Horyou is the social network for social good. How do social networks and technology influence the day-to-day running of the foundation?

I’d say it’s literally the bread and butter of Love Life Now. Our reach via social networks and technology has proven to be limitless. For instance, our newly launched digital domestic violence awareness magazine Love Life Magazine (www.lovelifemag.org), reaches folks in as far as Spain, Africa and the Caribbean. The same goes for our almost daily posts about what we’re doing to foster change…which in turn enables others to let them know they can do the same in their corner of the world.

Feminism is a movement that has gained momentum and has helped people to be aware openly about domestic violence. Do you see the change in women empowerment throughout the years?

Absolutely! Across the world, no matter where you lived…domestic violence was looked upon as a taboo subject, accepted by some cultures, or shameful all around. Though we still have a long, long way to go, I believe it’s no longer business as usual when it comes to women being abused. More women are standing in solidarity with those affected by it. One in every four women will be touched by this issue and in the age of social media where you can show support to other women who no longer want to be silent about it, the empowerment level has been raised up significantly.

White Ribbon Night Gala, where men are invited to speak out against domestic violence
White Ribbon Night Gala, where men are invited to speak out against domestic violence

We live in an age of constant transformation. What are the positive changes you want for women’s lives and for future generations?

A big hope is that the laws surrounding domestic violence and sexual assault are continuously tightened and enforced.

Horyouis the Social Network for Social Good, which connect, support and promote social initiatives, entrepreneurs, and citizens that thrive helping the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to build a more harmonious and inclusive world. We invite you to Be the Change, Be Horyou!

Breast Cancer Awareness Ribbons
Breast Cancer Awareness Ribbons

October is the month of breast cancer awareness. According to the World Health Organization, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women both in the developed and less developed world. However, due to the lack of early detection or resources to treat the disease, 58% of deaths caused by breast cancer occur in poorer countries.

For this reason, many cancer organizations and national health offices join forces to spread the word about the disease. At least one third of cancer causes are preventable – it is the most cost-effective and long-term strategy for the control of cancer. Even with few resources, women can detect lumps, swelling or painful parts or rashes trough self exams. They are all attention signs that should require further exams.

Besides raising awareness and spreading the word about breast cancer prevention, you can support the Pink October Campaign by funding or volunteering in one of the many organizations that support cancer research, alleviation and treatment. Our Horyou community gathers some of them – click on the links and discover more about their work!

You can participate in social events in your city, such as bike rides and runs, which help to bring attention to the cause, or even talk to women in your entourage to be sure they will take care of their health. Act for breast cancer awareness!

Want to help?

Here are some Horyou members who support or are engaged in the cause, and join the campaign.

Fundação Laço Rosa https://www.horyou.com/org/fundacao-laco-rosa

Keep a breast https://www.horyou.com/organization/keep-a-breast

Campanha de combate ao câncer de Araçatuba https://www.horyou.com/organization/campanha-de-combate-ao-cancer-de-aracatuba

The Herts Milk Bank https://www.horyou.com/org/the-hertfordshire-milk-bank-cic

IBRAPPER https://www.horyou.com/org/instituto-brasileiro-de-apoio-e-pesquisas-a-pacientes-oncologicos-em-reflexologias

Eric Coly’s professional trajectory is not a usual one. After moving from native Senegal to the US to pursue a successful career in finance, he decided to make a radical change and thus created Le Dessein , a sustainable clothing company which supports African girls by using their drawings as embroidery. In addition to valuing their creative work, Coly helps improve the girls’ education through a foundation in Liberia. Ever-optimistic about the prospects of sustainable business, he shared with Horyou blog his views on social entrepreneurship, women empowerment and the challenge of providing education for girls from underprivileged communities.

Girls drawings are used as embroidery
Girls drawings are used as embroidery

What’s the story behind the creation of Le Dessein?

Hailing from Senegal, I thought I had fulfilled my childhood ambitions by pursuing a ten-year long career in Finance. Attending the UCLA Anderson Graduate School had the opposite effect of cementing my career in finance, and instead triggered a deep feeling of dissatisfaction and uncertainty about my professional trajectory. A year of self-examination led those feelings to be supplanted by a desire to enter the world of Fashion. Introduced to it at an early age by my mother, I felt like Fashion alone still would not suffice. I realized the deep impact that education had on the women of my family on a socio-economic, cultural and social level, starting with my grandmother’s introduction to college back in the 1920’s, passing through my mother and trickling down her four children, I found it to be a great addition to Le Dessein’s mission: providing the opportunity of an education for young girls from underprivileged communities from around the world by featuring their art onto our fashion.

Like Horyou’s CEO, you had a career in finance before launching your own company. What made you decide to quit the glamorous and profitable world of finance to that of a social entrepreneur?

It was about seeking a sense of pursuit and human validity in this world. My first sign of freedom came when I realized that money didn’t have the highest place in my hierarchal tower of needs. Second came a deep and painful, yet highly rewarding journey of self-introspection designed to figure out who I was exactly – since I believed that one should know oneself in order to know what one’s passion thus career could be. Last was mustering the courage to fully embrace what I was convinced would revive my life and give myself permission to execute it. I had always had a nurturing nature, and needed to find a way to honor that. What better way to do it but to be of service to courageous and brave girls who have the potential to be powerful leaders and create rich legacies?

One of the drawings used by Le Dessein
One of the drawings used by Le Dessein

Beside the drawings, the girls also design some of the clothes?

Actually not – the girls’ activities involve the drawings of the artworks which we embroider on our clothes. We will be adding the creation of jewelry into their artistic activities soon. This endeavor is about more than just the financial contribution that the girls receive. The more important beneficial attribute in my own estimation is the self-readjustment of their own value when visualizing the final product worn by the customers. This is about heightening empowerment and self esteem which are generally acquired through ownership – ownership of their art.

What is the relation between your company and educational projects for girls?

We have the pleasure of working with the More Than Me foundation, which is dedicated to educating girls in Monrovia, Liberia. They have done an excellent job after Liberia’s long war of taking young girls from the street in order to give them access to education. We work directly with them and use them as a conduit, given their expertise. Part of their duties is to adequately allocate the funds that are contributed to the girls’ education.

What is the ultimate goal of Le Dessein?

Our ultimate goal is to put 10,000 girls in school in the next ten years. The ripple effects of women and girls educated are quite far reaching. 65 million young girls are currently not in school. 40,000 girls are given away in forced marriage every day. 3 million children under the age of 5 are lost every year because their mothers are not in school. A lot of work still needs to be done in trying to educate girls and we intend to devote our full participation along with our peer partners in eradicating this issue.

An example from Le Dessein's lookbook
An example from Le Dessein’s lookbook

What is your vision about socially responsible businesses?

Highly optimistic. There seems to have been a systematic shift in the global world community in prioritizing human, environmental, animal and a slew of equally important issues. This has been reflected in the birth of a number of socially responsible businesses. Their successes have further justified the creation of new ones and given validity to the world’s appetite for consuming socially responsible products. For instance, the presumed leader in the socially responsible industry, TOMS (known for the one for one business model – they give one shoe to a person in need for every shoe purchased) has given to date over 45 million pairs of shoes worldwide. Its current annual revenue is over $400 million – in just years of existence, in not only in the competitive world of fashion, but also in the totally uncharted territory of the socially responsible world. Our future vision for this field remains high indeed.

Horyou’s tagline is “dream, inspire, act” – what do those words represent for you and your business?

These words represent the quintessential pillars of our company’s mission statement. They do not seem to mean much when taken apart, but put together they have the power to move mountains, revive cultures, and provide restoration to humanity. We fully stand by them and do our best to uphold their intended messages.

By Vivian Soares

Action 1 - Togo women

Each day we see the wonderful work of our Members, Personalities and Organizations on the Horyou platform. They are always Ready to Act! This week, we highlight the work and actions of great Organizations representing different latitudes: Guatemala, Peru and Togo.

Stay tuned for more!

by Amma Aburam

MJDF – Independence of Women through Agriculture in Togo

The Association from Benin – MJDF- Movement des Jeunes pour un development du Future (Youth Movement for Future Development) – is raising funds for a worth while project. The idea is to support and give independence to the groups of women in the Lègbassito, Togo whose main activities are agricultural, mainly pineapple farming. These women intend to improve socio – economic conditions, to promote production, develop the transformation of agricultural products and protect the environment. With the help of the MJDF association they will be able to raise funds to do so.

Check it out and support them here

Action 2 - Huertos urbanos

Centro de Artes de la Humanidad – Los Huertos Urbanos

El Centro de Artes de la Humanidad quiere crear huertos urbanos comunitarios en el barrio Mangomarca, ubicado en el distrito más poblado de Lima en Perú. El objetivo es rescatar la técnica ancestral de cultivos en andenes. Este sistema permite ahorrar espacio, densificar los cultivos y asegurar un riego por gravedad. El cultivo productivo de frutas y hortalizas, se hará de forma colectiva en la comunidad, con la población interesada en aprender técnicas de agricultura urbana para así compartir la cosecha entre los participantes. Con el tiempo, buscamos fortalecer esta actividad para poder comercializar canastas de productos a un precio justo y lanzar una economía local solidaria basada en el principio de productor-consumidor, sin intermediario. Lo anterior permitirá reducir la huella ambiental y tejer un mercado local de productos biológicos, sanos y de temporada.

Descubrir la acción aquí

Action 3 - Guatemala

Une belle aventure au Guatemala avec l’association Chico Mendes

Luc Brochard part à l’aventure au Guatemala pour l’association Chico Mendes. Le but de cette aventure? Former les locaux de l’association aux techniques de cordes pour arbres afin qu’ils puissent développer des activités autours a but lucratives et améliorer les programmes de replantation. Avec Armando, membre de l’association et leader du projet, Luc découvre à travers lui l’émergence d’une conscience environnementale au Guatemala a l’encontre de la déforestation évidente dans le pays.

Découvrez cette belle action ici

Women's History Month

Written by Tonimarie Illuzzi

The month of March is recognized as Women’s History Month in the United States. It is important as American citizens that we take the time to remember the women in history who have fought tirelessly for their freedom, bettering our democratic nation.

According to the United States Census Bureau, “National Women’s History Month’s roots go back to March 8, 1857, when women from New York City factories staged a protest over working conditions. International Women’s Day was first observed in 1909, but it wasn’t until 1981 that Congress established National Women’s History Week to be commemorated the second week of March. In 1987, Congress expanded the week to a month.”

As a result of Congress declaring March as Women’s History Month, the president issues a proclamation every year. This year, President Barack Obama stated: “We know that when women succeed, America succeeds. The strength of our economy rests on whether we make it possible for every citizen to contribute to our growth and prosperity. As we honor the many patriots who have shaped not only the destinies of other women but also the direction of our history, let us resolve to build on their efforts in our own time. As a nation, we must join our voices with the chorus of history and push forward with unyielding faith to forge a more equal society for all our daughters and granddaughters – one where a woman’s potential is limited only by the size of her dreams and the power of her imagination.”

Today, we continue to honor the women who have stood up for equality throughout our nation’s history. From successful businesswomen to hardworking stay-at-home moms, all women in America were influenced by the courageous actions of those before us to do great in this world. With whatever gift they may possess, whether it is grace and beauty, intellect and wit or love and patience, women have the potential to positively change the lives of those around them.

As we move forward through March and continue with our daily routines, let’s remember why we are where we are, and who led us here. Give thanks to the female heroes, past and present, for bringing us the confidence to progress and pass along our success to the future generations of America.

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