Ashleigh Montgomery : Sisterhood

As a volunteer with BFI in Burundi in 2014, I met a young woman who would become a dear friend. In a classroom exercise in Burundi’s oldest English Club, Julie Marner orchestrated an exercise asking youth to challenge the status quo and imagine a world in which it is predominantly women holding traditional leadership roles. The overwhelming male response was that men should continue holding these roles. I needed to step away from the conversation; what I didn’t anticipate, was that several young Burundian women had this same need. Furaha was one of them.

The conversation with Furaha inspired Julie Marner, Michelle Bernabe, and I to hold a Women’s Panel to provide a safe space to discuss issues affecting women in Burundi. Furaha came to this panel, and, shortly after, co-created Women Vision Association (WVA), and has been the organization’s fearless leader ever since.

Since our first meeting I have had the privilege of working with Furaha and the WVA team, and there is not an interaction I have with them that leaves me uninspired. Though a graduate student at an Ivy League school, I am convinced that some of my greatest teachers come from WVA. My relationship with Furaha is filled with laughter, life, and one of the most powerful tools this month and always: Sisterhood.