I would like to introduce you to Bree Cowell, a free-spirited, smart, genuine, hard-working and funny woman. Her positivity and warmth is infectious but it is her sheer courage for leaving a life of comfort and being committed to making a difference in the lives of women and children that I find inspiring. I hope you will too.
In this interview, Bree shares why she is moving on from her corporate job to immerse herself in the slums of Nagpur, India in September, how she deals with stress and anxiety, why she is passionate about supporting women and children and what advice she has for other women wanting to make big life changes...
Bree, you are leaving the safety of a corporate job, moving to India and working towards building a home and education program to support girls and women in India. What attracted you to the Rise as One project?
Travelling through India 3 years ago witnessing what the woman were subject to made me think, 'How could I just sit here having everything I needed and more, knowing these women were suffering around me, how could I continue to do nothing about this?’ Then, this year I woke up with an urge to get off my chair, step away from my working days on the laptop and be of service. The Rise As One opportunity presented and resonated with me deeply and everything fell into place.
Why is it so important to you to support women and children in particular?
There are almost 70 million girls across the globe today, that are not sitting in a classroom. If you are a girl from a lower caste background in a developing country, you are not given the privilege of education. This remains a patriarchal society where education is given to the boy.
The girl is expected to work, care for the children and fetch water. A girl without an education is likely to get married off by the age of just 13, which then feeds the cycle of poverty, child marriage pregnancy and worse, slavery and human traffic. Girls are therefore at much higher risk to disease & violence, so they are clearly more vulnerable. Education is proven to be the most powerful source to help break these appalling cycles for girls and woman.
Tell us what you will be doing in India?
In September myself and 5 other woman will be collaborating with the Bodhicitta Foundation, founded by Australian Tibetan nun Ayya Yeshe. Our vision is to connect with the girls and women and provide education, job skill training and give them our time and love, in hope they can rise above and share these skills back into their own families and communities. We will be working with people from the ex 'untouchable' Dalit community who were oppressed by the Hindu Caste system.
There could be moments in India that are quite confronting. How do you think you'll handle any challenges and can you share with us what your go to ritual is for dealing with stress or anxiety?
My go to ritual, is my temple (the yoga mat). Yoga and Meditation teaches me how powerful the breath is and that I am my own master & healer in slowing down my mind and releasing the anxiety and stress. Its when I find myself reaching outside myself, creating external attachments to ‘fix’ me, that’s when I feed the anxiety and stress the most. The practise of meditation and yoga is something anyone can do, regardless of your socioeconomic background, all you need to do is show up.
It can be challenging stepping out of your comfort zone, what advice do you have for other women who may want to shake up their life and create a new path?
Stepping out of your comfort zone is about timing and understanding it's a process. One that requires much courage and trust, going inside and ripping apart all that is no longer serving to your highest good, it can be a gruesome experience, yet absolutely mind blowing and rewarding in the same breathe. I’ve been exceptionally blessed to be part of the JobAdder corporate family who have supported every step during this life changing experience. I’m a big believer in manifestation and that we are generally responsible for all that shows up in our lives, but again, this has taken me a long time to believe and receive but one I encourage all to explore.
In addition to working in the community whilst in India, you are also trying to raise funds for the project, how can people donate and can you tell us about the rewards in return for donating.
On the 10th July, I launched a crowdfunding campaign for The Rise As One project and with 20 days in, I've almost reached my target of $10K. I'm so excited by the positive response. I've never done anything like this before. I am so grateful to each and every person who is prepared to help, whether that's donating a dollar or a hundred. There is a rewards section on the donation page where you can receive & select a really wonderful gift in return for your donation. Click here to see my page
A little piece of all of us will be there in the heart of this worthwhile project and I will remember you and your kind thoughts as I am working with the women and children in India.
To learn more about the Rise As One project and to hear from Bree, click below.