What We Are Grateful for in 2020

2020 has been a year of struggles—from uncertainty to isolation, the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench in everyone’s life. At AHA Foundation, thanks to support from our donors, we worked through many challenges to ensure the continued strength of our impact.  

In this blog, our team members share with you how their work and life have been affected this year and what they are grateful for this Thanksgiving.


 

At the AHA Foundation, even before COVID-19 we have been working virtually for two reasons – in order to reduce spending and hire the best people around the country. I feel extremely fortunate to have adjusted to working from home long before this pandemic changed everything. 

I’m grateful for the amazing team at AHA Foundation that has continued to implement our programs that protect women and girls, and promote free speech on campuses despite the radically changed circumstances in 2020.


Since March, it has felt like an unexpected challenge has arisen with regularity in my day-to-day work. How do you support a survivor’s need to file a police report remotely? And speaking of remote – how do new state laws that facilitate getting a marriage license remotely impact minors being forced to marry? 

And what happens when you are this close to seeing a bill you’ve advocated for for months or years ground to a halt, first, because legislatures completely stop functioning, and then, when they return, their attentions are completely, (and appropriately,) consumed by handling pandemic-related bills or racial justice issues? 



 

2020 has definitely been the oddest year of my life. Working from home full time and sharing a space with my husband was a huge adjustment, especially while living in an apartment. Over the past eight months, we have both become experts at quietly making our morning coffee during your partner’s Zoom call, or running to answer the door so our dog Piper doesn’t bark incessantly during a call. 


 

It’s easy to look at 2020 and grumble. To be fair, those complaints are justified. This undoubtedly has been a tough year for reasons I don’t need to explain. That being said, you have to find the light in all situations. And there has been plenty of light this year too.

I joined AHA Foundation in early May after graduating from the University of Georgia. By the time I became a part of the team, there had already been several legislative victories: FGM bans in Vermont, Kentucky, and Wyoming. With COVID-19 commanding the attention of state and federal officials, I wondered if we’d be able to get anything else through this year. 


 

When you’re working to liberate women and girls from cultural practices that are harmful to their health and well-being, it would be strange not to feel hugely grateful for the freedoms you enjoy. I am so lucky to have been born a free woman, able to make choices about how I live my life. My freedom to work as a woman is made immensely pleasurable by the AHA team.  


 

This year has been a formidable year of reflection for me, not only because we’ve all had to adjust to spending more time alone, but also because a lot has happened in just one year. Despite feeling isolated and overwhelmed by uncertainty, I have been forced to recognize how privileged I truly am, because the fact is, my day-to-day life has not changed substantially since the pandemic began. Yet, I am acutely aware that this is not the reality for most. So, although my world has continued to turn throughout COVID-19, I have often feared that the most vulnerable women and girls in our country are not able to say the same.


3 Comments

  1. Nevaeh Novak says:

    I am so very grateful for having found your organization and learning about the incredible work you all do.
    I never thought I would share the story of my life with anyone, much less publicly, but through my communication with you I felt safe to do so.
    I couldn’t be more thankful for meeting such beautiful, caring and supportive people throughput this difficult year.
    AHA and the wonderful people behind this organization are truly a blessing to women and girls all over the world.
    Thank you and bless you all.

  2. Mary falker-howard says:

    I have been relentlessly pursuing information regarding FGM in the State of Indiana. Despite countless letters and e-mails to State representatives and Senators, no “meal” explanations or replies. Normally, legislators will not address inquiries from citizens outside their particular districts, however, I have written to women, especially, serving the Indiana legislature, attempting to raise awareness and get some type of response. If anyone out there knows about Indiana child protection laws – that I am unaware of – please enlighten me. Maybe I am being stupid and that is why I do not receive a reply to my letters.

  3. Bríd Hehir says:

    It was gratifying to learn that a piece of original research confirmed that few young children are presenting with FGM in Britain (or Ireland). The few cases being reported are historic – were carried out prior to the children arriving in both countries. And, as it’s been known for some time, genital piercings are the ‘FGM’ being seen in older teenagers, it means nobody is presenting with new types of FGM. This confirms what some have been reporting since at least 2009 when explorative studies had shown trends of radical change in the practice, especially in the most extensive form (infibulation), as well as cultural change wrought by migration. Really good news and credit to those who have made that change happen. More information on my shiftingsands blog.

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