Helping women

SowHope documentary depicts the hardships of women in third world countries

Three billion women live on less than two dollars a day, according to the SowHope documentary shown on March 18.

SowHope is a nonprofit, charitable organization out of Rockford focused on the holistic needs of women living in extreme poverty.

“[Students] have so much potential for change,” Ferris freshman in General Studies, Michelle Thebo said, “We can make a difference, but we need to know what the issues are first.”

Ferris students witnessed this documentary illustrating the hardships of women in the third world and how SowHope changes their lives.

“I have a calling on my life to empower women,” SowHope representative and Ferris professor Elizabeth Verwys said, “And for me, that happens right here at the university, right now.”

All of SowHope’s projects are done in partnership with local leaders using local solutions to solve local problems.

“We at SowHope do not want to come in and say ‘here’s how I think you should do it and do it better’,” Verwys said, “We want to see that [they’re] already doing it. It’s the dream works idea.”

The organization focuses on providing opportunities for these women through their wellness, economic, and education programs.

According to SowHope co-founder, Mary Dailey Brown, the key to unlocking poverty is to help women, and through women it will also help the next generation as well as the entire community.

“Women don’t just bring life and bear life,” Brown said, “They nurture life.”

The documentary showed numerous stories of communities that SowHope has helped.

One woman in the Congo used a micro-loan from SowHope to build a birthing clinic in the back of her house.

“In order to receive any funding from SowHope,” Verwys said, “[Women] have to demonstrate personal sacrifice and leadership.”

The community used the money they received for a scooter to use as an ambulance to transport women in labor from 50 miles away to their birthing clinic, so they could increase the live birth rate.

According to the documentary, 300,000 women die from childbirth every year.

“It can be hard to look at some of the issues faced by women of different cultures around the world,” Thebo said, “It’s not something you walk away from and feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but it can be a call to inspire us.”

One woman used SowHope’s economics program to buy a sewing machine so she could make clothes for her community. She took the profits to buy another sewing machine and went on to teach sewing classes to other women.

According to, SowHope projects have directly impacted the lives of over 38,000 women since its founding in 2006.

“It is a challenge to see if we can make a difference,” Thebo said, “And the presentation gave the direction on how to make that difference.”