For Our Ladies All Over the World

My first (and only) visit to Notre Dame during a solo trip to Paris I took 17 years ago.

Like most people on this planet, I was transfixed when Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris burned this week. How could 850 years of history *almost* go up in flames in the span of one afternoon? During Holy Week, of all times?

After the fire many friends shared photos of their time at Notre Dame. Even though Notre Dame is a holy Catholic site, Muslim, Jewish and friends of all Christian denominations reflected on their experience at this architectural masterpiece. I was stuck by this seemingly universal call to action – we all wanted to make sense of the tragedy together. It was nice to know we all cared deeply about the same thing at the same time.

I do believe an international monument that connected with billions of people across religious and national lines deserves preservation, so when I woke up the next morning I briefly thought about making a small donation to the restoration efforts. Just a way for me to bring beauty back to life. But, I quickly had my ah-ha moment:

Notre Dame Cathedral is spectacular. Incredible. Ancient. It is a testament to human ingenuity, faith and determination, traits common among people throughout history across the globe. But, is a billion dollar restoration project the only way to unite us? Can’t we find causes that make life better and more equitable? Shouldn’t our dollars (and Euros) first address the immediate needs of human suffering?

I *think* that is what God prefers.

So, rather than sending my small donation to a monument to grandeur, I sent it to the Fistula Foundation. This incredible grassroots organization provides treatment to women in third world countries who suffer from obstetric fistula, a devastating (yet completely curable) complication that results from long and torturous labor. Thanks to accessible medical care the problem is basically nonexistent in the developed world so many people just don’t know about it. I’m grateful for Fistula Foundation for spreading awareness and addressing the problem.

In English, Notre Dame means “Our Lady”. As a lady myself, I feel a special connection with and duty to my sisters on faraway continents who weren’t born with the privilege of modern medical care.

Perhaps Our Ladyburned to shine a light on what really matters.

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