Lifestyle

CHARITY ORGANISATION CO-FOUNDER CHRISTINE AMOUR-LEVAR IS TRADING BALLGOWNS FOR ADVENTURES TO RAISE FUNDS AND AWARENESS FOR WOMEN IN DANGER

by Li Haohan, Photos courtesy of Women On A Mission

 

  • Women On A Mission (WOAM) organises charity events in remote areas where they can dramatise their plea in behalf of marginalised women
  • WOAM has successfully organised 12 challenging expeditions and multiple events in Singapore and abroad that have raised substantial funds (US$1.4 million to date) for charitable causes.
  • The charity organisation has empowered women (more than a hundred to date) by providing them with opportunities to participate in adventurous expeditions.
  • WOAM has effectively used its expeditions and events to raise awareness about issues such as domestic violence and the challenges faced by women in conflict-affected areas.

 

A recent expedition to Namibia undertaken by Women On A Mission (WOAM) has just made it as the first all-female team to trek across the formidable Namib desert on foot. It was an incredible feat that covered a staggering 144 kilometres over five days and six nights, scaling a cumulative elevation of 4,188 metres on some of the world’s tallest sand dunes in its oldest desert.

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Understandably, Christine Amour-Levar, co-founder of WOAM, is very proud of this accomplishment. On the one hand, it was a mighty display of women’s physical strength and steely determination, and on the other, it was a successful charity event that raised close to US$70,000 for its beneficiaries.

WOAM aims to empower and uplift women who are facing adversity, with a particular focus on abused women and women war survivors, Christine explains. “Our primary goal is to provide these women with opportunities for personal growth, healing, and economic independence, ultimately helping them regain control of their lives,” she elaborates.

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The said trek brought together 17 women of 12 different nationalities with support from their networks. The amount they raised will go towards the needs of women war survivors in Ukraine, Afghanistan, and Sudan through a partnership with Women for Women International, an organisation dedicated to transforming the lives of marginalised women across the globe.

Challenges and Wonders

Christine describes the trek as “an exhilarating mix of challenges and wonders”, with arduous day hikes in the searing heat turning into night camps in the biting cold and howling winds of the Namib as they neared the wild Atlantic coast. “Our final evening was spent beneath a canopy of breath-taking stars, beside a century-old shipwreck and amidst seal colonies.”

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A highlight of the trip was spending a day with the women of Penduka Development Trust – a well-regarded social enterprise and training centre for less privileged women in Namibia – the NGO provides opportunities for women to earn a sustainable income, improve their families’ livelihoods, and uplift their entire communities. 

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Other highlights included communing  with “breath-taking landscapes and unique flora and fauna of the region, forming deep connections within the team, and interacting with local communities and seeing the direct impact of our efforts”, says Christine. “These experiences provided a profound sense of accomplishment and purpose. Ultimately, our team’s dedication to women’s empowerment not only pushed us far beyond our boundaries, but also wove unbreakable bonds of sisterhood that will last a lifetime.”

Christine is motivated by her commitment to empower women in dire situations. “Women are often at a higher risk than soldiers during war situations due to their vulnerability to gender-based violence, including sexual assault and rape, as well as the potential for forced recruitment, displacement, and loss of protective community structures.

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“The responsibilities of caregiving and maintaining families during conflicts can expose women to additional dangers while seeking essential resources. Limited access to healthcare, psychological trauma, and a lack of legal protection further contribute to the heightened risks faced by women in conflict zones, making it crucial to address and mitigate these gender-specific vulnerabilities to promote their safety and well-being.”

Steady Partnerships

WOAM works closely with partner charities and organisations that specialise in supporting women in need to ensure the efficacy of their mission. Partners go through rigorous selection and constant tracking of  their activities and fund allocation. Christine sits on the board of a few of these charities. “Transparency is key, and we have mechanisms in place to monitor the use of charity funds to ensure they are directed toward the intended purposes.”

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Partner charities are chosen for their established support programs for women in need. “We ensure accountability by maintaining ongoing communication with these partners and tracking the allocation of funds. Auditing mechanisms are in place to monitor the use of charity funds and ensure they are directed toward their intended purposes. This helps maintain the efficiency and effectiveness of our initiatives.”

Last month, Christine took a team of 15 women to Cebu, Philippines to support one of WOAM’s charity partners, International Justice Mission (IJM), a global organisation that protects those living in poverty throughout the developing world by combatting violent forms of oppression, including sex trafficking, forced labour and online sexual exploitation of children.

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And in true WOAM style, the trip culminated in a day hike to the Bohol Chocolate Hills, a natural wonder consisting of thousands of cone-shaped, chocolate-coloured hills. By immersing themselves in the beauty of these hills, they aim to raise awareness of the plight of children and draw attention to the urgency of collective action.

“Our commitment underscores the crucial role of societies, governments, and corporations in combating this deeply distressing form of violence against children, and we are dedicated to making a meaningful impact in this critical effort.”

WOAM’S Accomplishments to Date

Fundraising for Charitable Causes: WOAM has successfully organised 12 challenging expeditions and multiple events in Singapore and abroad that have raised substantial funds (1.4 million USD to date) for charitable causes. These funds have been directed toward supporting abused women, women war survivors, and other vulnerable individuals in various parts of the world.

Empowering Women Through Adventure: WOAM has empowered women (more than a hundred to date) by providing them with opportunities to participate in adventurous expeditions. This not only raises awareness about important social issues but also encourages women to push their physical and mental limits, boosting their self-confidence and resilience.

Raising Awareness: WOAM has effectively used its expeditions and events to raise awareness about issues such as domestic violence and the challenges faced by women in conflict-affected areas. By capturing media attention and engaging the public, the organisation has contributed to broader conversations about these critical issues.

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