End of Year Letters from Kathy and Tanner

Tanner, Kathy, and Josephine smiling and hugging a group of girls in Zambia.
Kathy Headlee, founder of Mothers Without Borders, smiling in front of a wooden fence and wearing a bright orange chitenge.

KATHY HEADLEE: FOUNDER

Dear Friend,

Browsing through my email inbox, this Cyber Monday morning a simple invitation captured my wandering attention. ‘Make the world a happier place.’ I admit to receiving this idea with an odd combination of cynicism, optimism, gratitude and curiosity. For three decades my journey has been one of sharing compassion, better understanding suffering, and creating meaningful change for the world’s most vulnerable. I’ve witnessed more than my share of the senseless and heartbreaking.

And yet, as my mind wanders over a myriad of memories that scan the globe and the entire range of human struggle, the presence of those who show up in compassion, hope, kindness, and generosity becomes a golden thread that runs through and connects every story. If you are reading this, you are most likely a part of that golden thread weaving happiness into the tapestry of our shared humanity, and our world. I give thanks for your desire to make the world a happier place. I am ever grateful for the role I’ve been privileged to play in building a bridge between those who care and those who most need our caring.

My journey in the creation and nurturing of Mothers Without Borders has been an offering of the heart, an ever-evolving witness to the power of love, and the resilience of the human spirit. I have been privileged to work with remarkable women and men around the world. For the past 2 ½ years, I have been actively planning and preparing for my succession, training my successor, and working closely with the Board of Directors and our local and international staff to secure a smooth transition.

After 32 years as CEO, I am excited to hand the reins of leadership to Tanner Crandall as of January 1, 2023. Tanner came to Mothers Without Borders seven years ago, and has demonstrated his ability to lead, vision, and create teams that will continue to grow Mothers Without Borders well into the future. He brings to the organization a passion for our mission, commitment to excellence, vision for growth, and deep compassion for the most vulnerable, making it easy for me to assume my new role as Founder, advisor, teacher, and happiness activist.

The needs and numbers of those we serve continue to grow, as does our need for you, our caring community. Under Tanner’s leadership and with your continued kindness, we will feed and educate more children, empower more women and youth, strengthen more families, rescue more children from abuse and neglect, and support meaningful solutions to alleviate poverty and suffering. Thank you for joining us in our commitment to make the world a happier place, today and every day.

Wishing you much love and joy,

Kathy

Tanner smiling with girls in Zambia in a circle frame.

TANNER CRANDALL: CHIEF OPERATIONS OFFICER

Hi friends, Tanner here. 

I’m so incredibly grateful to be writing this letter to you today. The past 7 years at Mothers Without Borders have been a remarkable journey for me. We’ve grown a lot, increasing revenue 4 fold, adding several programs, and expanding our community in many significant ways. More than anything else over the past 7 years, I have seen time and time again that our work is transforming lives. 

One of these individuals is a 20 year old woman who began school at our primary school when she was a first grader. (This school serves over 700 students who come from similar vulnerable situations and can’t afford school otherwise.) After passing her grade 7 exam, she enrolled at a local secondary school. Going to school was a huge challenge for her because of the long distances she had to walk each day.

One day as she was walking home from school, a truck driver offered her a ride. The man enticed her with money and the promise of free rides every day. She naively fell into his trap and found herself pregnant after failing her grade 9 exams. 

She heard of our girls empowerment program and using her last bit of hope for a brighter future, she applied. She was admitted and began pursuing a certificate in Hotel Management and Catering. While in school she received mentorship, and resources to overcome the barriers critical to her success. This year, she obtained her certificate in Hotel Management and Catering with a high score. In her words, 

“I had a low self-esteem and that’s what led me to make that horrible mistake in the past but now I am able to speak out. My mentor was always there providing me with all the necessary skills, encouragement, and enthusiasm despite the past mistakes made. I really got inspired to work extra hard and to be determined no matter what life throws at you. This project has helped me identify my capabilities and strengths as an individual. I am grateful for this project and I will inspire many women out there who have gone through what I have.”

The sad truth is that this story is common. In rural communities in Zambia, 37% of girls have had their first child as a teen. Without the support of Mothers Without Borders, this woman’s life would look very different. She would not have received a primary education, mentorship, and had the ability to get a certificate in an employable skill. Perhaps more important than anything else, she believes in herself again. Her confidence, light, strength, and power will bring generational shift in her community.

This is what our work is about. The people we serve are not numbers. They are individuals with troubling stories and circumstances who need to be seen and loved in addition to the resources and services we provide. I’m proud to share that we have served 36,051 individuals in 2022. If you’ve ever given a penny towards our work, it is you that makes this possible. My invitation to you is to do what you can to help us continue this work. Whether that be a financial contribution, volunteering at our office in Utah, or coming on an Expedition with us next summer – we need you!

With love and gratitude,

Tanner Crandall

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