Smiling with Nicholas Kristof, literally

This week has KEEP’s board members smiling! That’s us in the photo: Cynthia Braun, Elena Rover, Celeste Crosby, Ruthie Rosenberg and Elizabeth McGoldrick.

Who’s that man in the middle? It’s Nicholas Kristof, the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist from The New York Times who co-authored Half the Sky, the book that inspired us to found KEEP. Kristof has written about some of the biggest atrocities in the world, and yet somehow he keeps smiling. His optimism and warmth were center stage at Grace Farms on Saturday when he interviewed Nobel Prize winner Denis Mukwege, a pastor and physician who treats women who are victims of horrific sexual violence in the Congo.

KEEP arranged an outing for supporters and board members, with 20 people attending the session. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, Saturday’s event raised more than $1,100!  This amount will cover the annual tuition for three of our KEEP-supported girls at the Kakenya Center for Excellence, ensuring that they continue their education, avoiding female genital mutilation and child marriage.

Everyone who attended the event in New Canaan, CT, agreed that the talk was intense. Titled “Ending Violence Against Women”, it covered the assassination attempt on Dr. Mukwege, the murder of his protege, the precariousness of women’s lives, the impact of repeated violence on women and their community and more. Kristof brought home the remarkable effect this one man has had on the lives of so many women. And we learned about his choice to return to the country where his life is at risk so he can continue his work.

Feeling subdued after the talk, KEEP’s board had an encounter that returned the smiles to our faces: A chance to connect with Kristof. He generously signed copies of Half the Sky and posed for photos. We told him that the book was the seed that grew into KEEP, which to date has generated more than $100,000 in donations from our generous supporters, with 100% going directly to help girls.

Today, we had another reason to smile: Kristof wrote about the event in his weekly newsletter for The New York Times and included a glowing mention of KEEP! Take a look: