Girl Boss. Period.

In Congo, women and girls show all new meaning to the word “strength.” They work non-stop—cooking, cleaning, and child rearing—all without electricity or running water! They also have very limited access to basic amenities like soap, lack variety in their cooking or diet, and are without other basic household items.

They are my heroes.

So do you ever wonder, in the middle of the jungle, what girls do while they’re on their period? They can’t just run to the store and pick up a pack of tampons.

As a part of our WaSH program, we train girls and women how to stay clean and safe during their monthly cycle.

This month, I loved getting to sit in on the training. Here are some golden moments from our trainees during the lessons:

"When you look down and you see your period for the first time, you can be proud! You can say—‘I am a woman. I am courageous. I can carry children!’ Having your period is not a shameful thing. Talking about your period is not a shameful thing. You must be proud of who you are!”

It’s estimated that one in ten girls miss school because of their period. By some estimates, this equals as much as twenty percent of a given school year. (UNESCO / World Bank)

"See, you must be courageous as a woman. Courageous and clean. You are so special with all the things your body can do. You must make sure to take care of it. Make your pads and don't let it hold you back. Don't let it keep you out of school."

Instead of instructing our girls to buy pads, which are expensive and often hard to find in the villages, our trainers teach them how to make their own pads out of things they can find in the market.

It usually involves a small, inexpensive piece of mattress/sponge-like material, fabric, and string to sew with. They make their own reusable pad out of a pattern we give them. During the lesson we also give them everything they need to make their first pad, including needle and thread!

"Water is your best friend when you have your period. What's your best friend?”


This was stressed many times throughout the training. Many girls don’t know how to properly clean themselves during their cycles, either. It’s usually shameful to discuss, so women don’t talk to each other about it. They don’t talk about it with their daughters, and when their cycle arrive, they just stay home and wait until it passes.

“Now that you know how to make your pads, you can wear it knowing you are protected! You can go to school. You can go to the fields. There is no need to miss anything! If you ever need help, you can courageously talk to your female teachers, or other girls in this groupwe are all in this together!”

It was actually really incredible watching our team work. They crossed into culturally uncharted territories, and every girl in the class loved it, and hung on every word they said.

In Congo, it’s also very difficult to go to school if you are girl, and there is a clear discrepancy when it comes to literacy education. The literacy rate for girls sits at just 50%, while the literacy rate for boys in the DRC is nearly 80%. Teaching girls about something as simple as how to take care of their bodies while on their periods can help keep girls in school throughout the year and lowers dropout rates as they grow older.

At the end of the women’s health and safety classes, we also gave each participant a new pair of underwear, and a package of Kotex with instructions for how to use them. In our group for child mothers, many had never been taught this before. Some girls already had one, two or even three children, and yet, they had never previously discussed their periods or basic care and hygiene during their cycle!

We are so proud of our team’s boldness and the work they continue to do with respects to women’s health and girls’ education. Period.

Words for those who work with people.

I go back to Africa tomorrow! I should have written sooner. I’m suppose to be packing now and instead I’m blogging—opps.

I was also suppose to be blogging every week for the last month though, another oops.

A few explanations. One—it was the holidays. It’s tough to focus through the blasting Christmas music and food comas.

Two- Post holidays, it was actually a pretty hard month. I wasn’t going to blog about the difficult parts but I don’t do well with glazing over my emotions. In her books, Dr. Brene Brown (one of my favorites) writes about being raw and how we weren’t meant to compartmentalize vulnerability. Being real about one thing and masking another, it doesn’t fully work and we end up with an unauthentic, watered down version of who we wish to be. (the general gist)

So, I won’t go into details to what happened, but in the end, in a moment where adjusting to my American life was feeling difficult, (sometimes it’s a larger culture shift than I anticipated) I was blindsided with an unfortunate betrayal. Or backstabbing, I guess. Am I aloud to say that?

Again- no details, but within the last couple of years I feel like I’ve been surprised with these issues a few times. And with my heart strewn across the floor, I got the privilege again, of picking up the raw pieces but couldn’t seem to organize them for a blog.

My turning point came the other night. I had one of the most healing moments of the last month just sitting down to dinner with a dear friend and aid-working veteran, sharing war stories. Not literal war stories, (which is also a common occurrence in my life) but talking about life’s imperfections and unexpected pains.

When I first got married (like… yesterday. Haha.) I kept asking married couples “What’s hard about your marriage? What are your differences? Your ups, your downs?” Because suddenly I was married and faced with “Oh my gosh, marriage is better than I ever dreamed BUT, as two strong individuals- we have a lot to learn!”

This felt similar. Sometimes when we’re navigating unfamiliar waters, or in this last month’s case- hurt and well… irritation, sometimes we’re just desperate to hear someone else say “It’s normal. It’s happened to me. You’ll be ok”

So for a quick second, if you don’t have that kind of dinner date scheduled, —for anyone who has felt knocked down, if you’ve tried and felt like you’ve failed, if you’ve been betrayed, backstabbed, lost everything, been robbed, bankrupt, or fallen down and are afraid you can’t get back up….

It’s going to be ok. You’re going to be alright.

And not only that, you won’t just come out alive, you’re going to be better than you would’ve been before, as the wisdom and humility you’ll gain is worth much more than the pride you would have kept without these lessons!

It was interesting hearing my friend talk about moments in her life that knocked her down. And I mean like, beat her til she was unconscious (not literally) and my first response was an instinctive- YOU ARE SO BRAVE. The courage it took for her to get back up was more impressive than had everything gone smoothly from the beginning. And with the experience she gained in navigating her heart, the things she learned from seeing what works and what doesn’t and preparing for the next round, she’s now developing a foundation that is more solid and life changing than she could have had before.

People are messy. And everywhere in life there are people. You can’t control whether the young prostitute returns to sell her body, even if you did risk everything to rescue her. You can’t control the young soldier who returns to fight in war, you can’t control the homeless man who just took your dollar and used it to buy alcohol and you can’t control those around you into making honoring decisions. But you can control your heart. Your response, and how you rise again, to risk it all and say yes to love.

“Failure” is such an inappropriate label. Stamped on our hearts so often when things don’t work out like we planned.

If you risk great, you could fall great, but that is not failure.

This month actually wasn’t that terrible. Papa God has been such a boss in his response. It just made me ask a lot of questions, and in disappointment choose how I was going to respond to betrayal now and the lingering taste from it before.

A semi-strange blog right before going back to Africa, but before I reach my excited “Everything is wonderful and I’m so excited to be back in the Congo!” I wanted to give you a taste of both sides to a complicated story.

This is getting long so I’ll stop rambling, but I hope that in whatever capacity you lead and live, that you never stop loving greatly, believing whole heartedly and dreaming unreasonably.

Strategy for: Changing the world...even on a rainy day

I’m amazed. Some days I wake up, totally inspired and other days… I wish I could stay in bed and watch never ending episodes of Parenthood or something. (Just being honest)

Today was one of those days. I woke up and the cloudy, rainy sky seemed like a perfect recipe for a hot tea and PJ day, but unfortunately I knew that wasn’t an option.

“Find the motivation, Cass. Just go on and find….the…motivation.”

My self-talk gives me nothing.

So I open up the news reports to remember why some days are spent behind a computer. “Child soldiers in Central African Republic more than doubled, says charity”

Excuse me!? DOUBLED?! “Up to 10,000 boys and girls are now fighting….”


 That’s a lot.

But truthfully, when we hear big numbers in the hundreds or thousands, our minds seems to graze, so I try and personalize.

I think of the first child soldier I ever saw.

It was in Congo many years ago, and when I think about, he probably wasn’t the first. But his it’s tender eyes that are still stuck in my brain, so he was obviously the one who made the biggest impact.

I first saw him from behind and even from that, he looked like a little boy. He was small in stature and his frame looked fragile. He had a Kalashnikov hanging between his shoulder blades. I stared at him for a little bit squinting, trying hard to guess his age. He had army pants on but just a tattered shirt and flip flops to complete his “uniform.” He was also wearing a baseball hat that he had pulled down low on his brow.

I called out trying to get his attention “Jambo!” he turned to my Swahili greeting and looked shocked to see the blonde girl walking over to greet him. At first he seemed shy and sweet. Fighting a smile, his eyes were curious and I tried to open up a conversation. No more than a sentence in though and his commander came up and he dodged off like a scared puppy.

I was shocked. After a small and harmless chat with his superior, my team and I walked away back to our house. “He looked SO YOUNG.” I kept repeating. I couldn’t believe it. A baby and really big gun. That sucks.

Since then, I’ve seen a lot of boys with AK’s slung on their backs. Our sons have a similar past and now laugh at the times they fought for food. (Though it’s never really funny)

A lot of our projects begin with moments like this. A broken heart to a global injustice. THIS ISN’T RIGHT. We process it and chew on it, sometimes minutes, sometimes months. “Jesus, what’s your strategy!?” and then 9x out of 10… a random idea feels like it’s whispered through the airwaves into our hearts. And it fits.

I remember walking down the dusty streets of Goma town (where we’re based in Congo) and I was mad. We had just received more reports of increased abductions of children from our village and I was angry. Bouncing ideas back and forth- talking to Jesus, talking to my other leaders, avoiding the pot holes and trash heaps and then back to open dialogue, we all somehow stumbled across a verbal processing of our entire Freedom Boys program. Relocation. Sponsorship. Foster Housing. Mentoring. Education. That’s it! Somehow simple.

It took us at least a year of walking it out and it’s still not like we’ve figured out a “magic formula,” but our boys are happy, healthy, safe and all in all—doing really well.

Sooo why the ramblings today? I guess because it’s not rocket science. Maybe to some people, but I’m not a scientist. And I want to motivate others to start asking questions, start letting your dreams get the better of you and go after the thing that scares you. It doesn’t have to be rescuing child soldier. Our team just believes in who God says he is and believes he can really, really use our “yes”. Is there something that’s frustrating you? An inequality, prejudice or discrimination? There’s a beauty in passion and love, and letting it bubble up into activation that throws us into the seas of injustice. (That was a mouthful. haha)

Nevertheless. What are some projects you’ve been dreaming up and what would you say is the biggest hurdle you have to overcome to accomplish them?

(Feel free to start a dialogue in the comment section below!)

Back to Blogging

It’s been just over 2 months since my last post. A whirlwind of an 8 weeks to say the least with just a couple glorious life changes since then.

Turns out wedding planning doubles as a full time job, (!!) one that we couldn’t have done without my amazing housemate who made the wedding the most beautiful day. ( I wanted Africa and Southern California somehow mixed together, and they did it!

It really was the best day. Most people describe their wedding as a blur that they barely remember, which I can say about the week before, but the actual day went by without a hitch. We were all relaxed and just enjoyed ourselves, with small “breather moments” just between Edison and I throughout the day so we could stop and take it all in. Even during the light rain through the entire ceremony…(oh yes!) For those reading from say, Seattle or Vancouver, you don’t see anything out of the ordinary, but for us in Southern California… we’ve been in drought for almost a year. When we first planned an outdoor wedding in November we didn’t even think of weather. But the sweet presence of Jesus was so evident. We broke the drought with vows and some dear friends praying over us and our marriage and by the time he “kissed the bride” the rain was finished and out came the sun and a beautiful rainbow.

It’s been a glorious one month of marriage since. I love living with my best friend and not having to say “goodnight” at the end of the day. We’re enjoying the cheesy moments like ‘groceries together’ or ‘laundry’ (I know that may not last long, but for now, it’s still new and special) Our greatest challenge has possibly been decorating, which isn’t much of a mountain but his neutral tones to my gold glitter, seem to bump heads now and again. ;)

We came home from our honeymoon in Costa Rica and officially moved into our flat. I love it. It’s within walking distance from some of the best DTLA coffee shops but also right in skid row. (see previous blog for more details) Walking from one to the other last week we suddenly noticed an abundance of flies surrounding us out of no where. Scanning the area it didn't take long til we saw the buzzing was due to large amount of human feces everywhere.

Lovely story, I know—but I feel that describes our area a little bit. :)

But anyway, I have some exciting news. (lol)

Turns out my husband stirs in me even wilder dreams than I had before, something I knew was possible but somehow exploded since marriage. The great thing is however, that mixed with his passion it brings to light a whole other angle to our projects and changing the world. (The beauty of marriage right?)

So with that we’re announcing a Justice Rising internship project we’re launching in LA. February- June 2015 with a phase two in a war zone. Email me for details at:

Space is limited and applications close January 10th 2015

Life is slowly starting to return to normal, (just in time for the holiday craze) My goal is to blog every week about balancing marriage, the streets, war zones and Los Angeles…. Stay tuned for the  glorious journey of pursuing normal.