As the sun rises, so does Amina Mundele to start her day before her family awakens. She prepares breakfast and packs their bags for the day. Once everyone is up, she makes sure they all have a good breakfast before her three children head out the door for the day.

On the other side of the world, Katie Garcia returns home from work and prepares dinner for her family. After dinner, she cleans up and begins the evening routine of baths, storytime and bedtime. Once the lights are out, she picks up around the house and makes sure all is in order before being the last one to head to sleep.

Two different women. Two different countries. Mundele lives in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Garcia lives in Lincoln. And yet there is a common thread – they are moms, wives, sisters, friends, students – both working hard every day.

“At the One Thread Project, we believe that we are so much more the same than we are different,” said Amy Williams, co-founder of the nonprofit program that provides education, job training and holistic support to women living in Congo. “One woman on one side of the world isn’t more gifted or special. She just didn’t have the same opportunity offerings. Talent and intelligence are all around us, in all of us. But the opportunity to see that grow and develop isn’t equally distributed.”

Co-founded by Williams and her sister-in-law, Suzanne Campbell, the One Thread Project’s purpose is to bring opportunity to the women of Congo so they can become all they are meant to be.

“We can’t do that alone,” Williams said. “The heartbeat of our program is sponsorship – one woman coming alongside another woman.”

Garcia, of Lincoln, has been one of those steadfast sponsors. Since the birth of One Thread three years ago, she has said “yes” to women like Mundele. Dr. Garcia is a dentist at Lincoln Pediatric Dentistry. She grew up in Lincoln, earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, received her doctor of dental surgery degree at UNMC, and completed a general practice residency in New York City and a pediatric dental residency in Chicago. She is married to Dr. Chris Balwanz, a cardiologist with Bryan Heart.

Garcia said the best part of her life is being mom to Connor, their 4-month-old son. Garcia understands very well the opportunity and support she has had to help her become a successful dentist. Because she has said “yes” to sponsorship, she has offered Mundele the same opportunity and support that was given to her.

Just as Garcia kisses Connor goodbye when she goes to work each morning, Mundele kisses her children goodbye to head for school. Both of them are showing their children the value of hard work and persistence. Both know the mental and physical exhaustion of being working moms, but they are both passionate at being their best.

Without sponsorship, Mundele would not be in the One Thread program. And now, because of Garcia, she is getting ready to graduate with her seamstress license, a sewing machine and the knowledge that someone on the other side of the world believes in her.

Garcia is excited for Mundele to graduate, because she knows the feeling of accomplishment it will give her.

“I love my job and the people I work with,” Garcia said. “I spent an exceptional number of years in education to get where I am now. I feel incredibly lucky to have a job that challenges me and allows me to improve the lives of others. I hope that Amina will see that her time spent in sewing school will allow her to do the same.”

Garcia has her hopes well placed. Mundele said, “I am so grateful to be going to school, my kids are going to school, and my husband and I are planning for our future.”

The One Thread Project has started a new term, and women like Mundele need a sponsor. These wives, mothers and friends are ready to begin dreaming about what life could look like with the opportunity and support of One Thread.

“We are excited to see more threads get added and more lives changed,” Williams said. “Not just the women of Congo, but also women like Katie Garcia in Lincoln.”

For details about sponsoring a woman in Congo, see http://reedsofhope.org/one-thread-project/.

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L Magazine editor

Mark Schwaninger is L magazine and Neighborhood Extra editor.

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