Mary Dailey Brown is the dedicated president and CEO of SowHope, a new international women’s charity dedicated to inspiring women through wellness, education and economic opportunities.
Brown became interested in the plight of women in the Middle East and Third World countries during her trips to those regions. In 1993 Brown founded Love Inc. of Lake County, a national affiliate of World Vision, which collaborateswith local social agencies and churches to help the working poor. In addition, she has led teams to Northern Mexico every summer since 1988 to build homes for needy families.
“The average income of these women is under a dollar a day,” said Brown. “We received our first application for $50,000 last week from Bangladesh. We would like to open two new areas in Bangladesh for micro-loans. And for $50,000, they can give 2400 loans to women over a three-year period.”
Brown emphasized that the loans will be very small, such as $15 to purchase a sewing machine, or money to buy a small roadside stand. Once the initial small loan is repaid, the amount may be increased for any subsequent loans.
She added, “These women have never had money, they have never held money.”
After graduating from Southern Illinois University in 1980, Brown worked as a White House photographer in Washington, D.C. One year later she married Doug Brown and they moved to Spain where they lived for nearly four years.
Son Alex was born in 1985 and the family moved to the Chicago area where Mary ran a successful photography business for ten years. The Browns adopted son John from Brazil after joining Bella Vista Church. Mary is a former director at the church, where she worked overseeing local and international mission projects.
According to a press release, “SowHope targets poor, oppressed, uneducated, and sick women primarily living in Third World countries with opportunities for microloans, health care, counseling, scholarships, and literacy classes. This is done through partnerships with local leaders using local solutions to solve local problems.”
“SowHope plans to raise funds for time-limited outcome-based projects proposed by their partners. It is also their goal to be a source for training, encouragement, and accountability to their partners. The motto of the organization is ‘Where there is despair, let me sow hope.’ Francis of Assisi.”
SowHope was formed in January 2006 to help meet the needs of these disadvantaged women.
A Celebration of Hope is scheduled for Thursday, April 20 at 7 p.m. in the Wave Room at Celebration Cinema North in Grand Rapids. For more information on the organization visit their website at www.sowhope.org.