Mallory Brown understands the power of storytelling to connect and change someone's life. Twenty-six women around the world, who have never met, will soon be bound together through her Walk A Mile campaign, where she tells their unique video story and gives away necklaces to link them to one another.
“That’s a really powerful moment for me because...it’s my thank you to these women for letting me tell their story,” said Brown, who lives in Birmingham.
“It means a lot to them to have something so they’re connected to the other women around the world…Most of them have never left their village, let alone gone to a different country. But, to them, that is sort of their little link.”
First launched last November on Giving Tuesday – which couldn’t have been more appropriate – Walk A Mile is a 26-part series for global women's empowerment. During her visits, Brown partners with local non-profits around the world often found through recommendations. After selecting the non-profit, and much discussion, they pick a woman – a sort of success story – for Brown to highlight.
With each video, all being funded by donors, 100 percent of the proceeds raised go directly to that non-profit through the crowdfunding platform Crowdrise.
Brown has raised almost $50,000 right now, with her ultimate goal of $1 million after all the videos have been uploaded.
Videos are being uploaded every few months and so far, Brown has uploaded three, walking a mile with women in Tanzania, Detroit, and Guatemala, where she partnered with the Adventure Project, the Empowerment Plan, and Konojel. Brown said she had completed 11 projects from a filming perspective, and India and Serbia were part of two upcoming videos.
“The series in general aims to zigzag around the globe and show what people are going through everywhere,” Brown said.
Brown thinks the project will take her about five years in total, and is based on the quote, “Don’t judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.”
“To me, that’s the epitome of empathy,” Brown said. “So, I took that quote and thought, 'I’ll walk a marathon and do it 26 times and see what I can discover.'”
Brown – who runs the website TravelMal – isn’t new to this type of fundraising. She’s been working with it for almost a decade. In fact, it’s what got the idea for Walk A Mile going in the first place.
A few years ago for the social entrepreneur and humanitarian’s 30th birthday, Brown decided to mount a fundraiser focused on women in Ethiopia, where she wanted to empower 30 women to start their own businesses. It ended up being the most successful fundraiser she had run at the time.
“It was so emotional for me. I just really identified with the women on the ground and it felt like something that I really cared about,” she said. “I basically thought, how can I do this over and over again? And multiply it out to a region of women in more situations.”
Brown also works as a public speaker, where she focuses on empathy, and is in the midst of writing her first book. These 26 videos are just the start for Walk A Mile. She hopes to branch out the campaign so people can walk with others around the world.
“For me, it’s a platform I’m willing to have be what I stand for the rest of my career,” Brown said.
Looks like she might be buying a lot more necklaces.
Photo: Laurie Tennent