Sister Love!



Change University is excited to share that Jessica Courtney is our newest Champion of ChangeU!  Jessica’s passion for fairness and justice compels her toward the broken, forgotten people of the world. It’s what carried Jessica and her husband Jeremy to Iraq during the height of war and what led them to establish Preemptive Love Coalition (PLC – In addition to being a co-founder of PLC, Jessica oversees aspects of field programming, while helping to guide strategy and long-term vision.  Jessica is also a full-time mother and an avid quilter, seamstress, scrapbooker and gardener.

A relatively new aspect of PLC is Sisterhood Soap, a coalition of refugee entrepreneurs.  And Jessica is the driving force behind this initiative.    Please check out to learn more about this great initiative.

The remainder of this blog post was originally posted on April 14, 2016, by Ben Irwin, director of communications and PR for Preemptive Love Coalition, under the title “More Than ISIS Survivors. They’re Our Sisters. And They Make the Most Beautiful Soap.”  We very strongly recommend that you check out the original post which includes a number of photos of the “sisters” in this blog post: .

Sisterhood Soap

Many people carry a certain image of Iraq in their heads. They see it as a place of endless warfare and little else, a place that was hopelessly mired in chaos long before ISIS came on the scene.

But Gozê dispels this image with a few simple words:

“We had work. We had a home. Life was really nice.”

“Shingal was so nice,” adds Marwa, Gozê’s sister by marriage.

Shingal. That’s what the Yazidi people call their homeland. Others know this patch of earth that hugs the border between Syria and Iraq as Sinjar.

For Gozê and her sisters, life in Sinjar changed forever on August 3, 2014. 

The world they knew was suddenly and violently ripped apart. A terrifying new hell emerged: heavily armed militants overran Sinjar, bent on wiping the Yazidis from the earth. Most Westerners know these militants as ISIS, ISIL, or the Islamic State. But Gozê and her friends call them Daesh, a pejorative acronym that sounds like the Arabic word for “one who crushes underfoot.”

ISIS crushed everything Gozê had.

After ISIS came, Gozê and her family fled up Sinjar Mountain, along with other Yazidis. They endured days of deprivation under a blistering sun. “There was no food, not even stale bread,” she says. “There was no water, either.”

All around them, people began to die.

Each of Gozê’s sisters has a similar story. Marwa had to watch as ISIS turned up suddenly and murdered her father, mother, and brother; she was left to clean their bodies and figure out what on earth to do next.

Sozan lost her 7-year-old daughter; she died of starvation when her family took refuge on the mountain. The militants below were all too happy to let time and hunger do their genocidal work for them.

Still another, Hazno, had to flee while pregnant and sick.

Almost two years later, the pain is still visible on the faces of these women. But they also exhibit a quiet strength. Their courage and resilience have carried them through the unthinkable.

After escaping Sinjar, Gozê, the other women, and their families traveled on foot to Syria, a land ripped apart by its own brutal civil war. From there, they went by car, in search of somewhere beyond the reach of ISIS.

They had nothing left.

“Not even a tent,” Gozê recalls.

What would you do if you lost everything you had to those bent on your destruction? Where would you go, assuming you managed to escape?

For Gozê and her sisters, the answer was Iraqi Kurdistan. This region offers relative safety and security, but it is a far cry from their homeland. Nearly everyone here speaks a different dialect. There is no work for the men in their families—those who didn’t end up in a mass grave, that is. There are no schools for their children, either.

How do you make a home out of a leaky shipping container in the middle of a muddy field?

Gozê and her sisters started by making soap.

The soap trade goes back at least 4,000 years in this part of the world, when the people of ancient Mesopotamia started mixing water, alkali, and cassia oil—history’s first recorded soap recipe. But it was new to Gozê and her sisters.

When they came to Kurdistan, we showed them how to make soap. We helped them start a soapmaking business so they could earn a living and provide for their families.

By learning this ancient craft, they’ve begun to undo the devastation wrought by ISIS.

Every bar they sell is another step toward reclaiming their lives. Every new soapmaker who receives training and equipment is another step toward a more prosperous future.

To us—and to you—Gozê and her family are more than refugees.

They are more than what others have done to them. They deserve better than a bandaid solution to their current situation. By teaching them a trade and helping them start a business, you are providing something more than mere aid. You’re providing a future.

You’re giving them a source of income, a way to pay for diapers and milk and other essentials.

You’re empowering them to care for others in need, as they produce thousands of bars of soap for use in refugee camps, to prevent the spread of disease.

You are standing with your sisters in Iraq, providing a hand up rather than a handout.

Their soap is as beautiful as the hands that labor over it. It’s beautiful not just for what goes into it—natural ingredients like olive oil, herbal tea, chamomile, and eucalyptus—but also for what it’s done in the lives of Gozê and her sisters.

“This is my work. It supports my children.”

“Making soap makes us happy.”

“Without this soap, we wouldn’t have survived. We couldn’t have provided.”

Sisterhood Soap does more than cleanse. It washes away the effects of hatred. It unmakes violence. It empowers women who have lost everything, so they can remake their world.

As we prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day, honoring the women who nurtured and sustained us, we can also pay tribute to mothers like Gozê and Sozan, who have carried their families through the unthinkable.

Most of their soap is sold locally in Iraq, but we’re also bringing some to the U.S., to share with you. You can purchase Sisterhood Soap as a way of remembering their story… and helping them as they begin writing a new one.

But this is about more than buying a few bars of handmade soap.

This is about empowering your sisters, standing in solidarity, refusing to give ISIS the last word over their lives.

There are many, many more families who were driven from their homes, displaced by violence, and left with nothing. There are many more sisters who are just as determined to carry their families through the darkness. And you can stand with them.

You can empower and equip more soapmakers like Gozê, Sozan, Marwa, and Hazno.

Grow the sisterhood. Empower a soapmaker. 


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Huge Feet to Follow!

by Jim King

In April of this year, I had the opportunity to meet and visit with Dr. Pramath Sinha in Delhi, India, thanks to our common friend, Amardeep Kahlon.  While you might not have heard of Dr. Sinha before this blog post, I know that after you read this post you will not forget him.  Very importantly, I am extremely proud to announce that Pramath has agreed to become a Champion of ChangeU!

Pramath has held many titles over his professional career:  co-founder, CEO, founding dean & board member, Indian School of Business ( ; co-founder and trustee, Ashoka University ( & its acclaimed Young India Fellowship program ( ; partner & senior advisor, McKinsey & Co. ( ; CEO, Anandabazar Patrika Group ( ; senior counselor, Albright Stonebridge Group ( ; founder & managing director, 9.9 Mediaworx Pvt. Ltd. ( ; and chairman and/or director of numerous for-profit and not-for-profit enterprises.

Given Pramath’s relationship to Change University, it would be very appropriate for us to share how his efforts with ISB and Ashoka have made a difference on education in India – especially through the “difference makers” birthed through the Young India Fellowship program.  Wow has YIF produced some outstanding graduates.  In anticipation of Pramath’s appearance at their 2016 conference, no less than the India Conference at Harvard posted the following on its website: “ISB and Ashoka have created new benchmarks in higher education in India in terms of collective philanthropy, ethical governance, international partnerships, and all-round excellence grounded in academic freedom.” ( )  Surely these efforts to affect education change would be our focus.  However, at least for this blog post, we are going to focus on one additional educational undertaking in which Pramath has played and continues to play an instrumental role.

Pramath is a member of the founding team of The Vedica Scholars Programme for Women ( In this effort, he joined Anuradha Das Mathur and Daljeet Wadhwa to create “…a unique alternative to the traditional MBA programme, which will create a cadre of successful women professionals for the 21st century.”  (  This direction is certainly a novel undertaking in any country, but especially in India.  And while its direction is novel, possibly its process for accomplishing its goals is even more so.  “Vedica is a combination of classroom learning, hands-on work experience, and mentoring and coaching by some of the most inspiring academics and professionals of our times. The programme weaves together the objectivity of management principles with complementary perspectives from the liberal arts, an emphasis on personal growth through leadership training, and the impact of thinking and communicating effectively.” (

Now, at this point in your reading, I am thinking that you are thinking that this blog post is not talking about the hungry, the uneducated, the poor, the trafficked nor any other marginalized group about which you have previously read.  I could not agree more – at least on the surface.  However, the really important thing about Dr. Sinha’s direct impact on the creation of Vedica is the indirect impact that this founding has had, and will continue to have, on India – and even the world.  The additional important thing is what the graduates of the Vedica program have done and will do.  I do not want that statement to minimize the importance of what Pramath and his co-founders have done with the founding of this program.  Rather, I want to challenge each person reading this blog post to realize that difference makers and change catalysts do not always see the final results of their efforts on behalf of the marginalized.  Their efforts do not always put them on the front lines.  However, their work is no less important – and in many cases even more important – than the work of those whom they are preparing for the front lines in the battle again poverty, hunger, disease and the many other social issues of the world.  Without the Pramath’s of the world, we would not have the next generations of difference makers prepared to tackle the front lines.

As an example, Vedica brings in approximately 30 post-graduate females from around India in each batch (i.e., intake class).  To date two batches have been accepted.  Those 60-ish will grow to hundreds and then to thousands of students being impacted.  These students are put through a multi-dimensional, 18-month program that includes courses taught by faculty from around the globe, mentorship by female practitioners, and experiential projects including those with social impact.  These graduates will then go, and in many cases return, to work for Indian companies and multinationals; for-profits and not-for-profits; enterprises large and small; some in India, some not; social enterprise organizations and enterprises with CSR programs.  Imagine the direct impact such graduates will have on the world.  And there will be thousands of them!!  They will tackle poverty, hunger, disease and the many other social issues of the world.  And some of them will do so directly while others will do so indirectly.  Interestingly, in both cases, the resulting impact must be attributed back to Pramath and his founding partners at Vedica.

To be fair, we are all products of our environments, our educations, our faiths, our cultures and other impacting aspects of life.  Many variables affect the impact that we will have during the course of our respective lives.  However, the impact that Vedica graduates will have will be “intentionally” impactful because Vedica is intentional in preparing its graduates to be impactful.  Vedica is not hoping its graduates will make a difference.  It is insuring that its graduates will make a difference by preparing them to be difference makers.  And Pramath’s direct impact as a co-founder at Vedica, no matter how far removed he is from the end-result social impact Vedica’s graduates will produce, will have generations of direct and indirect impact on the social issues of the world.  And that type of legacy is what a Champion of ChangeU gives to each of us.  Through your reading of this blog post, may Pramath’s legacy have direct impact on you and may you have direct and indirect impact on the world.  May we all strive to follow in Pramath’s huge foot-steps.


Dr. Jim King is the President of Change University.  You may read more about him at the bottom of the page at this link:


I am jealous of Troy Anderson!

by Jim King

To be fair, I don’t think that I am really jealous of Troy. Maybe a little envious.  But not jealous.  In fact, I don’t think that I know Troy well enough, personally, to be jealous.  To the best of my recollection I have met Troy face-to-face only one time – near the elevators and escalators in the Sripatum International College building on the campus of Sripatum University in Bangkok, Thailand.  But that one meeting convinced me that Troy is a Champion of Change – and Change University needed him as one of our Champions of ChangeU.  Troy has accepted our offer.

The rest of this blog post is to introduce you to Troy Anderson.  There will be more in a subsequent post – and hopefully in the not too distant future, a post from Troy himself.  He is just a little busy most of the time.

Troy is the Founder and International Director of Speak Up, an international NGO serving girls in poverty.  Troy studied law at the UCLA School of Law and served as a Los Angeles County District Attorney.  Troy’s Christian faith and his experiences led him to found Speak Up (  We will cover in a subsequent post related to Troy the founding of Speak Up, its services and the incredible impact it is having.

The following is an “approved by Troy” slightly edited version of Troy’s own words in his July 8, 2016, Facebook post.


“10 days ago at my Mom and Dad’s 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration, I shared two of my parents’ specific traits which have had the greatest effect on me. My Mom’s deep kindness, cemented most deeply in my mind when she would care for the homeless, drifter men who were passing through Arlington, Oregon, when I was a young boy. She has modeled that kindness all my life, with orphans and single moms and kids struggling in school and more. Something about those times stuck deeply in my mind, impressing on me the sense that I was made to give and serve. Mom taught me to care.

And my Dad’s deep thoughtfulness. I remember him quizzing me about international capitals and world events as a boy, teaching me to think deeply about the world and read about world events as a kid. I always thought it was normal to think about different religions and cultures, to know populations and capitals and all sorts of facts that now fill my mind. But it was more than facts and figures; it was a way of being thoughtful about the world, of appreciating and dignifying all of humanity, of knowing that all people were worthy of respect. Dad taught me to thoughtfully engage with everyone, to think globally.

Over the years, many people have asked me why I started Speak Up and why I chose to work in Bangladesh.  I tend to say one of two things:

First, that I started Speak Up to do some sort of service for girls and women who were being exploited because what I saw in brothels in Asia struck me so deeply that I could not go on as I was before, seeing tiny Burmese girls lined up for sale; seeing beautiful young Indian women for sale; seeing young Thai women labeled with numbers for sale; seeing young Cambodian students for sale. This changed my life. These visuals struck a chord in me that cannot be un-struck without losing the values instilled in me from birth. I know that my destiny, my calling, my purpose, is somehow tied up in giving my life to free and empower those who are being exploited.

Second, that deep inside me, I know that I am tempted to be afraid and that I wanted to be courageous. It’s kind of a cliché, but it’s powerful nonetheless: courage is not the absence of fear, but the decision to go forward into the fight despite your fear. That is what I wanted, to be courageous despite the things inside of me, and the things endemic to American culture, that were calling me to be safe. I’ve seen it over and over in my life and in that of my friends; justifying decisions that keep us safe, when deep down we know that we are simply caving in to our fears. So much of our lives is based on fear, and we often lie to ourselves as the only way to soothe our aching conscience. I didn’t want to live like that; I wanted to live, courageous.

I’m publicly writing these few reflections, not because I think that something is going to happen to me or that I have a morbid desire to suffer. I don’t, on either count. But I want people to be kind like my Mom, to be thoughtful like my Dad, and to join me and many others in serving in some way. I know that some who may read these words are already doing so much, and I applaud your efforts. But for those with the gnawing voice of doubt and fear, or for those who in deep quiet moments know that you are not really living up to your potential, I invite you to consider giving yourself away in sacrificial service. It may be more difficult than anything you have ever done; but I know that somehow, deep inside that struggle, you will find life.”


WOW!  Maybe I really am jealous of Troy Anderson!!


Dr. Jim King is the President of Change University.  You may read more about him at the bottom of the page at this link:


Something Nu From ChangeU

by Jim King

One of my favorite activities is browsing for book & LP treasures at Half Price Books & Records.  For those that do not live near me or that do not know what Half Price Books & Records stores are, you are missing out.  Trust me!

On a recent excursion into one of these treasure troves, I found a 2006 Amartya Sen book I did not have, “Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny”.  As I read the Prologue, I decided to share a paragraph with y’all because of how global issues, in general, and U.S. issues, specifically, have me feeling right now. I hope that Sen’s words speak to you today:


“Our shared humanity gets savagely challenged when the manifold divisions in the world are unified into one allegedly dominant system of classification – in terms of religion, or community, or culture, or nation, or civilization (treating each as uniquely powerful in the context of that particular approach to war and peace). The uniquely partitioned world is much more divisive than the universe of plural and diverse categories that shape the world in which we live. It goes not only against the old-fashioned belief that “we human beings are all much the same” (which tends to be ridiculed these days – not entirely without reason – as much too softheaded), but also against the less discussed but much more plausible understanding that we are diversely different. The hope of harmony in the contemporary world lies to a great extent in a clearer understanding of the pluralities of human identity, and in the appreciation that they cut across each other and work against a sharp separation along one single hardened line of impenetrable division.”


Why do I include the above in a blog post entitled “Something Nu From ChangeU”?  Because Sen’s words relate very closely to the following announcement.  Read on…


From the beginning, ChangeU has intended to be a portal into how to effect change; to be a place of education and educating; to be a supporter of those involved with making a difference in our shared world.  One of the planned components of ChangeU is a section related to online courses and webinars related to making a difference and/or effecting change.  We still plan to unfold that part of the website by September 1.  However, a free course of very pertinent content related to current world events – and related to Sen’s words in the above excerpt – that we choose now to share our plans with everyone and to make you aware of this new course.  There might be no better way to kick off this new “side” of ChangeU.

+Acumen (, in their own words, “is a growing network of social change leaders”.  They have just introduced a new free course entitled “In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong” (  The course starts within the week and only takes four hours.  Please at least check out what the website says about the course before you decide that you do not have four hours to invest in the course.

Just in case you do not have time to read everything that is on the +Acumen website, here is an excerpt directly from the website of the course:


“The headlines have been filled with reports of terrorism, mass shootings, protests on college campuses and a refugee crisis.  The world too often feels intractably polarized along lines of identity.  How should we respond?  In his 1996 book, In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong, the Lebanese-born French writer Amin Maalouf does not offer easy answers.  Yet, his text helps us explore the multiple dimensions of identity; understand the roots of violence and tribalism; and recognize the value of embracing multiple allegiances and affiliations. Throughout history, most large-scale acts of violence — whether the genocides, the Holocaust, or wars — have been committed in the name of identity: one tribe against another, one religion against another, one nation against another.

In this course, you’ll have a chance to join a global conversation about Maalouf’s writings and larger questions of identity in light of current events.  You’ll receive a discussion kit complete with a downloadable version of the text, a step-by-step facilitator’s guide and background materials that will equip you to host a small group of friends or colleagues in a 2-hour discussion of the first five chapters of Maalouf’s book. The course will also give you tools to reflect on your own identity and think about it in relation to the larger historical and cultural factors that Maalouf lays out.”


Please plan to join the students at Change University by sitting in on this extremely timely free course offered by +Acumen.


(Editorial note: ChangeU receives no compensation for announcing any of the courses noted on the website or mentioned in any other way. Additionally, ChangeU is not responsible for any content or comments that are parts of such courses.)


Dr. Jim King is the President of Change University.  You may read more about him at the bottom of the page at this link: .