32-year old Mallory Brown travels the globe to share stories of incredible people and organizations, helping them raise money and change the world. Now, she’s on a mission to walk a marathon with 26 women around the globe, one mile at a time. Mile 2 is in her hometown of Detroit, where she walks with Ebonie, a mother of three who was formerly homeless but is now thriving thanks to a small nonprofit with a clever idea to lift families out of homelessness—for good.
In Mallory’s words, the story of Walk a Mile from her interview on GoFundMe’s podcast, True Stories of Good People:
I started backpacking when I was in my early 20s, and then I started working in the social impact space. I’ve been to 48 countries. My travel has increased as the years pass. Now, I’m taking about 5–6 trips internationally per year.
As soon as I started traveling, it shifted my whole perspective on life. I realized that the things I stressed about—the things I cared about that I was putting energy toward—were so frivolous.
Every time I get back from an international trip, there’s something I appreciate that I didn’t before. Sometimes it’s running water coming out of a faucet. Often, it’s carpet.
I used to worry that my accessories didn’t match, that I had black shoes and a brown belt. That was a general thought in my mind. Now I realize just how much I have and how privileged I am to be in a society that encourages people to thrive and that I am educated and that I travel the world. You know, I go meet people where I’ve spent 24 hours on a plane to get to them, and they’ve never left their village. It makes you so appreciative that I was born here with freedom and access to anything I could want.
The more I traveled, the more I realized the power of women, especially in impoverished situations. Women are the backbone of a family, which is then the backbone of community, and I saw these women working so hard to pull their families out of poverty. I wanted to step into their shoes and see what life was like.
Walk a Mile is a global marathon for women. I am walking a marathon, one mile at a time, with 26 different impoverished women around the world. Each mile is funded by a power woman in the U.S. who donates to make the mile possible. They cover travel costs and production costs to allow me to make these 26 documentaries. These 26 power women fund the project, and then I film with women on the ground.
I first pick a location and a charity that helps women locally. Most of them are grassroots, small NGOs that are doing the hard work day in and day out. Then, I travel to visit the charity and walk with a woman whom they have helped. My videographer and I get on a plane and spend a week in a remote location around the world. Then, we edit together a five-minute story about the woman, her day-to-day life and struggles, and how the nonprofit has helped her. And then we come home, edit the video, and launch a CrowdRise by GoFundMe campaign so that people can watch the story and then click a button and donate to help.
Mile 1 was in Tanzania. I was walking with a woman named Elizabeth, and the story benefited a charity called The Adventure Project. The Adventure Project is one of my absolute, hands-down favorite charities. I’m just the biggest fan. It empowers people to create entrepreneurial solutions for issues in their communities. It’s not only solving a community issue, but it’s supplying an income for someone, so it’s helping in two ways.
Elizabeth is one of those entrepreneurs in Tanzania. She makes energy-efficient cook stoves out of pottery. Then, she sells them at affordable prices in her local market to other women. They’re solving a community health crisis, which is that normally women in Tanzania cook over open flame. They’re spending hours a day at that fire. It’s the equivalent of inhaling two packs of cigarettes a day, leading to respiratory disease and lung cancer.
Mile 2 is for Detroit. As a hometown girl, I had to throw some love to my backyard. I’m walking with an incredible woman named Ebonie. She is a single mother of three, 36 years old, and formerly homeless. The mile benefits an organization called The Empowerment Plan, which is a nonprofit that hires women out of homeless shelters and teaches them how to sew. Then, they make winter coats that turn into sleeping bags and give them away to homeless people.
It’s a full-circle nonprofit: They’re pulling people out of homelessness through job training and providing them a steady income. And in turn, they’re working to help people whose shoes they used to be in. It’s amazing, and Ebonie’s been working for the Empowerment Plan for five years. She’s now out of the shelter and has a house. She provides a full life for her kids. She has a car, she drives them to school, and her oldest son goes to basketball practice. She’s a working mom, and she’s living a totally normal life after being in a shelter.
My motivation for my campaigns is really my donors. I realize how many people want to give back — they just don’t know how to and they don’t trust where their money goes, or they feel like it’s not going to make a difference. People are searching for real, powerful ways to help, so I’m providing that to my donors. When I hear feedback from them or when I get repeat donations from generous people, that’s my motivation to keep going.
I want people who are watching my stories, who are donating, to realize that they have the power to impact someone’s life, and it doesn’t take a lot. So for Mile 1, $20 funds a stove. It’s not a lot of money to donate, but it will save a woman in Tanzania from getting lung cancer. You have so much power if you’re willing to open your eyes, to feel connected, to feel motivated to help others. You have that power.
Mallory continues to raise money through her CrowdRise by GoFundMe campaign to help The Empowerment Plan assist Detroit’s homeless population.