On Saturday, October 14, over 450 people gathered to celebrate the important work being done by the Tahirih Justice Center in Houston. With over 20 years as an organization, and eight years in Texas, Tahirih has answered more than 22,000 pleas for help from courageous women and girls escaping human rights abuses.
Thanks to the courage of women and girls demanding freedom from violence, the compassion of loyal and generous supporters, and the commitment to justice by Tahirih’s expansive Pro Bono Network who work side-by-side with staff, the Houston community has prevailed time and time again.
Including in the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation. Anne Chandler, Executive Director of Tahirih’s Houston office remarked on the extraordinary bravery and kindness that Houstonians showed the world.
“Our success in keeping our clients safe was only possible because of the heart and dedication of our communities, our incredible supporters, our community partners, our elected officials, and our first responders,” Anne remarked.
But Houston Strong has meaning well beyond Harvey.
“The work that the Houston community does year-round to support Tahirih and its brave clients sends an important message,” Anne said. “It’s a message of belonging – that immigrant survivors who reject a life of violence are welcome here. It’s a message of worth – that they are worthy of the protections under our laws, and that we, as a community, will ensure they are able to access justice. It’s a message of hope – that we will stand with them to achieve justice, safety, and long-lasting change.”
Anne went on to introduce the evening’s Keynote Speaker. A woman well-acquainted with courage, Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston and has spent the past sixteen years studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. She is the author of four #1 New York Times bestsellers and her TED talk – The Power of Vulnerability – is one of the top five most viewed in the world. In addition to her research and writing, Brené is the Founder of BRAVE LEADERS INC – an organization that brings empirically based courage building programs to teams, leaders, entrepreneurs, change makers, and culture shifters.
“When the word courage first came into the English language the definition was ‘to tell your story with all of your heart’, and that is the definition of courage. To have the courage to stand before people, and say, ‘This is who I am. This is my story. This is my experience,’” Brené told the audience. “And these women and girls do it at the highest potential cost you can imagine. Under threat of violence, they tell their stories. To honor the women and girls who have gone before them, to honor the women who will go behind them and to not just change their lives and their kid’s lives, but to change our lives.”