An interview with India Wilson: Team leader of "Write Girl" and "Orchid Project"

1. Q: How did you first decide to start a team for the organizations WriteGirl and Orchid Project on 5 for Fairness?

A: I had been an intern for about a year before I led my first team. I began to want a little bit of variation, so I was intrigued when Anna suggested that I lead a team. I didn't know where to begin, but then she showed me WriteGirl and it seemed so fitting. I've always loved writing and when I read about how much they do for the girls in their program, I couldn't resist the urge to help. I had so much fun leading the WriteGirl team that I couldn't wait for the next grant cycle. Orchid Project seemed important in a different way. Female genital cutting is something that people don't talk about that often because it's very controversial. I saw this as a chance to call attention to an issue that many stay away from. In addition, reading about the impact that Orchid project has in the different communities they visit inspired me to help them continue their work.


2. Q: How did you inform people about your teams and eventually get them to vote for you?

A: It was initially difficult to figure out ways to inform people about WriteGirl and Orchid Project. I sent emails to everyone on my contact list, but very few people responded. After that, I decided to take advantage of all the different things you can do directly from the 5 for Fairness website. I went through the list of members and wrote hundreds of personal messages asking people to come and take a look at my team page. Like the emails, many went unanswered, but the people that did read about the teams liked them and told their friends and family to take a look. Together with the representatives from WriteGirl and Orchid Project, we frequently put up new posts and tried to show people just how much each organization could do. We tried to be specific about how each organization would use the grant and gave firsthand stories from the people who worked at each organization and those who were recipients of their work. I think many 5fers really appreciated having a lot of information about the teams when they were making their final voting decision.


3. Q: How did it feel to win the grant?

A: With both the WriteGirl and Orchid Project grant cycles, I felt incredibly nervous waiting for the votes to come in. I had become so emotionally invested in each team and checked the voting progress practically every five minutes. When I found out that we won, I was ecstatic! It felt so good to help WriteGirl and Orchid Project continue such important work. I would tell anyone who asked to take the time to lead a team. It is such a wonderful experience to work with and learn from people who care so much about their cause, and if you win it's even better!


4. Q: Have you kept in contact with anyone from WriteGirl or Orchid Project?

A: I was so happy after winning the grant because I didn't lose contact with the representatives from each organization. Keren and Lisa from Writegirl have invited me to two of their workshops since the grant cycle. Unfortunately I couldn't go because I was sick both times, but I hope that there's a workshop in my future. I also love to keep myself up to date with what both organizations are doing on Facebook and on their websites.

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