Interview: How God Helped Me Write My TED Talk

The following entry is a wonderful expression of faith and work coming together as they should in the lives of both women featured.  Tami Kaiser in her capacity with Women Doing Well conducted an interview with Julie Colombino, who founded REBUILD.  Tami is someone who has chosen to pour herself out for the sake of the Kingdom by serving a whole host of ministries, including chairing The Collaborative's Advisory Board.  These are the years when so many others are filling their days with travel, golf, and numerous other leisure activities.  It is evident that Tami does not believe in retirement as the secular world promotes it, rather she sees this season as her "encore" career where she embraces the opportunity to engage more fully in ministry now that time allows for it.  

In another sense, Julie Colombino is all in as her faith and work collided in a very specific way a few years ago.  Her passion was clearly stirred by the Holy Spirit and as a result Julie is on an adventure of a lifetime.  Below Tami asks Julie to tell her story.  Read on, be inspired, and be encouraged by what God is doing in and through these two women. 

That’s the campaign theme and hashtag for this year’s International Women’s Day, celebrated this year tomorrow, on Wednesday, March 8. It’s also an apt description for the woman featured in today’s post: Julie Colombino.

Julie founded REBUILD globally, a nonprofit organization that fights poverty in Haiti. In order to sustain the impact the organization was creating, she then incubated its for-profit partner deux mains, a Haitian-owned and operated ethical fashion company. Both are working well and Julie is sharing her story across the country. She tells us how it happened.

Tell us a little about your story.

Against the advice of friends and family, I traveled to Haiti in 2010 after a devastating earthquake hit that island nation. I was a trained disaster relief worker – and even without a sponsoring organization I felt compelled to go where I knew help was needed. The country was in shambles. Millions were homeless. But I did the best I could, mostly sharing bottled fresh water, until a woman looked me in the eye and said ‘Lady, I do not need your water. I need a job!’

What do you say to that? A light bulb went off in my head – and heart – and I began to seek like-minded souls to partner with me. And I did what I thought anyone would do—I returned to Florida, quit my job, sold my home and moved permanently to Haiti with my life’s savings of $7000.

Today you have both a nonprofit training ministry and a for-profit fashion company. Was that your plan?

Not exactly! Believe me, we knew nothing about either of those things. We just knew that we had to find something to do that could create employment for people – especially women – who were desperate to save their families.

I remembered watching men in Africa make shoes out of tire rubber – and suggested we might try that. After some serious Google searches we began to laboriously cut sandal soles with razor blades from old tires. They were ugly and awful to walk in. But it was a start. And just seven months later, we opened the REBUILD globally training center and workshop – dedicated to turning found objects into fashion and the impoverished into entrepreneurs.

At Women Doing Well we know that a woman who ‘gives well’ exhibits several attributes. She knows her purpose, her passion, and has a plan. What would you say your ‘purpose’ is? How has God spoken to you?

That’s a great question. I simply know that what resonates most with me is strengthening women, providing dignity. And God truly spoke to me in my early times in Haiti. I was really wrapped up in what was going on and tended to go on and on – and on – about it. Then God whispered: ‘Julie, listen more than you talk.’ That was the key. I needed to begin listening and allowing others into the conversation. And to allow Him to guide our way.

Tami Kaiser