10. Empowering Women & Children

by Amy Paulson

My Passion:

I’m passionate about empowering dignity, healing, and self­sustainability for orphaned children, for women and girls who are survivors of gender based violence, and for boys and young men who are at risk of becoming perpetrators of violence.

It’s my personal mission, and the mission of the organization I co­founded (Global Gratitude Alliance)­ to help these vulnerable communities break the cycle of intergenerational trauma, poverty, exploitation, and abuse, so they can transform themselves and their communities.


I believe that true transformation must start from within. And, if we don’t address the emotional effects of trauma, we will pass that trauma down to the next generation. This is true regardless of whether we live in Switzerland, USA, Kenya, Nepal, or anywhere else in the world. Regardless of how much money we make, or the culture we live in, or the level of education we have.


I believe that every human on the planet is connected to each other through our suffering and our capacity for love and compassion. What causes our individual suffering may look different on the surface. We all have our own unique stories of trauma, sadness, loss, and grief. But inside, the pain feels the same.


I believe that once we can truly be present with our own suffering, understanding that it is the essence of our shared humanity, then we cannot bear witness to the suffering of another human without feeling empathy, compassion, and a desire to relieve that suffering, recognizing that ‘the other’ is simply a mirror reflection of ourselves. 


Discovery Journey

When I was just a newborn baby, only one day old, I was abandoned at a police station, and taken to an orphanage, in Seoul, Korea, where I lived among a sea of 200 other little orphaned babies and only a handful of stressed out caregivers.


By the time I was adopted to America several months later, I had already experienced trauma, the effects of which would follow me throughout my entire childhood, adolescence, and into adulthood. My story of healing and transformation has been a long journey. And, I’m still on it.


Several years ago, I discovered the real truth about my birth family. I wasn’t abandoned. Rather, I was kidnapped ­ taken from my mother just after birth. When she awoke and I was gone, she was told I had died. I also discovered that my Korean mother was also an orphan. The North Korean army killed her parents when she was 6 years old. She went to an orphanage and was adopted to a Korean family. The legacy of orphaned children, intergenerational trauma, and healing had been handed down to me even before I was born.


This is it

Discovering the truth changed my life. In an instant, I felt a warm sense of gratitude that was so overwhelming that there was no other way for me to live than to express that gratitude as an action -­ one that would heal and transform the lives of other people in the world. I returned from Korea, quit my job as a finance manager, founded Global Gratitude Alliance, and have since dedicated my life to the communities around the world who have changed my own life as well.


You know it when you feel it from the deepest part of your heart. At least, that is how it was for me. Suddenly, it was clear what my life purpose was. In fact, I had known it all along, long before I ever learned the truth of my story. The passion to be with other orphaned children was always in my heart ­ to relieve their suffering as if it were my own.


But sometimes, we aren’t ready to live our life’s purpose. We first need to embark on our own journey of self discovery and healing. My journey took 35 years before I was ready to live my life’s purpose. Now that I am here, I jump out of bed each morning with excitement and overwhelming gratitude. I know that I am living the truth that is in my heart.


Try it

Be grateful. Be compassionate. Pay it forward. Repeat.

With so many causes and so much need in the world, one can often feel paralyzed. Where do I begin?


The truth is, there are a million ways to create a more deeply meaningful life. It starts with simple acts of everyday kindness and gratitude. Maybe it is offering a smile and a kind word to the elderly woman on the bus who is lonely or sad. Maybe it is bringing coffee to the person who cleans your street. Maybe it is writing a note of gratitude to an old friend for something you never had the chance to thank them for before.


Once you start to shift your life in this way ­ to be grateful for the everyday things in life that you may have taken for granted, and to treat everyone with compassion and love, remembering that everyone has their own stories of pain and sorrow ­ the world gets a little smaller and a little brighter. And, you start to create this beautiful mutual cycle of giving and receiving that has a ripple effect on the world ­ transforming the lives of other people, while transforming your own life as well.


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