A Q&A with Catherine Zahn - The woman behind The Cathy Stripe

September 05, 2018 4 min read

Our Cathy Stripe is named after philanthropist & human rights activist Catherine Zahn, who started The Giving Three Foundation in an effort to give the voices in third world countries the chance to finally be heard and to raise funds for education and the fight against human trafficking. The Cathy Stripe features a rich combination of deep red and dusty rose - the colors of love, strength and energy.

How did you get started with The Giving Three?

Several years ago I read the book Half the Sky, by Nicholas Kristof. The book bears witness to atrocities and injustices, particularly through gender inequality and oppression occurring throughout the world. It is impossible, after reading this book to do nothing. So, in 2009 Gracie Greene, LLC was established and a few years later The Giving Three Foundation, (501)c3 was created. After considering different ways that we could make a difference we decided to focus on the oppressions in Cambodia and were convinced that education would be the most effective way to fight poverty and modern day slavery. Unless schools are constructed in rural villages the children especially the girls will not make it to a class room that is far from home. Trafficking of young girls is one of the most serious human rights problems facing Cambodia today. Twenty-seven million girls are "missing" throughout countries such as Asia, lndia, Pakistan and Cambodia.
The Giving Three Foundation partnered with World Assistance for Cambodia an organization dedicated to improving opportunities for the youth and rural poor in Cambodia. Building schools in rural villages in Cambodia so education will be accessible to all children close to home will help empower these young girls and help them stand up to injustices. The Zahn School opened in 2014, and currently has 500 students enrolled.

What inspired your passion for working with this cause?

“Half the Sky” had a huge impact on me. Having my own three daughters it was gut wrenching for me to read heartbreaking accounts from 10 and 12-year-old girls who didn’t even have the most basic human rights.  This is modern day slavery and no one should think this is OK!  When this book is dropped at your door with 300 pages of human tragedy but also with suggestions of solutions you feel compelled to help.
Every person should have basic human rights, it is difficult to sit by when others are struggling inhumanely from oppression and lack of opportunity. Human trafficking is one of the most serious Human Rights violations active today. It is a $32 billion dollar a year industry driven by demand. Once I discovered that some very small acts could help change a child’s life I was driven to help create opportunities. Talent is everywhere but opportunities are not.
My daughters are also major influences on my life of course. As I look at them I am so thankful that they have many opportunities in their life and equally thankful that they are active in helping others gain opportunities.
I also believe that we cannot be a civilized society when we tolerate human trafficking.

Of all the ways to get involved, what led you to opening a school?

We at The Giving Three believe that education is the most effective way to fight poverty and modern day slavery. Without an education, these children will become desperate and become prey to the traffickers. Your choices of work in Cambodia without an education are basically hard labor in the fields, begging or living on the garbage heaps. Each of these allows the trafficker to swoop in and tempt the child with a better life.
We wanted to give the community something to sustain the children, not just give them a donation of money that would soon be spent and they would be no better off.

What are the ways that you continue to grow your effort & what are you goals for the next few years to come?

People’s choice of what to buy and wear have the power to change the world!
I am often invited to speak at different functions about our school and human trafficking which is another way for us to promote our cause.
Our goals going forward are to continue supporting the needs of the Zahn School, teacher’s salaries, computers and books for example and we are now looking into ways we can help a 40-child orphanage located close to the Zahn School. These efforts will keep us busy for a while.
As we promote our cause we often let people know “You may choose to look the other way but you can never again say that you did not know.” W. Wilberforce 

How can others get involved with this cause? 

I am always looking for people who might be able to donate time to The Giving Three Foundation, or becoming an Ambassador for our cause. Also, please consider having us participate as a speaker for clubs you are members of, this type of interaction allows us to raise awareness and disseminate the latest information.
To learn more about The Giving Three foundation click here.

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