Nepal trip inspired 'accidental humanitarian' - Albuquerque Journal

Nepal trip inspired ‘accidental humanitarian’

Volunteers prepare supplies for Navajo Nation residents last summer during the pandemic. Thirty-five tons were delivered. (Courtesy of Christine Glidden)

Editor’s note: Today, the Journal continues “The Good News File,” a series of uplifting stories in partnership with KOAT-TV and KKOB Radio. The Journal will publish a “Good News” feature the first Friday of the month, KOAT-TV will present its feature each second Friday and KKOB each third Friday.

Christine Glidden never had visions or dreams or plans or even an inkling she would become a humanitarian.

She now runs the successful nonprofit Women To Be, which provides menstrual hygiene products for girls and women around the world. Her organization became even more critical during the recent pandemic, expanding to help those on the Navajo nation obtain much needed food, water and other supplies.

“I’m an accidental humanitarian,” she said. “If you are not generous, you are not fully participating in life and who you are meant to be.”

It was a trip to Nepal in 2012 that would change the way she looked at life. There she met a woman who shared stories with her about refugees, especially young women, who did not have access to basic hygiene products. Glidden said a lack of sanitary napkins and a way to dispose of them is severely impacting the lives of women, leading them to drop out of school, marry prematurely, isolate themselves and use weeds, rags and even paper in the absence of sanitary napkins.

She started Women To Be in 2014. The organization puts together hygiene kits with eight reusable sanitary napkins and two pair of underwear. When COVID-19 shut everything down, her operation came to a standstill.

But then a new opportunity emerged.

The pandemic stampeded across New Mexico in March 2020, hitting the Navajo Nation pretty hard. Not only were Navajo people dying in great numbers, their members found themselves isolated and cut off from basic supplies like food and water.

“I get home and start reading about Navajo people dying during the pandemic,” she said. “I started going through my pantry and asking my neighbors for stuff.”

Having done community service work for years, Glidden was able to quickly mobilize others.

Everything changed when she met 24th Navajo Nation Council member Mark Freeland, who oversees eight communities in San Juan and McKinley counties. He was able to connect her with the very people she hoped to help.

Freeland said many of the people he represents do not have running water or electricity, and many were afraid or unable to leave their homes during the pandemic.

“I knew there was a great need,” he said. “A lot of people are living in multi-generational homes.”

Freeland helped with the logistics, Glidden secured a $25,000 grant from the Rotary Club, of which she is a member. The Jewish Community Center, Kirtland Air Force Base, the Albuquerque Community Foundation, Vegan Outreach, Community Organized Relief Effort and DreamLab also stepped in to help.

“There were 250 vehicles waiting for us when we showed up (the first time),” she said. “Then 100 more showed up. We ran out of stuff. It was heartbreaking.”

They went every other Saturday from May until January and delivered a total of 35 tons of food, water, household supplies and hygiene products.

“It made a huge difference,” Freeland said. “It helped with addressing the needs of a lot of people.”

Glidden said she will continue helping where she is needed.

“Experiencing these humanitarian projects has changed me,” she said. “I am a kinder, more engaged, more personally powerful person. That does not make me wonderful, it makes me lucky.”

If you have a story you would like to suggest for this series, please send your tip to ebriseno@abqjournal.com.

Home » Business » Health & Safety » Nepal trip inspired ‘accidental humanitarian’


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Two killed in overnight crash
ABQnews Seeker
Two people were killed and a ... Two people were killed and a third person was injured in a single-vehicle crash near Central and Tingly early Wednesday morning. Officer Chase Jewell, ...
2
Rockets away in New Mexico
ABQnews Seeker
Teams from around the globe gather ... Teams from around the globe gather to compete in the Spaceport America Cup
3
One of ABQ’s newest speed cameras stolen off its ...
ABQnews Seeker
Just over two weeks after the ... Just over two weeks after the city's mobile speed enforcement device on Lead at Cornell started issuing tickets, vandals removed the camera box
4
SFNF firewood permits available
ABQnews Seeker
The permits, which expire Dec. 31, ... The permits, which expire Dec. 31, apply to the entire forest, except designated wilderness areas
5
Man fatally shot on East Central
ABQnews Seeker
A man was shot to death ... A man was shot to death Tuesday night in Southeast Albuquerque. The incident marked the fifth homicide in the city in the past six ...
6
Four charged in 2020 ABQ homicide
ABQnews Seeker
Suspects arrested on a variety of ... Suspects arrested on a variety of charges, including murder and arson
7
Teen charged in shooting threat at Edgewood school
ABQnews Seeker
A 17-year-old allegedly threatened to shoot ... A 17-year-old allegedly threatened to shoot up a school earlier this month in Edgewood. State Police spokeswoman Candace Hopkins said Emma Haviland, of Edgewood, ...
8
Top New Mexico elections regulator says she was threatened
ABQnews Seeker
New Mexico's top elections regulator says ... New Mexico's top elections regulator says she received threats to her safety via an email and telephone calls to her offices and that the ...
9
Albuquerque redistricting committee to take final vote
ABQnews Seeker
City Council undergoes realignment after each ... City Council undergoes realignment after each census