Challenging the Gap Instinct: Why I Became a Noonday Ambassador
Almost two years ago, I launched my business as an Independent Ambassador with Noonday Collection. For two decades, I had committed myself to rigorous medical training and a demanding clinical practice in family medicine. However, deep inside I identified a desire to do something productive but decidedly non-medical. Creative instincts that had been bottled up while pursuing my medical career suddenly started bubbling to the surface. Becoming a Noonday Ambassador gave me the creative outlet I was seeking.
I had fallen in love with both the product and the purpose of Noonday. When my Ambassador Starter Collection came, I immediately experimented with putting together beautiful displays, and I reached out to friends and family to plan my first Trunk Shows. Wearing my new pieces challenged my personal style as I tried out statement earrings and necklaces unlike anything I had ever worn before.
At the same time as I was starting my Noonday business, I was also reading Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think. The author, late public health expert Dr. Hans Rosling, explains what he identifies as “The Gap Instinct”, which is a tendency that we all naturally have to think of the world in “us vs. them” terms. Using colorful bubble graphs, he builds the case that the world is no longer divided into two distinct categories of “rich vs. poor,” or “first world vs third world.” Using a breakdown of four income levels, the World Health Chart, right in the front cover of the book, shows how income directly correlates to lifespan. The most updated version of this chart is found at his foundation’s website.
I use a printed copy of this chart as an anchor in my Trunk Show display, and to show the relevance to Noonday I add pins to all of the countries where Noonday works with our Artisan Business Partners. In the bottom left corner are the countries in the world’s lowest income bracket, including Uganda, Haiti, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Nepal, and Afghanistan, where people earn on average just $1,000-2,000 per year. In these countries, the average lifespan is a full 10-20 years lower than in countries with the highest income levels, on the far right of the chart, including the United States.
As I was reflecting on the important messages in Factfulnesss, Noonday Collection’s founder, Jessica Honegger, published her memoir, Imperfect Courage. In the second chapter was a testimony that stopped me in my tracks and confirmed Dr. Rosling’s message. Jessica asked Jalia, Noonday’s first Artisan Partner in Uganda, what her dreams of the future were. Jalia’s answer was: “I simply want to live and not die. Most Ugandans die before the age of fifty-five. Jessica, I want to live.” She was articulating exactly what the World Health Chart shows.
When I started my medical training in my early 20s, my dream was to become an international medical missionary. Traveling to remote corners of the globe appealed to my hope of adventure, and it seemed to be a perfect way to use my medical skills. I did have the opportunity early in my training to travel to Central America several times, and those trips opened my mind and heart to vulnerable communities. Reflecting on the past twenty years, I have sometimes felt discouraged that other demands in life have ultimately sidetracked me from pursuing that path. However, over the past two years while working with Noonday Collection, I have come to this realization: I don’t need to travel overseas to have a positive impact on world health.
By working to expand the marketplace for Noonday Collection’s Artisan Business Partners, I am directly growing their earning capacity. As these entrepreneurs in turn build fair trade workshops and employment opportunities in their vulnerable communities, they multiply that impact. And as the World Health Chart shows, improving economic opportunity improves health outcomes. Through Noonday Collection, I am potentially having more of a long-term impact on their health than I would with scattered, short-term medical trips. When Noonday publishes their Impact Reports and shares Artisan stories, I am reminded time and time again that this economic work has positive ripple effects throughout the communities I had hoped to serve.
One day, I do hope to pursue international medical service work again. However, in this season of life, I remain committed to what I can do right here, right now, in this present moment. I can style my friends and change the world! When I wear paper beads or upcycled artillery, I no longer feel the dichotomy of the “us vs. them” gap instinct, but instead I feel a strong connection to the hands that crafted these pieces of wearable art.
Meet Jessica Ange
Apart from being an Ambassador, Jessica is also a full-time family physician, as well as a mother, wife, and caregiver. She joined Noonday as an Ambassador last year when she was looking for a creative outlet with a purpose. She found the perfect fit, wouldn’t you say? She’s also an avid outdoorswoman who recently rock climbed in Joshua Tree!