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Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2009

Meg Boren’s Circle of Empowerment

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Circle of Empowerment, an international outreach program developed by Grafton native Meg Boren, comes full circle when Boren returns from her current home in Nicaragua—where she works as a humanitarian health care worker—to speak at Mequon’s Next Chapter Bookshop on Wednesday, Sept. 16, at 7 p.m. With core values like respect and independence, Circle of Empowerment employs a grassroots philosophy in working toward greater justice and development in Nicaragua’s remote communities.

Boren permanently moved to Nicaragua in 2002 but periodically returns to Wisconsin to spread news about her work and advocate for those in need. The Shepherd Express highlighted Boren’s work in 2007 and 2008 and recently caught up with her again. According to Boren, the focus over the past year has been on training “brigadistas,” young men and women who volunteer to be the primary health resources for their villages.

“Before we had our first brigadistas trained, we lost an average of four children to pneumonia in the nine villages where brigadistas serve,” Boren says. “In the last five years, we have not lost one child.”

Boren says she has learned a lot from working with the Nicaraguans. “You start to discover how much they can help us to rediscover values that are on the decline in a society that is so dominated by our capitalistic orientation,” she explains. “When you become involved working with people who live in abject poverty, but are joyous despite this, it makes you question what poverty is, and if perhaps our obsession with material things doesn’t define us as truly poor.”

At Next Chapter, Boren will discuss books that inspire her. “I continue to be touched by our present-day heroes and seek out the inspiration of those that take the courage and risks to make this world a better place,” she says. “Books like Three Cups of Tea with Greg Mortenson, a man who fights for peace and against terrorism through education, and Mountains Beyond Mountains with Dr. Paul Farmer and his fight to bring basic health care to the under-served in Haiti, help inspire and encourage me in my work in Nicaragua, and let me know I am not alone in my dreams of making a difference.”

Author/attorney David Ellis also visits Milwaukee this week to read from his latest novel, The Hidden Man, on Tuesday, Sept. 15, at 7 p.m. at Mystery One Bookstore. Ellis quickly earned praise and awards from the literary community after debuting his first novel in 2001. And as chief counsel to the Illinois speaker of the House, he served as lead prosecutor in the trial of ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The Hidden Man, the first in a series set in the Midwest, is a novel of law, murder and revenge that is filled with gripping story lines and thrilling characters.