An Interview with Zoë Wild: One Light Global
Zoë Wild is a former Buddhist Nun, an interfaith Minister, Life Coach, and Meditation Teacher. Zoe Wild tell us about her experiences and the meditation practice that not only gave her the impetus to make that life-changing decision to go to Greece but also to found One Light Global, a non-profit Organization which is evolving the way in which we approach humanitarian crises around the world.
In late Fall of 2015, Zoë Wild saw a video on Facebook of a raft full of refugees that sank trying to get to the EU from Turkey. Everyone except a young girl and a baby had drowned, including the girl’s fiancée. That video was the final straw for Zoë Wild, who knew she could no longer continue to walk through her life in integrity without acting in response to what was happening. She exchanged her precious air miles that she had spent years saving for a ticket to Lesbos, Greece, where she was immediately thrown into the chaos of thousands of refugees arriving nightly on an island of 80,000 permanent residents. Amidst appalling circumstances, she worked tirelessly with other volunteers to assist, support and provide for the sick, the bereaved, the disenfranchised and the homeless, raising money from home, from family, friends and her Facebook community to help those who needed it most. When she returned home, Zoe Wild’s life had changed.
Publisher’s Note: Zoe Wild and her team will be traveling to Serbia in mid-February to work with the horrendous refugee crisis there. To share your compassion with the refugees, please DONATE HERE.
To listen to the full interview of Zoe Wild by Sandie Sedgbeer on the radio show, What Is Going OM, on OMTimes Radio, click the player below.
Interview of Zoe Wild
SANDIE SEDGBEER: Zoe, watching that video clearly had a massive impact on you, but did you have any idea of what you were going to find when you flew into Lesbos?
ZOË WILD: I had no idea. In fact, when I first saw the video I just knew that I had to do something. As you so beautifully said, I knew there was no way I could go on living in my integrity while this was happening and doing nothing. I had no idea what to do, which is I think the place where most people stop. So, I prayed and meditated, and the next day I woke up, and I opened my computer, and I went on Facebook, and the first post I saw was someone saying they were going over there. I did not even know that you could go, so I contacted them and discovered that people were desperately needed on the island. So, I spent my air miles on getting the ticket, and I went over there. I thought that it might be picking up trash on the beach. I had no idea what they would let someone like me do who is unaffiliated, and what the conditions would be because the EU and Turkey had continued to make agreements and then let them go. So, it was completely shocking to me when I landed, and 1,000-2,000 refugees were arriving every single day on these little rafts and risking their lives and their children’s lives, and there were hardly any people there meeting them, helping them in any way.
From the moment, I arrived, for the first two weeks, I slept literally one or two hours a night and just would be on the beaches all night guiding boats in with other volunteers; just ordinary people from mainly Europe but all over the world. During the day at the refugee camp, all day, just helping people. In every two feet, there would be someone in a desperate situation, and it was shocking to me that the governments were not there, that the big NGO’s were not there. Also that the military was not there, that no-one was helping these people, and they were just regular people like you and me dying to find a safe place to live.
SANDIE SEDGBEER: What were the local people doing? Were they trying to help?
ZOË WILD: Many of them were. At that point, it had been years now that they had been dealing with this and it was just last year that it accelerated so much. So, at first, there was some resistance and denial of what was happening, and then it sorts of broke down, I imagine, as it would anywhere. Lots of wonderful, local people who knew that they had to help that they could not turn a blind eye, and some that would try to ignore what was happening. For the most part, my experience with the local Greeks was that they were incredibly generous and kind. Also, especially on those islands, many of them or their parents or grandparents had also been refugees, and that is how they ended up there.
SANDIE SEDGBEER: When you came back, how soon after your return was it that you founded One Light Global?
ZOË WILD: What happened is an amazing story of human community and generosity. I went over thinking I was just going for two weeks, slip in and slip out, and not tell anyone. Just do my service and come back. Instead, what happened was when I got there, like I said, the situation was so dire and the lack of support so shocking that I started just writing on Facebook. I had a large following, 5,000 or so people from my business, and so I just started posting photos of what I was seeing and saying: “Hey guys. This is really happening. These are those people, and this is what they are going through.” Everyone started sharing it because they knew they could trust me, and in this day and age I feel there is so much distrust of large organizations that you do not know where your money is going if you donate to them. So, very quickly, I raised over $60,000 and ended up extending my flight and staying over a month. By the time, I left, I had raised so much money that I sort of had to start an organization, just from a legal and a tax perspective, and so many people had come in and offered help. Offered to be my fiscal sponsor, or offered to fill out the applications for the organization, or offered to be a part of the organization in some way. It really did feel like a divine path, though it had not been my intention when I went over there.
When I returned, I realized life had picked me for this. Ever since I was a small child, I wanted to do humanitarian work, and everyone had always said this is the type of work I was cut out for. I had done trauma work and bereavement counselling and then became a Buddhist Nun, as you said. Then I was at the World Trade Center when it was attacked, and I was in Burma during the uprising, so there were just so many things that were coming together that made it a perfect fit.
SANDIE SEDGBEER: Did it feel to you as if destiny was calling? How difficult, was it for you to set up the Foundation?
ZOË WILD: To set it up, like I said, it felt so divinely orchestrated and so many angels have come in. One of my friends shared my posts and a wonderful organization called Humanity Healing International saw the post and offered to be my Fiscal Sponsor until I got my own 501c-3. They really mentored me a lot, so they saved my butt on a few occasions and guided me into how to do that. All along the way, there were angels. Another person, who also saw my post on Facebook, connected me to a wonderful group of lawyers in Los Angeles who volunteered to do our 501c-3 application pro bono. On the other hand, it was like this huge learning curve every single day about so many different things and about managing a team and various projects. At this point, we are putting kids in school. We are building a Women’s Center in Turkey, and doing direct aid in Greece and Turkey and helping refugees in Phoenix.
SANDIE SEDGBEER: Our listeners may not know this – but Humanity Healing International is the charity behind OMTimes Magazine, and it is wonderful that they could support you. Especially in those early days when you were just trying to get your feet under the table. It is amazing when you start something like this, and you do not think there is anybody out there, and then people start appearing.
This post first appeared on OMTimes Magazine - Co-Creating A More Conscious Li, please read the originial post: here