Yanise Ho, originally from Hong Kong, has defied multiple cultural and gender expectations by traveling across the United States with nothing but a forty-three-pound backpack and a pair of rollerblades. According to MSN News, this twenty-three-year-old hopes to verify female empowerment and prove there is more good in the world than we think.
She began in Miami, Florida, in March, traveling north to New York, and then to Portland, Oregon, with no money or plan, relying on the kindness of strangers. She said, “There’s not a day I slept in the street or went hungry.” She explained her desire to challenge the stereotypical idea that girls shouldn’t be doing things on their own because they are weaker and more likely to become a victim in dangerous situations. She stated, “I want to bring out the message that if you dream, it doesn’t matter what gender you are, you can do anything you believe yourself to be.” Yanise doesn’t accept money—just food and shelter if offered.
She does have some day-to-day issues that come with the physical challenges of rollerblading—her shoulders hurt, but she becomes used to it. Blisters are a problem, and sometimes the bones in her feet get sore. When the rollerblades break down, she usually has them repaired quickly. For more difficult repairs, she leans on her Facebook supporters. She described the helpfulness of others in this way: “Some people went as far as offering to drive eight hours to drop off some small little part for my skates—so I feel there’s always people watching out for me.”
According to The Catholic Messenger, Ho visited Bishop Thomas Zinkula in Iowa, who offered her the use of an unoccupied apartment in the chancery for her two-night stay. The Bishop referred to the passage from Matthew’s gospel: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, and I was a stranger and you welcomed me.…” Although Ho does not claim a religious affiliation, she surely models the characteristics of peace and goodwill on a worldwide basis.
Ultimately, she hopes to raise awareness of the nonprofit organization One Girl Can, which funds scholarships for girls in Kenya and Uganda in need of gender equality. The scholarship Ho created was aptly named “The Bladress,” of which she says, “The name itself represents female empowerment.… That one girl can achieve more than what society predicts us to be able to do.” Yanise is truly an active inspiration at a time when we need it. If you would like to donate to her scholarship, you can check out this site. Any and all comments about how her story touches you and/or what it brings up would be most appreciated.
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