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Category: Big Ocean Women Women in Action

Cottage Industry Series: Sister Cottages – Houston and Nigeria Pair Up for Powerful Impact

October 31, 2019

What happens when two cottages that are a world apart geographically adopt each other as sisters?  A Model of Powerful Impact. Bam! The Houston cottage in the United States had just completed its first large-scale project and felt called to expand its reach to a more global endeavor. The Nigerian cottage, small in numbers but huge in passion, was planning an event to assist 100 local women who were widowed due to attacks in their communities and related issues.  Ann Takasaki, seeing the great potential of combining their experience and passion, suggested they adopt each other as sister cottages. Dana Robb facilitated the initial communications between them. The results have been remarkable.

Nikki Brown from Houston and Fatima Njoku of Nigeria shared their thoughts on the powerful results of becoming sisters in the best sense of the word.


The Houston Cottage was on the heels of our first large project, and we were trying to decide what we should take on next.  We felt the call to engage in an effort that contributed towards a global impact.  We had not communicated that specific desire to the Big Ocean Women executive board, yet the opportunity arose.

Ann was aware that the Jos Nigeria Cottage had a group of women who were preparing a large project and felt that our recent experience with a large project could be helpful.  The largest number of Nigerian people that live in the United States are in Texas, so when Ann proposed the idea to me it felt like the perfect pairing of sister cottages.


Our collaboration with the Houston cottage has been of tremendous encouragement as we have been able to share our thoughts and resources on planning for our widows’ outreach in December. The situation is that the people are in their communities going about their daily life and then suddenly they are surrounded and attacked, houses burnt, people killed, property destroyed, and the government doesn’t respond as expected. The Houston (cottage) made our poster and is trying to raise some help to make the burden lighter for us. This makes us feel like we have sisters out there who are carrying our burdens with us and sharing our concerns in very reinforcing ways.


When we first spoke with Fatima, we were incredibly impressed with her desire to do good on a large scale.  At the time her cottage was fairly small, yet they were aspiring towards an event for 100 widows as a result of neighborhood attacks. As Fatima described the event: three-part training (mental, physical and financial sustainability), we immediately knew that Fatima knew what she was doing!  She is very aware of her community and their needs; thus, the event is well thought out.  Our first “Sister Cottage” collaboration was to support Fatima in her widows’ event.  Our most significant lesson in our support role:  we simply needed to follow Fatima’s lead.  Whatever she identified as a need or where she could use help, do it!   


Our cottage has grown significantly in membership (from ten to 25-30) since we started the collaboration for the project. I look forward to being able to say more after the project.

These “sisters” confirm the truth of this month’s BOW tenet. “The Model of Powerful Impact shows that a single changed individual can be the catalyst for external change, that families are the bedrock of community, and that community is the foundation of society.” Learn more about the plight of these brave women in the Nigeria cottage and their partnership with the Houston cottage in Pat’s video, which was presented at the U.N. Civil Society Conference.

The sisters are already working on their next project. Guided by Pat Frandsen and Ann Takasaki, the Jos Nigeria Big Ocean Women and Houston Texas Big Ocean Women are partnering with Rotary clubs in Nigeria and Texas to implement Giving Girls Dignity Nigeria programs (similar to Days for Girls Enterprises). These programs teach women how to sew reusable feminine products and train them in entrepreneurial skills to sell their products.  The Jos Nigeria Cottage is already partnered with the Rotary Club of Naraguta and their sister cottage in Houston is slated to present to Rotary clubs this month. How can you employ the Model of Powerful Impact by connecting with other sisters–in your home, neighborhood, and community–to make a difference in the world?