The Wish List - #WhenIBecameFree - The Heartland Project

Today is my birthday and all I can think about is how much I want this project, #WhenIBecameFree - The Heartland Project to succeed.

There are so many stories of survival out there longing to be told. Stories from everyday people doing remarkable things, even if it is waking up every day and moving forward after living a life filled with abuse. Hearing the stories, and seeing the survivors share them gives hope to so many and in ways that is hard to describe.

First there is the courage shown when a survivor is willing to share that story on camera in an intimate conversation about their life. Thus far, every survivor I have met through this project has helped me on my own path.

Then there is the realization that in the heart and soul of our country, the Heartland, resources are scarce and hurdles of small town/rural life enhance the struggle to succeed when breaking free - it is an isolation like no other but at the same time you can also find how when within a small community there is a core of survivors working to help others, the blanket of love and acceptance provided can ease the ache of healing.

People congratulate me quite a bit on the strength I show, what they don't realize is that every time I share my story and hear from other survivors about their path, my healing also grows and propels me forward.

Maybe I am a bit nutty to take on such a large effort when I can barely afford life for myself and my family, however there is a little voice inside my head telling me that I cannot afford to not do this.

Every day I feel as if my will to see this project through is being tested, but having said that, every night as I lay my head down to sleep all I can think of is completing it -

I tend to be a little bit too proud to ask for help when it comes to something for myself , something I tell others to be watchful of because there is no shame in needing a hand up. It is always easier to give advice than it is to follow your own.

So, as a Happy Birthday gift to myself I decided to create a wishlist for seeing this project through.

Project goal - To visit rural areas in the Midwest (The Heartland of America) and interview in person survivors of abuse (child, sexual and domestic). Film intimate conversations with these remarkable people on their life's path, including their healing and any projects they may be working on to help others in their community.

Videos are posted to the website, and then will be compiled into a mini documentary showing their struggle, their strength and their accomplishments despite the hurdles of surviving in rural America where poverty is rampant, resources are scare, and the rumor mill is vast.

Stories will also be compiled into an e-book made available on-line for a donation and free to anyone in need.

On my team is a handful of survivors and volunteer students from iLEAD Charter School in Mauston, WI. Through the students eyes this project will keep a focus on youth and how best to reach them so that future generations will have a better understanding about abuse, and what healthy behaviors are - some of these students are artists and poets, their artwork adds another dimension to the project.

In the last year and a half I have been able to compile quite a bit of research and other material to help the content of the project along, including stories of survivors in Wisconsin - now it is time to make the trek to other states.

To get there I will need the following:

Gas cards (thankfully we are seeing a drop in gas prices)
A cell phone for the project - I am one of the few people left on this Earth who doesn't have a personal cell phone. This will be a need especially once on the road.
Recording equipment specifically for the project - currently I am using equipment that does not belong to me.
COFFEE - to keep up with the demands this coffee addict will need a steady supply ;)

All donations will be acknowledged on the website - any items left once project is completed will be donated to an organization helping survivors unless they can be used for my next project (Yes, I have a follow up project in mind!) Proceeds left or made from the project will be split 3-ways - iLEAD Charter School, a non profit organization for survivors, and investment in the next project.

Donations to this effort are NOT tax deductible. You are investing in my dream in giving survivors a voice to reach out to others in their healing.

You can (snail mail) write to me and the project at

When I Became Free
c/o Eva Marie Woywod
315 Grove St.
Mauston, WI. 53948

Thank you for listening. 
A very long time ago, lol, a special person sent me these songs on a cd he burned for me when I was at the start of breaking free and learning how to love myself. Since then and when I hear them now I can appreciate the road of healing and how far I've come. Thank you, you know who you are.


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