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June, 2024 – IIRR honors and remembers Jane Boorstein, who passed away on Friday, May 24. Jane was a remarkable woman whose nearly 97 years were marked by unwavering dedication, profound impact, and boundless love. She served on IIRR’s board for more than 20 years and as Trustee Emeritus since 2016. Over her many years of service to rural communities, Jane was not just a colleague and board member; she was a cherished friend and an inspiring presence to those who knew her.

Jane was an ardent advocate for planned and healthy families. Her passion for this cause took her to global population conferences around the world, starting with Bucharest in 1974. There, she delved deeply into the pressing issue of uncontrolled population growth and its far-reaching impacts on mothers, families, communities, and nations. Her keen insights and persistent advocacy were instrumental in shaping dialogues and policies aimed at fostering sustainable development.

One of Jane’s most transformative contributions was her pioneering concept and adaptation of Learning Our Way Out (LOWO), for which IIRR served as an implementing partner for more than a decade. She believed fervently in the power of communities to take charge of their own futures. LOWO was based on a simple yet revolutionary idea: through trained facilitators, communities could engage in meaningful dialogue to identify the root causes of their most pressing problems and discover the most socially, culturally, and economically appropriate solutions.

Jane’s vision for LOWO began as a modest experiment in southern Ethiopia. It was here that a few communities embarked on this journey of self-discovery and empowerment. The results were nothing short of remarkable. Through the LOWO approach, these communities were able to address their most pressing challenges in ways that were sustainable and deeply resonant with their local context. The success of this initiative demonstrated that true development comes from within and that external aid is most effective when it supports and enhances local capacities.

Over time, the LOWO concept spread to many other communities, showing its potential to revolutionize development thinking and practices. Jane’s work proved that when communities are given the tools and support to lead their own development, the outcomes are more enduring and impactful.

Those who were fortunate enough to work side by side with Jane witnessed her unwavering commitment, stubborn determination, and wit in discovering lasting solutions to development problems. Her legacy is not just in the projects she initiated but in the countless lives she touched and the enduring change she inspired.

Although Jane will be missed greatly, her lifelong legacy will continue for generations to come. As we remember Jane, let us also commit to carrying forward her vision. We can join together to continue her lifelong legacy by supporting the initiatives she spearheaded for decades. Let us empower communities to discover their own paths to development, ensuring that Jane’s remarkable work lives on.

IIRR sends condolences and peace to Jane’s family, friends, and colleagues. May her legacy be the light on the hill to rural communities everywhere.