the first MotherKind event
On June 20th, the first event for MotherKind was held at the Perch Gallery in Port Dover, Ontario, Canada. During the day, we had an open house for World Refugee Day. We sold products made by women we have partnered with (including lovely jewelry and handbags made by women in Kenya through Project Africa). Valerie and I also had our daughters join us for the day at their “Kids that Care” table. They sold their own home-made fudge, jam, necklaces and cookies and donated the money raised to a mother that we are working with to get her children to Canada from the Congo.
The whole day began as an opportunity to showcase an art project done by the diverse group of women involved in the Women & Family program run by Yonge Street Mission in downtown Toronto. These women (and some of their children) did plaster casts of their hands and decorated them in their own unique way by painting henna designs on them, their home country’s flag, or messages of hope.
We were so honoured to bring these creations into a rural community and give others the opportunity to see a personal project that was never intended for public display. It was truly complete when 4 of the women from the program, 2 participants and 2 staff, made the 2 hour trip to join us at the gallery. They brought delicious middle-eastern and Indian food with them, and sold most of it within two hours. It was so amazing to see these two young mothers- one from India; the other from Afghanistan (perhaps their first time out of downtown Toronto, and without their children) for a day out selling what they created. These two ladies were giddy as they bought colas and headed to the shops to look around, and to the beach to have time on their own. Later in the afternoon it was incredibly moving to see one of the women from YSM connect with Melanie, a woman that is a Congolese refugee that we are working with. They shared stories of being in a new country, alone, and giving birth. Both for their own reasons, but both then joined in sisterhood and understanding for what each had gone through. That moment brought us face to face with the purpose of the day- breaking down barriers, making connections, finding strength through our own struggles and victories. If no one had come, the event would have still been a success for that single moment.
In the evening, we sold tickets for a separate focus. First, we screened the film “Where the Water meets the Sky” a project of Camfed (www.camfed.org) that saw women in a rural Zambian village create a documentary film to have their voice heard. Morgan Freeman narrates this moving film, and you can see the trailer at www.watermeetssky.com
We were so honoured to have this film, as it had just received the liscencing for public screening just a couple of weeks before our event.
The second true honour of the evening was hearing Melanie tell of her experiences in her native Congo, and what had forced her to flee at nine-months pregnant. She has not seen her family in 8 years, and this was the first time she has publicly told her story. Others were sobbing as she told of her life, missing her children and the daily struggles in waiting to see them again. Her courage and strength are an example to us all.