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Traveling Postcards continues to inspire my heart in so many ways. Deanne LaRue, From the Meridian Health Foundation delivered 80 cards to Haiti last month and distributed them as gifts of celebration, connection and love. The girls reacted with much joy and appreciation, knowing that women and girls everywhere are thinking of them and empowering one another to find and share their own strong voices. We hope that all the girls who received a postcard will have the opportunity to make one over the summer. I will continue to post news from the Haiti Through our Eyes project and links to the United Nations Girls Up blog.
In other exciting news, Traveling Postcards will begin to work with the STAND! Against Domestic Violence community in Northern California. We will be teaching and sharing our workshop with the resilient women living in the transitional housing facility and collecting their voices to share with other women around the world who have experienced domestic violence. Each woman will make two cards; one to give to a woman in a local shelter, and one to send to a global sister who will know she is supported and valued from around the world.
And finally, another local project brings Traveling Postcards to the Marin County Libraries this summer! Fellow artist Victoria Gonzales will facilitate card making workshops under the theme" Novel Destinations". The Postcards will be sent to an orphanage in Mexico that the CorteMadera Library supports. Victoria and the libraries will provide all the art supplies and books you need to discover the power of your voice through art. We will keep you posted with her progress and will post more details about the orphanage over the summer. Please see the Marin County Free Library website for locations and times.
Have a wonderful summer and please continue to write or call with new ideas and "novel destinations" for Traveling Postcards!
Girls United- Haiti Through Our Eyes is a project Traveling Postcards is happy to have been invited to play a small role in!
I was contacted by Deanne LaRue and Susan Moniham from The Meridian Health Foundation. Together with the United Nations Foundation and Full-Circle Learning, Traveling Postcards will be participating in a project that encourages adolescent girls to " not only address their own healing and individual goals for helping their community through the arts, but to feel empowered to inspire other girls to do the same." Girls United.
A group of 6 artists and educators will be traveling to Haiti on May 27th . They will be working in the J/P HRO camp and at the YWCA in Petionville . The entire two weeks will be spent writing, photographing, using mixed media and other healing arts in hopes of helping girls find their voices and learn to become peer counselors for one another. At the end of the first session, the girls will be invited to participate in the Traveling Postcards workshop and to share their voices with our global community.
We have also collected 65 cards for Deanne to pack in her suitcase to give to the girls when she arrives. The cards come from a wonderful group of 16 year old girls from Northern California, some of whom have already been raising money and participating with Girls United. Other cards were made in Kigali Rwanda and brought back to the States with Lisa Sonora Beam. Lisa, who is a talented artist and entrepreneur traveled to Africa in March and was eager to help facilitate card making workshops. All of the cards are available to see on the Traveling Postcards website.
I will keep you posted with any news and pictures from Haiti I receive. We are also working on bringing you a new website filled with stories, resources for action and lots and lots of Traveling Postcards!
Afghanistan is seeping into my heart. Ever since the Art for Afghanistan campaign launched, I have been welcomed into a community that is filled with genuine affection and open hearts. I have made new cards and new friends with the women from the Farsi-Adult Day Health Care at the Mt Diablo Center. These women once lived in Afghanistan and Iran and moved to the US with their families over the last 30 years. Almost everyone speaks Farsi except for the one word they all know in English...'love'. After card making, that at times was difficult for them to even hold a pair of scissors, each one took me in their arms, kissed me and told me in English that they loved me . Their cards are filled with blessings and wisdom and are bound for Afghanistan on April 13th.
Traveling Postcards has received over 280 new cards to send with Budd Mackenzie from Trust in Education to Afghanistan. Cards came from Marlene Robbins group at The Grace Center in San Jose, from Judy Raneri's artist group in Concord and from our own event at the Fotovision Studio in Emeryville. We have cards from the Soroptimist International 'She's All That' conference where middle school girls from all over Contra Costa County made cards and reached out to girls their own age in Afghanistan. We have cards from Canada , New Jersey and California.
I am so proud of all the women who have stepped into leadership positions and organized card making workshops in their own communities. It is not always easy to bring a new creative process that encourages new ways of thinking and relating in the world. Marlene wrote me of her group "Nearly all immigrated to the US to escape religious and political upheaval in their native countries. About 30% of them have a diagnosis of some form of dementia, from mild to advanced. Several of them are illiterate, but most have at least an elementary level of education. A few were married in their early teens and had started having children by age 15. Many had arranged marriages and many more suffered physical and emotional abuse. Many of them have lost family members and children in wars and political power struggles. Whatever their history, they have adapted to life in the US with the help of their families and loved ones. " Marlene worked beautifully with these women and saw how art truly has the power to inspire and heal when accessed from our heart's wisdom.
We are almost half way to our goal of raising $5000 for our after school art program! Trust in Education will begin making arrangements for art classes to start in May and I can’t wait to share with you photos and stories as our work progresses.
Please consider making a continued donation to support our work. Traveling Postcards is a unique grassroots organization that creates opportunities for everyone to be fully expressed and to take action towards ending isolation and invisibility for those whose voices have been silenced.
I am excited to share the news that Traveling Postcards has a unique opportunity in Afghanistan! Through the assistance of Trust in Education, we will create an after school art program, and bring the Traveling Postcards experience to the women and girls who are living in a small village in Northern Afghanistan, outside of Kabul.
Art has a way of transcending borders and we hope that providing a safe place to be creative can empower women and men alike!
We have started collecting cards to take to Afghanistan in the Spring and have launched our fund raising campaign. This is the first time Traveling Postcards will be able to attach the gift of food and money along with the gift of art.
Traveling Postcards needs to raise $5000 in order to realize our goals. All monies raised will go towards paying teacher's salaries, school supplies and heating costs for two years. I am excited to begin this campaign and hope you or your group will join too! In addition we have just received a matching dollar for dollar grant from Healers West for up to $2500!
There are so many ways to help. I invite you to hold a Traveling Postcard event with your friends whereby every woman ( and man) who makes a card can contribute a small donation to send to Afghanistan. I have developed a simple and effective workshop that I can easily send you and all donations will be tax deductible. You do not need to participate in a workshop in order to make a donation, anyway you can take action towards this initiative is appreciated!
Holding events are fun, and everyone loves to make a card. It is an immense opportunity to connect with a woman or girl who is living in a country that has seen so much violence and holds such little opportunity for women to be fully expressed. As always, please feel free to make a single card and send it to me!
If you or your group would be interested in participating please let me know. We are hoping to have all the supplies and donations ready to go by early April 2011.
Donations can be made here or on the Traveling Postcards website or by writing a check directly to Trust In Education.
An easy way to donate art supplies is to click on Blick and type in Traveling Postcards. We have made a list of needed supplies. Thank you!
We are also proud to share our recent video from Uganda! video
I am so proud of Traveling Postcards! We are growing and emerging into an amazing resource that provides tools for accessing full self expression, the sharing of deep and compassionate wisdom between women all over the world, and the ability to shift patterns of repression into action for social change. So much progress has been made over the last several months and I am pleased to share one such story from a woman who has recently become a new friend and colleague. Consodyne Buzabo is a brilliantly talented artist who is deeply committed to bringing joy, education and healing through the arts to her community and to her country.
Conso is from Uganda and has recently moved to California to join JFK University's Masters in Transformative Arts program. She shares her story of participating with Traveling Postcards in hopes of inspiring you to take action in your own community and to let you know that finding voice through creative action can have lasting and profound effects.
Soon the new postcards from both the Ugandan children and from the Marin Catholic High School students who responded to their cards will be coming to this Blog and to the Traveling Postcards website. see preview: video
Here is Conso's story:
I am a Ugandan and proud to be a part of that little landlocked country affectionately called the “Pearl of Africa”. As a society we are a proud people trying, like any other, to do the best we can, survive the way we know how. I can’t say why we consider emotions weak and a distraction or why it is hard for us to give or accept a compliment. Maybe it’s because we are society whose history has taught to be wary of visitors bringing gifts or new ideas. Maybe it’s because of what we have done to each other and what has been done to us or even our experiences. Whatever the reason, we are a community that has seen grief and pain and learnt to buck up and move on as that is the way life is. No one person is special, we all have the same story and experiences and the best way to survive is keep your head down and don’t rock the boat, even when you feel like the boat is sinking.
I had no idea what to expect when I went to ask the children in the In Movement program to make Traveling Postcards. Personally, making my own postcard was one of the hardest things to do. How do I let out feelings that I have been taught to keep silent? How do I encourage someone who is hurting when it does not come naturally? For many of these children silence has been their refuge, their best friend. For many of them thinking about the pain, violence, grief and nightmares the women in Congo are facing would be facing their own personal nightmares. So how could I ask these children to do what I myself was finding hard to do?
I was completely surprised.
In Movement, a non profit organization that began in Uganda in 2003 has a simple mission. They believe that the expressive arts are a very powerful tool of empowerment for youth, unlocking vast potential for personal growth and transformation. By encouraging creative risk-taking in safe, supportive and empowering settings, they are planting seeds that can assist youth in helping to transform their society, and lead happier, healthier, and more satisfying lives.
In other words they provide a safe place for the children to express themselves, learn who they uniquely are and be proud of them selves.
Many of the children who were a part of the Traveling Postcards project are students who have been part of the In movement program for a few years and so are more in open to expressing themselves freely among strangers than the average Ugandan child. Because they have been appreciated and been told that they are special and unique, they were able to pass this on.
Many of them had never made a postcard before or even received one but they were eager to pass on the message that they have received; one of inspiration and hope. It did not matter if the was artistic or aesthetic. All that mattered was that someone somewhere would know they were loved.
The card making was a success the children wanted to make a second one of their own for the women and guardians in their lives, to let them know that they care for them.
Am still in the process of making my own traveling postcard, and slowly it is taking shape and am not afraid anymore that is isn’t symmetrical, colorful or perfect but I hope that whoever receives it will know one thing… I see you. I appreciate you. I love. I care.
And hopefully the women who receive the children’s cards will know this too.