When I was 10 years old, my mother asked me if I wanted a microscope or a sewing machine. After carefully weighing the options I chose the sewing machine. Little did I know that receiving that sewing machine was the equivalent of being given the keys to a rocket ship. It exploded the world where I felt trapped, and gave me the tools to a life of self-sufficiency.
By the age of 13 I had started to learn about the rest of the world. Ever an empathetic kid, I was shocked and sickened when I learned that there were cultures where women were forced to marry, work as slaves, experience rape, bear more children than they could care for and die in childbirth. I decided that I was never going to have children, out of solidarity with those women. I knew that I was fortunate to have access to contraceptives that allowed me to make that decision for myself.
Fast forward to a conversation with Kelley Beeston in 2014. I couldn’t believe that she was supporting the women of Congo with contraceptives and sewing machines! Sewing machines that promise those same keys to self-sufficiency that I had received as a child. When she asked if I’d help promote the cause I felt as if my life had finally come full circle.
I have always wondered why the universe chose a shy little girl from the suburbs to represent the world-wide culture of American Tribal Style® Dance. This was the reason: so that I could use my influence and connections to extend aid to women.
The Sister to Sister project will establish a sewing co-operative in the North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo to help women who have been tortured and raped to re-integrate into society. Through sewing, the women can earn money and regain a place in the society that rejected them because of their suffering.
Kelly Beeston, Sister Studio and Advanced Teacher Training graduate, is working with local community leaders to make this dream a reality. You may have read the article “Sister to Sister” by Kelley Beeston on page 40 of the inaugural issue of The ATS® Magazine outlining how she and her husband set up a community interest company www.luminosity.org.uk to support people in the Democratic Republic of Congo who are working to improve daily life and build businesses for the common good as well as their own.
I’d like to invite everyone in our dance community and beyond to participate in the Sister to Sister project . We have launched a fundraising campaign through StartSomeGood http://startsomegood.com/sistertosister which fully explains the project. Sponsored a shimmy fundraiser, ask for collections at the ATS® flash mob, organize a haflah or performances, or give generously. We need to raise $15,000 to set up and run the workshop for one year. The StartSomeGood campaign ends at 9.00pm EST on August 21st.
Thank you for making a difference.