"We rise by lifting others"
Do you ever sit through the news, watching what is going on in Syria, Nigeria and Africa and feel absolutely helpless? Or read through another sad post on Facebook and think, is there nothing I can do to help this horrible situation? I often feel that way, I feel absolutely helpless; helpless to the fact that there is so much sadness and disparity in the world but there is nothing I can do about it. It breaks my heart to see what some children in the world are facing today. No childhood, no schooling, no education. Who is thinking about these children?
Education gives you the power to question things.
The power to challenge things
The power to be independent
To make the right decisions
Yet these children are growing up with no education at all, and all of their opportunities are stripped away from them.
This harsh reality doesn't sit well with me.
A couple of months ago as I read yet another incredibly sad post, I had an idea. What if my photography, the thing that gave me so much joy and helped me appreciate the little things in life...what if it could help others?
The idea sat with me for a long while, but I had no idea how to make it happen and I kept thinking, unfortunately it's not a problem I can fix with my two hands. Then one day I came across the quote by Lily Tomlin which said:
That all changed when I came across the organisation ONE GIRL, and suddenly a little light bulb went off in my head. Everything changed because they turned my helpless feeling into something tangible and achievable.
I was shocked and excited when I heard only 300 dollars could give a girl an education for a whole year.
A whole year.
Finally this was something I could do something about. Something that didn't feel overwhelming but felt achievable and so easy to action.
The more I read about One Girl, the more excited I got. One Girl was inspired by a chance meeting with a 14 year old girl named Brenda. A girl who had been wandering the streets and asking for strangers for help to pay for her school fees. After hearing Brenda’s story, they knew they had to help. But the team didn’t want to stop there. Why stop at one girl when there are 66 million girls around the world who have never had the opportunity to go to school?
The team at OneGirl started there work in Sierra Leone, West Africa. One of the worst places on earth to be born a girl. They are currently working in the Bombali, Tonkolili and Freetown districts of Sierra Leone. The team work with well established implementing partners who have a long history of delivering high quality education programs across Africa. They are currently working with the amazing crew at Restless Development, CORD and One Girl Sierra Leone.
I decided to put my idea to work, and came up with the idea of running an exhibition with a team of emerging artists.
Then reality hit. My work? In an exhibition? YEAH. RIGHT. Who would buy anything? I then came across this video below and realised if this is what a father had to go through everyday for his daughter to be able to attend school, then even if I only managed to sell enough to help one or two girls, then it would be a success.
I decided I was going to ignore that voice within that was scared and told me not do it and push through...and I decided the best way to make it happen, was to start telling everyone I knew that I was going to do this. I was now accountable to everyone I told, and suddenly the outpouring of love and support kicked in.
Fast forward a couple of weeks and I had somehow secured an awesome team of women (artists and photographers) who believed in my idea, told me it was possible and committed to being part of the exhibition. An amazing gallery called MAGNET studios also embraced the idea and decided to support us and opened their hearts and studio to help make it possible. Before I knew it we had a date, and some amazing sponsors lined up too including the incredible "EYE CREATIVE MAGAZINE"!
The date was getting closer, and again my insecurities where hitting hard.
What if it was all a flop?
"Feel the fear and do it anyway' I told myself daily.
We had a team of talented people and the excitement was kicking in. The team consisted of the wonderfully talented:
and of course myself.
We decided to theme the event "ANOTHER WORLD" because often it feels like the problem is not our own and it is from another world, yet this is often a problem in itself.
As I prepared for the event on the day I thought to myself, would anyone show up, and I suddenly found myself feeling very vulnerable, and nervous. Then the people started pouring in, and with them, the butterflies started fading away.
The night was a huge success. We sold 21 of the 25 prints on display! Its amazing how many people will have your back, once you share with them what it is you are trying to achieve. Suddenly your two pairs of hands become fifty pairs of hands and you achieve so much more than you ever thought was even possible.
As I write this with absolute joy, I have just made the first part donation of $2960 and the good news its there is still more to come as we await some final payments for final sales of prints.
A massive THANKYOU to everyone who shared in this exhibition ANOTHER WORLD.
Thanks to a current campaign where ethicaljobs.com.au is matching every dollar for dollar donation during the month of December and January.....I am so proud to say...
We have together donated just under $6000!!!!!!!!
Not only is that 20 girls, but a whole classroom!
The reason for this very long blog is because I just want to put all the detail in writing and share my gratitude and joy with all of you who supported the idea and backed me through every doubt and fear. You know who you are and you are AMAZING.
To those of you that bought a print, sponsored our event, backed every one of us and attended the night... you deserve all the kindness and happiness in the world.
We hope the photos you bought no matter how small or big shine on your wall and leave you happy everyday knowing you were a small ripple in an ocean of change.
You are the best!
To those of you that want to give an amazing christmas present, then jump onto this link and give a gift that will give you more joy than anything you could ever imagine....
To all of those out there like me, who have an idea but are afraid of executing it, I hope this blog will give you the encouragement, to just do it. This quote got me through the stressful times...
"To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded "- RALPH WALDO EMERSON
THE FOLLOWING AMAZING COMPANIES WHO SUPPORTED THE EXHIBITION:
Magnet Studios - http://magnet.org.au
Balance - http://wearebalance.com.au
The Eye Creative - https://theeyecreative.com
Hound and Bone FineArt Printing - http://www.houndandbone.com.au
Moon Dog Brewery - https://www.facebook.com/moondogbrewing
We Are Balance - http://wearebalance.com.au
AND OF COURSE...
TO THE TEAM AT ONE GIRL.
Thank you for making the helpless and intangible achievable and possible. The world needs more people like you and your organisation.
FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT:
For those of you interested too, over Christmas I will be selling some of my work and all my prints for sale through my website will have a 20% donation to ONE GIRL.