The room is abuzz with conversation and connection on this night in Denver, Colorado at the SAME Cafe, gathering together for our February Seeds event. Grad students discuss their project on the Congo, humanitarian activists gather ’round the table [ this is their sort of gathering! ], teachers join the fun [ life-long learning is what they do! ] and many others have come, eager to be inspired and informed in their everyday lives. For this night, we’ve delighted in creating an Inspired Action resource to get us moving in small or big ways. digital | pdf
The storytellers of the evening begin, one by one, to step up to the microphone, each sharing about the roots of their passionate focus in Uganda, Togo, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The power of their stories grow more pronounced throughout the night as they “pull back the curtain” and give a glimpse of the roots of what has led them to work in these arenas. Who would have thought that a career in construction would lead Shane Schaap, co-founder of Chombox, to build innovative community spaces out of shipping containers in Kenya? Over and over, this was the thread: these storytellers – a diverse mix of artists, entrepreneurs, and activists – all touch on this notion:
Never in my wildest dreams did I plan for this to be my life. I was just going about my business, and this opportunity walked by me, and I said YES.
Beret Strong launches our evening’s tales, as part the film-making team for the critically-acclaimed Sauti film (trailer). Sauti takes place In a Ugandan refugee settlement, where five teenaged girls approach their uncertain futures to create adult lives of their own choosing with tenacity, tenderness and imagination. Beret’s stories are not the first of the night to suggest that there are gifts unexpected in moments of immense pain and even death. It is inspirational to see the ways in which her tenacious commitment to the global refugee crisis and as a film-maker have been informed by her days as a hospice care worker, wife, mother, and friend.
Godee Musangu speaks of her passion of educating women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, making evident the pain and possibility among her sisters at home. To be sure, she could have enraptured us for hours, the rhythm of her voice moving from a whisper to a rousing movement-inspiring invitation to listen, learn, and join her fierce companionship of her sisters.
My dreams are coming true, not in an easy way – not easy at all. Day by day, I’m marching toward them, fueled each step by my 3 words of hope: faith, trust, and fight.
When husband-wife dynamic duo, connector-extraordinaire and entrepreneur, Shane and Melissa Schaap take the microphone, they weave a picture of real-life stories of marriage, parenthood, and vocation. There is a remarkable spirit of unity, of togetherness, in their courageous path of life. Their humble intention in speaking is that we would sense:
If they can do this, so can I!
Our evening begins and ends with the sounds of drumming and music from Togo, Africa. Our hearts thumped along, led but the gifted artistry of Laura Gibson and Koffi Toudji, of Koffi Togo. Voices captivatingly beautiful, they invite us to hum, sing, chant our own songs. “We are made for this. These rhythms are in our blood, DNA, cells – and are the roots of all musical forms.” Their collaboration is generating increased community support of the Koffi Togo Cultural Center and an experiential learning opportunity among middle school students in the United States and Uganda.
These brave acts of our storytellers seem to come from paying attention, walking each day in grateful attention to life within and around, and cultivating the gift of the kula – community – that joyFULLy fuels the days of action to come.
Next up, another remarkable duo of two sisters – one American and one Kenyan – working together to expand the impact of ImaniXchange.
I love her. We are best friends, sisters. We are there for each other when the going gets tough and there for all the little moments of laughter. I am so blessed to have her on our team. Without her, ImaniXchange would not be where it is today. We do life together.
Jenny Nuccio shares these words about, Femida Mohamad, Kenyan country director for ImaniXchange. They speak about the unimagined path that has led to their collaboration. Over tea in villages throughout communities in Kenya, dreams are becoming a reality of flourishing futures for children and dignified work for the mommas. Celebrating the much-anticipated launch of their children’s line of Imani + Kids last week in New York City, we feel it: this vibrant enterprise is just getting started.
And, it’s not just our storytellers who are getting started, lighting up the world.
Let’s do this…
keep coming together,
growing, learning, igniting,
choosing to love and endeavor to understand and celebrate difference,
eat, drink, live life – as a kula (community, tribe).
Let’s be present to our families,
next door neighbors,
good friends whose hearts are breaking,
Let’s light candles of hope and beauty amidst the pain and struggle,
pay attention to what’s beckoning our attention.
and say YES.
Our event in pictures | Thanks to Amy K. Wright
These cards were written during the evening to support a project at the African Community Center, welcoming refugees arriving to Denver and thanking the staff for their tireless service.
Thank you so much for your group’s support of our celebration last week! It was such a joyous occasion for our staff and new families. You and the Seeds of Exchange group help make this a welcoming state! A huge thank you. -Carrie, ACC staff
The party was a big success and the cards were very much appreciated. The donation that folks gave made it an even more delicious event. Thanks again. Love to you. -Erin, Seeds kula sistah