Uganda Seeds Storyteller Series – November 2019
Ignited by Inspired ACTion | The Seeds Storyteller Series
Last week, for Seeds of Exchange Denver Storyteller Series event, we were packed in tightly – sardine style – in our home. Herein lies a taste of the treasure trove that emerged of wisdom, enCOURAGEment, connections, and nudges for inspired ACTion. Buckle up … I have a hunch it will ignite something in you for your next steps or leaps.
For clips from each of our jaw-dropping storytellers and the full hour-long event video, check out the playlist on YouTube.
We intentionally planned this gathering the week before the busiest travel week of the year in order to be inspired by stories from some difference-making friends of mine passionately working in Uganda, in our community, and ’round the world! I always come away from being with them having learned something about the world, having discovered something about myself, and with some nudges for my next steps to make a difference in my unique and one-of-a-kind ways. I believe the same will happen to you, too – whether you were present at the event or reading this post today.
Our intention for our gatherings – and this post that is penned from my heart to yours – is that you will be met right where you are. If you’re discouraged, we hope you leave with a spring in your step … if worn out, we hope you are rejuvenated, … or if you’re feeling alone or isolated, we hope you feel buoyed by connection.
I get it: These stories and the very invitation to take a step or two of inspired ACTion isn’t always comfortable. Or easy. Sometimes it’s the world’s pain pricking our hearts that wakes us up to see – and say yes! – to our destiny.
With all my heart, I believe that the lights of our lives turn ON when we find ways to love, care, and serve each other … especially those on the margins, the outsiders, the hungry, the sick, the vulnerable. So, pay attention to what makes your heart thrum, brings tears to your eyes, a knot in your stomach … I believe those are the things that are often clues to our next steps and leaps … to our purpose on the planet … and is what makes our lives glow.
NUDGES TO CONSIDER OF INSPIRED ACTION
Take a PoP
Read and experience a PoP (Place of Pause) from Soulfully Ablaze, called Robust Rhythms. Take a beat to be still (surrender), ponder (go deeper), and engage (commit). Be more fully fueled than ever to make a difference – but don’t go it alone. The real magic happens when you make your way, together, with others.
When your heart fills up and gets more jam-packed with grateFULLness, you begin to see the vastness, the plenty, and the abundance of gifts within your life and in the world around you. -Sarah Davison-Tracy, Soulfully Ablaze
Learn about and connect with our storytellers
Poet and high-school student, *Suha Mayraj bravely and beautyFULLY shared one of her spoken word poetry pieces and her vision for a world that is graced with greater understanding and appreciation than ever of the differences (and similarities!) between us.
Before you assume something of someone, wait a while. Most will be capable of surprising you…
Initially, my writing was my escape from a difficult and confusing time during my life. It allowed me to process and gain a different understanding of situations just by putting pen to paper and I was able to experiment with different manipulations and uses of language. As time passed, I began to enjoy writing more and began sharing my work in order to gain feedback on it. In order to continue to improve, I began reading others’ poetry and found patterns in the emotions expressed in the poems, although each time the poet was different. This changed my perspective and I began to realize how unifying poetry truly was and it became devoted to creating deepened connections and understanding through poetry. -Suha
Suha read one of her poems during our gathering:
God gave us night,
So we might gaze
Into this effortlessly crafted universe
That lay around us in naked form.
There, we may realize how far we reach,
And how, if we reach far enough,
We may reach the stars.
Why, if I climbed upon my roof,
I would’ve brushed fingers with this lonesome moon
Who feels so out of place in a constellation of stars.
So much like me.
So much so that it is unusual for these oddballs to be too far apart.
And if I clambered my way above
Dusty roof after dusty chimney,
Past dusty pairs of shoes that lay on this dusty ground,
With their dusty clothes,
Donned in the finest robes of misuse, abuse, neglected, no-use at all.
If I clawed my way through the atmosphere,
Surely my fingers could find the farthest planet
Which, though it may look distant,
Is still not very far…
If I would reach my pinkie up,
And let the universe kiss my cheek,
And burn my fingers to ashes with stardust,
I’d realize something.
I think, if we held up our arms,
To experience the pain,
And burn our skin,
What we suddenly realize is that
We’re not very far,
We’re never very far.
So if one must penetrate the clouds,
To reach the expansive universe above,
Let him do so without a ladder
Because those stars were never really that far.
Although, I must say,
I’ve never reached those stars myself,
But I still assure you
They’re never too far, you see.
They never really are too far.
*Email Sarah Davison-Tracy for information on how best to connect with Suha.
Our work centers around narratives and representation and how those affect how children see themselves and others. We are publishing often stories (primarily from oral stories) that don’t often make it to print from voices usually less included. We come from very different backgrounds (despite being nearly the exact same age!) but are working together on one common global challenge that affects our communities in different ways. -Nathan and Drew
- CONNECT via email with co-founder and visionary, Drew Edwards and in-country director and impassioned leader, Nathan Okiror.
- PURCHASE a Pangea book subscription for the holidays for you or someone you love!
- READ MORE about our Fundraising Partnership with Pangea earlier this year.
- LISTEN TO/WATCH the 45 minute-replay of our online Seeds Storyteller Series with Drew Edwards or view the video below.
Beauty for Ashes Uganda (BFAU) works towards long-term sustainable development and deep healing for single moms and widows in the Teso Region of Uganda. Now, 1,183 mamas in Uganda are a part of the BFAU family along with their 6,500+ kiddos across 32 villages in 38 women’s cooperatives.
I believe in healing and beauty….even in the midst of the worst of the worst. I want to see our mamas heal too. They’re worth it. Their kids are worth it. I can hardly imagine without tears what it will be like for them to experience healing and more training. I can’t wait to watch them SOAR! My hope for the Seeds community is twofold: 1 – Sponsor a mama! And 2 – for each of us to know that we are deeply, deeply loved. That changes everything! -Brandi
- EMAIL co-founder and sisterhood champion, Brandi Lea. I love how she says she “accidentally” started BFAU and had no clue what was coming – but that she just kept walkin’ arm in arm with many sisters and brothers and mightily fueled by her very real and intimate faith.
- BE OUR MATCHING DONOR in December and give $1,000 to $2,000 to fuel our community’s giving in our Seeds of Exchange-BFAU Fundraiser! In the USA, your donation is tax-exempt.
- GIVE a Christmas or holiday gift in honor of someone you love to our December Seeds Fundraiser in support of BFAU. Every $20 will fund one mama getting Trauma Therapy AND Extensive Business Training! Can you even imagine 7,500 kiddos getting to grow up with mamas who’ve received healing and are thriving in their businesses?! This will change the lives of 9,000 people when you count our mamas and their kiddos!
- SHARE this post ONE person you think would enjoy being a part and thank ONE person who’s been a part of helping YOU heal and thrive!
NeeNee Productions is a collaborative, women-led group of storytellers. Their remarkable approach to documentary film is to let stories unfold organically in partnership with the communities they profile, illuminating the complex lives of underrepresented people and issues in our world today. They believe deeply in the transformative power of story to create empathy, empowerment, and inspired action.
- EMAIL co-founder and film-maker, Gayle Nosal, and activist and documentary film storyteller, Favourite Regina, from the film, Sauti.
- LEARN MORE about our partnership this summer with Sauti Women’s Fund / NeeNee Productions to Educate, emPOWER, and enCOURAGE the women featured in the award-winning documentary “Sauti (Voice)” from the Kyangwali Refugee Settlement in Uganda. Hear from one of the storytellers, Favourite, and the filmmakers in our Seeds Storyteller Series with the Sauti team below. Check out my deeply personal WHY for this project taken during a trip to Uganda with our Sophia more than a decade ago. Learn more.
- ANOTHER AMAZING FILM! Earlier this summer, we again partnered with NeeNee Productions to empower and collaborate with Wimana Beatrice, one of the other storytellers in the Sauti film (referenced above). Beatrice is an aspiring journalist and Congolese refugee – and together, we fueled her dreams of LAUNCHING, PROMOTING, and DISTRIBUTING her self-directed and award-winning documentary “Life in My Shoe”. Fundraiser Information here. Replay of my conversation with the team on YouTube or below. (The audio is seamless, but thank you for bearing with the video glitch on my end.)
- Support independent film and stream this film on your next movie night and/or host a screening of Sauti or Life in My Shoe.
They believe that a refugee cannot do anything. But I know I CAN do something. -Favourite
Even in pain, there is still hope. Don’t ever give up. -Beatrice
Mother Earth Montessori was founded by our dear sister, educator, and elder, Marcellina Otii. Arriving home to Denver just days before our event from Uganda, Marcellina shared stories of her work with the children of child soldiers, community collaborations, and inspired action in life.
- VISIT their website and donate, JOIN their email list, or LEARN MORE about their incredible vision and story.
- EMAIL Marcellina to personally connect and learn more. She is one of the wisest and most compassionate sisters I’ve ever met!
When I was growing up in my village in northern Uganda, the greeting as people went about their day to day business was, “Lutino tye ningning?” (”How are the children?”) In those days, the answer was usually “Gitye maber” (“They are well.”) Today the answer to “Lutino tye ninging?” is mostly “Not well.”
In 1977, my husband, my two children and I fled from the regime of dictator Idi Amin to Kenya. Colorado’s Episcopal Bishop William Frye sponsored us to Denver in 1978/79. We are now retired educators who cannot look away from the plight of so many children and the waste of human potential. Many school age children are dropping out of upper primary and secondary schools all across this war-scarred region. They said the war has ended, but the people are continuing to battle the consequences, especially the innocent children. Join us and learn more! -Marcellina
The Sisterhood Photo Project is a way to bridge cultures, bring together the support and sisterhood of women, and celebrate the feminine spirit.
I care deeply about connection, learning to love ourselves, and lifting each other up so that each one of us can feel whole and radiant. My heart is constantly drawn to refugee sisters and brothers who have survived immense tragedy. With respect and empathy, my desire is to listen deeply to their stories, offer support on their healing journey, and celebrate the inner light that continues to shine within them. As a professional photographer of 15 years, I have found that my calling and my gift is to help stoke and reflect the light that shines in each one of us. -Lynn
- EMAIL Lynn or LEARN MORE about her vision: www.davidlynnphoto.com | Facebook & Insta: @SisterhoodPhotoProject.
- WIN-WIN OPPORTUNITY! Colorado friends, Lynn’s Authentic Portrait Sessions for Women are normally $250, but if booked by December 1, they will be just $150 – a $100 savings. This investment covers the creative fee, includes a $50 credit to use towards prints, albums or digital images, and donates a photo shoot to a refugee or immigrant sister. The purchased session can be for you, or it can be given as a gift for someone you love – your mother, grandmother, sister, dear friend… Clients use these sessions in so many ways… to celebrate milestone birthdays, to create imagery for an online presence in business, after times of transition, or just because this moment in life needs to be remembered and celebrated exactly as it is. For each client who purchases a session, Lynn donates another to a refugee or immigrant sister. Learn more.
- RESOURCES TO INSPIRE from Lynn: The “On Being” podcast by Krista Tippett. “It continues to change my life!!” – Lynn | And a piece by by Clarissa Pinkola Estes entitled, “You Were Made for This“
- WATCH the replays of my conversation with Lynn below or on YouTube.
The Seeds Storyteller Series connects you with EVERYday changemakers from around the world: activists, visionaries, artists, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, educators … (the list is long and the ways to make change are vast!). Whether you’re interested in being INFORMED about global happenings from amazing changemaking friends of mine, looking for some INSPIRATION in your life today, or eager to be IGNITED more in your unique ways to make a difference, we are SO excited to be connected with you today, my friend!
You inspire me. Each and every one of you.
You belong here.
We belong to each other.
Let’s standTALL together and light up the world!
Author | Speaker | Founder, Seeds of Exchange
Making a difference locally and globally, together
Community | Storytelling | Giving
Thanks to photographer, Danielle MacInnes