we foster & ignite connection with purpose
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Photograph by: Nadja de Sa

Last night’s Seeds of Exchange Nepali Film, Feast, & Storytelling gathering was full-to-the-brim of abundant riches of our community: beauty, conversations, learnings, Nepali food, moments of silence, poetry, film & festival-style talk back, connecting with purpose, and saying YES to our things to be and do in life. [And, we raised over $1,300 to support our friend, Grant Knisely’s work, of Code Red Films – click here if you want to join the partay and donate.]

The event took place in our global headquarters – aka, our home :} – where dreams have been IMG_7304envisioned, taken flight, & held many-a-gathering such as this.   We often choose to host events in our home, as we have found that it fosters a “village” sort of an experience. This is a piece of our passion: that of the kula [Indian Sanskrit word for community]. And it was a-maz-ing! From the moment our sold out [!] evening began, rich ripples of connection flourished between friends new & old.

Our night’s hopes were 3-fold for those who came to hear stories about the sex & labor trafficking of women & girls around the world. We wanted to ignite more of a sense of our gifts to be & do in the world, to connect in ways soulful & surprising, & to engage wholeheartedly, learn from & be transformed by our storytellers, the film & each other.

IMG_7240Before we served dinner of dal bhat (rice & lentils traditionally eaten in Nepal) topped with sweet peppers & cilantro, cucumber salad, & sesame salad, we shared an invitation, a nudge, a Seed Sip. We suggested that, together, we IMG_7249practice mindful, prayerful, presenceFULL eating. Before eating, we invited our friends to take in the sights & smells of their plates & consider that many sistas & brothers in Nepal were eating the very same thing as we were.  We shared that,

It can be such a gift to pause, breathe, & be grateful when we eat. Before we dive in, let’s take just one bite in which we savor all of the flavors, textures – some new, some familiar. And, as we eat, let’s have a gratitude fest around what a gift it is to have a full plate of healthy, life-giving food.  AND send some love to our friends in Nepal.

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Photograph by: Nadja de Sa

[Friends, together, let’s do this! Practice it while traveling, at business lunches, family celebrations, weekday meals…as a kula. :}]  Our sister, Fatouma shared about her daily rhythms as a Muslim during these holy days of Ramadan (June 17-July 17, 2015), a month of fasting that is observed by Muslims worldwide, & blessed our food with an Islamic prayer.
During dinner, we sat in circles, listening to storytellers from our community, each connected the lives of women & girls who are or have been victims of trafficking in the world. And then, we each shared a bit of our own stories [=exchange of stories].  A glimpse of this group of rockstar humanitarians, courageous leaders, transformative artists, & lovers of people:

  1. Rochelle Raimao is a filmmaker in the midst of crafting & producing a documentary about The Scarlet Cord, a powerful traveling art exhibit activating hope & healing for the sex & labor trafficked children in the United States.
  2. Delta Donohue is co-founder of Anoothi US, a social enterprise partnering with village women from India, Guatemala & Mozambique.
  3. Sher Mizer, with the Colorado African Organization for the Community Navigator Program, spoke of his work supporting the children of refugees as they navigate and enter our public school system.
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    Photograph by: Nadja de Sa

    Stephanie Campbell, of the Social Wellness Advocacy Network (SWAN), talked about her passion to provide critical interventions for survivors of sex trafficking & sex work.

  5. Fatouma Ahmed told a chapter or two of her extraordinary story of immigrating to the United States from Djibouti, a refugee camp in Ethiopia.
  6. Grant Knisely’s passion, courage, & commitment inspired us as he shared his journey of making Untouchable: Children of God, founding Code Red Films {taking risks to tell the truth} & of his upcoming project in Ethiopia & Eritrea, which will focus on Refugees, Religious Persecution & Reconciliation.

Due to the content of the film & stories around the trafficking of women & girls that we knew would be shared last night, we purposefully created a few pockets of silence & listening – pauses between activities & conversations. It was a remarkable thing to be in a space with 50 people – walking, pouring chai, sitting, laying under the clouds on a blanket – being, together, in silence.

IMG_7303At the end of the night, we invited folks to write a word or phrase that expressed something they were taking home – something learned, a seed planted that they now want to do. Here’s how they said they were ignited, transformed, energized by our evening.

“Love is the answer.  Truth & love will always win.Dare to tell the truth.
Compassion, love, sharing & advocacy all for our sisters.
Reminder to remember.
Inspired! Beautiful community! Call to be courageous & compassionate! Vulnerability & honesty. Rays of hope!
Awakening, sadness, & energy to make an impact.
Deepened understanding of beautiful lives & a complex culture.
I love Nepal!
Continued service.
Beautiful. Empowered. Full of grace & love & hope. Truth.
Without shame & through love, we can change the world.
Revolutionizing the healing process…helped & healed people help & heal people.
Touched.
In my small corner of the world, I was inspired to pray for & teach my son & daughter stand up for injustice & to show them the ways I fight injustice in the world around me.”

What can you do?

  • Share this story with your peeps – forward this blog post, invite them to join our email storytelling kula [community] & to like our Seeds of Exchange page on facebook.
  • Tell your friends about & Invite them to learn, volunteer, give a tax-deductible donation, purchase a DVDjoin the deep & extraordinary work of our brother, Grant’s work, in Nepal & around the world.  Grant’s next project is in Ethiopia & Eritrea. Know anyone from this part of the world or interested in being an executive producer of a film? Let’s connect & support our brotha!
  • Learn more about trafficking in the United States. This is not a foreign, distant matter, dear friends.  The Scarlet Cord & their Do 1 Thing Challenge is a great place to start.
  • We find that the nudges & energy to ACT & DO come out of daily rhythms & pockets of silence, quiet & listening. Commit to pausing at meals in prayerful, mindful attention, start &/or end your day with a sip of silence & listening. We promise: You will come alive & ignite with purpose in these small acts.
  • c8ac648d-d66f-49f4-b15e-e6e1d6ce5282Keep your eyes out for an invite to an event in September, when we plan to host the Nepali girls from this film, as they are on a tour around the world. We would also love to invite you to support their dreams to go to college. Any amount would be welcome – they each need $1,000 per month. Shoot me a note if you’re interested in learning more.
  • Don’t know what to do – but want to do something? Call (720.301.1510) or email us (sarah@seedsofexchange.org).

I will close this story in the same way we closed our evening last night.  Two treasured sistas read their poetry inviting us to love & companion one another…to say YES.

I went to the mountains to grieve.
My dog beside me…
Breathe.

Friend invited friends,
A virtual circle of prayer.
At the same time,
In the same place….
Far but near,
For the earth-shaken people of Nepal.

Breathe.

I closed my eyes.

It came to me gently, quietly.

Hug.

I reached out to Nepal.
l put my arms around a mother,
A child, a brother,
My love.

They hugged back.

We embraced.”

(for Doug)

-Barb Yondorf

What If

What if

Just for a moment

We stop

And allow ourselves to believe

That we are perfect

Not just enough

For that suggests a limitation in itself,

Perfect

Unimaginably dazzling

Clothed in potential and possibility

Howling with joyous abandonment

For the richness of the landscape

That frames our life

Dancing every step

Whether winds are quiet or ferocious

Days turbulent or still

What if

Just for a moment

We choose

To say

YES

-Delta Donohue

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