Last Friday’s “Shop. Learn. Connect.” film and community event was  We shopped the beautiful goods of Anoothi US and Bill Rohs Art, learned together through the screening of Honor Diaries and our treasured panelists, and cultivated rich and plentiful connections throughout the evening.

Our opening and closing message last week is the same one we’d like to share in this story.  In the midst of epic problems in our own lives, families, the world, what if this is true?

We are each right where we’re supposed to be right now – even amidst the things that make our jaws tighten and hearts ache?


We believe it is an act of love and courage to sit with stories that are true, real and full of struggle.  We invite you to connect with and be inspired the bravery of these women, to enter into the joyFULL mystery that their story is part of your story {and yours is part of theirs} and to seek for and claim hope amidst the darkness.

We crafted last week’s event with threads of hope, connection and inspired action, ending our evening with the remarkable Delta Donohue reading her poem, What If {always an inspiration}.

Delta | Anoothi US, Neena | emBOLDen Alliances and I {Sarah} | Seeds of Exchange had such fun collaborating to create this event and invite you to take a moment and check out the pictures, videos and quotes from our evening together.

Shop. {Anoothi US + Bill Rohs Art}

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Learn. {Honor Diaries screening + panel}

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Glimpses of the stories of our BE{loved} panelists…

Godee.  “I’m from a family of 9 kids.  In my family there are 6 girls and 3 boys.  My mom got married when she was 17.  She didn’t have chance to get a higher education.  Growing up, I was looking and watching – my dad would encourage my brothers to get a higher education.  The girls were getting a high school diploma and getting married.  So, at 15 years old, I asked my dad, “Why is it that girls are sent into marriage and boys go to university? I don’t see my story like that.  I believe in something bigger than me.  I need an education to fulfill that purpose and calling.”

My family did everything they could to make that happen for me.  Today, I’m in the United States, I’m going to school and I will finish my first degree in May.

I’m glad I’m here.  I’m glad I’m able to follow my dreams.  But, I cannot keep silent, because so many girls in the Congo are suffering today, and it’s time for someone to speak up and create awareness. -Godee {Congo}

Marziya.  “I chose to wear my headscarf when I was 9 years old because I thought it was the coolest thing ever.  And, I’ve never taken it off.  For me, my headscarf and the way I dress is a symbol of my liberty and freedom and is one way that I express who I am.

After watching the film, my heart is hurting, I am in pain.  I found the message of this film disheartening, portraying Muslim women as victims.  Yes, it does happen, but the way it has been portrayed in this documentary was demoralizing to me, and I believe, to women.  When I heard the women in the film say that Muslim women need to be saved, I was angered.  I do not need to be saved.  I can save myself.

We cannot say that female genital mutilation (FGM), child marriage and honor killings are specific to the Muslim community.  In Niger, 55% of FGM occurs in Christian societies, while only 2 % happen in Muslim communities.  Thus, to go around saying that this is a Muslim issue, this is an Arab issue, this is a Middle Eastern issue is a gross injustice, not only to Muslims, but to all women who suffer to these issues.

This is my struggle: to show people that Islam is a beautiful religion.  I love my faith.  I love my religion, because it gives me the opportunity to speak up.  This is my hope:  sitting with my African sisters here and now, talking with you all.  -Marziya {Kenya}

Fatouma.  “Everything you see in this film – everything – has happened to me.  I have suffered all of the things that happened in this film.  True life is to go through a lot of things.  Happiness, dying, sadness, being poor, rich, being healthy, sick.  Life is not perfect.

We have to teach, learn, embrace.  We are lucky we have life.  I thought I’d never make it when I was 12 years old.  I never thought I’d be here to talk.  Never in a million years did I dream this.  So amazing, this life.

My life has not been easy.  I’m an only child – I have no brothers and sisters.  All I owned was a white t-shirt and little stick as a child.  I was the first woman to leave my village.  The first to return to it.  Nobody has done that before.  Yes, I am lucky.  We are lucky.  We have each other: women, family, friends.

I am African, Muslim, woman, grandma, sister, mother, wife, aunt, friend.  I am everything.  Allah gave me everything.  He has given me the world as my family.  If I have hope, everybody can have hope.  I have hope for other girls and women.  If I can make it, you can make it.  Never give up hope!  No way.  Hold on to hope. -Fatouma {Ethiopia}

Connect. {Community}

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Community reflection + sharing | hope + inspired action

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Many folks asked for MORE gatherings such as this and opportunities to get together to explore + dialogue again soon.  We are working on it + will keep you posted.  To ensure you are notified about upcoming events, please contact us with your email.

A wholehearted thank you to our Community Partners

Amy K. Wright Photography | Bombay Clay Oven | Huia Vineyards

A dear friend who attended the event shot these videos with her phone as a way to share a few moments with you.  {She hoped to video Marziya and Fatouma, too, but her phone’s battery died.}  Thank you, Whitney |!

Intro of Seeds of Exchange + Film

Godee’s opening comments + story