for the Earth
for Each Other
BEING & BECOMING
Living Together’s Betsi Pendry and I assembled and were part of a 5-member team that created and led arts-based free therapeutic workshops in Johannesburg, South Africa for 20 women from townships, some with serious health issues. Held at Gender Links Cottages, our workshops offered experiences in movement, dance, role-play, music, and art to strengthen the women’s inner resources and to offer a safe place to express the difficult issues many of them face.
Our team provided an additional three days of arts-based therapeutic workshops at N’Kosi’s Haven, a shelter for both women and children affected by HIV. N’Kosi’s Haven was founded by N’kosi Johnson, one of the first children known to be infected with HIV and his adoptive mother Gail Johnson.
Photos by award-winning photographer Jodi Bieber (www.jodibieber.com)
CONVERSATIONS WITH AN ORDINARY VALLEY
An ordinary valley in the town of Trstenice, Czech Republic is in danger of becoming a demolition dumpsite. Dancer Rena Milgrom wondered what can she do to preserve this beautiful place teeming with life. She called upon artist Anna Ronovska and Bosnian film-maker Masa Hilicisin and gathered a group of artists to spend time, listen and witness the nature of the valley, and create outdoors using movement, sound, music, drawing, photography, and the written and spoken word. The documentary film created by Hilcisin is being used to raise awareness and gather momentum to effectively save the life of the valley.
GLOBAL ALLIANCE FOR AFRICA
Global Alliance for Africa is a Chicago-based, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit that has been active in East Africa for over 20 years. They partner with local not-for-profit agencies, faith-based organizations, and community groups in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Each year, GAA conducts a therapeutic arts trip to Kenya or Tanzania that coordinates paraprofessional training in therapeutic applications of the arts, which are collaboratively led by East African therapeutic artists and creative arts therapists from the US and other countries within a trauma-informed and culturally relevant framework.
GAA designs and develops unique and innovative programs that address locally dentified needs for orphans, vulnerable children and youth, and women, at-risk households, and communities in urban slums and remote rural areas. Their libraries, for example, provide a safe space in slums for female youth at risk to develop their capabilities by accessing educational resources that would otherwise not be available.
I attended two Therapeutic Arts trips to Kenya and Tanzania and am supporting GAA’s 2021 Safe Sex Initiative in Kibera, Nairobi.
I founded and led this corporate foundation from 2008 to 2011. The Orco Foundation supported therapeutic and educational projects throughout Central Europe, such as funding psychological support for child oncology patients and their families in Ostrava, funding therapy for people with acquired brain injuries in Prague, and supporting orphanages throughout the region, dispersing a total of €100,000.
All the projects above are dear to my heart and I’ve been lucky enough
to participate in, contribute to, and co-organize many of them.
To watch us dance
is to hear our hearts speak
Hopi Indian proverb