with April Cook
Those of you who attended one of our four performances of A Woman's World last week will know that SWC was raising funds to support the nonprofit aid organization, Women for Women International. After quickly surpassing our original financial expectations, we twice increased our goal and at the time of this publication we have raised over $17,000 in online and in-person donations, which will provide one year of support for 40 women in regions of conflict.
Paul Caldwell originally floated the idea of supporting Women for Women when he was planning the concert in the spring of 2016. “Beneath the African Sky,” written by Paul and his writing partner Sean Ivory, was based on the story of Clemantine Wamariya, a former Rwandan refugee whom Paul met after she found a home in the US. She currently serves on the Global Board of Directors of Women for Women International. Paul approached SMC/SWC board member, April Cook, who had previously supported this organization through her church and was familiar with their great work. She took on the leadership of the fundraising project.
We started a GoFundMe page in February and singers as well as Board members and supporters began donating right away. Cole Eckerman designed a totebag and sold it to fellow singers through Boosters.com. Jennifer Lund spearheaded a member-to-member marketplace and bake sale during a Saturday rehearsal; members brought pink hats, textiles, books, jewelry, pottery, beautiful breads and other baked goods. Other members sold treats and jewelry at weekly rehearsals. And all the while, donations continued to come in on the GoFundMe page.
April said "there has been so much bad news lately about the plight of refugees and the immigration crisis. It wasn’t enough to just sing about what’s happening in the world. Our music evoked images of Syrian, Liberian, and Eastern European women and children, and the stories told on the screen and in speeches demonstrated how great the need is. We heard so many comments from our patrons thanking us for doing something to help the millions of Syrian women whose lives have been turned upside down by war, rape, and abuse. A line in one of our songs says, “We get back what we give away.” This was an opportunity for people to see Seattle Choruses engaging in the larger community and join us in doing so. We wanted people to feel that they could make a difference in someone’s life, not just to be giving money to nameless, faceless people somewhere."
During the month of March, Women in History Month, and in honor of International Women’s Day, Women for Women International set a goal of supporting 200 women. When we are finished with our campaign, we will have raised enough money to support more than 40. We will be matched up with women who are currently waiting to enter the program and will receive their photos and a little information about each one. Members of the chorus will have an opportunity to write letters and communicate regularly with the women to offer support as they receive psychosocial support services and life and business skills training to help them overcome trauma and find the resources needed to rebuild their lives.
We can make a difference, one woman at a time, and stop the cycle of crisis and poverty that has forced them to flee their country. One more woman – just $420 a year. It’s do-able.
You can join us in donating here.