Monday, March 28, 2011

A New Documentary

Teaching English to adults here in Brooklyn, I work with mostly Spanish speaking immigrants. Then I go home and call the SHONA women in Goma. The transition from Spanish to Swahili, can be a bit confusing sometimes. In the past year, I think Argentine and Mapendo have heard me increasingly throwing in words like "bueno", in the midst of a sentence in Swahili. It never seems to throw them though. Congo, if nothing else, is a country quite comfortable with mixing languages, even unfamiliar ones.

But mostly I find the connection between my students here and the women in Congo surprisingly close. They're all trying to find a way to build a better life. For themselves and for their families. I suppose that is what we are all doing. They've left their homes, their comfort zones, and each step forward also poses a new question.

Which is why I am looking forward to watching the new documentary on PBS tomorrow night.

It is called "Pushing the Elephant" and it follows the story of a Congolese refugee, a woman who fled to the US with 9 of her 10 children. It follows her story years later, caught between here and there. Moreover it follows her story as she is reunited with the daughter who was left behind.

It seems to me that all of our lives are part of this struggle. This struggle to merge the past with the future and come out with a world that we can live in.

Pushing the Elephant was made by a program called Women Making Movies. I haven't seen it yet myself, and from the trailer I can see that there are difficult political and ethnic questions bubbling under the surface. But it poses an interesting question and I will definitely be tuning in.

Check it out Tuesday night, March 29th, on Independent Lens on PBS.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Our Wholesale Order

As some of you may have noticed, I seem to have disappeared.

Sorry about that. I have not actually so much disappeared as I have been trapped in my house, literally. There have been so many boxes, as we have been assembling our first large wholesale order, that I could barely see my way out of the apartment.

But finally we have been able to ship the boxes on to our wholesale customer, and that is who I would like to introduce right here.

Check out and you will find an online, fair trade store. The store was started in 2003 by a woman named Stacey Edgar. It sells fair trade items made by women around the world and is a great way to support small projects with all kinds of different purchases.

I must admit I am a cynic. People often mistake me for an optimist because I do things like start SHONA, with nothing but what appears to be blind hope.

But actually, when it comes to "do-gooder" operations I am often the biggest cynic of them all. I have seen a lot of programs that don't do what they promise to do, and a lot of broad claims about changing the world that translate into something else entirely on the ground.

So I am happy to recommend Global Girlfriend to you. They started as a one woman project, and have grown to over a million dollar enterprise. Yet still they are interested in working with us, as tiny as we might be. In fact Stacey Edgar herself has more or less bent over backwards to work with us, to help support us.

So check out their website and buy something that truly does support women around the globe. Or buy Stacey's new book which even has a small section on Argentine (check out the beginning of chapter 2, to see Argentine make her print debut!)

And send our many thanks to the people at Global Girlfriend for taking a chance on small group of women in Eastern Congo!