The story of One Super Action Hero, Tribal Belly Dancing Sister, and her mission to help women in the Congo.
Despite living all over the world, sisters and brothers in the Tribal Belly Dance community are very connected and supportive towards one another. That is just one of the things that is wonderful about Tribal Belly Dance.
When I took my ATS® General skills and teacher training certificates for the first time, back in 2009, I met a lady called Kelley Beeston of Kalash Tribal (Devon, UK)
I was very pleased to find that I wouldn’t be the only English lady traveling to San Francisco to do the course. Kelley as it turns out, is a riot of a lady and we had some proper belly laughs during our time together. I have met her on several occasions since and we remain connected via facebook.
Over the past few years, as well as studying to an advanced level as an ATS® teacher and performer, Kelley has devoted a lot of her time to help women in the Congo. Along with her husband, they set up a fundraising project. I follow it’s progress and receive updates. I am not exaggerating when I say I am deeply moved when I see the videos and read about what this project is doing for these women.
“Every time I visit Congo the women approach me for help because I am a woman. Many are the victims of gender based violence including sexual violence during conflict, many have lost their husbands and in both scenarios the woman will be cast out from her family to fend for herself. I realised that these women needed help and this got me thinking – wouldn’t it be fantastic if my dance troupe could do something. So we did – Kalash Tribal organised a haflah and raised enough money to buy a much-needed fishing net.” – Kelley Beeston
I sort of told Kelley that I wouldn’t refer to her as some sort of Tribal Belly Dancing action hero but I just couldn’t ignore that fact, because Kelley travels to the Congo to visit these women in very dangerous areas. Risking her life. I recall one facebook update where Kelley was visiting the Congo and I they were stopped by local militia and instead of panicking, Kelley gave one of them a serious talking to which you might think is slightly mad, but it was also ridiculously brave and knowing Kelley, she probably didn’t think twice before stepping up.
Despite these perilous encounters, Kelley has not been discouraged in her mission.
Kelley doesn’t do this because she gets paid. This is self-funded. She doesn’t do it for Kudos. She does it because those women reached out to her. Kelley doesn’t see these women as strangers from a foreign land but as fellow human beings and sisters.
After the success of the first fundraiser which provided the community with a fishing net, the project continues, one of the funds helps to provide contraceptive implants and the other is a sustainable sewing co-operative.
NGO’s often train people for a period of 6 months in different skills from sewing and hairdressing to welding and building but then they are left to their own devices with no means of continuing as they can not afford to buy equipment.
So, the goal was to sewing workshop where women can come to use the equipment.
Thanks to the positive response and support so far, The Sister to Sister project is fully in place with one sewing workshop built and a group of women with new found opportunities.
This does not mean the mission is accomplished though, the dire situation that these women have been living in does not simply disappear over night if ever.
There are more much needed resources and these projects don’t happen because of the sheer will of one woman. They happen because so many of us have reached out to our sisters and provided support by spreading awareness and helping raise the funds. This isn’t going to stop anytime soon, it is an ongoing situation that deserves our attention. Because women like Kelley are willing to traverse the globe and risk their own safety, from sister to sister, we can change lives.
I wanted to show my love and support for all the hard work that Kelley and her husband have done. As i mentioned before, I have donated a little bit of money but equally as important is the need to spread awareness so that is why I decided to write this.
I know people that are involved in all sorts of amazing and important fundraising and humanitarian work going on. It’s impossible to support every single worthy project in every way but this one really does change lives.
So on that note, I am going to leave you with some videos and links to further information. I am sure you will be as moved as I am.
And here is Kelley speaking about the sewing workshop.
Click here for More info about the sewing project
Click here for more info about the contraceptive implant project
Thank you for your kind support.