With a misty rain falling over the Illawarra, over 200 women were shuttled into the enchanting Coledale Rainforest Retreat for the second annual Be Her Freedom Illawarra event- Let Courage Bloom. Having almost doubled in size from our inaugural event, the message was not lost, everyday women from our local community were coming together to stand for the one. The one victim, the one slave, the one daughter or son of the 27 million held in bondage across the world today.
After taking pictures under our Let Courage Bloom arch, guests were immersed in a night that was full of opportunity to both understand the heart and work of A21 and to participate in making change. Melody Towns, Director of Be Hers, opened our night, passionately voicing the purpose of the evening and thanking women for taking their place in the global fight against injustice. A clip from Christine Caine, founder of A21 alongside an interview with Amanda George from A21, also made a huge impact, shedding light onto the dark enterprise of human trafficking and empowering local women to take a stand. For many women, this was the first time they had informed about the nature and gravity of human trafficking and about ways they could personally make an impact. Amongst the chatter of women, there were many deep conversations about the challenge and hope associated with A21’s work.
Women were also deeply moved by a poem ‘Freedom-Let Courage Bloom’ and dance piece written by local artist Kim Cleven. Kim’s pieces took women on a journey from captivity to freedom, with messages of courage and hope at their core. Kim invited each woman to plant a seed of hope for a women held in bondage through writing an encouraging message or word to a victim. These individual messages, written on shells and handcrafted cards, were placed in a Freedom Boat, designed and crafted by Kim. The Freedom Boat will feature at International Women’s Day and then will ‘sail’ onto Thailand for women to receive through A21.
While the rain contained to drizzle, nothing could dampen the spirit of the evening. Women enjoyed canapes and champagne, beautiful live singing, bidding on auction items lovingly donated by local businesses, and watching the live artist Nicole Southworth recreate a beautiful local scene in front of our eyes. Much excitement was sparked as three glamorous violists from the international String Angels mingled amongst guests and moved their way onto the stage for a vigorous and joyous performance and the fun continued well into the evening with lots of dancing and music.