A Song for Hope tour news…
I love the blue doors and shutters of *Tunis*. This intensely blue door welcomed me when I first arrived at my home for the week.
This blue, a reflection of sky and sea, is in startling contrast to the whitewash of the buildings and is seen in the ornate architecture along the sea at La Marsa* and Carthage*; it shimmers under the Mediterranean sun at the hillside Sidi BouSaid*; and shows in the extraordinary disparity of a clean white and blue backdrop against the thick air, a mingling of dust, incense, exhaust fumes and smoke, of downtown *Tunis*.
It was again a busy two and a half weeks of traveling, singing, and meeting with mothers and ACT workers and local supporters. I spent the first week in Tunis giving several vocal workshops, first for local worship leadersand later in the week at the American Cooperative School working with students and leading a school assembly, and performing in concerts at the British Ambassador Christopher O’Connor’s residence and co-hosted by our Canadian Ambassador, Ariel Delouya, at St. George’s Anglican Church and at the American Cooperative School.
I was also interviewed by an on-line magazine, TunisLive.net and able to talk about the work ACT is doing with single moms in the country and about my fundraising efforts – this was a breakthrough and has encouraged further media interest on the plight of single moms and their lack of rights and education opportunities.
I was so pleased to have Peter accompany me on the piano for these concerts and to spend some time with both Peter and his wife Kathy. I was hosted by Sarah from ACT and got to know and appreciate both Sarah and my other host, Awatif – her mom made me a big batch of Harissa to bring home! I met so many lovely people this time, Bishop Bill and his wife Hilary from St. George’s; ACT’s new President Howard and his wife Janet; many single moms and their children; and many local Tunisians!!
In the UK, I spent three separate weekends in London with my cousins, Colin and Ali and their two little girls,Emelia and Olivia (who was only four weeks when I first arrived!). I also spent several days with dear friends
Graham and Andrea in Eastbourne, East Sussex. I was priviledged to see their work at Old Towne Community Church in Eastbourne and see a little of Glyn and Emma, Sam and Carys as well! I sang at the drop-in centre and still think and pray for those folks there.
After three days in Eastbourne I traveled back to London for an interview on Premier Christian Radio on Maria Toth’s “Woman to woman” morning show and then north to Sandbach, Cheshire for an evening concert, a morning chat and a few songs at Sandbach Girls’ School, and one last interview on Cross Rhthms Radio in Stoke-onTrent.
My cousin Simon Cliff accompanied me on guitar and we had a great time making music together and raising funds for Tunisia! My hosts in the north were my uncle and aunt, Chris and Brenda Cliff so it was lovely spending time with family enroute as well.
Over $8000 was raised through concerts in both the UK and *Tunisia* and so much more awareness has been raised which means new supporters and future donations to the work!
Livelihood news… I was able to meet with many of the new moms in the capital city. Several of these women started their training this past summer in patisserie, IT and weaving. Others were helped to start clothing businesses, selling their wares from their homes or at the local souks. Here are some of the stories they told me, some heartbreaking….
M… Her boyfriend left her when she found out she was pregnant. Her family rejected her as to have
a baby out of wedlock is shameful for a family. M found she could make money as a prostitute. However, once connected with *ACT*, she was able to take the patisserie training and has been off the streets for three years now – it was a journey as the temptation to make “easy” money was great. But her life is changing! M lives in a one room flat with her son and does her patisserie business from this room – recently the roof caved in whilst she and her son were sleeping and so she must now find another place. She is hoping for a two room flat where she can live in one room and work out of the other. M also supplements her income by serving food at a local school.
Z has a disabled boy of 10 years – the government has paid for a special stroller for him but she is struggling to survive. She was helped to start a clothing business and sells clothing out of her home.
Another mother also started the clothing project and sells her clothing in the souk – however, she is struggling to make money with this project as she has difficulty with the landlord of the souk.
S has a teenaged disabled daughter. When I met her, she had just heard they would be kicked out of the one room flat they are in and doesn’t know where they will go.
M took her unwed sister and child in and the family has now rejected both of them, but her own husband is more accepting. They wish for reconciliation with their family.
L is a single mother with twins (boy, girl). She is allowed to live at home and was given a room to cook, sleep and live in but her family has no interaction with her – she says she is very lonely.
H… The first time one of our ACT workers met her, she was lying on a filthy bed with her newborn son, covering her face. Her mother was screaming at her, “you are a disgrace – a shame on the family”. But after a few months in nurses training and receiving top marks in her class, H told the worker that her mum said to her “I am proud of you my daughter”. H had a difficult year looking for work in her home town, but just now found employment at a local hospital and so her mom will continue looking after her son whilst she works.
Thank you for your interest and support in A Song for Hope and the livelihood project for single moms in North Africa. You are making a difference in the lives of these women!