There are numerous ways to nurture and nourish relationships — and members of Winnipeg’s South Sudanese community know that as much as anyone.
Manitoba Women 4 Women of South Sudan is preparing to hold a free summer barbecue fundraiser at St. Vital Park (picnic site one) on Sat., Aug. 24 from 1 to 4 p.m.
Key organizer Elizabeth Aluk Andrea said MW4WSS is led by refugee women from the African nation that now live in Winnipeg. Alongside Canadian partners, the non-profit organization promotes and advocates for education and healing for women and children within the broader South Sudanese community as a means of achieving peace. Part of the organization’s mandate is to empower women and girls in both Canada and South Sudan through educational programming, and trauma and healing workshops. Andrea said members are actively encouraged to talk openly about their experiences and goals.
"We’re the first generation from South Sudan," Andrea, who is the organization’s president and co-founder, told The Lance recently.
"Many of us immigrated to Canada from a war-torn country, and were displaced and uprooted from our own habitat because we were seeking safety and peace," she added.
Andrea, who lives in northwest Winnipeg’s, said she didn’t know too much about Winnipeg before arriving in the Prairies, but she is thankful she came here. She said many other Sudanese refugees live in nations such as Australia and the U.S., but she chose Canada "because I believed Canada to be a peaceful country and the best country to live in."
"I was also told it was a good place to raise a young family, and that turned out to be the case. I feel blessed."
Such gratitude, and the security provided by living in a safer environment, was one of the catalysts of the formation of MW4WSS in 2011. And with the help of Senator Marilou McPhedran, a lawyer and human rights advocate, and "some other Canadian and South Sudanese friends," the group was formed.
"We’ve experienced the peace here in Canada. Some of us went back to school, and we started to think about what we could do to give back to the community," Andrea said.
One way for the group to give back is the upcoming barbecue, at which food and drink will be provided, although attendees are welcome to bring something along, too.
People of all ages are welcome to attend, and there will be crafts from Africa for sale, as well as a raffle later in the afternoon.
As well, artist and writer Manju Lodha from India will also be participating in the event.
Attendees are encouraged to make a small donation. Proceeds will go towards the organization’s initiatives.
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Community journalist — The Lance
Simon Fuller is the community journalist for The Lance. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org Call him at 204-697-7111