Strength Source Project Show Opening!

There will be an opening for the Strength Source Project Show at Abington Art Center on Friday, September 21st from 6 – 8 pm. The show will be on view until October 23rd. I hope you will come by to view 27 portraits and stories hanging on the walls of the center! 

Abington Art Show Opening

 

dixon-407801-f-wp-content-uploads-2018-03-1058500_ed8dec06057da99-1200x800

Jessica

Jess.web

“My name is Jessica and I was born with a Cleft Lip and Palate. For the past several years I have been working with Philly Phaces. Philly Phaces is a local non profit for families to connect with other families that have children with a craniofacial difference.

I am a Philly Phaces Ambassador. I go to different elementary and middle schools with other children and young adults. We share the message of choosing kind. We tell the students about ourselves and what we have been through in our lives. At the end of our presentation we open it up for questions. The students can ask us anything from what our favorite food is to how many surgeries we’ve had. I think that is always my favorite part. I think doing these school talks and helping with Philly Phaces has made me feel strong inside because I love to educate students about being kind to others no matter what their differences are. It’s rewarding being a friend to someone who maybe going through a surgery that I had and being able to talk with them and let them know that it will be ok and that they will be fine.

I think being someone that has grown up with a facial difference has given me the strength to help others going through the same journey. “I want people to notice what’s on the inside, not what’s on the outside.”

You can read more about Philly Phaces and the work that they do here:

http://www.phillyphaces.org/

Sarah

sarah.web

“As an adult, people have always perceived me as strong and I struggled to understand why. I believe many of us get our strength through survival, meaning our strength rises to the occasion. The strongest women I know are those who have come through the hardest times, it seems. While I’ve had my share of struggles, I have been lucky. Through most of them I didn’t recognize my strength until later. I am a recovering alcoholic and drug addict who got sober when pregnant over 22 years ago, and I had to learn how to live like a normal person for the first time when I was 26 and a new mom. I’ve been through heartaches and love affairs, a marriage and the end of a marriage, and raising a child when I felt like a child myself. 

 It wasn’t until I hit bottom with my depression 3 years ago that I truly felt strong. I was suicidal and crying every day for months, with bouts of debilitating anxiety that made it hard to breathe. It was because of the experiences I had up to that point that I was able to reach out for help when it was the last thing I wanted to do. I found myself utilizing the tools I learned in recovery and applying it to my depression. Do the next right thing. Ask for help and accept help. Stay for another day. I went into my doctor’s office for an emergency appointment and spent the next few months crying and trying different medications, going to therapists and slowly coming back to life. It was up and down and sometimes worse, but I kept trying because I knew that how I felt wasn’t my fault and I was so tired of living in the dark, never feeling joy and never feeling like I deserved anything good. Eventually we found the right medication for me and I have a therapist I like and I’ve been above water for a good while now. I have days here and there where the depression tugs me down, but I am learning how to let go and float through those times.”

Karley

karley.web.

“I was raised by a tribe. A tribe including incredible parents whose love is strong and true. By five siblings who taught me to always stand up for myself. By a Mother, an Aunt, and Sisters who taught me to never apologize for being a strong woman. By a father who taught me that everyone has a story, so always be kind. Our family is deeply rooted in those values. We were taught to always put others before ourselves, especially those less fortunate, and to take nothing for granted, since most of our life is based on luck. That we are the lucky ones. My family makes me feel strong. I find my strength in raising my children the same way. I find strength when I look at my husband who has similar roots. We are trying to raise kind, responsible, emotionally intelligent humans. This is not an easy task in a world that can look ugly and breed greed and selfishness. But they are being raised by their own tribe. You will see my strength in my family values that will continue in the next generation. You will see my children strong minded, strong hearted, and strong willed, just like their tribe.”

Traci

Traci.web.

“When I decided to become a single mom by choice, I felt strong. Holding that little 5 lb baby in my arms almost seven years ago, I felt in awe, I felt I could do anything. 

 These past years have been challenging to say the least.  There are times I have felt unsure, inadequate and defeated. I have questioned whether I was delusional all those years ago (and may be I was). But lately my strength has been showing up as surrender. Letting go of trying to control everything and relaxing into the moment and being mentally and emotionally present for my daughter. My strength shows up when I cry and accept help from my family. My strength precedes every time I accept her as she is, allow her to take the lead at times and be willing to learn from her. I feel strong every time I am steadfast in our living a life defined by us and not defined by others, tv or social media.”

traci.bw.web.jpg

Mara

mara.web

Finding the the courage to pursue a career in fine art and craft without a plan B is my strongest achievement to date. I have always dabbled in the arts and came only several credits shy of earning an associates degree in Illustration after high school but bailed to pursue more “financially stable” and concrete career paths. After years of going through the motions,  I just recently completed my BFA in Metalsmithing & Jewelry Design, creating an installation of my work that I was genuinely proud of. I am very late to the game, just now heading to graduate school but everything that I’ve done leading up to now has given my work a stronger voice and a richer meaning.  My veracious appetite for knowledge and progression has been both a blessing and a curse but I’ve come to realize that choosing a career path is only as constricting as I will it to be. I’m finally slowing down a tiny bit to enjoy my exciting journey. When I return to Philadelphia from the Rochester Institute of Technology in two years with an MFA under my belt, I plan to create and run a craft based artist collective. Looking back, I have spent a lot of time and energy fighting insignificant battles on principal and justice, but I have come to learn that at the end of the day anything extra is overkill. My work speaks for itself.”

 Find out more about Mara and her work at: www.marairis.com

Jane

jayne.web

“I’m a midwife; I bear witness to some of the most intense and wonderful moments in people’s lives. It’s an incredibly rewarding job, and the adrenaline and oxytocin from lovely births carry me through the sometimes grueling aspects of this work; twenty-four hour call shifts, weekend and night calls, the dissolution of a woman’s birth ‘plan’, taking care of women having still births, neonatal resuscitations, etc. It’s not for the faint of heart.  Seeing the strength of my clients and bolstering their strength when they need it most, gives me strength. I also gather strength from my sister-midwives, both at my current workplace, as well as midwives I have learned alongside in the past.

 During my own labor, it was helpful knowing that millions of women had done this before, and thousands of women were laboring at the same time as me, all bringing new life into this world. Having the weight of my warm, wet and wriggly baby placed on my chest was one of the best feelings in my life, and in that moment, I felt that I could do anything in the world.

 In labor, just like in life, there are waves of contractions or pain. As a midwife, I remind women to stay present; to not dwell on what was or worry about what is to come but to just get through this contraction. At the end of the first stage of labor is a phase called ‘transition’ (when the cervix dilates from 8 – 10 centimeters) – one of the hardest parts of labor.  This is when the contractions are the most intense, and the woman may be tired and starting to doubt herself. It is during transition that I often remind women that they are stronger than they think or realize, and that I know they can do it. In the second stage of labor when a woman is pushing her baby out into this world, I remind women to take the breaks in between contractions, and to gather her strength for the next big push. These three reminders are advice we all could heed in our daily lives.”

“A midwife must possess the hand of a lady, the eyes of a hawk and the heart of a lion” – 16th century proverb.

Fatima

Fatima

“I am a Sudanese journalist, I have been one since 2000. I’m concerned with political issues and human rights. I am concerned about conflict in my country. I’ve covered the war in Darfur and I have attended several international conferences in Geneva and in Berlin to discuss human rights in Africa. I think journalism is important – we need to know what is going on in the world. Journalists also give the government more reason to do the right thing; we help fight political and economic corruption. Because of what I do, I have been put in harm’s way in Africa because you know many presidents in Africa are dictators with military regimes.

I have been arrested several times, I have gone to jail. But I am so proud as a human rights defender and I am in a party for nonviolence against women — I am a voice for this group in my country. I am proud to fight violence against women in Sudan. Also I work with Darfur Women’s action group here in Washington DC. In the US, I continue with my role working to fight violence against women in my country. I go to Congress and I meet with members of Congress to talk about human rights in Africa and in Sudan. As a woman – we struggle more than men – especially women journalists. There are challenges and pressures but I do not worry about this — I go about my way. I think every struggle just helps me to be stronger. I do not respond to the pressure. I am committed to achieving my goals. I hope to see women live better lives – without family and community violence. I want to see us living a peaceful life.”

 

*Fatima was jailed for writing about and standing up for rape victims. You can read more about her here:

http://www.darfurwomenaction.org/16-days-survivor-stories-fatima-gazali/

Marion

Marion

  • Marion is in the US seeking asylum after fleeing Liberia. Marion has spoken out about the mistreatment and violence against women and children in her native country. With a group of five female advocates, she went to a village to speak about the gruesome practice of Female Genital Mutilation, which happens to roughly 45% of the female population in Liberia. She was attacked by a crowd of people, kidnapped, and taken to the bush where she was violently beaten and left to die. One member of her party of five women did not survive the attack. Following this event, she had to flee. She continues her crusade for the rights of women and children now from US soil, but has had to leave her own family behind in Liberia.

“I am Marion from Liberia. I’m here in America trying to see how I can patch my life back. I live in the United States now. What makes me feel strong now as a woman is advocating for the rights of children and especially young girls. With the situation in my country there has been a lot of chaos and a lot of women who do not have a husband anymore – they become widows and their children were supported by their parents but then there are no more parents – they are orphans – so for this reason some of them become prostitutes as a means of surviving. Myself and other women who were raped during the crisis – we still come together to talk to these children. They are in tears and we come to them we talk to them and we try to get them to believe that they can get back on course with their lives. What’s made me strong is advocating for the rights of women and children in society. There is a lot of vulnerability for women and children in Liberia – it is a constant. There’s a sub standard of living conditions in our country and we have women selling their children in the streets. They’re not sending them to school and these children are deprived of their educational rights and they are used by their parents as a breadwinner. I lobby for these children with International organizations to see these issues addressed by the government, anyway necessary.

I was victimized because I took on traditional harmful practices (FGM) and I said that these harmful practices should be denounced by the government. I was a victim of violence but still I encourage other people to be strong so we can be in a better society and I hope I can be strong in America so that I can work here with people who will be able to help me to contribute to the empowerment of women and girls worldwide because that’s my passion. I want to network with people here to have my vision accomplished today.”

Doreen

Doreen.web

“As a mature woman I am aware of life’s up and downs and the resilience it takes to create and choose a happy life. At this time I am experiencing one of the peaks of my lifetime. I feel strong inside because I refuse to limit my possibility and continuously look inward to determine what I want my life to be. I have recently taken on a challenging professional role with a new organization and am experiencing one of the greatest personal joys of my lifetime. I am a first time parent at 49! My son Quinn will be a year old this summer.

 What makes me feel strong today is the fact that I refuse to allow the story of “being too old” to be a part of me. As long as I am breathing I will empower myself and others to step through their fears and limited thinking. I am strong today because I live my life on my terms. I will continue to embrace this life, take chances, dive into new experiences and make my own rules. I have manifested many more ups than downs in my lifetime and I’m not stopping!”