Just when I think I have had enough of social media I suddenly realise how amazing it is as a vehicle for spreading knowledge and mobilizing others to make real change. So I am harnessing it to promote the rights of girls and women around the world who are 'cellophane' - looked through, walked past - these are the unseen.
If you scroll forever - back into the archives of my blog - you would see an entry about the picture book that I have written for the mature reader (I don't expect you to do this). It is called 'Cellophane Girl' and it's about a child widow - though it is also about all the girls and women that we don't see.
By a series of odd Godincidences I stumbled upon the beautiful art of Kate Forman Ortiz and I just knew she had to illustrate it, and this she has been doing. We have one beautiful painted picture, the rest are sketches which she is slowly working on. (Kate has had a baby - Maeve the Brave, and so she is working on it slowly.) It isn't normal to choose your own illustrator, and I am sure I have gone about it all the wrong way, but I just L.O.V.E Kate's work. It's bright, it is full of empathy, it is political - and most of all - the more I have got to know Kate the more I know that we are a perfect match. She has the same heart for the 'unseen' woman as I do. What confirmed it most for me was when she started to draw. I asked her if she had been inside my head. How did she know what I can see in my mind's eye? How special is that?
I am not sure how we will get published. Two highly respected authors have written endorsements for it and they believe in what we are doing. We have had one rejection slip from a publisher (I have only approached one publisher so far) - for the very reason one of the authors thought we would be - this company isn't at present accepting picture book manuscripts for mature readers. It is a niche market.
BUT the book is just one way to get the message out. Published or not - Kate and I have not turned away from these women - we are looking at them full in the face (though it often hurts a lot). And we welcome others who want to do the same. We know it is good sharing stories about these girls and women, but that it is easy to become so overwhelmed that we end up doing nothing more than look. Looking is NOT seeing. Come and 'see' with us and let's get doing something!
Here are a few things that we can do now, in no particular order. If you aren't sure about how to go about any of these - if you need contacts etc - leave a comment and I will guide you.
1. Write to a female prisoner and/ or come alongside a newly released prisoner.
2. Go to Amnesty International's website and sign petitions. Right now they are asking for signatures for the release of Australian lawyer Melinda Taylor who is being detained in Libya. http://www.amnesty.org.au/action/action/28934/
3. Read books. Some suggestions are: 'Half the Sky' by Nicholas D. Kristof and Cheryl WunDunn, 'One Thousand Sisters' by Lisa Shannon , 'Slave Hunter' by Aaron Cohen, 'Marrying Ameera' by Rosanne Hawke. Hey you could start a book club.
4. Watch movies and documentaries. The most recent one I have watched was called 'The Whistleblower'. The movie is 'okay' and I confess I did look away at some of the violence - but the courage of the woman who is the whistle-blower, and the fact that it is a true story, has encouraged me to persevere in fighting injustice.
5. Sponsor a widow in the Congo.
6. Baby sit for a friend - especially if she is a single mother.
7. Explore some of the sites found on our FB page, share them, and invite your friends to join the site by clicking 'like'.
8. Take in an asylum seeker (refugee). The Australian government is offering this solution to detention centres.
9. Give away a day's pay - https://www.tear.org.au/donate/payday
10. At school - if you see someone alone - ask if you can sit with them.
Peace and all joy,
PS - And adopt a greyhound - that one is for you!!! I couldn't help myself.