Be the Cause

Compassion and Expression – Art for Peace

SOUTHLAND COMMUNITIES GATHERED FOR AN EVENING OF COMPASSION AND EXPRESSION

Event Aided Gaza Humanitarian Crisis By Using  Art For Peace

On March 7, the cavernous Chuco’s Justice Center in Inglewood was transformed into a haven for community artistic expression to raise awareness of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Be The Cause [bethecause.org], an entirely volunteer run not-for-profit, hosted “Compassion and Expression: Art for Peace” – a free event for the public to express compassion through art for those suffering in the war-torn region. Volunteers donated all art materials and canvasses, including T-shirts and tote bags, video equipment and snacks for participants, as well as their time to decorate the vast warehouse.

With 10-ft paper mache doves hanging from the ceiling and previously barren walls covered with inspirational quotes, poetry not politics was the chosen discourse of the evening as attendees were encouraged to spray paint T-shirts, paint, color, create cards, write letters, make buttons and videotape messages of hope and harmony.  Throughout the evening, local LA artists ranging from rappers to poets, kept participants inspired by their own form of socially conscious artistic expression.

Donated art and video messages will be personally hand-delivered by KinderUSA, a not-for-profit relief organization, to the children in Gaza with the hope of exhibiting and sharing local heartfelt compassion for them.

Kristeen Singh , one of the many organizers of the event, emphasized that fundraising was not the main objective, rather, “We wanted to create an event to raise community consciousness of the humanitarian crisis by inviting speakers to educate, engaging attendees with art activities and inspiring greater understanding through musical performances.”

The event commenced with a panel of representatives from relief organizations–International Committee of the Red Cross, Islamic Relief, Catholic Relief Services, KinderUSA and One Global Family Project–who educated attendees of the nuances of the Gaza humanitarian crisis and provided context to relief efforts.

James DeHarpporte, western regional director of Catholic Relief Services, underscored the desperate need for sustainable solutions “to a region that is becoming increasingly dependent on outside aid.”

Miho Yoshimura, international services specialist for the American Red Cross, added, “It is vitally important to educate the community locally about the ‘law of war’ which when adhered to can prevent the loss of civilian lives. The many deaths that have occurred makes this a humanitarian crisis, requiring response by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, which act as guardians of humanitarian law.”

Featured artists at the event included Mark Gonzales [myspace.com/HWProject], Def Jam poet and founder of the Human Writes Project that uses art as a catalyst for social transformation and Syrian-American hip hop artist Omar Offendum (Chakaki) [myspace.com/offendum], who performed together to address social injustice and the abuse of power; Korean-American singer/songwriter/poet SKIM [myspace.com/skimmusic], who sang about the many displaced peoples the world over; Indian-American singer/songwriter Manisha Shahane [myspace.com/manishamusic] who performed with Israeli percussionist Nissim Malul [NissimMalul.com] to build bridges within various cultural traditions; Vivien Sansour [imaginaction.org], poet/activist and co-founder of The Olive Tree Circus project that brings art to Palestinian farmers tending their olive groves presented stories of victims of the violence through her poetry; and world music influenced trio Elephants with Guns [myspace.com/elephantswithguns] performed soul-searching pieces, while DJ nPrevail [nPrevail.blogspot.com] kept the beat going strong throughout the evening.

In addition to creating art, attendees had the opportunity to donate to the various relief organizations present or purchase T-shirts bearing the image of a dove with the words “Salam” and “Shalom” (“Peace” in Arabic and Hebrew) designed by Maria Yefimova from the Red Cross Club at UCLA, proceeds of which will be evenly distributed to the Palestine Red Crescent Society and Magen David Adom of Israel.

The organization’s committee members, including Be The Cause founder Sukh Chugh, Tanzila Ahmed, Adnan Hussain, Kristeen Singh, Carolina Quezada and Laura Ava-Tesimale, led the volunteer efforts to make the event an inspirational expression of compassion for Gaza.

For additional information about Be The Cause or to find out how you can participate in the next volunteer run event, please visit: www.bethecause.org

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