March 2011

Posted by Michael G. Duhaney on 25 March 2011 | 0 Comments

Expressions by Jenn Koh

Emerging From the Sidewalk Cracks

Emerging from the sidewalk cracks
Violet buds emerge.
Delicate Determined. Radiating Blossoming Grace and beauty.
Disregarding The harsh The limiting The suffocating.
Reaching towards the sun The light.
Discovering A life Of joy Of Beauty Unfolding.

When I was a little girl, I used to play a game in our beautiful garden just outside Durban, in South Africa. The garden , lined with strong tall pine trees around its perimeter, cerise pink bougainvillea and lilac hydrangeas, sturdy avocado trees and year-round lush green grass, provided the ideal playground for me and my two sisters.

The life I experienced, however, was a stark contrast to the lives of the majority of black girls my age. Unbeknown to me, in my beautiful little world, under an apartheid regime, fellow South Africans were being denied human rights. Denied an equal education. Forced to live in separate locations called ‘townships', away from the elite whites. Forbidden to marry a white person. Required to have a pass to work in a ‘white' area and prohibited from watching a movie in a ‘whites-only' theatre, or riding a whites only bus or train'. The first time I took a bus with a fellow black South African was when I was 19 years old.

As I grew older, I continued to witness oppression, mostly of women who lived and worked in the cities, far from their homes and families as domestic workers, a growing number of whom, became afflicted with HIV/AIDS.

Yet, despite the adversity many of these women faced on a daily basis, many found the inner strength and courage to rise up and beyond their circumstances.

...Miriam, a domestic worker who courageously came to work each day, despite the black and blue bruises to her eye, to ensure she made money for her seven children to get an education. Quietly in her tiny room, she made Christmas decorations to bring in extra income. And one of my co-workers, Joy, who came to work with a shaven head and stitches criss-crossing her skull, with a smile on her face, despite having been hit over the head with a glass bottle by a drunken lover. While she worked, she sang melodies that sent chills to the heart. And the many child-minders (nannies) caring for and nurturing children other than their own, having been denied many of the opportunities that many of their fellow white South African sisters had received. And Thandi, who, despite having been diagnosed with HIV and AIDS, learned to make exquisite beaded jewelry and grass baskets, to sell at a craft market in the city to bring in income for her family. Beneath the pain, courageous and creative spirits..... never giving up. Somewhere, somehow they had accessed a part of themselves that helped them heal and move on.

The ‘crafts-in-the-garden' game that my sisters and I played, where we spent hours creating dolls, table decorations and jewelry from pine cones, plants, bird feathers and pieces of wool and fabric from my mum's sewing closet and then trading these with flower currency.....were the passionate beginnings of what would later be fuel for a movement of change.

Later as my life progressed, I kept having visions of a retreat, a space where people would come to rejuvenate and heal, set in serene mountainous settings. I grew up not far from the Drakensberg mountains in South Africa and now live in Calgary, Canada, close to the Rocky Mountains. Mountains are for me a sanctuary, a place of sacredness. As part of an assignment when I was twenty one, two other women classmates and I created a PR and Marketing plan for a tranquil retreat nestled in in the Drakensberg mountains.

I consider myself a highly privileged individual who was blessed with loving, caring parents and given a good start in life. I have been able to live and work in many different cities around the world, I have also attended university, retreats, art, dance and sculpting classes.
So often I thought, it seems unjust that only the privileged get to experience soul-sustenance and time out from daily life at spas and creative spiritual retreats. What if all women from all walks of life and all economic circumstances were given the opportunity to experience soul-nurturing retreats? What if they were invited to attend a retreat, united with women from all over the world, able to tap into sisterhood and the creative gifts they were graced with, gain new knowledge and skills and able to step back into the world celebrating their uniqueness and then building sustainable businesses, if that's what their heart desired?

At the beginning of 2010, I decided that it was time to emerge from a period of pain in both my personal and work life. A 10 year marriage ended and so did an era of working in a regular 8 - 5 job, cooped up in toxic corporate environments. I created a vision board, set some delicious intentions, and found myself a DreamCoach. My vision was to create a life of love laughter and a creative, healing, abundant business, a portion of the proceeds to go to assisting underprivileged women artists in Africa build sustainable businesses.

It is true...what we water grows. In June 2010 an e-mail graced my inbox. The Best Brilliant Idea for Humanity. I took the plunge, and saw the contest as a catalyst for this vision and now have a team of great people, including my courageous co-leader, Michael Duhaney, assisting me on this path.... Precious Women Project International.

During my own life, when I have been in crisis and pain; the most effective way I have moved through these times, has been when I have gone deep within and tapped into my soul- self. Dance, clay, music, painting, writing, collaging, meditation, yoga, ancient breathing techniques and alternative healing modalities have moved me to a place far beyond what education did.

In a male-dominated world where the rational and logical rule , we have lost sight of and starved ourselves of the creative feminine. The price we've paid is evident everywhere. My intention is not to condemn men...by any means. Men too, have paid a price for not integrating and feeding the feminine...for not being whole. We all have. The arts, meditation, yoga, breathing techniques are ways to feed the Divine Feminine ...to satiate her appetite.

If you would like to learn more about PWPI, how you can get involved, or are interested in experiencing a bite-sized Precious Women Project Retreat in the comfort of your own home through the mini-book: The Lotus Effect, or know of anyone who would like to sponsor a Precious Woman to attend a retreat, please e-mail Jenn@preciouswomenproject.com

By Jenn Koh:

H'Art-centred Social Mompreneur, Coach, Writer and Artist
Founder: iNtaba Coaching, Wellness and Change Management Consulting
Founder: Precious Women Project International
www.myartofchange.com