The European Forum to Build Bridges on FGM was held on 28 November in Brussels by the End FGM EU. The Ubele Initiative was represented by Drew Sinclair who spent the day gathering some of the most prominent messages arising from the forum and transformed them into original works of art.
My journey on this project started with a sudden tingling in my Spider-sense, an important phone call was about to come in.
Indeed, the phone rang and it was Yvonne Field, (aka Wonder Woman!). ;)
“Drew! How about doing a Graphic Harvest in Brussels for our FGM Conference?”
Eyes shining and heart widening, I immediately said “Yes!”. My head slightly tilted towards the sky, and I smiled.
I had been considering the harmful effects of FGM on families for quite some time now, and wondering how I could contribute to create Change.
This was a wonderful opportunity to generate further awareness in society, and for me to learn more about a subject through my artistic work, whilst being remunerated. Yay!
Bags packed? Check.
Pens and paper? Check.
Positive attitude and Childlike curiosity? Check.
The journey was smooth like Waris Dirie's beautiful face, and compelling words. Her book on her experience of FGM "Desert Flower", illumined my journey with pictures of West and East Africa, that filled me to the brim with uncomfortable emotions.
I arrived in Brussels, found my Hotel and did some preparatory drawings for this Graphic Harvest assignment.
That night, I slipped into a dream with a desert landscape, where I was a young boy with a hard working camel, trying to find water.
I awoke suddenly, drank a glass of water, and decided to walk to the venue to draw the young boy in my dreams journey.
I arrived at the conference hall, and as if still in my desert dream, I observed myself move swiftly, bare-footed, from one room to another.
Taking notes of empowered conversations, and drawing defiantly powerful faces and bodies felt deeply humbling and nourishing somehow. The creations represented the people, most affected by FGM.
The images that were created, grew like trees unfolding the shared ideas and plans to fight against the inhumanity of FGM practices. The conference was alive with passion and animated bodies that demanded Change.
Day turned to night and before me stood 6 large drawings showing how FGM affected different members of our community. Positive expressions and comments about the days harvest, filled the spaces around me.
My job was complete.
With a grateful heart, I left the starry night of Brussels.
My spirit woke up my sleepy body at Saint Pancras Station in London. It was as if no time had passed at all - Was the whole thing a dream?
I checked my phone to make sure, and it was filled with the day’s photo memories. I smiled, and my heart felt warm with Hope as I sent the photos on to 'Wonder Woman'.
My journey continues now with my dear colleague Michael Hamilton. We are working to develop a comic book, designed to specifically help raise awareness in men, around the FGM issue.
I look forward to sharing the Comic book with you all soon.