I personally remember feeling shivers reverberate through my body when one of Niall's nephews posted a home video of men sprinting along a paved road dragging their machetes along the asphalt to sharpen them. Malawi is known as one of the most peaceful countries in Africa and the imagery seemed completely alien to me or anyone else who has visited this beautiful country - best known as "the warm heart of Africa" - named so for the renowned kindness and hospitality of the people. Fortunately, the BeeHive students and teachers escaped any physical assault, but the emotional trauma was jarring and the students were in shock.
At the same time, a very passionate, talented, and lion hearted young woman in Los Angeles, CA - Gabriella Gala - was following these events unfold with a deep sense of wrenching anxiety and empathy. But sitting and watching was just not enough for her.
It was during the riots that I received a frantic e-mail from this young starving artist where she asked me for BeeHive School's mailing address. That was not the end of it - we connected and spent hours talking. Gabriella is a creative genius - she speaks through her art and through her dance. She understands how art, music, and dance can transcend language and can heal deep traumas - Gabriella herself had recently faced a devastating and near-death experience that put her in the hospital for many weeks. But rather than let the experience cripple her, she decided to use her art to rise above it and to use that trauma as a source of energy to push against and to create beauty and inspire love around her. She told me this was what she wanted to give to the kids - a way to rise above the trauma of the riots.
Next, Gabriella jumped into action. With little more than an idea and her passion to create positive change, Gabriella set out to raise funds for a carebox filled with art supplies to send to BeeHive School. With the help of her friends, she started having dancing/singing fundraisers to raise money for shipping costs and collect art supplies. And little by little - with the generosity of the kind people around her, she raised a dollar here and a few sets of colored pencils over there, until she had the funds and materials to send a carebox across the world.
But hold on - that's not the end - this carebox is not the end of the story. Rather, it was the first carebox of a series of a careboxes. You see, Gabriella, rather than feeling satisfied after sending the first carebox to BeeHive School immediately felt a hunger and need to do more - to send more art across the world to help kids.
Why art? Because art is more than the action of taking a brush to a canvas - it breaks down language barriers and is a way for us to process complex emotional traumas. Art is a way for children to process pain and anger in a safe and constructive way. And it's a way for a stranger from across the world to say in a very tangible way - we're here, we care about you, we're thinking about you - you are not forgotten.
Gabriella's vision has continued to evolve and this incredible young woman is determined to visit Africa and BeeHive School, as well as all the other schools where she has sent CareBoxes across Africa. To follow her adventure, please check out her project page - Project Share Love (what a great name!):
Gabriella's vision is ever expanding and recently she has enrolled in community college in biology and permaculture - she is determined to learn as much as possible in order to be able to truly serve the needs of marginalized children all over the world. Please like her page and learn more about her journey...I have a feeling this is not the last time you will hear about this amazing young woman. In fact, she might be writing the next update from BeeHive School - so stay tuned!
And guess what! After four months in the post, the first carebox just arrived at BeeHive School! The students nearly had their eyes pop out when they opened up this amazing gift brimming with every sort of artistic goodie. It contained more art supplies than the Mzuzu general store holds in stock at one time! Everyone at BeeHive is looking forward to meeting Gabriella in the flesh and to giving her a very, very big hug.