It was 1976 when she and her little brother hopped on a boat overloaded with others to escape the only world she knew to find refuge and opportunity. They eventually made it to the United States but not before reaching Taiwan – only to be turned away – then tried their luck in Japan where they were allowed to stay for 6 months to sort out which country would be willing to accept them. The details of her final journey to the States is still a little murky, she’s reluctant to talk about her experience much but when she does her voice still quiver, overwhelmed with haunting memories of a darker, more dangerous time.
My mother was only twenty four years old when she left communist Vietnam and joined the ranks of stigmatized ‘Vietnamese Boat People” to change the course of her life and ultimately mine.
* * * * *
Earlier this year I sent out an email to a few friends about an idea I had been mulling over for the last few months. Long story short: we met, we brainstormed and we started Creating For Good, a collective of social media savvy creatives who are passionate about using our skills to raise money for causes that offer opportunity to marginalised communities at home and abroad. Since the formation of CFG we have raised over £4,200 for the charities we support through a WeLovetoBrunch instameet and an auction social.
Creating For Good Auction Social – behind the scenes
For CFG’s first group fundraising event we hosted an auction for sixty people at the Hoxton Shoreditch last weekend to benefit Breaking Barriers, a London-based charity that offers training and work placement programmes for refugees in the UK. In the weeks leading up to the event the team had been working tirelessly on securing a space, auction items and food & beverage to be served on the day. You’ll get an idea from the photos below, it turned out to be a fun, heartwarming event in the backdrop of a light-filled space. I’ve been getting so many pats on the back for the idea of CFG but I want to give you an idea of what it took from all of us to make it happen:
- Jessica brought flowers to fill the room and put together the most beautiful fruit & cheese board for guests. She also introduced us to Mirabeau en Provence who kindly provided us with their rosé to serve at the auction.
- Ina secured us a space at the Hoxton and put together the most amazing live auction package – a Parisian getaway with Eurostar and Saint James Paris hotel.
- Mendy worked daily on updating our Instagram feed with news and auction items. She’s helped us build a following of over 5,500 people organically in less than two months.
- Jess created all of our event flyers and designed our user friendly website. She’d tell you it’s no big deal because Wix is an easy platform to use but I’ve recently had first hand experience in using it to less stellar results.
- Giulia wins the prize for getting the most amount of auction items which helped increase our ability to raise money.
- Charlotte took the below candids that captured the spirit of the event so well.
- The rest of the team: Steffi, Lena, Hannah, and Rosella have been working behind the scenes and made for a great welcoming party the day of the auction.
* * * * *
I shared my mother’s story earlier to highlight this: she’s the beneficiary of incredible support as a refugee who made it to the United States. By no means was it an easy experience for her to have left the bulk of her family behind, integrate in a completely different culture and learn a foreign language. Through a variety of non profit services and government aid she was able to take ESL courses and eventually found a long term office job from work placement programmes like Breaking Barriers. It was a long and arduous process but I can’t help but look back and be amazed at how her life has turned out when the chances seemed so slim.
I’m incredibly proud that Creating for Good was able to support the meaningful work of Breaking Barriers. The £4,000 we raised from the auction will directly benefit 5 refugee women by paying for their childcare 1 day a week for 3 months while they are on paid work placement. As the daughter of a refugee I cannot tell you how big of an impact these seemingly small gestures make.