The long anticipated day was finally with us. The closer we got to May 1st, the more we felt unprepared. This was mainly nerves because as a team, this was the first major event that we were hosting. Arts 2 End Slavery was a dream that we never thought we could fully implement and with the passage of time, it grew bigger than we anticipated. I guess, that is the best thing about sharing a dream that it stops being about you and it becomes about us. Arts 2 End Slavery was about everyone that contributed. It is about the artists that agreed to give out pieces of art before we could even buy them materials. It is about volunteers who worked tirelessly even when we could not afford to pay them. The launch was the culmination of the effort that was put by all these people and it was beautiful to see it all come together.
Sarakasi Dome was the place to be and the guests started arriving as early as five o’clock. Our event on Facebook had more than 600 people signing up for the event. For us, that was a good sign and even if half that number showed up, we would be grateful. The artists did a good job and the 47 pieces of art displayed in the room was a clear sign of their commitment to the fight against human trafficking. Grace, the project coordinator had been working since morning with Young@HAART volunteers to make sure that everything was in place. The turnout by the end of the night was around 400 people and we believe that this was a success. It was amazing to see the support we got from other NGOs who have worked with us, people from the art world, the media and concerned citizens who wanted to know what this night was all about.
One of the things that stood out during the night was the performances. Ghemma, a musical group from Coast performed a song on human trafficking that was quite entertaining but had a very strong message. We also had Sheddy The Poet and Coreen who did very moving poetry pieces. Although, we faced some issues with the lights going on and off, this did not kill the mood of the people who were patient to watch every performance and learn more about human trafficking.
The feedback was very positive. People were not only impressed by the art and the performances but also the message. One of the goals of this project was to make people see that modern slavery is an issue that needs to be addressed and by the end of the night most people agreed with us. The launch is the beginning of two months of Art to End Slavery and we hope that by the time the curtain closes, we would have reached more people with this important message.
By Sophie Otiende