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Set by the river in the intimate Studio Lantern Theatre, over 500 restless beings, from varying occupations and backgrounds all over the UK came together as a united tribe to celebrate 4 years of restlessness at Kukusanya! Armed with Love, Light & Lollipops, a Restless Beings staple, supporters built up the excitement on twitter with the #kukusanya tweet-a-lot competition, reaching out over 165,000 followers, and were ready to get down to drum beats and feel good vibes!
Since our inception little over four years ago our work has taken us from the Roma community across Europe to the street children in Dhaka, women's rights in Kyrgyzstan and to the Rohingya community in South-West Burma. In harmony with the transnational nature of our work, the event carried a vibrant tribal theme knitting together the distinctive traditional arts of countries across the globe.
The electric vibes were felt throughout the night, with the audience chilling out on traditional Moroccan and Bedouin cushions and rugs set amongst the intimate stage, set alive with the many beautiful arts of different culture all over the world.
Musical delights were in an abundance ranging from the Quqin played beautifully by Nora Wang and composer and incredible flutist Shammi Pithia stunned the audience with his performance with singer Sonna Rele. Live music from our long time supporting artists, the vibrant duo Native Sun, Suzana Ansar and amazing drumming skills from Khansar, Latin, British, African hip-hop rapping dexterity from Street Souls UK, a surprise acoustic performance from Aruba Red as well Melissa Melodee performing the 100kids anthem 'Broken Hearts' with all the Restless Beings team singing on stage with her added to the celebration. Bringing a visual treat to the night, Brazilarte executed a show stopping capoeira performance and Manaia Maori stormed the stage with their chants, music and dance, including the haka- indigenous to New Zealand.
Akkas Al-Ali (Directed by Tommy Lexén and played by Priyank Morjaria, Shaeran Thomas, Mauricio Brandes, Matthew Gibbs, Caitlin Thorburn, Trieve Blackwood-Cambridge and Tara Jaffar), playwright and director, brought a short but powerful piece of theatre looking at the kidnapping of women for marriage in Kyrgyzstan (Ala Kachuu), the oppression of the Roma people across Europe, the treatment of the Palestinians and the murder of Trayvon Martin.
With a focus on demanding change and voicing the voiceless, Restless Beings also announced the latest exciting developments with two of our projects. We are now up and running in Kyrgyzstan, helping to combat Ala Kachuu or bride kidnapping which is largely non-consensual and often involves violent kidnapping, mistreatment and rape of women. After an emotionally charged trip to the country in April this year, just a few weeks before Kukusanya, the Restless Beings team interviewed women and families who had faced Ala Kachuu and are now dealing with the many fall outs of the practice. The team held workshops with local charities, filmed an advertisement to be aired on Kyrgyz TV to encourage men and women to say no to Ala Kachuu and initiated dialogue with other NGOs aiming to find a resolution. Incredibly having recently achieved NGO status for Restless Beings, we have partnered with a women's right organisation, Sezim to offer a counselling service to women affected by Ala Kachuu.
Kukusanya also marked the end of our 100kids campaign which started in February 2012. We set the challenge to Restless Beings all over the world to raise at least £100 in 100 days for the 100 street children that are going to be given a future to at our Restless Beings Village in Bangladesh. With a phenomenal response of nearly 400 Restless Beings taking up the challenge from 32 countries worldwide and 31 cities and towns in the UK alone!
The top 3 100kids fundraisers were announced at Kukusanya, with Shareefa Panchbhaya claiming 3rd place raising £1,701.25 by chopping off all of her hair to show how street girls in Bangladesh do this to appear as boys in fear of rape and sexual abuse. In second place were two little sisters, Aliyah and Khadija aged 4 and 6 and together they raised £3,292.00 being sponsored for horse riding, a 3 mile walk and swimming! Claiming 1st place, raising a total of £3,568.85 was Amera Otaifa, who as the winner of the 100kids challenge will be able to fly out to the Restless Beings Village in 2013 when it will be a fully functioning home, school, rehabilitation centre and a safe environment for street children to play and live out their childhood, as they should.
Although the 100 days of the challenge are up, the problems facing the children in Dhaka are not. Please do not forget them and continue to support the project by signing up on www.onehundredkids.com like TV Presenter and Journalist - Tasmin Lucia-Khan!
With your support consistent, grassroots change is achievable - our 100kids campaign, having raised over £45,000 in 100 days is testament to that! We also debuted 'Building Hope', a short film documenting our work with the street children in Dhaka, Bangladesh and the reason why your help is so needed!
Thank you to all who took part in the 100 kids challenge and all our guests at Kukusanya - your help keeps us going and facilitates change in vulnerable communities.
Love, Light and Lollipops!