October 27-29, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Veterans of Hope Project participated in three tremendously rich and full days in honor of the Water Mothers [Monongahela, Allegheny and Ohio].  The events included a film screening and vibrant panel; two workshops; a blessing at the riverside and wonderful meals with new friends and family.

The film was the beautiful documentary on Black women’s activist leadership in the Afro-Brazilian religion Candomblé, by Donna Carole Roberts: “Yemanjá: Wisdom from the African Heart of Brazil”.  [See the trailer and more info here.] The panel was a spectacular discussion at Chatham University following the film, featuring writer Alice Walker, psychologist Huberta Jackson-Lowman, Donna Roberts and Rachel Harding. The workshops were led with marvelous discernment by Gloria Rodriguez with help from Lisette Nieves; and the water blessing was everybody at the edge of the Monongahela with ducks and geese and flowers and honey and prayers and songs for the West African sacred energies Iemanja, Oxum, Aganjú and Oxala. 

What a fellowship! We are so grateful to the Pittsburgh sisters who made this gathering possible and for the friends (like Marcella Pendergrass, Carmen Lane, Tatiana Rodriguez and Angela Billingsley) from far and near who made their way to the city of confluences and shined!

The video is from Gloria Rodriguez’s absolutely FANTASTIC “Living Waters” workshop which culminated with a women’s dance and drumming circle OUT THIS BOOK!!! (as Rosemarie Harding would say). 

Click here to see  writer Alice Walker in the center of the circle dancing with Celeta Hickman. Sister Alice is followed by Cheryl Hall-Russell and a wonderful photographer, Ma’at. And all the rest of us are clapping and rocking and getting ready for our turn!! So much power from the ABAFASI drummers! So much joy!


Pictured above are Dr. Huberta Jackson-Lowman and Beatrice Y. Mitchell

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