29 Jun 17 04 Jan 18

'Precious gifts of money from people who don’t have a lot': Poetry and Music Salon gathers artists to raise funds for MSF

By Lucia Yglesias

“We are not a wealthy community,” says Brenda Clews of the group of Toronto poets and musicians she gathered together for the Poetry and Music Salon Fundraiser in order to raise money for Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) last month. “I’m very proud of everybody and all the support that this fundraiser received. All precious gifts of money from people who don’t have a lot.”

The Poetry and Music Salon Fundraiser was comprised of two parts: an online fundraiser and the event itself. Together the initiative raised more than $1,100 for MSF.  

“For a bunch of poets and indie musicians, it is really phenomenal. We had six poets and six musicians. They were all super talented and marvelous. Everybody came out and gave everything. They gave their best readings. Their best performances. It was a remarkable afternoon,” Clews says.

Clews believes the challenge of the event was to find a way for people to feel the great value of their support. “I had to be really careful on wording everything. For people to feel their generosity was appreciated, because cash or money is a form of love when it goes to help,” she says.

For Clews, helping people to stay healthy is the best way to show them that the world have not forgotten them, which she wanted to support. “It’s a medical charity. It is always there to help people when there is an emergency,” she says.

Clews knows from firsthand experience what is like to live in a country where there is a lack of primary supplies and health care. Originally from Zimbabwe and raised in Zambia, in southern Africa, she came to Canada when she was 10 years old. “I’m from the developing world,” she says. “I know how hard it is. We are very fortunate here. I think you need to see some of the world to understand how much we need to share what we have.”

Touched by the experience and her community’s response, Clews hopes the Poetry and Music Salon will inspire other organizers to host a fundraiser event, at least once a year.  

“I hope I set an example to get some of the others to consider doing a fundraiser. We get to feel good about ourselves, and we get to give something. It was very joyful,” Clews says. 

Clews is already thinking about two more possible fundraiser events later this year. “Whatever you raise is never not enough. It’s always good. Not amount is too small, nor not amount is too large,” she says.  

Brenda Clew in one of her performs at Toronto. Photo courtesy of Clew

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