By Mark Stolk, Denmark
Friend of Feminenza and artist Mark Stolk, instigated the distribution of 50,000 GO-cards in 600 different places around the city of Copenhagen in support of Feminenza’s ‘Give a Girl a Chance’ project. We asked him to tell us more about what happened and what motivated him.
First something about GO-cards: a GO-card is postcard size that people can pick up for free from public places like cinemas, libraries, cafés and restaurants. The company that makes GO-cards takes orders from other organisations or companies that want more publicity, but they also make traditional artistic –cards. They produce a new series of GO-cards every two weeks and then distribute them in different places. Every single GO-card is produced in quantities of 25.000 or more.
Since the Feminenza conference on Humanity and Gender in Nairobi in January 2006 I have kept in contact with some Kenyan people, especially a man called Oscar from the NGO Agents for Change, having had very special conversations with him during the conference. In one of his e-mails he mentioned that he was ill, which worried me, and he told me he had to go to hospital and it would cost him a lot of money that he didn’t have. I promised that I would try to help him, not knowing exactly how, not having much money myself at the time. I told him I was partaking in a big exhibition in Copenhagen with 120 artists to which some 10.000 visitors would come and that I had made a painting with the theme of Africa in it. I promised that if it sold I would give him 50% of the profit to help pay for his hospital costs.
On the first day of the exhibition a friend phoned and told me that my painting had been published in full colour on the front cover of a Danish newspaper. This was quite amazing. When I went to the exhibition many people wanted to buy the painting. One woman even cried when she saw it and I sold the painting to her. She felt very moved by it and I guess that she felt somehow a connection to everything that had gone on with Feminenza in Africa that had found expression through me into the painting. Something happened between us through the painting and we still are in contact.
During the exhibition I was also approached by a lady from the company that produces GO-cards called Nicoline. She wanted to make a GO-card of the painting and also wanted to buy it. Because it had already been sold, I promised her to make a new one. When this one was finished, she came with her parents to have a look at it. As she couldn’t afford it herself, her father had agreed to pay for it, but he didn’t like it and found the message in the painting too confronting to be put on the wall. But I could see she really liked it, so I phoned her later with the suggestion that she could have the painting for free, if she could help out by printing free GO-cards for the Feminenza project Give a Girl a Chance. She agreed and as I write this, 50,000 Go-cards are being distributed around the city.
The good news is that, along with another friend here in Denmark, I managed to raise enough money for Oscar’s hospital fees helped by the fact that the doctor reduced his fee. He has now recovered completely and is back to work and continues to be very active within Agents for Change, the NGO (None Government Organisation) he is a member of.
In supporting his fees I also supported the work he does as Agents for Change really contribute a great deal. Last year he was awarded the Agents for Vision award, which is aimed to acknowledge and appreciate an outstanding agent for excellent performance contribution and achievements to the society and youth. With the award came really useful prizes, such as a water pump for his tree nursery, assorted tree seeds for the nursery, and an Ox – Plough, which was donated by Hon. Gor Sunguh the MP Kisumu Town Constituency.
At one such activity he spoke about the environment, health and the future to 3000 children plus school staff and other invited guests at a school’s festival. Agents for Change received a lot of recognition for the work they do to help improve health standards in these schools, e.g. waste and garbage collection, sanitation, soil conservation, mosquito control etc. The guest of honour, the mayor of Kisumu City, requested Oscar represent the youth in the country leadership, so that he will compete for the post in the coming general election.
Thanks to Mark, Nicoline, GO-cards and Pernille, the lady who bought the first painting.
To find out more about the ‘Give a Girl a Chance’ project please go to www.giveagirlachance.org