On September 23, a benefit screening of Seeing Brave” was held at the Sebastiani Theatre, co-sponsored by Impact100 Sonoma, G3 Sonoma and Sonoma Valley Newcomers. The Emmy-nominated documentary tells the inspiring story of three women doing remarkable philanthropic work around the world. The film profiles Sonoma’s own Anna Bimenyimana, who owns the Bon Marché thrift shop,using proceeds from her shop’s sales and donations to fight malnutrition in her native Rwanda. Rwanda is still recovering from the trauma of the Tutsi genocide 25 years ago, in which many of Anna’s relatives perished.
Other women featured in the film include Leah Missbach Day, who co-founded World Bicycle Relief following the 2004 Indonesian tsunami and Syrian native Lina Sergie Attar, who founded the Karam Foundation for refugee children in response to the horror of witnessing her hometown of Aleppo being bombed beyond recognition in the brutal ongoing Syrian civil war.
After the screening, G3 Sonoma’s Michelle Dale led a Q&A with Anna about her life and her efforts on behalf of the Rwandan people through Bon Marché and Gardens for Health International (GHI). The Rwandan nonprofit GHI teaches families to farm organically and to cook nutritious meals in a country where 35% of the children under age five are chronically malnourished. Since 2006, Bon Marché has raised $400,000 for its charitable work from sales of gently used clothing and household goods, which in turn help some of the neediest families in Sonoma. “Every day, wake up with purpose in life,” Anna told the Sebastiani audience, “Don’t be afraid to shine.”
In late October, Anna and Cathy Webber of the End World Hunger Foundation are leading a group of 10 local Sonomans to Rwanda to learn more about the country’s ongoing efforts to recover from the genocide,and to celebrate GHI’s 10th anniversary. The delegation is raising funds to present as a gift to the nonprofit. Anna told the Sebastiani audience she hopes they can present “a big fat check” with love from the people of Sonoma. If you wish to make a contribution, please contact Bon Marché (a 501(c)(3) organization) at 1905 Riverside Drive, Sonoma.