A book club organizes an Easter clothing drive

The Escapė (Es-ca-pay) book club is holding its Easter clothing drive, accepting new and used clothing in good condition, which will go to the Mahaica Children’s Home.

Already, members of the book club are sorting through the bags of clothing that have been donated to make sure they are in good condition. The club will accept donations until April 17, with distribution set for April 24.

Currently, the home in Mahaica is caring for girls aged 13 to 19, two six-month-old baby boys and a one-year-old girl.

“We chose this house following the request of one of the members who lives nearby…. She felt there was a lack of donations going home because [most people donate] to the houses in [Georgetown] instead of more remote areas. We collect all new or used clothing in good condition to contribute. In addition to input from our members and their friends and families, we received an overwhelming response from people who reached out to us via Facebook and email. We are very happy with the result,” said Sameerah Mohamed-Ferouz, Founder of Escape Book Club.

Sameerah, who was born and raised in New York, moved to Guyana last year. With the pandemic taking a toll on people’s mental health, she wanted to provide sanctuary for people who share her passion for reading.

Facing such challenges was nothing new for Sameerah, who had always been constructively occupied with cultural and social extracurricular activities growing up, including being on cheerleading teams, in a sorority, and volunteering.

“…I thought about what I had noticed was a lack and what was a need. As you know, the pandemic has impacted mental health all over the world and there has been minimal interaction around the world. I played around with some ideas on how [I can] make a difference in the lives of people who might be feeling lonely, bored or tired of being locked up. [The pandemic] reached me [also, as] I was used to a hectic life and it was not easy to settle in Guyana at that time. I wanted to help people in similar situations [but] in a COVID safe space. I started thinking about [the things] I loved. I always loved reading books growing up, but life had gotten so busy that I hadn’t had a chance to sit down and indulge in a book for a while. [That’s when the idea came to me]“recalls Samirah.

She wanted the club to be inclusive. However, so far only women have joined. Currently, there are seven members, but it is expected that this number will increase soon.

With members residing along West and East Demerara as well as Georgetown, there are several drop-off locations for clothing donations.

This is the second of two projects undertaken since the club was founded last year. The first was a holiday gift drive that provided books, toys and hampers to children at the Guyana Red Cross Children’s Home through donations from individuals and several businesses.

The club meets once a month; there are themed potlucks on the first Sunday of each month or the second Sunday if the first happens to be a holiday. The club also engaged in a candlelight vigil hosted by the Guyana Cancer Foundation in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month last October, as well as its High Tea and Fashion Show fundraiser. Engaging in these activities led Sameerah to volunteer for the foundation; she participated in the last medical awareness campaign on the east bank of Demerara.

The motto of the book club is “Let’s embark on a journey of escape by indulging in all kinds of books, talks and of course a good latte!” We are reading to the reality of Escape, but at the same time we are reading to confirm a reality that we know is there, but have not experienced.

“I found this motto as well as the name because personally, when I read, I forget where I am. I lose myself in the novel that I read and I embody the characters. On the other hand, reading makes me see all the possibilities there are in the world. It opens up a new perspective in every book I pick up. It shows me that I have no limits,” Sameerah explained.

Each month, the club decides on a particular genre, resulting in members bringing novels of that genre to the meeting. Members then vote on the book they wish to read and the one with the most votes becomes the book of the month. Sameerah makes sure PDF versions of the book are available to members. Sometimes they also involve the author of the book, an occasion they always look forward to.

“I do my best to get as many opportunities as possible. [for our] members. I want them to experience great things. An exciting upcoming event we have is a Zoom meeting with the author of our February book. This will be the third meeting with an author. We already have t-shirts, we are waiting for another merchandise, tote bags and we are [also] preparing for our first anniversary celebration,” enthused Sameerah. One of the main goals is to work on the mental health of the members and to find their true selves. Members are currently doing affirmation workshops.

Another goal is to give back to the community and as such they plan to hold two to three charity events a year.

The club is open to adults 25 years or older.

To donate to the clothing drive, club members can be reached by email: [email protected] or the Escape Book Club Facebook page.

About Oscar L. Smith

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