Join Me on The Bridge

Community members from both sides of the border gathered for a group photo commemorating the 2012

Community members from both sides of the border gathered for a group photo commemorating the 2012 “Join Me on the Bridge” event held at the Oroville/Osoyoos Port of Entry last Thursday afternoon. Photos by Gary DeVon

US PORT OF ENTRY – On March 8, International Women’s Day, a group of enthusiastic and hardy community members gathered at the US/Canada border to honor women survivors of war and to stand for peace.

Live music, magical belly-dancing, poetry and a poignant speech created a memorable event for everyone there. Kezia Wills, a local community member and mother, spoke to the cause for the occasion.

“The ‘Join me on the Bridge’ campaign started in 2010,” Wills explained, “when women from Congo and Rwanda joined together on the bridge connecting their two countries, showing that they could build bridges of peace and hope for the future. This action sparked a massive global movement, and last year they were joined by thousands of people on hundreds of bridges worldwide.”

Despite a chilly wind that threatened to put a damper on things during set-up, the event brought warmth to people’s hearts. Vicki Hart and Janet Graige read touching poems, and songs of peace were shared by Ray Dispenza, Sandy Vaughn, Julie Ashmore, Rick Braman and Claire Jeffko. The wind died down, and when Leah Colbert and Heather Rodriguez started dancing, the sun came out! The weather was undoubtedly more hospitable for the Oroville/Osoyoos event than for those gathered in Antarctica for “Join Me on the Bridge” in that location this year. Moreover, the warmth of the message and the cause brought people together.

The group gathered at the international boundary monument for a group photo, and then wrote messages on a shared peace banner, as well as messages on a poster for Ellie Braman. In years past, Braman initiated and coordinated this event. Her enthusiasm and love were an important part of the gathering this year. Before leaving, people spontaneously began dancing together in a display of light-hearted celebration that she surely would have appreciated. Rick Braman provided the sound system and other equipment needed for the event. Ellie’s cousin, Janet, and daughter, Molly, both attended and contributed to the spirit of peace at the event.

‘Join Me on the Bridge’ organizers would like to thank US and Canada customs for being so accommodating of the event, allowing the border to serve as our “bridge,” and Marcy King, for making the arrangements to hold the event at the border.

On March 8th, 2013, don’t miss ‘Join Me on the Bridge.’ It is an opportunity to stand with the women of Afghanistan, Iraq, Congo, Rwanda, South Sudan and other war-torn countries, to give them strength and to show we support their demands for peace and equality. And as Kezia Wills said at this year’s event, quoting the Women for Women International mission, “Whether there are three of us or 300, every person standing on a bridge on International Women’s Day is helping to shape the future — of a more peaceful and equal world.”

The global campaign is coordinated by Women for Women International. For more information, visit joinmeonthebridge.org.

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