How a Clown is bringing Water to Women
North Hatley, August 22, 2016. “How to avoid being attacked by wild, little girls when travelling in Africa,” is the tongue-in-cheek subtitle of the presentation that Jonathon Ellison will be giving in North Hatley next Sunday. The title of his talk is “Clown’s Travel Log – Chapter 2.” And the travels involve drilling wells for women’s cooperatives in Senegal, and making a film about his experiences and how they changed his life.
Put all those aspects together, and you’ve got a take on humanitarian work in West Africa that will exercise your right brain. In his clown persona, Ellison has established close ties with women and children in several women’s cooperatives. Working alongside them in their gardens and carrying water with them, he learned firsthand about their lives and needs. He says his work is “first and foremost about listening to women.”
Those encounters led to a plan to drill wells for the women’s groups that would be close to their fields and gardens, and electrical pumps that would ease the work of pulling up water by hand. The first well has been completed. It’s for a three-acre garden, run by almost 150 women and girls, serving a village of about 2000 people.
Other wells are foreseen, dependent on funding. Ellison already has support from two organizations and UUEstrie, the Unitarian Universalist Community in North Hatley. He is also seeking other sources. His project is called “Water for Women.”
And then he’s working on a documentary film about his encounters with women in Senegal. He already has video footage that he will share with his audience on Sunday. He will also share his thoughts on how that process gets him closer to what he calls “the soul of humanity.” And then there’s the remarkable story of Queen Aline in Senegal, who stood up to the French army in 1942. And the present-day queen, not to mention the five-year-olds.
Ellison hails from Ayer’s Cliff, and has a distinctively creative bent, first as a landscape architect, then a clown, and now as a filmmaker. He will be speaking at UUEstrie, 201 Main Street, North Hatley, at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, August 28. His talk is open to the public and admission is free. Donations will be accepted for his project. For information, visit www. uuestrie.ca, Facebook UUEstrie, or contact email@example.com or 819-842-4146.
Jonathon Ellison as a clown with a group of young girls in Senegal.