What’s better than seeing one of your favorite brands support a worthy cause? Lush has teamed up with Pedalling for Papua, a 12,000 kilometer international cycling and performance tour which aims to raise awareness of the ongoing human rights and environmental abuse in West Papua. I was invited to the Lush Press Office in New York City to learn all about this incredible cause, so on Wednesday, August 22, my sister Kristina and I headed over to Soho!
First of all, the Lush Press Office was certainly not what I was expecting…it was better! It was a quiet little office on Broadway that overlooked the shoppers of NYC and some gorgeous old buildings. I thought there was going to be a lot of people, but the event was very small and intimate, as only a few were invited; nevertheless, making me feel quite honored.
At 5:30PM, Pedalling for Papua campaigner, Jeremy Bally arrived and set up for a unique presentation that would open our eyes to the story of West Papua. He walked in with his bike, loaded with everything from a projector to a ukulele. It was a hot, humid day, so I felt bad that he had to travel in such heat, but I suppose he’s used to it. I learned that he has traveled through 6 countries in the past 6 months, touring and engaging people all over the world. Jeremy is currently halfway through his tour, so it was great seeing one of his last performances in the US.
Once Jeremy was finished setting up his presentation, he stood in front of the room, barefoot and ukulele in hand, and began telling us about Pedalling for Papua. This organization is Canada’s contribution to the global effort to broadcast the story of West Papua. After over 50 years of human rights and environmental abuses hidden behind the media, West Papua is being slowly, but surely, being exposed to the world. A long demoralized, native population committed to non-violent form and a growing base of international allies committed to a partnership for peace is what inspires this movement.
Jeremy’s presentation was quite unique, as not only did he have an animated presentation with live footage of the citizens of West Papua, but he told us the story while playing the ukulele and reciting poetry to the beat of the music. From early January 2013 to February 2013, Jeremy conducted interviews with nine exiles, refugees and activists from West Papua. Their stories were heartbreaking. They told stories of their experiences, explained the torture they endured and how although they left their country, it will always be home.
The campaign also aims to raise funds for Pacific Peoples‘ Partnership, Canada’s only NGO currently working with grassroots organizations in West Papua, as well as advocate for the release of the roughly 40 political prisoners in West Papua, all of whom have been imprisoned for peaceful dissent. There was one story of a man who has been in prison for 15 years all because he raised a flag. There are no words to describe how I felt after hearing that. Fortunate is the word that comes to mind. This whole presentation not only made me aware of West Papua, but made me feel extremely grateful for all I have.
The presentation was wonderful, the Lush hosts were quite gracious and I couldn’t help but take a photo by the wall of publications! Furthermore, I had to run down the street to Lush at 529 Broadway, as I couldn’t leave without something fromLush!
Thank you to the Lush Press Office in New York City for inviting me to this event! You were all fantastic and it is quite inspiring to see a young man dedicate his life to such a cause, and even more inspiring to see a well-known company help him spread the word.
Please go check out the Pedalling for Papua website and help raise awareness!