InSpire were delighted to celebrate major cultural festivals in 2021, even with the difficulties that COVID-19 brought. It meant a lot for us to be able to bring women and their children together in celebration for both Diwali and Christmas. Working closely with Inspire for Change and inTouch staff members, inSpire designed safe and inclusive programs that included engaging activities for women and their children.

Diwali is one of the most important festivals in the Hindu calendar, celebrated by millions across the world. Highlights from this year’s event, held virtually on 14th November, included storytelling, painting of diyas, Bollywood dancing and a traditional lighting ceremony. By sharing the festival’s traditions together, we created an important opportunity for women experiencing social isolation as a result of family violence to come together, share stories, and make new and happy memories in a safe and supported space. On the day, 14 women and their children participated alongside our staff and inSpire for Change members to share stories and experiences. It was beautiful to see that even across the internet, women could find connection through celebration as they laughed and smiled together.

Christmas is celebrated the world over and this was reflected in the diversity of women and their children who attended our event in December. We were delighted to welcome 27 people from 7 countries to our event. With a Christmas feast, a singalong, a Christmas circus elf, DIY decorations and an instant photo booth, the event allowed women to come together for one of the first times in months. For some, it was their first Christmas party in many years, for others it was their first time socializing since the onset of the pandemic. For all, it was a chance to relax, connect with others and enjoy some fun.

For those who couldn’t attend the Christmas event, and for all those who were invited to Diwali, inSpire team members hand-delivered festive gift boxes to more than 30 women and their children in the days leading up to the festival. Bursting with traditional goodies, each Diwali box included dupattas, henna cones, bindis, diyas, sparklers and craft supplies as well as Indian sweets and treats, for both mothers and their children, which enabled everyone to share food and activities even though we weren’t physically together. For Christmas, women and their children received individualized gifts, which were presented at the event (or delivered), so that everyone had a personalized Christmas present to unwrap.

 “When you are left alone in this country, with no family or friends, these events make us feel we are not alone and makes us feel happy…this day wouldn’t have brought joy or happiness in my life without this event.” – inSpire Diwali 2020 event attendee

“It was a great experience after such a tough year…bringing people together and singing with others, having the Christmas spirit and community and social wellbeing…meeting new people and having a good time is so important” – inSpire Christmas 2020 event attendee

inSpire’s social connection programs are community-funded and we rely on the generosity of the public to continue this vital work. If you can, please help us support more women in 2021 by making a donation to inSpire today. Every dollar donated helps women rebuild full and independent lives after family violence ends.