Book club hosts Easter clothing drive

The Escapė (Es-ca-pay) Book Club is hosting its Easter Clothing Drive, accepting new and used clothing in good condition, that will go to the Mahaica Children’s Home.

Already, the members of the book club are sorting bags of clothing that have been donated to ensure that they are in proper condition. The club will be accepting donations until April 17 as distribution has been set for April 24.

At present, the Mahaica home is providing care for girls aged 13-19, two six-month-old baby boys and a one-year-old girl.

“We chose this home based on the request of one of the members who lives nearby…. She felt that there was a lack of donations going to the home because [most people donate] to homes in [Georgetown] instead of areas that are a bit further away. We are collecting any new or used clothing in good condition to contribute. Along with the contribution from our members and their friends and families, we received an overwhelming response from individuals who reached out to us via Facebook and email. We are very pleased with the outcome,” said founder of Escapé Book Club, Sameerah Mohamed-Ferouz.

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 a sanctuary for people who share her passion for reading.

Taking on such challenges was nothing new to 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 noticed there was a lack of and what there was a need for. As you know, the pandemic has had an impact on mental health all over the world and there was minimum interaction worldwide. I toyed with a few ideas as to how [I can] make a difference in the lives of persons who might be feeling lonely, bored or fed up with being shut in. [The pandemic] was getting to me [also, as] I was accustomed to a fast-paced lifestyle and it was not easy settling in Guyana during this period. I wanted to help people in similar situations [but] in a COVID-safe space. I started to think about [the things] I enjoyed. I always enjoyed reading books growing up, however life had gotten so busy that I hadn’t gotten the chance to sit down and indulge in one for a while. [That’s when the idea came to me],” recalled Sameerah.

She intended the club to be inclusive. However, so far only women have joined. At present, there are seven members but this is expected to increase soon.

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

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

The club meets once a month; there are themed potlucks on the first Sunday of every month or the second Sunday if the first happens to be a holiday. The club has also engaged in a candlelight vigil hosted by the Guyana Cancer Foundation in observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month last October as well as its High Tea and Fashion Show fundraiser. Engaging in these activities has led to Sameerah volunteering for the foundation; she assisted in the latest medical outreach on the East Bank Demerara.

The book club’s motto is ‘Let us embark on a journey of escaping by indulging ourselves in all sorts of books, discussions, and of course a good latte! We read to Escapé reality, however at the same time, we read to confirm a reality we know is there, but which we have not experienced.’

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

Every month the club decides on a particular genre which results in members taking novels of that genre to the meeting. The members then vote on the book they wish to read and the one with the most votes becomes the book of that month. Sameerah ensures that PDF versions of the book are available to the members. Sometimes they also get the author of the book involved, an occasion they always look forward to.

“I try my best to get as many opportunities as I can [for our] members. I want them to experience great things. One exciting upcoming event that we have is a Zoom meeting with the author of our February book. This will be the third time meeting an author. We already have t-shirts, we are awaiting another merchandise item, tote bags and we are [also] preparing for our one year anniversary celebration,” enthused Sameerah. One of the main goals is working on members’ mental health and finding their true selves. The members are currently doing affirmation workshops.

Another goal is to give back to the community and as such they plan to host two to three charitable events annually.

The club is open to adults 25 years or older.

To donate to the clothing drive, members of the club can be reached via email: escapebookclub.smf@gmail.com or the Facebook page Escapé Book Club.

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