Women of the Diaspora Helps Bring Much-Needed School Supplies to South End Students

by M. Anthony Davis

Women of the Diaspora (WOD) is a new collective working to empower individual and grassroots support of Black and Brown communities. The five women responsible for the formation of this collaborative came together during this summer’s protests in Seattle sparked by the death of George Floyd. 

“We wanted to find a way to contribute,” Funisha Tibebe explains, “so we started going to all the protests and rallies and started providing snacks, water, masks, hand sanitizer, and anything that was of need. We would just bring it. We’ve [continued] to do that until this day.”

The idea of giving back and providing resources for communities is a major focus for WOD. All of the current members grew up in South Seattle or the Central District, so they decided to put together an event that would provide meaningful support to the communities they feel connected to. This event is a month-long back-to-school drive in partnership with South Shore K-8 to provide much-needed school supplies to students in South Seattle. 

Nazeret Asfaw, who works at South Shore, says the drive was fueled by WOD’s collective passion for community involvement and supporting students. “School supplies are something that we can provide for them. So that’s one less thing that the families have to think about, especially during this time with online learning … you know, finding [support despite] lack of resources.”

Asfaw has also been pleased with the amount of support the drive has received from South Shore K-8 faculty and PTSA. “I spoke to our principal and he was excited and on board with it,” Asfaw says. “They’re making it a goal of theirs to make sure that they’re supporting the families. That’s one thing I really appreciate about South Shore.”

South Shore had only been able to provide supplies to about 20 out of 600 students, so the partnership between WOD and the school was vital in getting supplies to students in need. The school did receive some donations from external sources, but as the start of the school year crept closer, it was clear there would not be enough supplies to support the entire student body. 

Now that the school year has begun, Asfaw says feedback they’ve received from parents is highlighting some of the difficulties. Parents are currently tasked with being parents, teachers, counselors, and friends — as well as learning new technologies and fixing laptops while still managing their households while working. This school year has been a brand new experiment for students, parents, teachers, and school administrators. Everyone is still learning to work together and maneuver through these tough times. 

With all difficulties surrounding this new form of remote education, one thing that can help ease the stress of parents, students, and teachers is support from community collectives like WOD, who are working to ensure students have the resources they need for success. 

Key items that WOD are asking for include white-boards and headphones. Other items on their supply list include pencils, erasers, spiral notebooks, scientific calculators, colored pencils, crayons, and rulers. If there is anything you think kids may need that is not on the list, feel free to donate those items as well. 

Looking to the future, Cynthia Wanjiku tells me WOD’s next event will likely be a partnership with Sami’s Corner Store. The store has access to local produce and the plan is to form a partnership to feed the homeless. But until that project gets off the ground they plan on finishing the back-to-school drive and continuing to support protesters throughout the city. 

Drop-off locations for the back-to-school drive:

South Shore PK-8 

4800 S Henderson St. 

Seattle, WA 98118 

Mon.–Fri.,12 p.m.–4 p.m. 

Cultivated Culture Studios

950 S Myrtle St. 

Seattle, WA 98108 

Tues. & Thurs., 2 p.m.–5 p.m. 

Sami’s Corner Store

2723 S Jackson St.

Seattle, WA 98144 

Sat. 1 p.m.–3 p.m. 

M. Anthony Davis (Mike Davis) is a local journalist covering arts, culture, and sports.

The featured image is attributed to Nick Amoscato under a Creative Commons 2.0 license.