She quit her day job. I would consider most people a bit rash for doing this. Particularly anyone lucky enough to have a Law Degree and the common sense to back it up.Not our Kaff though. When she announced her plan we were sitting on a couch bathing in social media and sunlight. I listened to her reasoned argument and thought, yes, that is completely what this denim short wearing vegetarian with helmet hair should do.  It was lead by her heart but her head was engaged. She knew what she needed to do. The law degree helped, so did that savant like talent she has to master any medium she has a crack at.   Which brings us past many exhibitions, book illustrations, hair raisingly dangerous travels, needy cat crusades, car troubles, fatigue, infectious diseases, increasingly tattooed skin, to now. The list of misadventures would be the downfall of most and yet we see this refined, grown up, evolved creature has truly emerged from the ashes. I know she says Phoenix aptly describes the people of the outskirts of Manila who she met and fell in love with. And yes completely, this is portrayed beautifully in her drawing collaborations, as well as in Gerick and Geloy’s incredible doco.

Geloy and one of his photographic works

What she doesn’t  realise though is that she is also that mythical creature, with baddass battle scars to prove it. A middle class gangster denouncing all boundaries because they become irrelevant when you deconstruct them.  I assumed she might die in this transformative time. Or she might fail. Well, she did not fail or die. But transform she did.   It was Kaff-eine the humanitarian returned from that first trip. One of the first things she said to me was that people need to see how vibrant these communities are. She was incensed that we as a planet ignore slum dwellers, and make assumptions about them that – it turns out – are untrue and hugely unfair.    No western person that I can think of before her would have even been there, risking being shot, kidnapped, robbed and vanished. But she gave in to that vulnerability and because she did, she was welcomed wholeheartedly by  impoverished, marginalised strangers with stories of love, loss, grief, ambition and strength. They let her in, and loved her like we do, and now we have this awesome collaborative project to watch and support.

Links for more info:

All Those Shapes take on it

Kaff-eine

ABC radio

The Guardian

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