Dawa Apothecary is a community-driven cultural programming initiative carefully and thoughtfully curated by Founder Sulafa Silim to encourage personal growth, wellness, and connection among women of colour. We asked Sulafa five quick questions about herself, her mandate, and upcoming Dawa Apothecary programs at Drake Commissary. We guarantee you’ll be won over by her charisma, and encouraged by her drive.
How and why did you come to found Dawa Apothecary?
The simple answer was that it was out of necessity and a need to feel that I was reflected in health and wellness spaces. I wanted to create a safe place for myself but through conversations with fellow women of color, I started to become aware that this was a far reaching issue. My hope was that I could create a brick-mortar space that would allow women of color to receive services & treatments for their health and wellness needs however access to capital is challenging and I realized that I could create a virtual space that effectively did that same thing.
What is your mandate and how does it inform your approach to cultural programming and building community events?
Dawa Apothecary’s mandate is to provide women of color with practical empathic life solutions to support their health and wellness challenges. I work with organisations, practitioners and partners who are aligned with providing solutions in connecting the intersectional dots -race, gender and culture. It is truly about warmth, heart and thoughtfulness – I want everyone to walk away thinking “Yes that was fun, I felt heard or I learnt something new today”. That also means using therapeutic art tools such as free writing and movement to connect what is happening externally to your internal thinking & framing.
What is the “Speed Date Brunch” and what can participants anticipate?
A “Speed Date Brunch” is a unique and immersive experience that allows a couple (of varying relationships re: partners, colleagues, family, peers) to be separated and get paired with another person. Through food and a warm atmosphere, begin to explore different topics with a stranger, in this case someone who represents a “nurturer”. It allows woman to understands the journey of another woman who is either older or from another perspective. I want participants to be open to answering intimate questions and realize that through authentic vulnerability that you can forge connections with someone else’s mother.
Again – this is really plays on the idea we are more likely to share with strangers about our vulnerabilities then our closest connections. So think warmth, being well – fed, and authentic environment…
Can you tell us more about “Hadithi: A Storytelling Series” and the kind of stories you hope to hear?
Hadithi ( the word for ‘story or tale’ in Swahili) really plays on the traditional oral traditions where you get the opportunity to hear about a person’s perspective, a tale or even something that is on the brain. Usually we would hear cries and reactions in response to the tales so I encourage the attendees to get involved vocally. However this first storytelling event is centered around the theme of ‘nurture’ – we want people to pull from that word and stretch the stories any which way that it can go. I want people to hear themselves in each story whether it is about perceptions of being groomed to be ‘feminine’ to how motherhood defines a woman’s journey… limitless stories to tell.
What is your vision for Dawa Apothecary in the next few years?
What I hope comes into fruition are three things: one is to expand the reach of Dawa Apothecary internationally – so we are running virtual retreats at the end of 2018, with an in person retreat in 2019 in Zanzibar. I want to expand that and travel to hear and document voices of women of color and their relationship with health and wellness – how that manifests , I am not quite sure. Lastly – I want to create a permanent home for Dawa Apothecary where it allows health and wellness practitioners who can’t afford a space to find a home surrounded with a community hub that allows programming and opportunities for people in the community but with a focus on marginalized people.
Speed Date Brunch runs May 6, 2018. Tickets available here.
Hadithi: Storytelling Series runs May 29, 2018. RSVP here.
For more from Sulafa + Dawa Apothecary follow on Instagram @dawa.apothecary