Storytellers organize tsunami benefit

The tsunami fund-raiser
will offer an evening of emotional tales and music.
Thursday, February 3, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:48 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Beth Horner has a story for you. The story may make you laugh or cry, but her objective is simple: to make you feel.

Horner, five other adult storytellers and several student groups, will evoke emotions in “Story Tsunami: An Evening of Stories to Benefit Tsunami Relief,” a performance Friday at Stephens College.

The event, sponsored by KOPN/89.5 FM and Stephens, will feature stories from countries in the affected areas. Proceeds will go to Life for Relief and Development, a tsunami relief organization.

The recent tsunami in Southeast Asia has spawned an outpouring of sympathy from communities around the globe. Lee-Ellen Marvin, a folklorist at the State University of New York, sent out a notice to the national storytelling community about her idea to hold multiple events to raise money for tsunami relief efforts.

Horner got Marvin’s message. She and Milbre Burch, both nationally recognized storytellers, spoke with Anthony Clark, a Columbia storyteller, about bringing the idea to Columbia by contributing their talents to a local event.

Clark approached Rihab Sawah to organize the event. Sawah, a physics instructor at Moberly Area Community College and host of “Arab Music, Arab Culture” on KOPN, organized a benefit concert for Iraqi children last March. Clark said he was impressed by Sawah’s work and thought she would be the perfect person to help.

Sawah said she was more than willing to oblige, hoping the event raises money as well as providing another important purpose, “to implant a seed of love and compassion that goes beyond cultural differences, see it spread as a wave.”

Horner will tell an Indonesian story called “The Kancil and the Buffalo Chip,” which she heard from Karmidi Martoatmodjo, a fellow graduate student she met in 1979 at the University of Illinois. She has not been able to contact him since the tsunami.

“I picked this story because it was inspirational and to honor him and his country,” Horner said.

The adults are not the only ones with stories to tell. Seventh-grade students from Columbia Independent School will take the stage to tell four group stories.

In addition to the storytellers, the Buds of Peace, an international young girls’ group, will perform songs of peace in several languages. Fadiah Ali, the ensemble’s trainer, said the group will add a unique element to the night.

“We all live in one place,” she said. “We are one community.”

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