Tracy Fehr is heading back to Tunisia, Africa once again early next year.
She will be bringing donations from her benefit concerts to the ACT (Association for Cooperation in Tunisia) to support unwed mothers and marginalized women in the North African country.
Fehr’s Voices in Song Christmas Benefit Concert on Nov. 29 at the Lakeside Presbyterian Church will feature herself, some of her students and guest performers Dennis Nordlund and Elizabeth Lupton, with proceeds going towards a cause Fehr has become increasingly involved in over the years.
“I’ve always wanted to use my music for a greater cause than just a performance. It’s wonderful to give this gift and the audience feels good, but at the same time to make a bigger difference, a wider and global difference,” Fehr said.
Owner of the Tracy Fehr Voice Studio, Fehr was asked to perform some music back in 2008 when a woman working in Tunisia, who had family in Summerland, came to talk about women’s issues at a local church.
“She said there was real need for women to be helped to start businesses or get training as well, so that they have some sort of income to support their children,” Fehr said.
Fehr has since been performing benefit concerts for ACT in both Canada and Tunisia to raise funds for women in need. The orginization deals with women of high risk, particularly moms, who have children and no source of income or any way to provide for their children. ACT funding helps these women set up small home-based businesses so they can sustain a living.
There has been an evolution on the topic of supporting marginalized women since Fehr started working with the orginization.
“Through this project more government agencies are realizing there is a need for this. We’ve gotten a lot more support from government programs as well. That’s quite wonderful to see,” Fehr said.
She added community organizations in Tunisia are now getting more involved as well.
The money raised goes toward enabling women in Tunisia through a variety of different funding projects including the purchase of a loom to help a woman maintain a small business in her home as well as sending women to school for training in nursing, baking, weaving and other traditional skills.
“Last Christmas we raised money for one artisan who was able to purchase a moped so she could take her wares to market. She had no transportation before that,” Fehr said.
ACT has workers that operate out of centres in Tunisia, finding the right fit matching funding to women in need. Workers also meet with the women who receive the funding monthly to ensure they are receiving the right support to become self sustaining. The centres also provide counselling for mothers and children.
“It is definitely a long-term relationship with these women,” Fehr said.
The upcoming concert in Penticton will feature Fehr and some of her more advanced students performing Christmas songs along with Dennis Nordlund on piano and Elizabeth Lupton on violin.
Tickets are $12 in advance and can be purchased at the Penticton and District Arts Council or by phone at 250-486-5073. Tickets will be $15 at the door.