Sowing the Seeds of Healing Justice: A Residential Retreat in Ireland

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In May 2024, a residential retreat in Co. Sligo will offer space to explore how embodied tools for navigating grief and generating resilience can support activists from Ireland and Northern Ireland. The retreat builds on the Weaving Grief, the Body & Transformative Justice retreat Global Diversity Foundation (GDF) held by Camille Sapara Barton and Farzana Khan, in the summer of 2021. The facilitators - Oana, Lelo and Samirah - all engaged with this retreat and wanted to bring the tools and practices to Ireland. 

Please scroll down to the end of this page for the application form. Register your application by 29 March.

We will explore how to befriend our nervous systems through embodied practices, such as the Grief Toolkit that Camille Barton developed with GDF, and Active Hope, a framework developed by Joanna Macy. Incorporating some basic guidance around nervous system navigation, movement, dance, and artmaking practices, as well as shared meals, this will be a space where participants can also bring into practice their own spiritual and religious traditions while honouring the differences that exist within the group. 

This offering is for activists, broadly defined. The aim is to sow the seeds of rest, resilience, and healing into all our movements, and those who are already oriented toward such community seeding and tending, we consider as activists. 

This retreat will prioritise in particular those activists (up to twelve participants) identifying as migrant, Roma, Traveller or global majority to contribute to a base of support for members of these communities. This is within an understanding of the complex context of Ireland and Northern Ireland as a predominantly white-bodied (and until recently, overwhelmingly Christian) place that has been becoming more diverse in recent years. Simultaneously, Ireland is only just beginning collectively to process traumas from abuses of church and state and the legacies of colonial violence, such as systemic oppression of women, the poor, the disabled, and the Traveller community. Members of the communities we aim to reach are frequently compelled into activism, out of self-preservation and the preservation of their communities. They are rarely afforded time and opportunities to grieve, rest, and heal – for example, to heal from the events and conditions that led to the need for migration in the first place. This retreat may be, for many, a first opportunity for this form of self and collective care.

Healing justice, a term first coined by the Atlanta-based Kindred Southern Healing Justice Collective in 2007, is a framework that centres collaborative, creative, embodied, trauma-informed, inclusive approaches to community engagement. The “justice” of healing justice acknowledges the disproportionate impact of climate change and its complex societal consequences. For example, people fleeing conflicts fueled by climate change may meet with anti-migrant violence in the places to which they have fled, often the places most responsible for driving the climate crisis; alternately, unprocessed fear and grief about housing and economic insecurity can predictably lend fuel to xenophobic sentiments. The “healing” refers to the need to address collective, intergenerational, emotional, spiritual and psychological harms that act as blockers to connection and constructive action within our communities and across our movements. This retreat is also inspired and informed by the work of Farzana Khan (one of the facilitators of the 2021 retreat) and Healing Justice London

When applying, please consider the following: We are not therapists or able to take the role of a therapist during the retreat. We will be holding a compassionate space and providing embodied tools to support nervous systems while engaging in practices that may move certain difficult feelings, but we are unable to take responsibility for anyone’s healing process or mental health. We ask you to consider if you have the emotional and mental capacity to engage in this work, which may bring up complex feelings. This consideration is important to ensure a safe enough environment for us and all participants. 


A complex weaving of events and relationships have led to this offering. Lelo and Oana met around a time when each had lost a close family member. Little more than strangers, they engaged in a movement conversation on the banks of Doolough while working on an artist’s film about migrant meanings of home. During the lockdowns of 2020, Lelo and Oana regularly joined online dance sessions designed to move through grief, with Camille Barton. Oana attended the retreat that Camille co-facilitated in 2021 (Lelo was meant to attend, but couldn’t due to pending asylum status), where she met Samirah. Soon after they began cooking up a plan to bring this work back to their own communities. Since 2020, grief has been prominent, individually and collectively, for countless reasons, and it has become increasingly important to make this visible – and to practice tools to navigate it – within our movements. 

Retreat fees cover:

  • Accommodation at Brú Moytura: this will be in a variety of shared rooms as well as space to camp
  • The venue is mostly accessible by wheelchair; please indicate any accessibility considerations (physical or otherwise) in the application form
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner (starting with dinner on day of arrival and breakfast on day of departure) will be prepared by a chef on site; please indicate any dietary requirements you may have in the application form
  • All teaching and teaching materials 
  • Limited travel bursaries are available for travel within Ireland and Northern Ireland; please indicate this need in the application form. Travel bursaries will be reimbursements (participants pay for travel upfront).

Fees:  Fees will be payable to FEASTA, an organisation that is partnering with Friends of the Earth to run this event. Following your application, FEASTA will email you to request fees.

Sliding scale of fees: The sliding scale is intended to make participation possible for those who cannot afford to pay at all and may additionally need their travel reimbursed. 
We have places for up to to twelve participants available: some fully supported (free)/partially supported (€50)/and fair (€100). 

  • Fair, €100: For those able to pay the full rate, have capacity to raise funds, or who are sponsored by an employer, community organisation, or personal network.
  • Partially supported, €50: For those who would not have their registration sponsored, or would find it difficult to to pay the full fee. 
  • Fully supported, Free: This is offered as a scholarship for those who are having trouble meeting basic needs (housing, food, transport), and for whom paying for this retreat would be a financial hardship.

Participants are asked to reflect on their access to resources (whether their own, or their capacity to raise funds or be sponsored by an organisation), and thus, the determination of need is based on honesty and trust. As we publicise the retreat, we will also put a call to the general public to sponsor (anonymously) individuals to participate, and this way, people who may not wish to participate themselves, but want to support this work, can contribute. We only ask that once you have accepted placement, you let us know as soon as possible if you can no longer attend. 

Important dates

29 March 2024 – Deadline for applications

12 April 2024 – Selection of participants (in certain cases, we may wish to have a short meeting in a video call).

19 April 2024 – Acceptance of placement (on the part of participants)

26 April 2024 – Payment of fee is due

3-6 May 2024 – Retreat. The starting time will be 3pm on Friday the 3rd of May and the finishing time will be 11am on Monday 6th of May. 

About the Facilitators

Lelo Mary Thebe (event coordinator): Lelo is a Zimbabwe-born migrant woman, a writer, a mother, and a student of Event Management with Public Relations at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology. She aligns her academic aims with her commitment to nurturing connections while organising transformative spaces and events. Living in the West of Ireland for the past 6 years, Lelo finds comfort and powerful potential for healing in nature. Nature serves as a sanctuary, offering space for reflection amidst life’s challenges. Lelo is passionate about hospitality (in the true sense) and meaningfully engaging with and supporting others through public speaking and writing. She has also participated in projects with visual artists and believes in the power of culture to shape society. For this project, she aims to hold space for navigating the journey of grief with compassion and understanding and supporting others on a path of healing and rest. 


Samirah Siddiqui (facilitator) is a marine ecologist, curator and facilitator based between the U.K., Germany and Pakistan. Her experience working with environmental and social impact organisations and training in life sciences has positioned her focus at the intersection of ecology, activism, and art. In her work, she centres her lived experience, interdisciplinary background and anti-colonial perspective and seeks to disrupt silos between art, activism and academia. Community tending and exchange is a central tool in her decolonial practice as a form of world-building, resilience and resistance.

6IUUNyUJOana Sânziana Marian (facilitator): is a writer and multi-disciplinary artist, and a Romanian-born migrant woman. She holds a PhD in theology (with a focus on feminist theology) and contemporary Irish poetry from Trinity College Dublin and a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School; she is currently training as an ecumenical/ interfaith hospital chaplain, and a Compassionate Inquiry mentor (a therapeutic framework developed by Gabor Maté and Sat Dharam Kaur), and also works as a creative neurodiversity consultant. Oana’s work focuses primarily on holding space for grief. She underwent facilitator training in the Work That Reconnects/Active Hope in 2019 and was a co-founder of the Active Hope Network in Ireland. She is Quaker and a member of Eustace Street Meeting in Dublin. 



Funding acknowledgement 

This residential retreat has been supported by a seed grant from the Global Diversity Foundation, with funding and human support from Friends of the Earth Ireland, Feasta, Irish Aid, and Concern. With thanks to John Sharry, Emma-Jayne Geraghty, Claudia Tormey, Nessie Reid, and Camille Sapara Barton for combined guidance, coordination, and support. 

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