As I move towards putting my art and my vision out into the world I'm drawing strength from my great, great grandmother Shariffe.
She inspires me to face down my fear, to take one step at a time, to be patient and determined and focused. She rose above so much in her life and I am asking her right now to help me rise above those things that hold me back, while keeping both feet firmly planted on the earth.
Shariffe Lettoof was the daughter of peasant farmers from Bsharri in the Lebanon Mountains. She married Anthony Coory and in the mid-1880s, with their infant daughter Amelia, the couple sought their fortunes in New Zealand.
In 2008 she was inducted into the NZ Business Hall of Fame, one of only a handful of women represented. As you can imagine she was a fascinating woman.
It is said her husband Anthony Coory did not have her knack for business, but she refused to let him squander the wealth she had created. The Coorys opened a fancy-goods store before moving into importing. At this time, when women were seldom seen in business, this indomitable immigrant woman was the driving-force in her family business. She set up a workshop where Lebanese women made shirts and aprons for the hawkers to sell, and it is said she taught many how to successfully sell goods.
She built her own fortune and left her own legacy. She was able to leave a Dunedin property to all four of her grandchildren, one of whom, Joseph Farry, was my grandfather.
Her gift helped her descendants become educated and give back to their families and communities, just as she taught them.
Now I call on her strength as I move forward with my creative vision.
I will draw on her wisdom and dogged determination as I launch my book, my soul stones and my website into the world.
Thank you Sitee Shariffe. I love you.