“I think the first time I saw Yafa Goawily was at the grocery store. In an Artist’s mind, she was a mass of curls wrapped in a pretty blue scarf. I could feel her smiling through the layers and I really hoped she sensed my hello beaconing back to her, and in my imaginary response she whispered; come, love is the way”.
Love is the Way
Known as the city of canals, gardens and trees, Egyptians have long known that every soul has significance and purpose. In ancient times, gold was often found along the river Nile; radiating the fractures of everyday life. Appreciated for its rarity and simplistic beauty of imperfection, gold was easily introduced into the Arts. In poorly lit areas – across all castes – its glow reacted to candlelight among the most human connections and visually enhancing experiences.
During the springtime of life, Yafa Goawily was borne of an enlightened spirit. Daughter to a family of creative’s, Yafa was raised within a collective of aunties, uncles, cousins, and friends. An expressive child, Yafa was dancing before she could walk. In the heart of this tribal family is Yafa’s mother Hala, whose patience and wisdom cast long shadows upon the family eternal. A gatherer; Hala is everything Yafa aspires to be. Her patience strikes a mark into legendary upon the lives of her family.
Yafa’s father Nagib is a playwright, and writer of poetry and short stories. Working towards a 50 year career in both private and government sponsored theatre, he is a dreamer and believer of the forward movement of life, and human rights. In this wellspring of experience, Yafa was encouraged to join summer theatre. Egypt holds a long tradition of over 14,000 voluntary art associations devoted to charitable purposes and youth organizations.
Under her parents’ support and guidance, Yafa quickly found her life’s purpose in guiding others towards resiliency through imagination. Developing people through peer support in the Arts gave Yafa courage to face life on life’s terms. At moments, she appeared ahead of her time – different from the crowd due to her youthful spirit and natural generosity.
Between ages 13-18, Yafa worked in various art and theatre camps in Egypt including Unisef and The British Counsel. At 18, Yafa attended the University of Alexandria where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Fine Arts. While there, Yafa immersed herself in underground organizations supporting women’s freedom in the cinema. Within this coastal paradise that skirts the Mediterranean Sea is a city steeped in ancient history. It was here that Yafa’s old soul met and fell in love with her husband, Kaiser Moussa.
In 2008, Yafa and Kaiser moved to the United Arab Emirates in Dubai because of a revolution boiling up in Egypt, where old-time values were not as revered. At one time, Egypt treated its women better than any other country in the old world. During their 10 years living in the Persian Gulf, Yafa bore two sons, while accepting the city’s cosmopolitan atmosphere and tolerance of women’s rights to self.
In 2018, the family moved to Canada, settling into the old-world feel of Montreal. Making new friendships and connections to their roots in most every tight knit community group they created together, Yafa envisioned her parent’s influence. Copy/pasting their example upon her heart, Yafa became a responsible-diligent time keeper who said yes to her children’s every request.
In her mother’s essence, Yafa found a grounding spirit across oceans and time. As someone who can hold more than they should, Yafa takes her mother’s patience and focus to detail in every nuance.
In the early months of the pandemic, Yafa & her family moved to Cornwall, Ontario and made their presence known. With a simple box of paints and henna, Yafa brought 28 years of helping young people gain life-skills and confidence, while sitting on a blanket. In a joint effort, Kaiser and Yafa created several social media platforms. One, the Power Shine – Body Art Exhibition at Cailuan Gallery in March of 2021, blended a liberating freedom to everyday women in simmering golden hues. This constant energy inspires others. Helping to create workshops with S.A.S.S. through Healing Arts and Yafa’s very own creation of The Cornwall Art Hive- supported by Your Arts Council (YAC), which has helped many of us stand strong through the pandemic and beyond.
The impact of such work is impossible to measure as the cumulative effect through years of facilitating, is the right direction for any soul at every age. What may appear simple to some are deeply felt rewards to the good work of her parents before her. And we as a community felt that embrace this past year, and were reawakened to joy. Whether on street corners or walking through public parks – it was there. And in the faces of everyday people, in the protective power of all that is good – we said yes, love is the way.