Writers Without Borders: Festival for Nepal's neediest

Writers Without Borders: Festival for Nepal’s neediest

Four years ago, Sonya Ostashevskaya-Gohstand lived for six months in Nepal, where she offered physiotherapy services at Khagendra New Life Home in Kathmandu. Khagendra, which is a program of the Nepal Disabled Association, is the country’s only rehab facility for people with severe disabilities.

“Nepali culture tends to believe that those who have disabilities are being punished by the Gods for their wrong-doings in a previous life; this is especially true in rural areas,” she writes in a Crowdrise fundraising campaign for the center. (More info at http://bit.ly/1m0G33B.) “Those with disabilities are therefore shunned from society. The government does not provide basic aid such as healthcare or rehabilitation programs.”

Ostashevskaya-Gohstand volunteered for Khagendra for the past three months. “Although the center is in need of many things,” she writes, “the utmost priority is to replace the roof, which leaks heavily causing disruption to respite care and deterioration of equipment.” To help raise funds, she’s worked with her mother, local writer Zarina Zabrisky, to organize a benefit reading.

Zabrisky, author of the novel “We, Monsters” and the story collections “Iron” and “A Cute Tombstone,” has been collaborating with Simon Rogghe, a poet, fiction writer and translator currently earning his doctorate in French lit at UC Berkeley. The two will perform at the show, along with a vibrant cast of local artists that spans and sometimes combines disciplines.

The lineup includes Ginger Murray, poet and editor in chief of Whore! magazine; a comedy act by Zahra Noorbakhsh (“All Atheists Are Muslim”); readings from novelist and publisher Yanina Gotsulsky (“The Speed of Life”) and Tamim Ansary, winner of the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Northern California Booksellers Association and author of the 2008 One City One Book selection “West of Kabul, East of New York.”

The event includes performances by Cybele Zufolo Siegel, who danced with the New York City Ballet as a youth and who runs the Word Performances series with her husband, Todd Siegel, and combines dance with her readings; and Steven Gray, editor of the art and poetry magazine Out of Our, who accompanies his own and others’ poetry on guitar. Meghan Rutigliano, a singer, actor, and performer with the MegaFlame Big Band and Cabaret, Hubba Hubba Revue and Action Fiction!, will do a burlesque set.

The evening will be hosted by poets Paul Corman-Roberts and MK Chavez, with independent books for sale by Lauren Traetto of nonprofit Vouched Books. The event is free; to raise funds there will be a raffle, with all proceeds and additional donations going directly to Khagendra.

Also on Friday, the Porchlight storytelling series celebrates its 12th anniversary with a show themed “The Clock Struck Twelve and S- Got Real”; veteran performers include graphic novelist and zinester Nicole J. Georges, Roxie programmer Mike Keegan, filmmaker Vero Majano, bookbinder Dominic Riley and filmmaker-Webby awards creator Tiffany Shlain, each of whom will tell their own Cinderella moments. (8 p.m. $15-$20. The Verdi Club, 2424 Mariposa St., S.F.)


Writers Without Borders: 7 p.m. Friday. Free. 472 Gallery, 472 Jackson St., S.F.

This article originally appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle.

Photo by Andria Lo