What started as a group of friends coming together on Facebook as the ‘Cayman Wine Fairies’ to support each other through the fallout of coronavirus restrictions, has become a movement of women paying it forward through anonymous gifting.
“I wanted people to know is that it only takes one person giving one person something to bless an entire nation of people. And we’re getting to witness that right now because it doesn’t matter how big or small the donation is, it’s touching people’s lives across the island and we’re very excited about that,” said Monikah Adeniken, founder of the Cayman Wine Fairies.
The concept of the group builds on the Wine Ninja movement that was started in Adeniken’s hometown of Alberta, Canada, in which women anonymously gift each other treats and wine. She said a friend invited her to the Wine Ninjas group in Alberta and she loved the idea.
“I thought how remarkable if I would be able to do something like that in Cayman, but I was really scared to try and open myself up because of what you see on a lot of Cayman’s social media pages is a lot of negativity,” she said.
However, Adeniken took the plunge to start the group and promote the initiative of paying it forward. The group launched with 100 people and, in a matter of days, 2,100 members had signed on, with another 2,000 people waiting to join as soon as the logistics of managing so many volunteers can be sorted.
“I can’t believe it. The women in this community have answered the call and gone above and beyond any of my wildest imaginations ever,” she said.
Spreading cheer under COVID
Adeniken is a master stylist by profession and since Cayman entered lockdown she has been out of work. However, she said her clients have been good to her, making pre-payments for appointments and assisting her with supermarket gift cards.
It was that kindness that inspired her to pay it forward as she knew there were other women who had also lost their source of income.
“I thought about how many women have reached out to me over the course of these last four months. And I thought about what I could do to help women in a similar situation as myself, and so God really put it on my heart to take my last $150 that I had and try and bless somebody. I thought I don’t want to just bless one person, I really just want to try and spread the love and bless as many people as I could,” she said.
Adeniken enlisted the help of her friend and colleague Hassmig Yasmine Kojayan and they went shopping. They prepared 25 bags which they hand-delivered to surprised members of the group.
That initial gifting triggered further special deliveries from women in the group who surprised other members.
“The way that this has really overwhelmed the community and showing me how many women that don’t have anything is willing to give their last to bless somebody else. And it also is amazing to watch the pay-it-forward idea. So, once you’ve been ‘fairied’ (received a gift), you just automatically want to go and bless somebody else,” she said.
Adeniken said the group is now working to partner with Cayman Acts of Random Kindness and government schools to help needy children.
The schools have requested bags containing school and food supplies to be distributed to the 530 students who are in the Needs Assessment Unit’s lunch programme.
The NAU has also contacted the group to support the department’s community outreach programmes.
“It’s kind of amazing that all these different organisations are reaching out to us to involve us, and they see the impact that this is having in the community,” she added.
Kojayan said she was on board from day one when Adeniken came to her with the idea to start the group.
“I went through some really tough times in Cayman. I had some previous issues and there would be times when I didn’t know how I was going to pay for my groceries. So I understand a lot of what people are feeling right now and I don’t ever want anybody to be in that position,” she said.
The group also has a following on Cayman Brac with women there gifting each other.