Tamara Bahry speaking at a Muskoka Lakes bracelets fundraising event.
MUSKOKA - Tamara Bahry is a photographer by trade who is continually involved in local and abroad charitable work.
This past summer following the massive flood in Muskoka, she launched a Muskoka Lakes bracelet campaign in support of flooding victims. The fundraising initiative was organized within a limited time frame and still managed to raise $10,000.
As a Muskoka Lakes resident Tamara had heard stories of people losing everything including homes and being displaced due to the massive spring flood. She also understood that in most cases insurance was not covering damages. She contacted Victim Services and was told that donations were on the low end of the scale.
“I remember going to my local grocer and her telling me how difficult it has been and that her business had diminished,” Tamara said “I saw the amount the government had given was quite low. So, I had this idea for these bracelets with an imprint of the lakes. This way people could be reminded of the Muskoka lake and the community they love and #wearmuskokaproud.
Along with her friend Amanda Petrovic she launched the sale of the sterling silver and solid gold bracelets as well as a pendant with future fundraising in mind as other needs, aside from flooding, are identified in the Muskoka area. All profits from the Muskoka Lakes bracelets are directly donated to the causes.
“I didn’t want this just to be for one year because flooding might not be an issue next year ... I like telling the story through my camera. What I will probably do in the future with some of the Muskoka issues is I might do a photo journalism project on them. I want to tell the message of the fundraising through pictures to bring awareness,” she said.
Tamara plans on working together with local organizations to identify where the proceeds should go year after year.
She speaks of another Muskoka donation worthy cause, and one close to her heart is human trafficking. Tamara is on the board and deeply involved with HART- human anti-trafficking response team - addressing this widespread provincial issue which also has roots in Muskoka.
“I work closely in crisis need management for girls who have been trafficked. Three years ago I started a bike ride in Muskoka called ‘Stop Traffic.’ A lot of people don’t realize that over 90 per cent of the girls who are trafficked that had been rescued were born in Ontario. Muskoka, Parry Sound, Gravenhurst, those are areas that have trafficking happening,” Tamara said.
She noted that two years ago a trafficking ring had been identified in Muskoka.
“It’s happening in our own backyard and as Tamara quotes Minister Lisa McLeod ‘it’s Ontario’s dirty little secret‘ and no one wants to talk about it, but we need to. So perhaps in the future the dollars from the profits of the bracelets might be used for this cause. For this year it was definitely for the flooding, and maybe next year the money raised can go wherever there is an area of need,” she said.
Tamara’s charitable work doesn’t end there. The mother of two recently founded the Bahry Foundation which features her photography as messaging to support a variety of causes.
While on a volunteer trip to Africa this year with her children an elephant orphanage in Kenya stole her attention.
“To see the massacre that is still happening due to greed and misconception of the ivory trade is heart breaking,” she said.
As a result of the experience she had in Africa, Tamara will feature her photographs from the trip in an upcoming gallery show. She has decided to donate all the profits from the show to the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust for orphaned elephants. Visit www.tamarabahry.com to view images.
To purchase a Muskoka Lakes bracelet or pendant to support victims of the 2019 spring flood visit https://www.saltfinejewelry.com/collections/muskoka-lakes-bracelets.