In 2018, we received transformative gifts from two of our supporters, Adah Kay and Ariadne van de Ven, who chose to make empowering refugee women a part of their legacy. Read about their extraordinary lives below.

If you would like to leave a legacy to Women for Refugee Women in your Will, please email: natasha@refugeewomen.co.uk.

Ariadne Van De Ven

Women for Refugee Women Donate In Memory Arianah Van De Ven

Ariadne volunteered with Women for Refugee Women until shortly before her death at the age of 56 in 2017, and all of us who worked alongside her were struck by her intelligence and empathy as she contributed to the work of our drop in and listened to women’s stories of struggle and overcoming adversity.

Ariadne was born in Heerlen, in the Netherlands, and gained a masters degree in English language and literature at the University of Utrecht. She moved to London in 1987 having met her future partner and eventual husband, the bookseller John Prescott. Soon she was working for Yale University Press, then as WW Norton’s European publicity manager for six years, before turning freelance in 2000. A colleague who became a friend recalls her “combining insight, tact, sympathy and realism with a light touch”. In 1988 Ariadne had co-founded with Clare Baker the Women in Publishing International Committee, meetings of which are remembered for their wine and laughter as well as ardent feminism.

Ariadne’s passion was for photography, particularly in India. “The hobby that became a project,” was how Ariadne characterised her trips to Kolkata, an annual fixture from 2002. Her friend, Krishna Dutta, described her “walking for miles along the crowded dusty streets … cutting a striking figure as a tall western woman draped in shalwar kamiz, with a camera dangling from her neck, a smiling face and welcoming eyes”. By 2008 she had used 167 rolls of film. Ariadne mentions this fact in the first of two MA theses (Goldsmiths, 2008, and Royal Holloway, 2015). The course was Photography and Urban Cultures, and her title The Eyes of the Street Look Back. Their looking back was the point: interact with your subjects, do not photograph them unawares. Ariadne processed films in her darkroom, always black-and-white, and gave prints of her quirky, nuanced portraits to participants (if she could find them) on her next visit to Kolkata. She involved herself with London Independent Photography and Drik, the activist photo agency in Kolkata. She and John married in 2000; he died in 2014. (Details of Ariadne’s life here are taken from the obituary written by her friend Ann Sohn-Rethel for the Guardian).

At Women for Refugee Women we miss Ariadne’s quiet, gentle presence and we are incredibly grateful to her for giving a legacy to Women for Refugee Women which will contribute to our sustainability for many years.

Adah Kay

Adah Kay was a lifelong activist, who spent many years living and working with her husband Tom Kay in Ramallah on the West Bank. She published two books, Stolen Youth: The Politics of Israel’s Detention of Palestinian Children (Pluto Press 2004) and recently, with Nadia Abu-Zahra in 2013, the Unfree in Palestine: Registration, Documentation and Movement Restriction.

Increasingly interested in communication through theatre, she co-authored a play with Sonja Linden Welcome to Ramallah, which was produced at the Arcola in 2008. Diagnosed with multiple myeloma late in 2010, she alternated her treatment with doing whatever she could find energy for continuing to be incredibly active both through her writing, in the support of political ventures, and  as the  including being the Executive Director of another play scripted by Sonia Lindon  with a cast of empowered older actors at the Southwark Playhouse:  ‘Who do we think we are?’

We are glad to be able to celebrate Adah Kay’s memory by using her legacy to support Women for Refugee Women’s work.