AP NEWS

Basin Bridges opens door for community to connect

December 3, 2018

A local group is bringing women from around the world together to make Midland-Odessa feel more like home.

“We live in the Permian Basin and we’re building bridges between one another’s cultures,” said Carrie McKean, Basin Bridges co-founder.

McKean said many people have moved to the area from other countries because of a family member’s job offer and the wives that come along often have difficulty adjusting to their new community. She said Basin Bridges offers a support system for women to connect and share their stories.

McKean said the group started with a conversation at a park with Heba Thomas around four years ago.

“I was very homesick,” Thomas said. “It was hard and I kept praying for a friend.”

Thomas had been working as a tour guide in Egypt before she married her husband and moved to the United States for his career.

“We just struck up a conversation and I had lived abroad for awhile in China and I remember how lonely it was at times to not have connections to other Americans,” McKean said.

The two women quickly bonded over a shared experience and understanding for one another and they cultivated a friendship, as well as the foundation of Basin Bridges, around a dinner table a few weeks later. They held a small potluck at Thomas’ house and each invited a friend.

After regular coffee shop meet-ups and play dates for their children, they decided to invite more people to join them. A Facebook page was established and within three days McKean said the group had grown to over 100 members of different cultural backgrounds, the Facebook page now has over 320 members.

One member and neighbor of Thomas, Vasu Prasad, said her experience in Basin Bridges has been defined by genuine friendship and support. Prasad has lived in Midland now for 10 years, but had moved from India when her husband got a job in the oil industry.

“Through the group we make close friends where we can rely on each other when we need each other,” Prasad said.

Members have celebrated birthdays together and some have even listed each other as an emergency contact at their child’s school.

“We all know each other,” Thomas said. “We give a shoulder to cry on and sometimes you just need to talk to someone. We have that among each other.”

McKean said aside from learning how to make chai, a type of Indian tea, from Prasad, one of her favorite projects coordinated by the group was making feminine hygiene kits to send to students at a school in Uganda. She said the group did something for the first time during that project: they prayed together.

“We just decided as a group we wanted to say a blessing over the kits,” McKean said.

She said Basin Bridges members come from a variety of faith backgrounds, and said she found the experience of joining in a circle and holding hands while different religious prayers were said very special.

“The group as a whole reminds me that we have so much more in common than we have different,” McKean said.

Prasad said the group is not just for those born outside of America, but rather any woman needing support.

“We should all bloom where were planted whether we’re moving from another country, city or are just in a different life situation,” Prasad said. “If you do feel uprooted, this group is there help you find roots.”

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