Interdisciplinary Artist, Activist
"Juanita Rea's multi-faceted extraordinary talent is unique, and her ability to tell her story with such honesty and clarity through her visual art, spoken word, poetry, storytelling and music is astounding. Her work and her natural ability to communicate it, carries a very powerful message for the listener particularly victims of trauma. And permeating through all this is her hard to ignore effervescent personality, funny, open, smiley, sometimes whirlwind, her love of life and nature, her honest vulnerability and infectious laugh. It has been a pleasure and an honour to work with Juanita on her songs and creative ideas.
Juanita Rea is a champion for those who don’t have, or don’t realise they have, a voice. She is a polymath of expertise, energy, enthusiasm and artistic ambition. I have had the pleasure of hearing some of her spoken word performance pieces and have been in her presence to feel her belief and passion for something she cares about a great deal: enabling others to live and have a voice after experiencing profound trauma. Juanita Rea has a voice, and it’s a great one.
"I have known Juanita Rea in a personal capacity for approximately 2 years. Juanita is a talented performance artist, who demonstrates her willingness to share her creativity in a range of mediums. I have seen Juanita perform on a number of occasions, including via physical and online performances at the Gramophone Club in Belfast. From spoken word poetry to writing, singing and performing, from personal recollections and experiences, through to comic performance, Juanita demonstrated the ability to take her audience from tears of sorrow to tears of joy. She brings tenderness and vulnerability to the stage and as such engages and connects with her audience.
Dr Hyojung Sun, Research Associate, Creative Industries Institute, Ulster University, Belfast, Northern Ireland (Mentor)
"Juanita is more the sum of her parts. From spending time with her, I cannot fail to admire her sense of creative adventure and hunger for learning and growing which she shares generously. From a visual art perspective, Juanita’s ability to share her story through painting and drawing is both brave and honest. Her ability to understand the importance of how everything and everyone is connected on this earth and her contribution to wholeness sets her apart from other humans.
Juanita Rea is dynamic and creative, with multiple skills and talents - as a writer, artist, songwriter and educator. She is innovative and courageous, with the determination and persistence to see any creative project through to a successful conclusion.
Shelley Tracey, Poet, Poetry Therapist, Researcher, Belfast, Northern Ireland
"Juanita Rea is an emerging, inspirational leader in arts and culture, that uses her experiential skills to empower others in matters related to mental health, systemic racism , misogyny and social injustice. She is a valued member of the SAY It LOUDER community continually breaking new ground with her innovative methods, that have shown that she has the potential to develop as a leader in the combined arts through her interdisciplinary practice."
Gary Huskisson - Co Founder, SAY IT LOUDER, Peterborough, England
"Juanita is a consummate performer of spoken word, able to create strong emotions in the audience that challenge and question. Her work is often raw and powerful but with a wonderful weaving of nature through it. She is deeply connected to nature and its transformational power and that rings true in her words and also her art practice. As a mindful poet and artist, she has a unique gift to share, helping people to understand their place, find balance and share our rich cultures."
"Juanita is a talented and powerful poet and spoken word artist whose work with Live Poets and other groups has never failed to make a deep impact on her audiences. She tackles challenging and difficult issues in a creative and insightful way, and we look forward to collaborating with her in the future as she continues to develop her unique contribution to the UK cultural scene."
Tim Evans - MA (Cantab), former Senior Lecturer in English and Communication, Host of Live Poets Society,Wales
For Juanita Rea vulnerability is empowerment. The authenticity of her art is built on a foundation of her own experiences, depth, and knowledge. Clarity, honesty, and a natural curiosity are building blocks in this strong foundation. Her artistry spans a number of subjects from social justice to personal trauma to healing to emotional regulation and cultivating peace. When I first saw Juanita’s work, I observed that she allows herself the artistic freedom to reach beyond the boundaries of conventional imagination, express the core of these life-altering subjects, and give voice to the unseen and unheard. Likewise, her art modalities span from the page to the canvas to digital. She is fluid, flexible, unique. Her voice is her own. It needs no proving of strength. It is the clarity of the authenticity in that Juanita allows her voice to soar. For these reasons, I immediately reached out to her at the first meeting to share resources so more of the world would get to know, hear and experience, Juanita and her invaluable messages.
Catrice Greer, Literary Artist, Baltimore, USA
"Juanita is a talented spoken word artist amongst many other things. Her poetry performances highlight feminist issues and through her brave and educational approach to tackling sensitive and taboo topics, she's managed to win hearts and minds. Her activism comes through in her work. I had the pleasure of having her as a guest on my podcast Poems From My Heart, where she explored de-stigmatising childhood sexual abuse. I look forward to more of your thought provoking work Juanita."
Angela Rideau, Writer and Spoken Word Poet, Host of Poems from My Heart Podcast, Hertfordshire, England
"I am impressed by the quality of Juanita Rea's work, particularly her focus on women’s rights and general human rights. Since joining us, Juanita has performed as a headliner, appeared in one of my films been published in one of my collaborative books, and is lined up to be in another. Her work is always met with positive comments due to it s uniqueness. All her talents have emerged during this global pandemic, and I can’t wait to see how much further it can get when Juanita take take her work into live venues."
Fin Hall - Poet, Filmmaker, Proprietor of Like A Blot From The Blue Productions, Scotland
"Juanita Rea's poetry is bred from her life experiences and struggles but reaches out to touch all who have faced similar challenges. She allows others to know it is ok to hurt, ok to be angry and most importantly, ok to stand up and say NO! The power and passion she brings to each performance touches every single member of the audience and gives a voice to the disenfranchised, the abused, the lonely, to the people that all too often fall through the cracks of society."
"Juanita is a poet of passion and principle whose poetry brings light into very dark places. She has become a welcome participant and reader at Flight of the Dragonflies Spoken Word events and we look forward to seeing and hearing from her again."
Barbara Mercer- Co-producer, Flight of the Dragonflies, Brighton, England
"Juanita Rea's poetry comes from her life experiences and struggles, often from very dark places. She reaches out to others, letting them know that those situations, it is ok to be angry, to stand up and to speak up! Shout! Each performance connects to each individual, on a level dependent on their own experience. She is innovative in her spoken word performances and it has been a privilege to have her at SLAM-LINES & Crafty Crows."
"I have known Juanita since the very first day of primary school where we became friends instantly at the age of 6. I recall how she could see beauty in the most simple things and her love of art in all its forms was evident for all to see. She wrote plays for us to act out in school concerts, would sing all the latest pop music and even made special, individualised gifts for us that showed her immense creativity and resourcefulness. Her love of Art and English continued through high school where she excelled in both. Her artistic works took on deeper meaning, probably reflecting her personal trauma as well as the state of a very precarious South African political landscape. Her personal trauma took her on a road of self discovery where art and written word were her most important means of communication. It allowed her to teach and work with children, our most vulnerable in society using her artistic skills to bring out the best in them. Her artistic flair and whimsy allow children to be free and unhindered—to truly express themselves knowing they will never be judged—that is the space she creates for them.
"There is always something inspirational about those social entrepreneurs who are driven to launch their business enterprises because of a deep desire to make a positive difference in people’s lives. In the case of Juanita Rea, founder of eduSOIL, she is committed to improving the mental and emotional health of young people, allowing them to fulfill their true potential. She is bringing hope and support to the most vulnerable who need a champion - and they have found one in her."
Melanie Hawken - Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Lionesses of Africa, South Africa
I have known Juanita since 2019, at that time she was an educator, we started working on a project together that was centered around transforming scholars from underserved communities into agents of change as well as other projects geared at mental wellness. After the time spent working with Juanita it became clear that she was highly skilled, genuine, passionate about people, cared very deeply about seeing people, young and old, become better so they can achieve success in the various aspects of their lives.
Over the years as our relationship has grown, I also discovered how Juanita was incredibly gifted artistically; I had the pleasure of listening to some of her music which was so deeply emotional and soulful. Juanita has this amazing ability to capture your attention through her story telling and in so doing her work impacts, empowers and uplifts people and changes lives in its own unique way. She always carefully constructs thoughtful bodies of work that are unquestionably rooted in her life experiences. Being able to tell stories that are personal to you is a very brave thing to do, for her to be able to continuously do that is do inspirational. Juanita is a creative that has so much talent to unleash and I personally cannot wait for the world to hear what she has to offer.
Ayanda Timothy, Founder, Prowess Institute, Johannesburg, South Africa
I started seeing Juanita in Durban in 2020 where she, ironically, had got stuck in her home town due to the pandemic and, bravely, had chosen to spend that time getting her life back on track. She came to see me, a Women’s Health Physiotherapist, because of a range of issues and soon disclosed that she had been a victim of childhood sexual abuse by a family member. We delved and I realised that most of the symptoms she was facing at this time were indirectly and directly related to those events. Thankfully we got to wade our way through her various physical problems.
During this time she brought me some of her work she had done during lockdown. Hauntingly beautiful, made with children’s pastels and crayons, because that’s all that was available. Even more poignant was looking at the before and after works and seeing how she used creative expression to represent her healing transformation and acceptance of herself. At the time I was running a course for physiotherapists on pelvic health and asked Juanita if I could use her images as a way to explain to other physiotherapists that everyone has a deeper story that brings them in to our treatment rooms. What may seem “simple” more than likely had many layers to it that go further than just flesh and bones.
Mandy Roscher, BSc Physiotherapy., Australia
"Our scholars loved participating in the Yoga and Mindfulness programme with Juanita and her team who supported our scholars to grow into thoughtful, conscientious and loving leaders who treasure themselves, others and the world around them."
Waahida Tolbert-Mbatha, Co-founder and Head of School, Kgololo Academy, Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa
"Juanita Rea was my primary school teacher from 2004 - 2005. In those two years I have gained so much knowledge from her creative, fun and intriguing methods of teaching. She has been an inspiration to me over the years, reading and viewing her projects and work done selflessly. Her work has inspired and motivated me to one day join her endeavors or get involved in similar work. From my personal experience in seeing the impact of Juanita's work, I believe any that any task or opportunity given to her, would be nurtured and carried out in the best way possible."
Sindhuja Jagunandan, Behavioural Instructor, Durban, South Africa
"We saw an amazing transformation in our learners during the Yoga and Mindfulness programme that Juanita led at our school. We saw changes, especially with the children who came to school angry or frustrated. The programme offered something that Maths and Science doesn't- the ability to connect with oneself and others emotionally. Plus seeing the kids doing yoga on the playground was really fun and adorable!"
Melanie Smuts, Founder Streetlight Schools, Jeppestown, Johannesburg, South Africa
"Whenever our children saw Juanita's car, they would start chanting, "Yoga class! Yoga class!!" because they were so excited. One of the kids who had autism and a speech impairment made huge improvements during the programme. Her mother told me that even though she was not speaking, she would teach her yoga at home by 'forcing' her to copy the actions! We are thankful to Juanita for making a positive difference in our lives and the lives of our children!"
Gloria Ndunyana, Belly Delly Day Care, Malvern, Johannesburg, South Africa
Chris Rea, Technology Integration Coach, American International School Johannesburg, South Africa
Juanita - a metanoia, who has been a mentor and more than that, a great friend. Her charismatic ways of subtle leadership is what I have experienced in the years we have been working at eduSOIL where her ideologies shaped into reality. As a Co-founder I would like to say that eduSOIL has been and will be one of my most fulfilling holistic life altering paths.
Through Design For Change & eduSOIL we are approaching people across age groups - school kids, teachers and different ethnicities where we facilitated - change - as an affirmation that 'it is possible' across countries continents with projects in the Philippines, Taiwan, Sudan, South Africa and India. Being mindful comes naturally to Juanita, and it is her intentions that have manifested into tools that can be used by kids and adults to be caring in all walks of life. A holistic approach to learning, a key to a great mind, body and soul.
Amit Gupta, Co-founder, eduSOIL, Director Green WhyNot, Sikkim, India
I worked with Juanita from 2015 - 2018 as the Community Seeder of eduSOIL. Despite being the CEO of the enterprise, our working relationship was always collaborative. I worked closely with her on all operational tasks during my time with eduSOIL. We worked between different time zones and worked on programmes for at least 4 countries. Her motivation and drive is nothing short of inspirational. The alignment of her personal and professional endeavors was very striking and pulled me to always show up as my whole self to work - challenges and joys included. Running a social enterprise in a manner that is economically sustainable, socially impactful as well as based on scientific evidence is no easy feat and I learned a lot during my time working with Juanita at eduSOIL. It remains one of the most impactful work experiences for me. And needless to say, Juanita and I remain dear friends.
Raisa Gomes, Sustainability and Social Responsibility intern, Avignonesi, Italy
Nupur Amin, Business Development and Outreach Manager and Trainer, Habitus Incorporated, Boston, USA
To me, Juanita simply is, and will always be, the ultimate changemaker! She is someone who always sees the patterns around her, identifies the problem in any situation, and takes creative action to figure out ways to solve it. She organises fluid teams, leads great collective actions by being a great leader and courageous person. During the Sudanese Revolution she went out of her way to be a part of what was going on and to offer support. She even wrote a heartwarming poem about it. She taught us how to take care of ourself mentally, how to calm ourselves, comfort ourselves, as well as love and appreciate ourselves. She is a great leader, educator and an AMAZING mindfulness and yoga instructor, friend and someone that I look up to.
Fatima Musallam- Teacher, Gems International School, Dubai
Juanita is a great teacher who comes up with unique ideas that encourage her students to initiate actions and projects that are essential to raise their own and others awareness to essential matters around them. I have known her both as a working partner and on a personal level as a friend. She has a positive attitude towards what she is doing and I have learned from her that nothing is impossible to achieve. She is very creative with many talents; an artist, poet, singer and well-being instructor just to mention a few. Juanita and I had the chance to travel together to Italy accompanied by some students. These students were allowed to join a global event with 'Design for Change' where hundreds of students gather annually to share their stories of actions that they had initiated to help their local community. Juanita was pivotal in providing what ended up being a great experience for myself and the students. Juanita is a great addition to any team, institution, program and she will take everything she commits to with stride, passion and dedication.
Agila Attia, Learning Support Teacher, Khartoum International School, Khartoum, Sudan
As a human being, Juanita cares for our planet and those who share it. She follows her passions and devotes time, energy and organisational skills to endeavours that are designed to affirm, uplift and strengthen all involved. In our time together as teaching partners, Juanita introduced me to simple ways of incorporating mindfulness and yoga practice into the classroom. Such practice and thinking created a mind shift and are now well established parts of my school day. Juanita models all the qualities of someone who understands the power of individual and collective strength to make positive changes. Her dedication to empowering those of all ages is an inspiration.
Brian McDaid, Teacher, Khartoum International School, Khartoum, Sudan
Juanita is my hero. Beautiful person inside and out. Quiet and light-hearted. Queen of Love. I benefited a lot from working with her as her assistant. She taught me a lot of skills. I learned from her story as a fighter how to accept myself, to not despair, to control my choices in my life and how to be a leader of change in society. On the other hand, she guided me to the path of peace and love through yoga and meditation and I am very grateful to her.
Hiba Altaher Mohamed, Medical Laboratory Specialist, Khartoum, Sudan
"Juanita Rea is my former colleague at the International School Manila. Juanita’s love and passion for life runs through every fibre of her being and is felt by many who have met her. After the devastating effects of typhoon Ondoy (2009) and typhoon Haiyan (2013) that struck the Philippines, Juanita worked tirelessly despite the distance to reach out to the victims of the typhoon. I look forward to all of Juanita’s dreams materialising by eduSOIL providing innovative services to schools in at-risk communities through eduSOIL. The world needs people like Juanita to make all the difference!"
Anna Pagcaliwagan, Former Teacher, Metro Manila, Philippines
"Juanita Rea was my daughter's Year 1 teacher at the International School Manila in 2009. The way I recall Saiya's journey, she was part of the pioneering class, under Juanita's leadership, for what became the community garden with the kids as gardeners. The anchor to this was and is the paradigm that "We are all ONE," or that we and all life on earth comes from and will return to the same source. Saiya connected with this harmonious perspective early in her life thanks to Juanita, as I am sure happened with some of her peers and many of the young lives being touched by Juanita since and in the journey ahead. Our species will be a better species down the road with educators that share Juanita's passion and commitment to holistic, organic, inquiry-based learning for our kids. Anything to help Juanita spread her wings can only be for good. I whole-heartedly thank and recommend Juanita."
Emiliano Zulberti, Founder of DirectWithHotels, Metro Manila, Philippines
"Juanita’s educational philosophy offers an instant appeal for educators who are looking at moving away from mechanical to magical, potent learning experiences. Juanita spent healing afternoons with Singapore’s Street 11 children and touched a powerful cord with very young children. It is a treat to see young learners respond to her positive energy, ready to trust her while making a strong heart connection with her refined aura. Such sessions need to be seen to believe! Nothing short of pure magic that Juanita lends to deeply transformative growing possibilities. I value Juanita’s life work as integral exploration of dimensions that need to be recognised as timely contribution in expanding existing paradigms in making educational practice relevant to 21st century learners by engaging heart, mind and body."
Vashima Goyal, Director of Pedagogy, Child at Street 11, Founder, EduRetreat.org, Singapore
Eckart Artus, Teacher, Taichung, Taiwan