Africa Unite! News
Positive Vibrations for the African Nations!
Editors Note: This is our first edition of” Africa Unite News” and we have many positive, constructive and informative news articles and stories, poems and artworks-and good info on what’s happening in our country of South Africa – as well as in the rest of Africa- as a movement for African Unity we are not only a political entity; but an informational entity… and there are so many stories waiting to be told… This is the goal of this free E-newzine. To show that Africa is Alive!
In this our first edition for May 2014, we will have the story of a volunteer and her first impressions of her life as a school teacher in Malawi.
We hope it will inspire you with how Europeans think about us in Africa when they come to volunteer their time, energy and skills (and money). Plus we want to encourage all of you to take a leap of faith to go volunteering and make a difference in our common human evolution- whether it’s in your own community- or in another country. Take a chance and you never know what may happen! …you might even fall in love!…yeah!
We are after all; part of One Greater “Ubuntu” Family!
And every day is a grand new adventure! Africa shall be One! Africa shall be free! Africa shall be united! Vuka Ukhanya! Arise & Shine!
Smiles & BIG LOVE!….Robin D.
Confessions of a Volunteer in Africa!
“This is the “unauthorized” biography of my first trip to Africa as a volunteer…enjoy these snapshots of my life- and be inspired “to do it anyway”…yeah-no matter what the obstacle ;or how hurt your” city of heart” is…HOPE is greater than your suffering…!-and there’s something inside so strong, so very strong…!-it’s your Spirit…so find the Light; and you will find the Love! Find the Love; and you find the water for your soul…and if you find that…you will never be thirsty again! I promise.
Enjoy! Love you all…God bless-”Miss P”
A poem : “Falling into Silence”
I am Falling
Naked in my soul
In front of you
Betrayed by myself
And by trusting you…
I am Calling
You stopped hearing now
I am hiding
Not to get hurt;
Feeling your skin
Feeling your touch
And your breath
What’s in your heart?
And what we used to have…
Falling into silence.
1.First Impressions: Europe Vs Africa- Up to the Challenge?
Sitting by the pool and weirdly; I don’t have to wonder whether I will be able to sit outside tomorrow. Sunshine seems to work long hours every day in this country… very different world though. I’m in Lilongwe; the capital city of Malawi. You know how the capitals look like in Europe. Many buildings stuck very close to each other; crowds of people on the streets to and from ….everybody lives this hectic lifestyle and accepted it as the norm of everyday life.
Lilongwe’s got one main road. The taxi driver who was picking me up from the airport said: “if you want to go to Zambia; follow this road it will take you there. Amazing!
I haven’t seen many people on the streets. What’s impressed me though was seeing women carrying their babies on their backs; the suitcase on the top of their head; and they were riding a bike. We people in Europe moan too much for nothing. And sometimes we are grumpy because things don’t go as we wish. People over here smile all the time and just go with the flow. They don’t need a lot to be happy.
When I was walking to the centre; I was looking for the pavements- How European I am!
However, no need for pavements…the road can be shared by cars, bikes and us who depend just on their feet. To be honest, I prefer our style as when it gets dark it’s difficult to avoid holes on the side of the road. I am sure though that after a few days later I won’t be worried even about my feet constantly covered by dust.
Anyway, I feel it’s weird. I don’t really know how I feel now. Feeling a bit lost as everything’s different here; and it might take a bit longer to arrive and get grounded. I’d never say that I would feel such a cultural shock!
I’m happy for it though. It’s time to learn about different colours of life. BTW (By the way) I got an offer to work in a primary school and secondary school n Lilongwe. I’d do my theatre with the students, and I’m provided with free accommodation and a lunch!
Quite good isn’t it!
However, this happened in my first day so I’m not sure how much I am truly up to this and how much I can rely on this offer. Let’s see!
2. Inspiration for my mind
Yesterday I met Mr. Lamik Chimpena, the manager of World Vision in Mchinji. This organization works through its members and employees to improve health and education. They also cover food security and advertise child sponsorship.
These all has been focused on children. This man made me think about cultural diversity; how to recognize respect towards certain culture and where the line between tolerance and ignorance is…the ignorance of laziness to make a difference for ourselves …Mr. Chimpena wakes up every day at 4.30 am and goes for a run with his family. Then the children go to school and his wife and himself go to work; he studies masters at Uni( UNISA-University of South Africa- it’s a correspondence college based in Pretoria) in South Africa.
Apart of that he’s got resources to be buying a variety of things he thinks communities need. (He gets it from a worldwide organization with unlimited financial resources). Mr. Chimpena decided not to help the Malawian community through bringing the necessities BUT RATHER to make a difference for himself first…teaching the villages but by example…to be able to change the community, we will have to change our minds. Our mind creates our reality. He said; “The more I sweat, the less I weep!’
This might be one of the changes of mind the Malawians need. When I look around I can see very poor houses made from homemade bricks …often there are no windows in the houses. Whole families are sitting on the door step and doing nothing or roaming to and fro to kill the time. There is no rush.
My first thoughts were: this is something I should bring to my life..a different time perspective of my every day.
However, I think I was wrong. What I want to learn is to calm down and listen to myself. To live myself truly.
To feel the flow.
Nevertheless, not to slow down my mind …the mind has to be active to make the move of my life forward. We need to start believing in our self and accept who we are. Then we can make the difference for our self, for the others…and we can get whatever we wish for …the truth is we can get it ALL!
Personal Note: This reaction to this issue inspired me. There is no sustainability; if we want to change everything immediately everything needs to go in a natural pace as a reflection of the community ( Mr. Chimena said)- the fact that he is able to use money as a tool rather than the aim activates and inspires my mind. As I was worried recently that money rules the world not because of its power, but because of human weakness.
3. Behind the door
I got busy recently. I’ve started gaining what I came for. I realized how thirsty I was in my life. My time in Africa waters my every day. ..to be able to grow the shape of my lifetime journey. I’ve been teaching in a primary school called Mchiwi Mission. Apart of the beautiful mountains that cuddle my “African “home by their strong but powerful arms;
I spend 4 days a week with children from standard 6. My class is not very big. There are only 50 children in the class! The youngest is 9 years and the oldest is 17. It’s weird!
I’d normally perceive that this age range is quite big; therefore, it would be difficult to prepare a lesson that would interest every age group in my class. These kids are very curious though. Also very thirsty…like me…though they haven’t got many people around who would help them to find their source of water.
There are two reasons that I’ve noticed so far about why not many children go to school. Usua
l age for Standard 1 (which is equivalent of our first year of school) is 6 years old. However, due to the distance, the kids have to walk to school from their villages; the parents send them often when they reach age 9.
The reason why they postpone their children’s education is because it’s not safe to be walking on their own early in the morning and after dark. Not that school would take a place for so many hours a day. The lessons usually finish at 13h00 pm at the primary and 15:30 pm at the secondary school.
Truly, I couldn’t imagine sending my child for one hour journey on their own when they are 6 years old. However, it leaves me wondering why the government does not establish school buses which go around villages to pick the children up once in the morning and once in the afternoon.
I believe that sometimes this kind of investment can bring many benefits for the country in the future. Unfortunately, to increase school attendance is only the first step out of many. The problem appears in teachers afterwards. They are not trained enough to provide the students with high standard of information. Or is it a lack of passion or motivation due to teacher’s income? Maybe there’s no appreciation and therefore motivation from higher positions; the ministry of education? Maybe because some teachers that come through the government provides them with housing which have no electricity (in their houses?)
The second reason why children don’t attend school is the level of education in families; and therefore the understanding of the importance of education in parent’s eyes. Many parents see education as a wasting of time. “When I work on the field; I don’t need education”
Say many of the local people.
Therefore, the community development sector decided to bring on a new version of the program called “back to school” in Chimteka-where I volunteer. I got a chance to involve youth as a personal testimony.
I’ve decided to try in terms of “Education Forum Theatre” which arises issues, critical thinking; involves interaction and discussions, and provides the community with a safe space for finding different ways of life perspective. The plan is that youth brings the theatre to the surrounding villages and we will try through their beliefs and personal value in education to pass a message on the communities.
There is ONE challenge! – Every village‘s got its own chief and elders’ authorities. This role is inherited from generation to generation.
Therefore, it does not mean that the chief is educated (as many of them haven’t gone through secondary education) and able to lead the village.
We are meeting these chiefs this Wednesday to talk about the importance of education and about the programme “back to schools”.
We need them to allow us to bring this program to their villages. I wonder what their reaction will be. I just hope that they will come to represent the interests and needs of their community not only their own ones.
Every Wednesday I work in Chimteka. It is an area of 21 villages. There is a health clinic, primary and secondary school; there are also activities for little children. Our equivalent would probably be a nursery school.
There is a variety of services for people with disability providing rehabilitation twice a month.
I got a chance to work with people suffering from HIV and AIDS. We set up a group of 27 people. The group is held once a week from 10 am to 2 pm; lunch inclusive.
I haven’t felt so happy from a professional perspective for such a long time.
I have my own group and I am experiencing and growing through my observation, empathy, and heart; and applying many different types of drama.
Note: I’ve never worked with such a group. It’s time to make a move! My adventure of delicacy of the human being is “behind the door” …ITS TIME TO OPEN IT!…
They cannot speak any English. Fortunately, I’ve got a translator. Mr. Francis who is the main chief of the village where the centre is located. He is amazing as his understanding of life is culturally detached. His way of thinking is so
contemporary and so clearly led by heart. He believes in youth- he believes that there is always something we can do to make the world better in everyday life. He is active in his heart!
I don’t know him very well but I fell he’s very wise. His eyes are big and bright up by kindness. He knows how to stay calm and patient….to be able to give comfort to everybody for shaping themselves in their own pace. Isn’t it beautiful? It must be frustrating to understand the world a little bit more than the others and still to be able to be giving and just waiting …I am amazed how much there is here for me to be learned.
Post Note: To be honest, there are so many problems in Malawi; one of the major issues is nutrition. Mothers sometimes don’t even recognize when their children are malnourished…just because of a lack of education…people don’t know what the human body needs and how we should create our meals.
There are also many disabled in Malawi who were born with a slight abnormality. This could be easily fixed by physiotherapy in most of the cases. Due to the lack of information about a variety of problems and solutions provided, the child grows up and the abnormality becomes a disability…However, everything seems to be rooted in education in an early age. If I’m wrong let’s just consider then our future? This was the reason to narrow the focus on youth.
4. Meeting Mr. Poverty
Poverty …in terms of Africa…we talk about poverty all the time.
Although, do we know what it really means?
Yesterday I went to a local village called Nyoka. Before I came to Malawi I did a little research about life down here; how African poverty looks like. So I thought I was prepared – nothing could surprise me….
I entered the village and I felt like in a fairy tale. Houses everywhere around made from mud and straws. Some of them were bigger, some were smaller. They were surrounded by other little buildings made from the straw only. Later on I found out that these little houses are used as storage places, outside kitchen and the place for animals like chickens with little chicks, pigeons and goats.
Everything around was made from mud. The children were running around holding sugar cane in one hand and cooked maize soaked in salted or sugary water (these things are considered as “kid’s candy”)
Actually, we- me and my two other “white friends” – “AZUNGU”(White man)- went to the village with the invitation of one student at the primary school where I teach.
-Firstly we thought she just wants to show us where she lives. However, when we arrived to her fairy tale house full of poverty; we made a quick friendship with everybody in the village as they started following us. Especially the little ones.
You know, looking into the eyes of these beautiful kids with no shoes, old dirty clothes running around to get warm in such day like yesterday… (The weathers’ got colder; the wind was freezing and the storm made us a company for the whole night).
This BTW is supposed to be a dry season when you should start planting seeds in your field; or this is just a beginning of the rainy season. Rainy season usually starts at the end of November; but due to global warming Malawians become very flexible in terms of the weather!
Let’s come back to the village though. It was very windy; I had my leggings and Chitenji (African skirt) on, t-shirt and my warm hoodie. Looking at me you would never guess I am in Africa. I haven’t noticed a big change of clothing of the kids. Cold or hot; the clothes is always the same. Nyoka is a big village with many
Inhabitants. They all have in their lives only each other and are hoping that they find somebody who will save them and take them out.
The girl, I call her FLO- introduced us to her father. The house door slowly opened and I could see a man looking very old coming out from the dark of the house. From my quick look I could see that there were no beds; only space, empty space and mats on the floor replacing the bed. No windows; just a round house on quite a high step covered by
a straw roof. The man walked very slowly with a heavy step. His voice was very kind though. Nevertheless; his eyes were very sad. When I looked at Flo and her sisters; I saw the “inherited” treasure of sadness hidden in the unspoken silence of their heart.
The old man; Flo’s father was drunk which is not an unusual thing here. He is 54 , but he looked to me as 70. He does not work as many others. His only job is his garden. Again; as many others’….these people try to sell their tomatoes, potatoes, onions to each other to make a few kwacha to survive….how could they? The village is in the middle of nowhere; and if you have no money you will never see any other place in your country; you will only meet people in your village and others who you are surrounded by.
They are mostly (related) families anyway. The father asked us to pay Flo’s school fees for secondary school. This came up as a reason of our invitation. I looked at Flo when her father was asking us, and it made me genuinely sad. I saw in her eyes such a dilemma of her heart- to be loving her father unconditionally just for the sake of being her dad…. In the same time to be so ashamed of whom my father is- a man who keeps himself in alcohol to kill the time and forget poverty.
Understanding this dilemma of love which is in our depth so pure gives you tears into your eyes.
I could probably help to this girl and pay her school fees…how could I choose though, 1 girl from hundreds of kids?
How can I LOVE 1 MORE than the others?
…How can I contravene my beliefs that there are better things in life that brings you happiness and fulfillment when these people cannot cover their basic needs ( see Maslow’s pyramid of needs)?
Money, money, money… If I pay the fee would it mean sustainability for her better life? Don’t you need more? …Your dreams, desires, encouragement, support, patience and people who believe in you to help you believe in yourself?
Can this be covered by money? …
What’s more, what are their dreams about? Aren’t your dreams reflection of your every day – what you see, feel, experience and it all is processed and digested in your dreams?
Where will you get this all you need to succeed in better life- when all you can see is poverty?
I thought I understood before I started understanding what I can’t ever fully understand…materialistic poverty.
On the other hand, let me tell you. When I look at the children in my class; I see happiness, joy and the sparkle for life…. Their soul is not poor…. Now that I can’t be unhappy for their lack of creativity and independent thinking that would let them be who they want to be from the soul perspective… I just need to be patient and keep trying offering everything I’ve got and who I am; especially my imperfection…as I realized imperfection carries many gifts for ourselves – the two biggest are to be true about myself when I am wrong, and be able to transform this weakness into strength,
The other one is the beauty of forgiveness. If we treasure these two qualities in our lives; we will never stay in the same place of our life’s journey. Then I hope we can get whatever we want to: we just need to wish for it and never stop walking our life path….step by step…!
I just wish that those kids who make our future will be brave enough to desire for a long life journey…step by step….
5. Tree Plantation
The funeral time has started. Yesterday I attended one of these sad moments. Malawian communities seem to value death more than life. I felt sadness. Death is an interesting part of life. You can actually feel that a funeral is happening even if you’re just passing by car through the place where the ceremony takes place. The atmosphere is heavy, full of silence saying so much by just being. The women sing the songs and men lead speeches.
Even though the general understanding of gender equity feels balanced to Malawians, the women and men sit separately on left or right side of the place where the funeral is held. It’s not allowed together. I wonder what genders got Malaria -as this one seems to be way too friendly to everybody; no matter what gender you are. It seems like malaria is the one who understands equality precisely. No matter who, just someone to die…from now on for next 6 months some people call this time “a funeral period”.
The funeral can be spotted at every corner…death as a price for poverty…people have no mosquito nets due to their price…one can buy it for over 1000 KW (a few dollars)- but imagine how long one has to be saving when most of the population in villages lives from selling vegetables – tomatoes for 50 KW.I wouldn’t say it’s a highly profitable business. Imagining there are people suffering from AIDS with NO mosquito nets when the rainy season is just about to start… it is so worrying; what’s more in last few days medication for malaria ran out on public hospitals which are run by the government. If you are wealthy – don’t worry…go to the public clinic and pay a high price for your own survival…if you depend on help from the government; good luck to you!
Note: People organize a funeral ceremony and everybody comes to cry. What do we cry for? Do we cry for the person or for ourselves?-or are we feeling sorry for ourselves to be left here with feeling loss? We cry but here the funeral brought me a different perspective of sadness. People die for treatable things. Looking to their eyes, one can see a resigned heart that is trained by death. To be grateful for every day coz death can come one day to any of us. Once stays amazed how deep sadness you can feel. On the contrary death’s acceptance of daily life. Hopes got a different odor here. It’s covered by silent clouds of powerlessness. Hope hidden behind fog…it’s sometimes hard to find it.
You can feel this attitude in your every step. Malawi depends on its suppliers. The main one uses the UK. This relationship is no longer alive. The only people who are affected by these political arguments and misunderstandings are the poor people who usually live in the villages. There is more than 80% of the population living in villages with no electricity depended on their own growing of veg and crops to be able to survive.
There is no way they can even dream about having their own business. Stopping supplying of medication will cause a high percentage of death. Even though they need is not available.
(Who are they punishing – and for what?)
We have a big fuel crisis in Malawi for the last few weeks. It’s getting worse and worse. The prices of everything – food, travelling etc keep going up due to expensive transport for deliveries to smaller towns and cities. Cars trying to get fuel from black market for the price twice or more higher than what it actually costs; many people selling fuel illegally have been arrested.
People cannot travel. Last weekend I decided to see more Malawi and went to Salima placed by the lake. Suddenly I ended up half way through Lilongwe due to lack of petrol. The trip was over.
Imagine that many people do trip of their life by heading to the hospital yearning for their treatment. No fuel- certain death. No treatment – certain death. Having no fuel, that’s crisis indeed. However, it does not take human lives away. No treatment means “start arranging your own funeral”…sadly, it seems to me that there is more hassle for petrol rather than medication!
Where does this leave us? … It could be any of us…anytime…. Yeah…Funeral time; these last days I’ve been thinking about gender division based on cultural settings; I’ve been thinking about human rights, equality, oppression and empowerment.
I’m walking at the market and buying some vegetables. I spot a woman covered by a chitenji over her face. Walking silently with her baby on her back. Baby’s head was covered by chitenji too so I could not see the face properly.
What I saw, even though very briefly, was the woman’s face. She was beaten up. By her husband?- or she just fell down the stairs?…( one can’t find very often stairs in Malawian type houses) Seeing a strong woman in her soul but panicking her heart ; trying to stop tears in her eyes and trying to remember “ I can’t be weak, I have to be here for my baby!” Can she leave her husband?
There are very few women who are financially independent even though they are married. Very few!!! Apparently, there are two options what a woman can do. The first one is to report her husband to the police – if she’s lucky; her husband will end up in prison…what will happen after once he is released though?
Who will be punished then? (From them two)
What’s more, when the man goes to the prison; it’s difficult for a woman to take care of herself and her children due to the fact that the man is the one earning money for a living.
The second option happens when a woman does not want to report her violent husband.
I wonder what is the reason for staying with him and forgiving him?
Is it love or fear? Unfortunately, we all know the answer!
Anyway, the couple visits the nearest chief who is trained, and therefore has permission for counseling of couples facing domestic violence. I know one of these chiefs. After my discussion with him I understood that domestic violence is very common also- but taboo…. (Taboo or culture – ask the Malawian man)
The reasons are mostly alcohol, poverty and cheating of the partners. Cheating of woman is punished by beating (I doubt there is a lot of investigation in depth whether it was a case of cheating or of just men being drunk).
Whereas men in a marriage can go out and pay for services provided by prostitutes; sadly very common.
There is an organization called “SWAM”(Saving Women & Men/Sex workers against men? Lol-No …Oh- I don’t know-Sex Workers Association of Malawi?- ) …Working with people who have contracted HIV The woman’s group goes around villages and offers a preventative programme. The programme covers talking to women who are HIV negative about protected sex, use of a condom, and how to look after themselves etc.
These women don’t know a lot about such issues. They are asking many important questions and taking home with them condoms for their husbands to use them when they use services of prostitutes. This is the way women have to protect themselves. How sad in heart is this?!
Where is love and dignity???
These women can’t moan or complain. They can’t say how they feel, how hurt they are. Actually, they can…but they will be beaten up. There are a few charities and initiatives of working with women suffering from domestic violence in Malawi.
I have realized in my frustration trying to find the way how to stop this cultural habit that due to such dependence of women on their men from financial and housing perspective the focus should be on men in the first place.
Working with women experiencing domestic violence is very important and necessary; the hurt needs to be healed to be able to gain self worth in heart back. However it would be necessary to be healing the injuries of body and heart only! We need to go deep down and take the roots out. If I cut the tree half way through; I’ll get rid of the branches that represent the outcome of violence.
But the problem is still there- as the violence is born in the roots.
We have to take the roots out to make sure that the tree of violence dies.
The roots of a violent man.
I want to start working with men; on their anger management. When men learn how to control themselves they can start planting new trees; trees of love, delicacy, true respect based on honesty and dignity one to another.
I wish this would not be such a huge bubble of isolation where every action done by many becomes a norm. I wish we could look around and see the humanity in each other…look around and tell me what you see?
… Dialogue between violence -and violence left out with powerlessness and oppression…yes, let’s cut these forests full of old trees down…and lets plant new trees that will last at last for the rest of our lives ! (If not for centuries to come). A plantation of them!
6. Girl Child Education on Sexual Abuse
The Constitution of the Republic of Malawi:
Chapter 4 – Human Rights
Paragraph 18 : Every person has the right to personal liberty.
19.1 The dignity of all persons is inviolable
19.3 No person shall be subject of torture of any kind, or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
22.1 The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and this is entitled to protection by society and the state.
23.4 children are entitled to be protected from economic exploitation or any treatment, work or punishment that is likely to …be harmful ( c) to their health or to their physical , mental or spiritual or social development.
24.2 Any law that discriminates against women on the basis of gender or marital status shall be invalid and legislation shall be passed to eliminate customs and practices that discriminates against women particularly practices such as sexual abuse, harassment and violence.
“You can never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around it.”
Harper Lee ( 1960) – To Kill a Mockingbird.
This is sometimes our answer when we face issues that we don’t want to see. We don’t talk and just ignore the truth. IGNORANCE THOUGH…IS NOT A SOLUTION. It just deepens the problem. Sexual abuse is one of this brand of silence. Silence that makes the scar of our soul and heart very deeply.
What is sexual abuse? It is a selfish demand coming from one person to another requesting sexual intercourse with no respect towards dignity of other person…therefore; this is a letter to all girls who live in silence…
Dear Little woman,
The world is sometimes very cruel in a way that we set up the norms for ourselves in our societies. These norms should protect us. Unfortunately, they’ve been abused and the effect is oppression. Never listen to anybody who persuades you that something is right when you feel the opposite. Human consciousness is our truth coming from nature that has based our existence on love. True love never hurts. The one that hurts is self –love. To be able to love others we have to learn how to love ourselves. Though this is only one part of love. If you remain in this stage love’ll never be completed.
People who abuse your purity only love themselves.
Now it’s time for you to be kind to yourself and treat yourself with love! Who threaten you is not worthy for you to be living in fear. Sexual offenders frightened because their consciousness is speaking to them. They feel how wrong their deeds are and they want to save their ego not to be embarrassed and judged by publishing their weakness. Be brave and stop their action! You are not alone! There is nothing you should be ashamed of. Your dignity and purity of heart will never change unless you allow it. However, what can change is your health condition.
Please, don’t choose living the silence as this could affect your every new day. Never give up your dreams for what happened to you. There is always hope in our lives which activate our hearts. Though our hearts activates our minds; which can make a difference for our every day.
Note: Human rights of the Republic of Malawi claims in Chapter 4, paragraph 19.3…” Nobody’s got rights to hurt you both physically r mentally…remember your dignity.
Parents love your children unconditionally and listen to them by heart. Listening by ear only can sometimes miss the important message …
Chapter 4, paragraph 22/2 …
(Each member of the family shall enjoy full and equal respect and shall be protected by law against all forms of neglect, cruelty or exploitation.)
Protect your children by taking seriously what they say. You are the law that protects them as their parents. It requires a lot of courage to share with you this intimate pain of dignity. Treat them in a delicate way and support them to report the person who has sexually abused them. Immediate action can save your girl’s life. There is a treatment which if it’s applied within 48hours can protect against contracting HIV and AIDS.
This is a serious issue which could be easily dismissed by feeling ashamed of this situation and remaining in silence. Silence is your enemy in such situation as it can leave a scar to your girl’s life that can’t ever be removed. Sexual abuse is breaking of human rights; that can be referred to the part of children’s rights.
(In paragraph 23.4 (children are entitled to be protected from economic exploitation or any treatment, work or punishment that is likely to be harmful to their health or to their physical, mental or spiritual or social development.)
Dear Little woman,
You’ve got incredibly high value and nobody’s got a right to take it away from you. Freedom of the individual finishes there where the freedom of another person s starts. If somebody does not understand it; they need to get a chance to change it.
This can only happen when we express our concerns about their lack of respect, dignity and humanity.
This cannot happen when we hide in silence! Breaking the silence is the responsibility of not only affected children or parents; but also us…society through each of us individually!
If we wait for the others to start –nothing will ever change! Let’s start with ourselves –not tomorrow; but today and let’s stop committing of crime that affects a whole body and soul of our girl children!
Children desire to know what pure love is! If they don’t experience it in their own lives then they will learn it. Experiencing true love means the ability of applying it in their own lives. Let’s stop this never-ending circle of sexual abuse and let’s start a new circle of real love based on human delicacy and dignity!
7. Land in the sky
I’ve got 6 weeks of travelling ahead. I have decided that this time will be about my fear. I don’t know how many fears I’ve got. It is probably a big rainbow of colour my fears…many different colours, many different strings attached to my past and shaping my future of every day.
My journey started in Blantyre in Malawi . It is a city that gave me a different experience of life in Malawi. It reminded me of home a little. Everybody was rushing and seemed busy with building their own life. Although this is Africa. Sometimes I forgot and arriving to some place ; my imagination pictures automatically the places I know. My own experience versus my expectations of life that surrounds me. How interesting to notice how strong attachments we can carry from our lives which has been explained to us in a way that this is “ normal”…what is normal?
What does make it normal and acceptable to me? I found a place where everything what we see as normal and correct has no meaning… I went to the land in the sky; and I realized how complicated lives we can live in the land of man although the world is so simple…
Just being …
I climbed Mulange Mountain, 3002 M high. This mountain is my first hiked mountain. It’s considered as the third highest mountain in the biggest continent in the world- Africa.
I stepped out of my box and touched unknown to me.
I hiked with no expectations and the mountain cuddled me with her warmth and powerful and sometimes a little scary tenderness…. Somehow I call the mountain “she” maybe because she felt very motherly and caring…I felt respect …actually, what does respect mean? Here in Africa, everybody says respect is what we need to give to each other. It seems to me that one has to make an effort to see the respect in ALL humanity of fear which puts one into a box that limits his every step by a need to control everybody else to protect himself.
The fear that tries to create something – anything lost not to be hurt, and in the end one will end up hurting himself… by strengthening already thick walls of their limited “box” of life.
Does respect have necessarily a cultural uniqueness, or is it just a matter of the nature of a human being? Why we sometimes don’t understand the way we respect each other? Maybe it is closely linked with understand of love- when one wants to love somebody; they need to learn how the other one needs to be loved. If everybody loves from their own understanding and expectations, the love might never be understood. The dialogue of love will change into a monologue that can dig very fast and before we realize it there will be a big deep hole between us. Then the only way how we can manage to stay together is to create our box of controlling each other …how lonely we will feel then…
The mountain is a big complex of different shapes, colours , strong rocks, forests and fields full of flowers. It’s like visiting different stages of “her “life.
When one looks from the top, we can see her wisdom, calmness, curiosity and power.
Through visiting all these places; I was thinking about how little we people are. We try to be something but do we do it in a real matter of our being?
Is it about us; our body- soul- and spirit; or is it about masks that we created for the others because we are afraid to be exactly who we are?
Hiking my friend- mountain; I experienced my own therapy of honesty. One cannot run away in front of themselves . Very often we put TV, music or get very busy in mind just not to be with their self.
Truly and critically…aren’t we good runners? …in front of ourselves…?
I left my headphones in my bag. I took up to the mountain only myself with my fears- to fight them!
It is interesting how our memory works .The memory is like a library. You enter it and walk through sections of different stories of your life. The books have no titles, no labels. They’ve got colours and emotions. Find the emotion and that will bring you true story that you might thought you’d forgotten. The library is a network that tames the stories to your present being.
I spent in my library 3 days and two nights. I was cooking on fire, falling asleep with the melody of wood playing with the dangerous heat, listening to their dialogue of needing one another. I walked through the clouds….I felt them on my skin. It’s like a woolen jacket of fresh thick air. I entered the land of the sky….
I reached the peak and sitting above the clouds and just being made me fall asleep. Such peace comforted me. I felt unconditional being. I’ve never heard such silence.
The fulfilling silence of every part of your body, mind ,heart and soul. Unconditional being of everything. Everything’s perfect and unique. Why we always want to change ourselves, be who we are not. I always thought that we are so imperfect. Now I know how perfect we are.!
Imperfection is only a choice of each of us. Don’t we want to be who we truly are?
In the end of my journey I stopped by waterfalls and I jumped into the water to leave my friend mountain all of my old me… I have overcome the fear from my true me.
The sound has been slowly disappearing; the sound of life, birds, grass, flowers…just the wind reminds. The wind which cuts off the noise of life which is not yours; this wind makes you be with yourself…what do you see? What do you feel? The peace distracted by the emotion of your hidden consciousness. Is it sub consciousness; or is it you being the best liar to yourself?
Running away from who you truly are… running away from what you are running away from. Let me introduce you by every friend- Mulange mountain the space of your own choice- who you are, and who you want to be. ….
Who do you want to be?
Climbing the rocks of which you cannot see the ending – you look down and your step becomes too weak because of the power of your thoughts.
Why do we look back and live the past in our lives? Why don’t we focus on every next step we are making to climb the peak? What is the peak of our life? How many powerful rocks do you have to climb to reach what you want? And do you really want it?- or you think you should want it?
The scenery’s been changing, everything looks stronger, more grounded for a reason. The mountain of different colours , different slope, different height…the darkest colour of the mountains , very sharp and steep slope, very solid and united piece of rocky earth reminds me the wisdom; an old person talking through their life, by their look. No educational lesson that you have to attend.
You hear them talking when you’re ready to listen.
You understand the silence. The next mountain is a bit higher. It feels like in the process of rooting of its own stability; finding its own connection with the land. The colour is lighter, tiny rocks, sometimes little grass in-between; the process of melting and uniting the power together. Do we need to be able do it? Power of thought, a decision, self belief, a higher purpose of your own being? The last type of mountains ‘got big rocks of different shapes …messy look- almost chaos…the curiosity and wildness brings many options. Just to choose and go! Where do you want to go?
It is difficult to climb this mountain for her variety of shapes. It can surprise and bring the unexpected. Are you up for exploring – or are you going back down just to look and dream about its height? Years later I might come back and see the stones and rocks uniting together and settling down….and I know the mountain found itself in its own being….
Where will you find yourself?
8. Drama Facilitation: “My Curiosity”
I always used to say “I’m working with what people bring from their lives” and allow to look at closely in drama sessions. My practice with AIDS support group proved me wrong. What I was doing through my sessions ‘preparation was setting up my expectations based on the aim of the session. This limited me during our work when the group didn’t respond in a way I wanted or expected.
When we work in this way; it can be time to time frustrating as the different reaction makes us feel misunderstood and useless as a drama practitioner. My worry when I thought about drama as my profession; was that one day I will use all I know and what to do next? There wouldn’t be anything new or special I could offer to patients.
What I’ve learnt though was to leave the lesson up to the group. I have discovered amazing beauty about what is important to the group; what’s their worry and who they are. My limitation of the sessions fixed structure isolated me and took away from me the ability of facilitation…
It was replaced by “session dictatory”..based on wrong and right answers.
There is no correct or incorrect answer.
As Boal points out when explaining forum theatre …theatre is not bringing you a solution. Its providing you with a safe space to explore various options…even those you know you would never use in the real life.
So I stopped having expectations, and I became more curious about what would happen if I do this…. Then just to feel them, and be caring for the delicacy of the moment.
This new understanding of how to use a drama tool in terms of freedom to explore individual needs started touching issues of relationships, identity, gender role or equality.
My original plan and expectation was a bit of “healing” considering that the group consists of patients suffering from AIDS. I was very wrong.
They didn’t need to be “healed’ in the way I dictated it in my imagination. They needed a trustful environment to start exploring themselves.
I’ve realized that my expectations at the beginning caused their limitation, and was stopping them from opening up. They thought that our session is an examination and all they needed to do was guessing what I wanted to hear!
This discovery made me debate with myself about whether the use of drama explained by basing on place or closed description of the focused group (as Thompson mentions)- for instance drama in prison, or dram with communities suffering from AIDS….limits your ability as a practitioner ; whereas titling such as “ drama of what we don’t talk about-“ or “drama of my fears” etc…opens more options for the group to find what is there for them.
What’s more, the practitioner does not have to worry that he won’t be understood; or it won’t be suitable for the group… (This awareness brought by a feedback)- That’s proven my personal discovery. If one would ask me what the sessions with the support group were about, I’d say – about the group as a whole based on each individual . Nothing specific as I have always trying to link the next session with what has brought up in the previous time.
That was my aim. What happened in the session was entirely up to the group. I’ve been practicing sensitivity and listening to each individual; make them feel safe to allow themselves to be curious about themselves.
When we had time of reflection; the group summed up the three months of working together as time of learning about love; about how important it is to keep in mind that everybody’s different and we need to learn how they had to be treated through love.
Furthermore, the work aroused thoughts about women and men from gender perspective and about caring for those who are reactive.
The main title was love though. I was feeling worried at the beginning that the patients don’t gain anything out of our sessions.
Then, when I became curious I allowed us both- the group and myself to learn together…
I hope I’ll always be curious. This was Ill be ensured that I’ll never run out of the repertoire. As there are no days in our lives that would be the same….
Being curious. My curiosity.
9. There where there is no time… “Discovered”- the Land of Sand!
Silence. …Many people consider this “sound’ as empty…I’ve started to understand recently that the silence has got many colours. The mountain gave me a taste of silence above the clouds; such a peaceful and heavenly fulfilled silence that is giving you something higher; some higher perception of yourself which makes you think about who we really are in terms of the world , the universe and the being. How wonderful it is not to know all the answers but still feel thirsty for knowing …
My new experience of other colour of silence is placed in Bazaruto Archipelago in Mozambique. Bazaruto Archipelagos got 5 islands; sand dunes and unique coral reefs. It was the 8th December, and I’ve decided to do something I’ve never done before. I went on the boat to visit these beautiful islands.
It was early in the morning when 3 and a half hours later the boat stopped in the middle of the Indian Ocean and we were told: “here is the equipment, take the one that suits you; and you’ve got one hour to snorkel” I’ve never snorkeled before so I was a bit shocked as I was hoping for at least a brief introduction to snorkeling for those who have never done it before.
This is Africa though, and whatever you do, you have to find your own way…so I jumped…!
-it took me quite awhile to learn how to operate the flippers not to drown and how to breathe under the water. I’ve realized that it can make one feel very claustrophobic not to be able to breathe by mouth, and trust the tube that it won’t get any water in…that day I drunk a lot of water from the Indian Ocean.
I had to overcome my fear many times before I was actually able to see those beautiful fish and corals.
I observed myself and it got me thinking about the life…I have to keep trying and stop worrying about what others do or think. Everybody has got their own pace, experience and purpose of what they do.
The life is not a competition. I have to keep trying and stop worrying about a failure. When I was in the water, I really wanted to see the fish and everything what hasn’t been discovered by me yet. For that I had to overcome my fear of breathing under the water ;( I had to let my control go) I had to understand that I cannot control the water, that I’m in something a lot more powerful than me. I had to give up my control and just trust. That was a big deal considering the option of drowning. Once I’ve managed to calm down I started seeing. It was like opening a secret door from the underworld.
I’ve never imagined that I’d be looking closely into eyes of such a beautiful and colourful fish and Id see the corals a live being…everything so slow, like the time perspective would have a different meaning…Everything down there’s got its own purpose. Nothing’s trying to change what they are. It would be nice if we people would be able to manage to do the same in our own lives; to be just who we are.
Overcoming the fear is a good discovery about ourselves. One never knows what their reactions going to be. Our own challenge creates a safe space to practice whoever we want to be. Because it’s all who we are. We make our choices for ourselves. The life is like a Sunday market; many little shops offering their “best”. It’s up to us whether we buy anything and make a use of it in our lives, or we just leave it.
On the way back we stopped on one more island that was made only of sand; the island where the only shade is your own shadow, the island where you can print your own track into he sand and a minute later the powerful sea clears everything out like nobody’s been there before…back to its perfection and purity…seeing such beauty shining in the sun by its gold colour and playing with azure blue water reminding one of eternity…it’s like stepping to the land of no one….in the middle of the sea…everybody can come , but nobody can take it with them…only the way is to keep the sacred place of purity in their heart; the purity of being found in its infinity and silent invitation to a life….the invitation of beautiful new channel of every day…as your every step prints your “being” in the sand…you have to keep walking…to be… the past is taken by the sea …what is important is the foot track you are making right now..
I’ve never thought how difficult it can be to live the present.