Get our free emagazine!

Under the Same Sky

As Hummingbird witnessed death and destruction in her homeland of Syria, on the other side of the world her friend and mentor Sarah was mourning the loss of her family members. In each other, they have found healing and a way forward.

"We all have only each other."

Hummingbird

Photo © Meredith Hutchison

It is August, 1962, in southern New Hampshire. A bony-kneed, nine-year-old girl is having a tea party with her two older sisters in the forest, up in a sturdy tree on a splintery wood platform nailed together by their father. Their mother makes dinner at their house down the hill while their father, a Harvard scholar, sequesters himself in his study with what will be lifelong depression. Outwardly, the girl and her siblings will live lives of privilege, but they will always carry a huge sadness.

It is the summer of 1990 in a small village atop a mountain in Syria. Another nine year-old girl with very curly hair sits in a fig tree on her grandfather’s land, watching the sunset and accepting the offerings of sweet figs from the tree mother. The girl strides everywhere, anywhere, just to be away from her troubled home from sunrise to sunset. Though she is punished by her mother every time, the next day she will do it all over again. She is addicted to escape, to wandering, discovering, and dreaming. Her father will soon leave the family forever.

2010, Westchester County, just north of New York City: Sarah, once that bony-kneed girl, is now a middle-aged woman sitting across from one of her sisters at her father’s bedside. They are gently stroking their father’s oddly hot, skeletal hands as he takes his last breath. The week after her father dies, Sarah joins World Pulse as a volunteer mentor to fulfill her community service for Interfaith seminary. She has no idea, yet, how great a source of healing her connection to World Pulse will become.

2011, Dubai: The curly-haired Syrian girl is now a young woman living with helpless anger as violent government crackdowns on peaceful protestors take over a number of cities in her homeland. She knows that she needs to break the silence and speak up. There is no longer any place left for the carefree girl exploring the beauty of the Syrian countryside, eating sweet figs. She begins surfing the Web for a platform where she can cast her voice across the planet like a wide net, speaking out about what is happening. This is how she discovers World Pulse. Six months after the conflict in Syria begins, she becomes a Correspondent in World Pulse’s Voices of Our Future digital empowerment training program. Writing on World Pulse, she starts to unveil her truth. She speaks out under the alias Hummingbird and begins to realize the power of her voice.

In Their Own Words

In September of 2011, World Pulse pairs us together as Correspondent and Mentor. Before meeting online, we are asked to begin our relationship by writing each other letters of love and intent.

“Dearest Hummingbird,
How wonderful that we will soon be connected! There’s no doubt that when we extend ourselves to others our own healing begins . . .

I became active in heightening awareness and supporting other women after I’d had breast cancer. Since then I have been called to the work of empowering women. With great admiration and respect for your crucial work as one of the Voices of the Future Correspondents, I will be here to support you in every way…”

“Dear Sarah,
I was very happy to be chosen as a Voices of Our Future Correspondent, and I am honored to communicate with you. I read your introduction and I felt proud to be connecting with a strong and determined person.

I am sorry to use an alias, but the situation in Syria is very dangerous these days because the ruling gangs are going after anyone they believe is opposing them, whether the person is an activist or not. Even those of us who live outside Syria now have families and friends in danger . . ."

We meet for the first time, via Skype, in November of 2011. . . .

Comments

Nusrat Ara's picture

Thank you so much for sharing

Thank you so much for sharing your story. It touches ones heartstrings. It makes one believe that we all can contribute in our own ways to make this world a better place, with sisterhood it can get just a bit easier.

Love

Nusrat

Sarah Whitten-Grigsby's picture

Amen, Nusrat!

Dear Nusrat,

Yes! With Sisterhood, making the world a better place can become easier.

Thank you for those wise and beautiful words.

With Comfort and Joy,

Sarah

Karly N's picture

Thank you :)

What a beautiful, hopeful, inspiring story of love, connection and healing. Thank you so much for sharing this with us and the WorldPulse community! Learning so much from you beautiful women.

Sarah Whitten-Grigsby's picture

Thank YOU, Karly!

And I learn, we all learn, from your generous expressions of gratitude.

With Comfort & Joy,

Sarah

Y's picture

How inspiring. I see that the

How inspiring. I see that the two of you have found many ways to "go forth, be fruitful and multiply" The Sacred Spirit that is manifest in yourselves. What a beautiful relationship you have. Thank you for sharing.

Yvette

Susan K.A.'s picture

The power of Love

Dear Sarah and Hummingbird,

Thank you for sharing your stories with us.

You move us with the ferocity of your courage, even in the face of such grief.

You inspire us with the profound intelligence of your love.

You show us the healing power of our connection.

I pray that we all have faith in this power, and that we find own courage in the midst of life's incredible sorrows.

As you say, Hummingbird, we only have each other.

______________________________________________________________________________

"I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being."
-Hafiz

. . . once again is a balm for the soul. Your magnanimous appreciation, so eloquently expressed, brings tears to my eyes.

I send you love across the miles,

- Sarah

Greengirl's picture

Beautiful Connection

Thank you Sarah and Hummingbird for sharing your journey of sisterhood and togetherness with us. The bond you share is truly divine. Shine on!

In admiration,
Greengirl

Sarah Whitten-Grigsby's picture

Greengirl! Love to you!

You shrine on, too, oh, Magnificent Woman!

- Sarah

Mukut's picture

Incredible

Such an incredible story. So moving and full of love. We are indeed lucky to witness such love in an equally empowering and loving family of World Pulse.

Thank you for sharing this story. Am touched.

Thank you beautiful Sarah and Hummingbird for telling your story.

Love and hugs to both.

Mukut Ray

Sarah Whitten-Grigsby's picture

Yes, "an empowering family!"

Hail, Dear Mukut!

Thank you for your words of love, added to ours!

- Sarah

Phinnie's picture

The Power of Friendship

Thank-you for sharing this powerful story of the pain, and hope, and joys that you have shared with one another as you have experienced loss and fear...I believe in the power of connection and the healing that occurs when we feel listened to...May your friendship continue to grow and nurture!

PEACE,

Phinnie

Sarah Whitten-Grigsby's picture

Hello, Phinnie!

Yes the power of friendship is a strong, enduring source of support. And the power of listening and feeling listened to is without equal!

Thank your for your remarkable comments and we send you comfort and joy!

- Sarah & Hummingbird

Phinnie's picture

Friendship

Great to hear from you! Wishing you a year of hope and healing!

Sarah Whitten-Grigsby's picture

Same to you,

. . . Dear Phinnie!

- Sarah

Hideko N.'s picture

Sarah, I have found you again

Sarah, I have found you again unexpectedly while I was browsing through some articles. You are amazing person who is capable of extending your hands to the needful. And Hummingbird, your story is not remote from my own experience. My daughter still is in the country that is very corrupt. I am doing all I can now to getting her back. I don't know how, but the most important thing is the empowerment for me to stand up and utter my voice outloud. It took me for sometimes to gather such courage because I was tormented so much physically and psychologically after years of abuse... Gaining courage and confidence after being abused really depends on those around you who have Godly mercy to encourage you.
Thank you for sharing the wonderful story...

Love, Hideko N.

Sarah Whitten-Grigsby's picture

Hello, Dear Hideko!

Hello, Dear Hideko!

So glad to see you on this page and thank you for reading the story. I think of you and your daughter and cannot imagine how you've endured the separation. I pray that you'll be reunited before long.

Stay strong and hopeful, and know that I send you extra love across the miles.

I know we'll continue to keep in touch, and that is a comfort.

- Sarah

Dearest Hummingbird, Dearest Sarah,

I will never forget being in that university conference room witnessing the moment you both met and the mutual radiance and joy of your embrace! You have both crafted the most tender and powerful expression of true reciprocal healing that is at the core of our community. I wept will reading every word. In you both lives a deep empathy, the known depths of extreme sorrow and the determination to be fierce advocates for a just and joyful life. Thank you for uplifting all of us and providing a path of shared wisdom and sacred friendship.

With love and deep respect,
Ellen

had's picture

under the same sky..

what a wonderful model of friendship and affection!

it looks like your souls can both now whisper to each other

thank you for the good life story

Best wishes

Kika Sylvie Katchunga's picture

C'est bon

Merci beaucoup de cette histoire que Dieu vous bénisse

sylvie

Keating's picture

Your Strength

Dear Sister ...

I have no words that can help of this situation; but I can assure you that your story is awe inspiring.

With those like you and your friend, other women would not know how to fin the strength in their vulnerability.

All power to you <3

You both are inspiring messengers for others to stand up and know they are not alone.

MESSENGER
Feast your eyes on a hummingbird
humming through the sky
a window drawn for a look to see
a peep from the inside
messenger has arrived
messenger has arrived
messenger in disguise
see the eagle and the hummingbird
as they fly by through the clouds
a window drawn for a look to see
and wash away all your doubts
messenger has arrived
messenger has arrived
so high
so high
so high
messenger has arrived
so high
so high
so high

You share the hardships and show others that they too can put their self doubt aside and believe in themselves to stand up for simple human rights.

With Love

Robby

Magazine »

Read global coverage through women's eyes

Letters to a Better World

Letters to a Better World

Community »

Connect with women on the ground worldwide

womenspace's picture

CAMBODIA: Ordinary Women Can Make a Difference

Campaigns »

Be heard at influential forums

WWW: Women Weave the Web

WWW: Women Weave the Web

Programs »

Help us train women citizen journalists

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

Partners »

Join forces with our wide network of partners

Nobel Women&#039;s Initiative

Nobel Women's Initiative