Under the Same Sky
Hummingbird: I am full of joy! When Sarah and I drive into her driveway I see two big beautiful Kurdish and American flags fluttering in the breeze together, and then two big, beautiful dogs! Sarah’s husband welcomes me with a big hug and the dogs try to hug me too. I find a warm, artistic house, each corner reflecting positive energy. There is harmony here, and it rejuvenates my soul. It feels like my home-away-from-home.
Sarah: It’s September of 2013. I will be a Voices of Our Future Vision Mentor for the third year. Hummingbird is applying for a year-long residency at Harvard. Will she walk under trees that my father might have walked under all those decades ago, when the world looked so different? We do not know yet. But we know that she and I walk under the same sky.
Hummingbird: In Syria, the wheel of death is still rolling, faster and faster and even more violent than before. On the 21st of August, 2013, I was devastated to learn that regime forces had used chemical weapons in the Damascus countryside, killing fourteen hundred people according to minimum estimations, including hundreds of children. Though it was not the first genocide to happen in this relentless conflict, it was the most vicious and brutal. Again, my people thought the world would do something, but it seems that we are a subject for regional and international bargains, turning our quest for freedom and dignity into a proxy war. Still, even as they face starvation, many Syrians are fighting back against the evil hands destroying our future. Those who just want to be allowed to live their lives in peace have only each other. We all have only each other. The fight of innocent Syrians is giving me power to fight my own battles. Their shining souls are lighting my way.
Sarah: On September 8 2013, my sister Annie suddenly dies. She has been an indelible influence creatively, intellectually, as a mother, wife and sister, with an outrageous sense of humor punctuated by hellish depression. She is too young to be taken from us, but her heart has had enough and just stops. Her instantaneous departure leaves a gaping hole in the fabric of my life and the lives of all who loved her. My husband holds me and cries with me as I howl at the Heavens, My sister! My sister!
How does one heal? I ask Hummingbird.
Hummingbird: I believe every being has a unique way to heal. My way is to keep on fighting with my voice, always reaching out in new ways to be heard, and to love as much as I can. To listen to the stories of other women all over the world who share our deepest desires for an end to cruelty. And animals heal us, as you told me. My cats soothe me every day. And what about you, my dear friend?
Sarah: I’ll shout my sorrow to the sky and whisper the names of my lost loved ones into the velvet ears of my dogs. I’ll listen and read on World Pulse as more and more women raise their strong voices, determined to make a positive difference in the world. I’ll go to our humane society and give the lonesome dogs love and engagement and connection, and take them outside to let them run free so that we can heal together. And let’s write the story of our friendship, my sweet friend. That will be a great comfort.
And so we do.
By early adulthood Sarah Whitten-Grigsby realized she'd been put on this earth to follow her own path. As a result of experiencing breast cancer, Sarah created and performed a one-woman show to provide information, humor, support and comfort to women with cancer. This led to keynote, and motivational speaking. In 2005 she graduated from the Empowerment Institute and has since led numerous empowerment workshops for young women. Her current works, both written and spoken, focus on leadership through empowerment. After attending The New Seminary in New York City, she was ordained as an Interfaith minister in order to pursue both crisis and search & rescue ministry. In addition to being a nominee for the Lance Armstrong Spirit of Survivorship Award, she has received awards from the National Council on Family Relations, the National Educational Media Association, the Long Island Film Festival, the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal Studios Florida and others. She has been a United Nations delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women. Having remained standing in the face of some very strong winds, she now considers it a privilege to guide others to empowerment. Connect with Sarah.
As her country sinks into violence, Hummingbird has broken through fear to find her voice. A member of Syria's Kurdish minority, she calls for an end to the horrors of a war where children are massacred in the streets by government forces. Her dream is to use digital media to transform Syria by unleashing women's concealed aspirations and wisdom to awaken the world to alternate paths to the nightmare unfolding across her country. Connect with Hummingbird.