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I am born as the third and last child in a family of three girls. I grew up nurtured and loved and don’t recall ever having a beating or even spoken to harshly. I was loved and being the youngest well supported by my two older sisters. Studies were important and we attended a private residential facility where i was an average student – mindlessly being good at my studies or getting low marks. I don’t recall ever having a thought about the future. It was as a student in social work specialising in medical and psychiatric work that I was sent on a month long assignment to a psychiatric facility which at that time was working with alcoholics in treatment. Working with Ray a recovering alcoholic and his wife Maria and while talking about an alcohol free future I was unexpectedly made aware of ‘power’ in the spoken word of weaving possibilities of recovered life – relationships restored, connections evolving and a future! Being an avid reader, I’ve always been transported to world’s anew and seen adventure, mystery, intrigue and more importantly the imagery of characters and their foible and personality through ‘written’ words but it was hearing myself speak that made me first aware of the richness of language in being able to persuade, create word pictures and how simple words spoken at the apt time changes and transforms lives! The Bible speaks about the awesome power of ‘words’- chaos to creation, wishes to reality and the power of ‘I am’ in defining self and giving us our internal anchors.
In the course of my work every time i listened and heard women- i saw and learnt from the impact of words – women facing domestic violence, who especially from disparaging verbal abuse become invisible, a hollow shell reigned and held in by fear. Girls whose chastity is considered so important to maintain and uphold family honour that words are used to shame, threaten and marginalize their growth and the words that make grandmothers and mothers murder the girl child in the womb and at birth.
Rebuilding of women’s lives, through Words of encouragement, support and the tools of empowerment has made work meaningful and given a purpose. My work as a counsellor, trainer, evaluator and researcher has made me aware again and again about the crucial need for timely intervention, people’s participation, education of communities and men about their choice in challenging myths of feminism and masculinity, use of information and communication technology and how acknowledgement of abilities led to women and girls growing in stature.
Reading the stories in PulseWire of ordinary people doing extraordinary work – men reaching out to men to stop domestic violence, shelters for children rescued from trafficking, women creating spaces for women to talk, share and evolve has made me thankful that i quite by accident came in touch with Pulse World and the opportunity the voices of the future correspondents course presented. I didn’t read even to the end of the program to sign up for the course! Quoting Dylan Thomas ‘do not go gentle into the good night’.

Comments

Stella Paul's picture

Courage, compassion

Everyday,people in countries like ours, see people suffering. But it takes courage and compassion to join that suffering group and speak for them. You did it. Kudos!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

RosemaryC's picture

The power of words and connection

Dear Rita:

There is such power in how you describe the moment when you saw the power of words to create a strong and powerful connection with another person, and realized that your words could create change that was equally powerful for them. I took a personal development course once where they showed us a film about the ‘big bang’ – the moment in which the earth took shape – and about the moment when a human sperm fertilizes a human egg, and they look exactly alike. If you weren’t told what you were watching, you would think it was the same event – and of course, for each of us, it is.

How wonderful it is that you took this revelation of the power of the spoken word, and of your own voice, as your path for the future. You have obviously been using your voice to help others grow, and this is the thread that weaves its way through whatever work you have been doing at a particular time. How inspiring to realize your own power and then to go beyond that, and to help others realize their power. Bravo to you! Keep on raging against the dying of the light – that is what we can all do, wherever we are and whatever we are doing.

Kindest regards,
Rosemary

Rita Raj's picture

big bang and fertilization

Amazing analogy! Thank you for sharing that information. The written word has it's fascination for me but yes it is when i am talking that i hear myself speak and see the difference it makes to me and others.

Thanks, Rosemary

Ibtissam22's picture

The poweer of words

I totally agree with you concerning the power of the spoken words. And how they can change the paths of our lives. You have shared your story and I am sure that it will inspire a lot of poeple around here. Keep rising your voice and sharing your stories.

Best,

----
Ibtissam

Heather Shepp's picture

Men play a role in change too!

Thank you for sharing Rita Raj! I really love how your piece recognizes the important role men need to play in challenging myths, cycles of abuse and inequality, such an important element to embarking upon change!

Keep up the inspiring work!

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