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’.