I haven't had a chance to interact with anyone from the community so far but I wanted to contribute with a post that I think will set the tone of my contribution to VOF this year. Last March I had the pleasure and joy to meet a person that has changed my life and as all of you has dedicated her life to the well being of women all over the world. Ouyporn Khuankaew was a key note for the AWP conference in Salt Lake City and also gave a precon workshop that I attended with several others. It was a mind opening experience and I want to share some of her wisdom and what I believe is the essence of VOF and what we should have present as Mentors and Correspondents, taken from the Sanitsuda Ekachai article "A fighting chance":
"Without power within, we cannot cope with all the external pressures and negative emotions. We can develop that inner strength through mindfulness and compassion meditation. It starts with loving kindness for ourselves.
By doing so, our happiness and sense of security is no longer dependent on others, as most women are taught to believe.
Security is under our nose, with the feeling of each breath, being fully present with each moment. It has power not only to heal ourselves, it also help us empower and heal others. This is real empowerment"
Ouyporn runs the International Women's Partnership for Peace and Justice retreat center in Thailand that offers services for women like us that give our lives to help others. In this retreat she refers to the the activists:
"Sometimes, women who come to the retreats are so overwhelmed by the trauma they have witnessed that listening to each other is very difficult. I tell them that listening is a form of meditation. Mediation does not only involve watching and letting go of your own mind—getting lost in a space separate from other people. Mediation can also include being a witness, seeing each other as survivors, as activists, as mothers and visionaries. Deep listening is a skill we practice together"
I believe in all of these premises and skills and how they apply to VOF 2013, how we can all be compassionate to each other and listen and gain strength just from being there, just from being a witness of all the amazing accomplishments each of you has had.
I hope any of these makes any sense :) Thank you so much to the organizers from WorldPulse, the Correspondents and the Mentors that have taken the time to be present here and now.