VOF Week 2: (Listening to the silence)
I started pretty early to speak up for my ideals- as an early teen I started campaigning for human rights, before I finished school I was helping at the local AIDS centre and teaching human rights in schools and youth clubs. Since then I have been active for human rights through various organisations, focusing on HIV/AIDS, refugees and other vulnerable groups, assisted women's groups and youth groups, worked with poverty-alleviation and community empowerment.
My journey has taken me to different locations, from the mine-fields of ex-Yugoslavia to the red earth of East Africa. My activities have put me into contact with some amazing people who have influenced, inspired and shaped my life. Yet I have learned that it is not always wise to listen only to the loudest voices, the treasure is often hidden beyond layers of oppression, waiting in silence to have the opportunity to speak for themselves.
Sometimes it takes some skill to reach out to women that history has silenced for so long- cultural sensitivity, language skills, motivation and patience, but most importantly we need to learn how to listen to the silence, listen to the voices that have been silenced. In my experience the most amazing stories are not the prominent one's you read about in the papers, but the stories of ordinary people, living ordinary lives, that make up our extraordinary world.
Throughout my journey the voices of women that emerged from the silence touched and inspired me- the mother I met in an ICU, who had just lost her son and still had a word of comfort for others, the Egyptian feminist, who risked her life in order to speak up for her ideals, the group of battered and abused women in Sweden, who joined forces to write a book about their experiences, the Serbian mother who's sons had fought and died on opposite sides in the war, the Algerian refugee, who fought against unjust laws to free her brother, the hard-working women in the Kenyan countryside, who despite poverty and hardship found creative ways to help the orphans in their community.
They say behind every strong man there's a strong woman..The saying still makes me cringe..In the year 2009 we don't need to stand behind men anymore, we should be able to speak up for ourselves. Yet maybe it only means that surrounding every strong woman there's a strong silence that needs to be broken..
With World Pulse I am happy to have found a platform that shares the same ideals, I am excited about the opportunity to link up with amazing people, and I hope that this contributes to fill the silence with our empowered, beautiful voices.