today was beyond words. we currently have our hope team in session working with a group of 50 local kenyan women. the women consist of mothers living with children with special needs, grandmothers who are farmers by trade, but left caring for their grandchildren after their children died of AIDS, a community of women from the nearby IDP Camps (internally displaced people…essentially refugees within their own country due to political violence), and the remaining women are a support group of people living with AIDS. the ctc team from the states working with this group of 50 are 7 women…2 therapists, a 71 year old grandmother from topeka kansas, an artist, her sister an inner city educator in boston, a health and nutrition student from kansas state university and a local kenyan attorney specializing in teaching/empowering women through training in basic human rights.
the idea of this team is to empower and bond them as a support group through the mediums of art therapy, roll playing, training courses in health & nutrition, marital roles and function, and how to live out their lives as women in kenya politically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually after living a lifetime of oppression and abuse under a male dominant culture that typically views women as inferior pieces of property through common abuse practices such as female genital mutilation.
at the outset of this seminar i had no idea what to expect. however, as we got started i was shocked to see how receptive these women were to the simple promptings giving by caitlin, our team artist, guiding these women to simply doodle using colors to signify the feelings associated with the men in their lives. there was a great deal of black and red used demonstrating much darkness and abuse. the odd piece of this was when the women began sharing amongst one another interpreting their “doodles” unleashing their lifetime of buried pain and frustration. once this pain was released and shared amongst the community it quickly became electric! women were embracing one another spontaneously standing in their seats and cheering the other women to keep going and to rise above.
by no means was this some male bashing female power trip. it was the most honest, pain and hope filled room i have ever experienced. the energy was raw, but profoundly beautiful. the power and purity seen when human hearts open to one another in humility mixed with fear mixed with hope that someone will catch them…that perhaps for the first time in their lives someone will actually hear the cries and songs within their hearts.
today we listened to each others songs…some incredibly heart wrenching, others hope filled, but all being sung boldly to be heard for the first time surrounded by a community that held one another. reminding all of us that we are here to walk together no matter the darkness and to hope, to pray and to step boldly into a better way of living.
this team will continue over the next week sharing deeply who we are and how to begin shouldering one anothers stories so that the burdens these women used to carry alone they now carry as one. the culmination of this group will be to paint a mural along the ctc office wall singing out to the rest of the community that we are a family of women, standing together, not to bash, not to scream, but to simply stand as a family guided by the inner strength of togetherness and fueled by the new found power of knowing that we are loved for who and what we are.
watch out kenya…here they come!