Wednesday, December 18, 2013

My heart is too full right now...

I don't know what was different about this year's Kiwanis camp... I don't know what was different about this group.

I remember before going to Camp Vision, I was really nervous about being small group leader. I always try to avoid it because I don't know how to talk to the youths. And then I read Paul's advice to just think of a topic and then keep trying until it works.

So armed with that, I went to camp. And... I had the best time ever. Because for once, I didn't sit there like a boring dumb-mute; for once, I talked to the youths whenever there was a break or we were just waiting around... It made for the best camp ever as the youths opened up and I felt a sense of closeness with my team that was so awesome, I never wanted camp to end.

Fast forward to Kiwanis camp, and I wasn't particularly looking forward to it as I had caught a bad cough. Also, I admit a slight prejudice because half the kids, in my eyes, come from 'okay' backgrounds. To me, that makes for a 'boring' camp.

The first night, I don't know what happened. We had a time of sharing amongst our small groups, and... One by one, the youths in my small group shared their dreams, and broke down in tears as they shared secret wishes and struggles in their lives. I didn't know what happened, I just flowed with it. We stayed long after the other groups left, just sharing and sharing.

After that, we had a debrief amongst all the volunteers, and I told the others, I didn't know what happened. Yuen Li the founder of Nomad who had been listening in to my small group's sharing said, "I know what happened... You guys were REALLY listening."

My group didn't stop there... They kept sharing throughout the camp. We were far from being a high-performing team; in fact, I felt really guilty because their games results were rather low! But by the last night, they all agreed, this group was so different from any group they'd ever experienced in camps. There was so much support and acceptance of each other.

And as they shared, and shared, I heard stories that shocked me at the struggles and trauma the youths were going through. I thought, after all, the youths are not from shelter homes.... Only a few of them are. Yet, the stories of the youths were equally on par with those who were from shelter homes, as they shared of divorce, parents who had passed away, poverty, low self-esteem, violence in the home..

When I came home, as ever, I stayed in touch with the youths on FB. And I got to know other youths better, who were also from 'normal' homes. And they too, opened up and shared their stories.

I don't really know why that is happening. But I feel as if my cup is so full of the pain these youths have gone through. I only wish I knew now how to steer them towards 'what's next'...

And a part of me wishes I could run under a table and just hide for a while for the pain is getting too much.

Friday, December 13, 2013

If I could wish...

... Then I would wish that you could be well again.

I don't know when you started not being well. I think you've not been well for as long as I could remember, but things were better last time. Yesterday you said, "Somebody is tapping the phone! They want to listen because I'm so important!" in that voice that veers on crazy that scares me.

I changed the subject as quick as I could. I did that a lot my last trip with you. I've learnt to navigate the route to speak about other subjects when the familiar rants come up of how someone is trying to kill you, someone else is trying to harm you...

I wish you could get well, but I don't know what to do. And I don't know if it's possible that you'll ever be.

But just now, what we have... It's good enough for me.

Adrienne's story

I met Adrienne at the Protect and Save the Children workshop on Preventing Child Sexual Abuse. There was something about her and her answers to the questions that the trainers would throw out to us that made me look over to her and wonder. She was so spot on with her replies. 

I kept in touch with her after the workshop ended... She is someone who is passionate about abused and trafficked women. 

I just returned from Kiwanis camp. And on the last day of camp, I saw this incredible sharing that she did on a public FB page that just amazed me....

'"Tell me something interesting about yourself"

"I accepted the apology I never got."

"What happened?"

"I was raped by my ex-boyfriend years ago. And I didn't realize till later. I didn't realize that I was a victim. The worst part of it was blaming myself. I did't realize how much it affected me until I finally come to terms with it. Only after I stop blaming my
self, I could move on. I accepted that it wasn't my fault. Getting off that was the hardest part. Getting off the hate I felt for myself. Getting off the guilt that I blamed myself for. I was such a different person then. I couldn't think straight, didnt know how i got through, all I know is that I was really lost for a few year. My perspective of things have changed now. Then things just changed, for the better. Now Ive come to terms with myself. And now I'm just living life. Happy."

"Did you ever confront him?"



"Its all in the past, and also because he doesn't know. I don't think he ever realized that my NO meant NO-not YES"'

I was just blown away by this brave, generous sharing. She shared with me that she wanted to help other victims be brave enough to reach out and share their story to someone who can help them too. 

It may not seem very generous to some people to share a story like this publicly. But there are cruel people out there who love to throw brickbats at survivors who dare to share their story. There is so much shame and fear of how others will judge you that wraps survivors in silence. To dare to share just for the chance that others may dare too... That is so 'wow'.

:) She was pretty surprised that I had guessed she was a survivor. I think it helps in the work I want to do to be able to hear.