It turns out the places and moments that hold the dark side of humankind, also hold in stark contrast the bright side of humankind. I don’t know if in the hopelessness and despair, the bright side, its beauty and wisdom, is just more visible or is it truly brighter in nature by virtue of being surrounded by darkness.
Whatever it is, it is a hope giving force.
I am working on a team of mental health and psychosocial support professionals that works with children and adults who have lived traumatic life threatening experiences. The stories the teams hear and the experiences of the people they work with rarely make it to the news or Facebook and Twitter feeds. There is little available resource on working with people who have lived through years of traumatic experiences. I draw from whatever resource I have access to and they draw from years of experience and together we try to figure out how we can support children and adults in coping with what they have lived – the loss of everything they owned, family and community, a place they called home, having witnessed extreme violence, their identity being the reason for their persecution.
Through these discussions my eyes well up several times. The stories are heart wrenching. Amidst all this I realise how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with these teams, to get to know them a little, their grit, their dedication, their motivation, their eagerness to learn, their generosity, their humility is life giving. I see in front of me a room full of people changing the world one step at a time because they are here bearing witness, offering a smile, a helping hand and whatever support they can. They talk about how they feel insignificant faced with the enormity of the issues at hand. They know its a mere drop in the ocean but they are here and that does count. And as I stand up in front of this team and tell them I am honoured to work by their side for a few months, I think of all the mental health teams I have worked with that inspired and continue to inspire me. What a force we can be as humans if we set our mind to it!
‘Ring the bells that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering,
There’s a crack in everything,
That’s how the light gets in.’
– Leonard Cohen