We want to be helpful, we want to contribute, find a way to share ourselves with the people we love and care about. So imagine 11 human rights types (all women by the way) trying to find ways to help, feel productive, keep that hope and helping spirit alive. At times it was comical. Some people focused on getting us nutrition and regular meals. Others focused on making food, we made hummus on a couple of occasions (there was tahini paste in the air conditioned grocery store). Others were in charge of the rape victim interviews. Others were leaders on the meetings with the UN type folks. Then there was the WE NEED A DRINK group that grew larger every night. We all were looking for ways to feel productive.
On a really bad day I just had it, I knew I had it so I sat on the outside of the circle, tried to keep my mouth shut and busy my mind with song lyrics running through my head. I didn’t know that everyone else could tell I had it, didn’t know what the look on my face was conveying. I was trying to stare at the ants and my mosquito bites. I wasn’t mad at anyone, I had just had it, didn’t want to talk, convince anyone, debate anything or be a part of the problem. I didn’t want us to tell the women’s group what to do; I didn’t want to create things they might not need. I didn’t want to guide them in a conversation to a conclusion I had reached. I was just done. And if you know me you probably know the look that was on my face, but I can guess what I might have looked like.
Instead I went to the back of the office where we were guests and I literally wanted to stack bricks, clean the garbage, paint the wall, clean the shower or organize the office. I wanted to do anything that was productive. I wanted to find my way to be helpful. There were people there that were paid that could have done these tasks, but there was a specific need that I saw. It was an overwhelming sense to just work hard for the sense of relief. It was a very bootstraps moment. I have boots and can do this. I drew up my mental list, the flowchart in the universe of what should happen first. Then the three minutes of silence ended and a rape victim had arrived, my real task at hand for the day presented itself.
I got together the digital audio recorder, laptop, notebook, fellow interviewer and translator. We found our way to dig deep, be present to these women, record their stories and prepare their cases for prosecution. Right now I sit feeling so damn alone, not wanting this moment to be a misstep of sharing their stories to become an embarrassment by sharing too much, or sensationalizing their pain, misrepresent their stories or spread that angst. Then I immediately wonder how alone these women feel in the depths of their souls, how alone they feel every night, how they miss their parents and family that were killed in the earthquake. I know they are not alone, we are with them in reality and in spirit and they will be with us forever.
To support this project donate to…. give monthly to give more… oh damn, as tamara said, just give people, damn it, GIVE

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