Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Kevin on Cambodia, SMF, and this project

This post from Kevin is a bit delayed in publishing, but never too late:

The idea behind Concinnity Initiatives was fostered by an experience I had meeting with a group of survivors of sexual violence in Eastern DR Congo. During my visit there, the women I met – who had undergone unimaginable experiences—performed a series of poems, skits, and songs, some of which they had written. These women, who are always depicted in the media with tears streaming down their faces, turned out to be incredibly bright, creative, and, believe it or not, optimistic about life. It is true that their pasts are full of tragedy and their futures promise to be full of continued hardships. Yet even so, their lives are still full of smiles.

Yesterday in Cambodia I met a young survivor of sex trafficking who is being helped by the Somaly Mam Foundation. She is clearly a bright young woman, though perhaps a little shy such that she doesn’t immediately stand out from the crowd … until she gets a pen and paper in her hand. This young woman briefly saw a children’s book that I had passed around the room and then proceeded to draw FROM MEMORY an EXACT replica of one of her favorite drawings from the book in just a few minutes.

It is important that we learn about the pasts of the women I met in DR Congo or those I am meeting in Cambodia. Only by first knowing about the wrongs that are going on in the world today will anyone be able to take action. However, it is equally important not to extrapolate from these individuals’ pasts into their futures. Over the next 3 months I will be traveling around the world meeting young women who have come from difficult backgrounds. And my prior experience in DR Congo and my recent experiences in Nicaragua and Cambodia leave me confident that our children’s book project will make it clear that, despite difficult backgrounds, there are talented young women everywhere in the world with bright, beautiful futures. Though sometimes they need just the slightest bit of help in realizing them.

Want to do something to help young women such as the one I met yesterday? I am signed up to make an automatic payment via my credit card each month to Somaly Mam Foundation (www.somaly.org). It is small contribution and it is simple. But SMF knows how to make it count.

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