In my travel’s I have seen broken.
I have sat next to shattered.
I have heard painful stories and sat in the dark and rain with many women and men.
Last week I had the privilege of watching the heart wrenching yet inspiring documentary film “The Man Who Repairs Women” screened by the Panzi Foundation
It is the story of the remarkable Dr. Mukwege, a world-renowned gynecological surgeon who mends survivors of horrible rape crimes in the Congo. He gives women dignity, justice, and a chance to rebuild their bodies and lives.
Several times while watching this film I had to turn my head away. The stories being told were just too much.
When I came home from the movie my youngest had a friend over.
It was late and they were waiting for me.
They had made up a dance.
These two little 8-year-olds, so sweet, so innocent.
I could barely breathe looking at them and also thinking of the girls whose horrific stories I had just seen and heard in the film. I watched my beautiful child and her stunning friend and felt physically ill from just the slightest thought of anything ever happening to them.
They finished the dance and then stood there.
“Mommy, Mommy, listen!!”
They ended with the sweetest little song they had made up.
Off they went giggling, and I thought that in the journey of my work there were often women singing.
After a show in India 400 woman stood up and sang for me an amazing song they usually sing in the field while working. In a township in South Africa after an intense discussion about abuse, Aids and the horrible conditions these remarkable women live in, a group came in singing and dancing as if the sun would never stop shining.
Even in the film I saw that night, there were several times that, amidst the unthinkable pain and despair, there was a song, a song from bleeding hearts, but a song nevertheless.
In my last group in Juvie during one session we were just sitting.
It was very quiet. Someone had just shared something very personal.
There were no words.
All of a sudden one girl belted out a song.
She had a terrible voice and everyone laughed. She did it again.
And again. We were all on the floor.
She said, “ What? I don’t care! Singing can heal your heart. Right, Ms.?”
Once again she belted out the first sentence of this song.
At this point others joined in. We were crying from laughing so hard.
Singing can heal your heart. Yes, indeed it can.
This past Sunday my worlds collided. The most outstanding group of women I am proud to call my colleagues are creating a music video about light and strength, with girls about girls. My biological children were there. Graduates of my program (my other children ) who are now out of Juvie were there, too.
We filmed the shoot at the home of someone who has known me since I was a baby, a close family friend. You know, one of those friends that you don’t see for years, but when you see them, your heart expands and you are home.You feel safe, loved and taken care of. One look in their eyes, and nothing needs to be said .
That is what friends with history is all about .
There was another mom waiting on the side like me. A beautiful soul. We talked, complained a little, had the mommy talks. We sat away from the shoot itself so that we did not mortify our children.
At one point we were quiet and the voices of 10 girls and young women came out from afar. It was the sweetest, most beautiful, pure radiant sound I have ever heard.
My colleagues, a group of stellar movie-making 30-something-year-old women, are making a music video for Hanukkah. They are doing a play on the fight song and calling it the light song.
What is your light? They asked again and again.
My light is gymnastics.
When one of my ex-Juvie girls was asked what is your light, she said,
“My baby.“ You see, she is pregnant, and then she added,
“My light is music.”
I sat and watched 10 girls from extremely different walks of life come together – laughing, dancing, creating, being, and singing.
I thought this is the way the world should be -- singing.
Singing even though we are different colors.
Singing even though our backgrounds are so different.
Singing and finding the light to warm us.
As clichéd as that might sound, that is the world I’m interested in.
A world where we all sing together in imperfect harmony.
I sat there watching a group of 30-year-old women directing 8 to18-year-old girls.
I was taken care of by a 60-year-old dear, dear friend.
I sat with the generation above me, the generation below me, and the next generation.
Dr. Denis Mukwege said in the movie,
"Today, Congolese women, who are victims of sexual violence, reach out to the international community. They need your voice and your support."
He then quoted Nelson Mandela,
“None of us acting alone can attain success.”
In Juvie , my girls spontaneously joined the one girl singing.
On Sunday, a group of Jewish filmmakers got a group of diverse girls to raise their voices together.
So, sometimes we must be quiet and patiently wait for change, for the skies to clear,
for a shelter from the storm.
And then sometimes, we must sing , from the heart, with out inhibitions ,collectively.
Because that song will, in the end, will bring the light.