Global Voices Summit 2015: Reflections and Connections

The most natural connection that I found was with Rising Voices, through two girls—16 and 17 years old—representing a group called Girl Activists of Kyrgyzstan. They share the story about their fight for gender equality in their country. In Kyrgyzstan, girls cannot have the same privileges as boys. They cannot study Science, for example, they say. Many girls don’t go to school and are forced to marry early, locked in their houses to do housework. They cannot participate in discussions around problems and issues that involve girls. But their determination to get involved rests on the fact that they believe you cannot solve problems girls have if you don’t go through them. As part of their initiative, they hold spaces for other girls to talk about their own issues and get the support that they need. More girls, they say, have come forward to tell them they feel the same way, think the same way, or go through the same experiences. They use art, stories and music to amplify their message and encourage more girls in their society to feel empowered. These two girls, however, admit to getting tired. As with most social movements, they sometimes end up alone, sometimes wanting to quit, or just drop everything.

This writer is part of a civil society organization called the Movement of Imaginals for Sustainable Societies through Initiatives, Organizing and Networking. In the context of MISSION, the “initiatives” that are born out of personal transformation is the basic foundation of the larger societal transformation. And that is what Rising Voices is about—based on what I have seen at the summit. MISSION is holding Liwanag World Festival, in Cebu, in September this year. At Liwanag, social movements from different walks of life, from across different cities in the Philippines and countries in the world will converge to look at ourselves, to see and deepen our understanding of the forces that drive movements in effecting social change—The Science and Spirit of Movements.

Global Voices is a vast sea of movements.

In a plenary session called “Battling Trauma: The Highs and Lows of Revolution,” four journalists, and online activists, share what witnessing the brutality, the casualties, the aftermath and the fatigue have done to them, their friends and their communities. They share about how they still see hope rising from the rubble. But one of them, an editor from Bahrain, tells us about how the killings of journalists she knows have instilled fear and have paralyzed her from writing any more about the conflict in Bahrain. She speaks from a wound that hasn’t healed, or never heals. The brave journalist from Egypt says it is difficult to make sense of the panel, where they are being asked about how they are finding hope, after having been reminded again of images of the revolution.

This morning when I woke up, I wondered how journalists truly cope up. There are conscious volunteers on the ground, like Freunde, doing interventions like Emergency Pedagogy to help prevent trauma in survivors from developing or escalating. Perhaps, journalists need it, too. Because, we see, trauma doesn’t seem to only develop in the form of visible “abnormal” behaviors, in panic attacks or anxiety attacks but also in paralysis or debilitating fear that stops us from being who we are, what we can be and what we can do to serve the larger evolution. They, too, need a sense of place and a sense of peace or a sense of order in the societies that they serve.

I learned about how online activists are building what mainstream media is destroying—like the authenticity of protests and the issues in which they are built upon. It was enlightening to hear how the whole Russian-Ukraine conflict have become what it is—polarized—when in the beginning, people were going out into the streets with different sets of issues and causes to fight for. It is an honor to hear from people who have the authority to tell the story. During the summit, I was feeling like I had stepped into a space that, only now as I write, I realize is hallowed ground. You don’t normally get to enter a space where you feel that unstoppable force for truth and compassion.

To Global Voices, its journalists, online activists, bloggers, volunteers: how do we truly serve you in return?

panel_battling trauma


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