When we would rather close our eyes, we must open them up
Editor’s Note: Foundation Rwanda, this month’s featured program, addresses horrific situations that are the result and the legacy of the 1994 civil war. Rape, brutalization, genocide are not pretty and many of our members have been disturbed by some of the images. We provide an array of tools that can be used to learn about our programs – the video is only one. Due diligence – on all of our parts – to make sure we make members aware of sensitive content is important. But equally as important is understanding that there are horrible and ugly things in the world. We can’t help to change them, if we won’t open our eyes to them.
This post looks at the sensitive balancing act we must try to walk.
By Cindy Ariel
Mid-Atlantic Regional Leader
Imagine experiencing the trauma of unthinkable violence followed by consequences so severe that others cannot look at you or hear your story.
While watching the Foundation Rwanda DVD in preparation for my chapter meeting I wanted to turn it off, turn away, leave the room! I was glad I decided to preview before sharing it with the teenage girls from China living in my home. I also thought about the brand new DFW chapter of moms and their 11 year old daughters having their very first meeting that day – already too late to warn them about the graphic DVD. Fortunately, I found out later, this mom/CL had previewed the DVD and decided to make this an informational meeting; and, future meetings will revolve around age appropriate program-themed activities.
Many of us have legitimate personal reasons for limiting graphic exposure. We always have a responsibility to protect ourselves and our younger charges from trauma, whenever possible.
At the same time it’s important to educate ourselves and others about the seriously heart-wrenching, traumatic plight of women and girls in the countries and programs that Dining for Women exists to help. And, while many of us understand without having to witness in graphic detail, many others do not realize the depth of violence that women and children around the world often experience. Sometimes the stories and the pictures help in understanding.
The Rwandan genocide that brought extreme violence, rape, and unexpected children into the lives of so many women was absolutely horrific. For our part, Debbie (Britt) and I are proud to be involved with an organization that refuses to turn away. We know that we are the lucky ones. And, we are proud to turn together in the direction of all women and girls in great need to offer a strong hand up.
We applaud Dining for Women, Foundation Rwanda, and the countless other organizations that reach out to the most unreachable, forgettable, impoverished and/or traumatized women and children around the world. We need to support each other in this mission. As Regional Leaders we are here to support Chapter Leaders in educating members to see, know, give and do. Please reach out to us if you need support as we watch and learn together. Look away if you need to, but please don’t turn away from those who need us most. We want to continue to reach out to offer as many hands up as necessary until all violence against women and children comes to an end.