Our recent module of Young Women are Medicine was a big journey for each of the 29 young women, and 4 alumni who joined us, and also for the Kufunda hosting team. It was a ten day module. The first of two.
Healing and empowerment are difficult to achieve only through dialogical processes, and so Women are Medicine is strongly built on movement (dance), connection with nature, working with our hands (clay work, weaving, etc) and story telling. During this retreat we worked with all of these elements much more intentionally and explicitly than we have in past programmes. In particular bringing in embodiment through movement and dance.
We built the module up gradually, the first days enabling a return to more fully and consciously inhabit our bodies, using the conscious dance called Movement Medicine. Then - and still in relation to the body - entering into the domain of emotions, tending to the heart, often full of hurt and wounding. Finally ending with an exploration of mind, becoming aware of the stories and belief systems we live and breathe, oftentimes unconsciously.
Although there was time for sharing stories, and exploring with words, the golden thread that ran through our time together was the exploration of each of these domains through the gateway of the body. Body reconnecting to heart, body reintegrating with mind.
As we connect from the physical domain and breathe movement back into ourselves, old stories, old pains, but also old joys become more available to us, and we can choose to move more consciously with them.
It was a programme to support each woman to become a little more connected to herself; to rebuild her capacity to trust herself, to rebuild her confidence in walking in the world more fully.
It felt like an epic journey home. What follows is in the words of some of the women themselves, at different parts of our time together.
“Until that moment I kept a lot to myself although I pretended to share everything."
“I was released and the heaviness goes. I felt lighter. But a little bit scared.”
“Most of what we do is to impress. Not from the heart.” “
My heart was in a deep freeze. The dance opened me, changed that.”
"I now have hope - I must get in and free my body, my heart, my mind."
"What we are carrying should not get to our children."
"I used to think of killing myself. Now I can handle it."
"I should not look down upon myself. Thank you for letting me find myself back."
Being held captive in my own world, with the ancient beliefs of my background.
The desire to become someone recognizable in the society.
The impossibility of being an academically outstanding woman.
Failure, Criticism, Patriarchy shattered my world.
The little girl inside me died.
With all these obstacles,
The calamities of my impossible future.
I run for protection from a man, whom I don't love because of desperation.
Days down the line he dumps me.
Am I a failure?!! or am I a product of failure?
Am I able to stand again?
Here comes a friend of mine. Her heart is wide like the width of the Hunyani river.
Her love flows with its beautiful waters.
Kufunda, my dearest friend, my revolutionary friend,
I am that Medicine.
I will stand as a healer.
We are the medicine, us women.
We will stand as witnesses of how Kufunda has healed.
We will be mothers of the nation. In all times, all places.
As we live what we say, we dance the stories of our lives.
With my micro, medio and macro moves I connect with my inner self.
I discover my abilities.
As my friend Lulu, the Walking Tall Princess.
I find happiness. I stand my ground.
Just like Mount Kilimanjaro I will stand tall.