Here is Conso’s story:
I am a Ugandan and proud to be a part of that little landlocked country affectionately called the “Pearl of Africa”. As a society we are a proud people trying, like any other, to do the best we can, survive the way we know how. I can’t say why we consider emotions weak and a distraction or why it is hard for us to give or accept a compliment. Maybe it’s because we are society whose history has taught to be wary of visitors bringing gifts or new ideas. Maybe it’s because of what we have done to each other and what has been done to us or even our experiences. Whatever the reason, we are a community that has seen grief and pain and learnt to buck up and move on as that is the way life is. No one person is special, we all have the same story and experiences and the best way to survive is keep your head down and don’t rock the boat, even when you feel like the boat is sinking.
I had no idea what to expect when I went to ask the children in the In Movement program to make Traveling Postcards. Personally, making my own postcard was one of the hardest things to do. How do I let out feelings that I have been taught to keep silent? How do I encourage someone who is hurting when it does not come naturally? For many of these children silence has been their refuge, their best friend. For many of them thinking about the pain, violence, grief and nightmares the women in Congo are facing would be facing their own personal nightmares. So how could I ask these children to do what I myself was finding hard to do?
I was completely surprised.
In Movement, a non profit organization that began in Uganda in 2003 has a simple mission. They believe that the expressive arts are a very powerful tool of empowerment for youth, unlocking vast potential for personal growth and transformation. By encouraging creative risk-taking in safe, supportive and empowering settings, they are planting seeds that can assist youth in helping to transform their society, and lead happier, healthier, and more satisfying lives.
In other words they provide a safe place for the children to express themselves, learn who they uniquely are and be proud of them selves.
Many of the children who were a part of the Traveling Postcards project are students who have been part of the In movement program for a few years and so are more in open to expressing themselves freely among strangers than the average Ugandan child. Because they have been appreciated and been told that they are special and unique, they were able to pass this on.
Many of them had never made a postcard before or even received one but they were eager to pass on the message that they have received; one of inspiration and hope. It did not matter if the was artistic or aesthetic. All that mattered was that someone somewhere would know they were loved.
The card making was a success the children wanted to make a second one of their own for the women and guardians in their lives, to let them know that they care for them.
Am still in the process of making my own traveling postcard, and slowly it is taking shape and am not afraid anymore that is isn’t symmetrical, colorful or perfect but I hope that whoever receives it will know one thing… I see you. I appreciate you. I love. I care.
And hopefully the women who receive the children’s cards will know this too.