Today's blog is from Kim Geyer, who is a part of our Strategic Development team. Here she highlights one of the life-changing movements that has been influential in bringing healing from trauma.  Get a glimpse of what that healing looks for the boys within the Leadership League.

"On the ground, we are learning the power of storytelling to bring healing and freedom from the invisible wounds of war. Our very favourite clinical psychologist who has incredible experience in working with those affected by war, Dr. Sarah WH is here doing training with our team as well as educating those affected by decades of war; empowering them to recognize the symptoms and then to make the first steps on a journey towards healing and wholeness and freedom.

We’re here to end war and rebuild communities.

Storytelling, to quote Annette Simmons, 'is a vaccine against war' – it’s through the stories of those who are courageous enough to ‘go there’, the stories of those who aren’t willing that the world simply forget, that we can ensure that the atrocities this nation has had to endure over the past twenty years won’t be repeated. To rebuild a community, the foundations need to be firm and it’s the people which make up a community that form that very foundation. Healed, whole, free men, women and children is our hearts desire.

“It takes a thousand voices to tell a single story”  -Native American Proverb

We spent last week in the red zone, one of my favorite places in the world and we celebrate that there has been peace for the past 3 months- the longest period of peace experienced in years! The cabbage fields and maize ready-to-harvest, the singing and dancing children way after dark, and the pigs (one of which we were convinced was plotting to make a meal of one of us as we exited the latrine at night, blinded by headlamps) all told a story a peace. During times of war, where everything is taken during raids and where fear prevents planting and where, to take care of an animal is too much of a risk and an effort when you’re trying to take care of yourself, we see little other than small piles of dried cassava – a calorie rich, nutrient depleted plant root. The growth and the life of this trip. A story of Hope. Time with the Leadership League boys, always fills me with the kind of excitement that makes me want to release a small squeal. Squeal contained, this time was no different. Powerful afternoons of young men choosing freedom and choosing life. As they were walked through the ‘hows and the whys’ of being able to share their stories. In a safe space, my heart was again wrecked by as slowly these young men became vulnerable with us and each other – which goes against cultural norm – as they hunger for a life free of nightmares and flashbacks and feelings of guilt and shame.

Their stories broke my heart. Stories of beheadings and family members being killed in front of them; stories of kidnappings and humiliation. And as my eyes welled, I realized that it was not only for the story of the story-teller, but for the injustice that men, women and children have to experienced any of this at all, and then at the tenderness as they offered each other words of comfort, “I’m sorry that you lost your special sister”. These young men, as they continue to move forward, chasing Freedom, fighting for Life will change this nation as they challenge the beliefs which contribute to silence, a silence which keeps people trapped in the very past they’re hoping to forget.

The thousand voices which will tell DRCongo’s story are slowly rising up. It’s a complex story to tell and is made up of stories too numerous to count. We believe that this is simply the beginning of a powerful time of healing for these men. Barry Lopez said 'Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive.'  And right now, in these early stages of healing, it’s those telling the stories that need them most.

It’s an exciting time. A time of courage. A time of remembering. A time governed by hope itself. "