As we continue in this series on Community, I want to step into a bit of the mess. The reality of this work that we do is that it is incredibly messy, some days are extremely hard, and there can be a lot of resistance. Phew, I said it.
The truth is that as staff, we can have all sorts of ideas, dreams and goals, but those will never get met unless there is a community that is willing to work on very hard things.
A woman can come into our home and completely isolate herself. This is normal. She has come from the streets where she has learned how to survive by taking care of herself. Fight or flight. Survival at its best.
On the streets, you take care of you. The best way to survive is to keep your nose out of other’s people business, living by the code snitches get stitches.
Aside from trauma, PTSD, mental health barriers and a host of other issues, this is one of the core things we face at Amirah when we attempt to build a community of survivors each working on their journeys of liberation. How do you build a community that will work together to maintain the community when the natural instinct is to survive?
We do this by asking for some pretty hard things. The first and most important is honesty. Now we expect these women to fail at this a lot, but we promise them honesty in return. We will always be honest with them about our motives, about their program and about what we can do for them. You would be amazed at what receiving honesty can do for someone who has had to live lies for so long.
Living honestly in community requires a complete transformation from everything they have ever known.
What do we face when we ask this? Resistance, fear, anxiety, and a healthy bit of sarcasm.
But we face these things every day, because we know that for these women that this is the only way that they will have a shot at discovering a new life. Face the resistance and give honesty in return. Moment by moment, day by day, transformation happens, and a community begins to form.
This is the second piece in a 3-part series on Community.