On my last two days in Uganda we succeeded in taking the entire staff of the birth center to a workshop of training about violence toward women. That was an exciting moment of empowerment, after all those months when we tried to help victims of rape and violence, in a place with no shelter for battered women or a rape crisis center. A moment, a beginning, awaiting continuation. Early in the morning of the workshop I received a message from a woman who wished to celebrate her birthday by making a contribution to AMEN - the Land where Women Heal, so I provided her with the details of the Ohela bank account.
After she had already made the contribution, she asked me: What if you don't reach the goal with these contributions? What will happen to my contribution if the project is never realized? I replied that there is just no script in which this land does not become a reality. That was a foundational moment for me, a moment when I understood that we are at a point of no return. Too many women, too many people in Israel and throughout the world are already committed with all their heart to this project. Too many women are already waiting for this place to be established. It does not even depend on me anymore. It is a movement that cannot be stopped. The only question now is, Who will have the privilege of taking part in this movement?
From Uganda I went on to Kenya. After the first week, during which I slept almost all the time, I entered completely into the work of preparing for the AMEN journey. Soon, on January 17th, it will all begin! The intensive engagement in writing my fundraising performance with which I shall traverse Israel and lands abroad takes its toll. I reread letters left behind by my friends who took their own lives. Letters stating explicitly that their death was brought on by the lack of a place for them and for their pain in this world.
This exposure is a challenge for me too. In the past few days I received an invitation to deliver a talk at Ted-Oxford. I did an interview for the Jerusalem Post, and every day another fundraising performance, another media interview, are being scheduled. I am thankful for every opportunity to reach more people with our so-urgent message, yet there are moments when I want only to hide under the covers. Every time it becomes too much, I remember the part of our vision that speaks of Nature's healing power. I thank my heart that knew that I must deal with this writing and preparation here, in Africa. I enter the sea to swim with dolphins, or go out to Nature to meet zebras.
Meanwhile I receive two reports of death. R., age 29, who had been struggling with post-trauma in the wake of sexual assault, committed suicide. And my grandmother, Dina Jacobson of blessed memory, passed away suddenly. At the age of 18 she was in the Palmach, part of the generation who founded a state. At the age of 85, when she completed her doctorate, I sent her an orchid and wrote to her that I am proud of her. She replied by email that she is proud of me for what I am trying to establish, and always asked how she could help, always had faith that I will succeed.
I truly do not know why I travelled all this way to Maralal. But from the moment I arrived here I feel at home, or as if this place was once my home. Today, after five days of intensive writing and of dealing with particularly overwhelming materials, I decided to go down into the town and stroll through the women's traditional market. In the hilly paths on my way to town I joined two young mothers carrying babies on their backs. I told them I am a midwife, and that I had recently spent some time working in a birth center in Uganda. We spoke of home births versus hospital births. Both said they prefer it at home.
I sat down near a woman in the jewelry market, turned off the cellphone. Gave myself a few hours of peace, to absorb this patient pace of ancient crafts. One bead after another. It is thus, I reminded myself, that we create the land of healing, thus that we create change. This pace, this frequency, is the healing and it shall be at AMEN – the Land where Women Heal. I continued to wander about the town, intending to buy bananas, when I was suddenly summoned to hurry back to the jewelry market.
It was a woman in one of the stalls: her water broke. Before I was able to figure out who might drive us to the nearby hospital, she made a sound that caused me to pour the water from my bottle onto my hands and to ask that they clear the stall for us and hang a cloth to close off the side facing the street. A minute later I received into my hands a tiny baby girl. She needed a few breaths of ventilation. Perhaps due to surprise, she did not understand that she is already here in this world.
After a few moments of ventilation there came a clear sound of crying, and then calls of joy such as can be heard only from women in the market after an instant birth. After we had transferred a joyous mother and pink, nursing baby to the nearby maternity ward, I went back to retrieve my bag, which had remained in the market stall. The women insisted on covering me with jewelry, disappointed that my ears are not pierced.
I think I am almost ready to return from Africa to Israel and embark upon the fundraising journey.