Connecting local responses around the world
Reflections on our shared dream, "What makes us human?"
Chapter 3: Before I was a radio: now I am a recorder
My title is not metaphorical. Jean-Louis describes a visit to a group of sex workers in Matadi in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Everyone there was expecting another lesson from experts and the seating had been arranged accordingly. Under the shade of a mango tree, a high table was covered with a beautiful sheet and was enhanced with a bouquet of flowers. The chairs for the pupils were arranged as a in a traditional classroom in the sun.
“Would it be possible to rearrange the seats in a circle with the visitors and hosts arranged in a circle?” we asked. “No problem” was the reply. The chairs were rearranged. Everyone introduced a neighbour. We shared where we came from, our dreams and concerns and what we wanted to do with our lives. A joyful conversation followed.
I was with Jean-Louis during a similar visit in Rwanda. This is taken from Jean-Louis’ blog (in French) at https://aidscompetence.ning.com/profiles/blogs/inclusion-montrons-l...
“We had come to visit Ruhaha, a Rwandan community close to the border with Burundi. When we came into the meeting room, we declined to sit down at the ‘high table’ and instead placed ourselves at random within the community that was welcoming us. Bosco, who was facilitating the visit, asked us all to turn to our neighbour and to embrace each other. This set off a joyful set of warm exchanges!
A lady from the community spoke up at the end of the meeting, "By your attitude, you have put an end to discrimination in our community. How can we now discriminate within our own community when you have showed that we are all equal?”
You can read my description of the day (in English) at https://aidscompetence.ning.com/profiles/blogs/a-giftof-hugs-and-many
Jean-Louis had the great good fortune to visit Matadi in DRC with Antoine, a wise and gentle man who understood these ideas profoundly. It was a great loss to the Constellation when Antoine died in 2015. At the end of the chapter, we hear once more from Antoine. “Old habits die hard and that it is easy to resume the role of the expert. The old man is asleep in us. He can wake up at any moment!”
And finally from Jean-Louis, “When we have tasted the joy of sharing, and we choose to appreciate the strengths of each person, each family, of each community, then we lose the desire to resume the role of the expert.”
But I do well to remember Antoine's advice that the old man is asleep within me!