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  • Neelley Hicks

Answering the Call for Gender Equality, Justice, and Health at Mount Kilimanjaro

By Ronny Ssemujju

I was very fortunate, actually blessed, to attend Harper Hill Global’s Women Arise Conference in Arusha, Tanzania.

There, close to the foothills of the great Mount Kilimanjaro, we hiked a mountain of knowledge. I was blessed to be in the company of the strong and wise ladies from Nigeria, the charismatic and always joyful leaders from the DR Congo, the beautiful people from my motherland Uganda, a wise gentleman from the land of the drums of Burundi, and those from the land of the brave and free USA. We sang and prayed together, laughed together, and broke bread together. But above all we drank from a deep well of wisdom and knowledge together.

Did you know that BCC stands for Behaviour Change Communication and TIC is shortened for Trauma Informed Care? Our lives are a communicating service, but the big question is, what are we communicating on a daily basis? Are we preventing grief from turning into self-guilt, or are we providing the coal that’s aiding the fire of shame and pain within the broken? It’s not enough to pray for change and healing without doing action; faith without works is dead.

Where do we begin to undo all that’s gone wrong? And when do we begin to undo all that’s gone wrong? We begin with ourselves, and we change our mind-set to look at problems as stories. We are all broken in one way or another and, just like iron sharpens iron, we are to mend each other. The thing about being broken is you know you can survive it because you already have. The challenge is to turn our pain into helping others regain their dignity and self-esteem; we are to show them how to walk this road from trauma and stigmatisation. If we don’t own our stories and tell them with pride, then how will we sit and listen to someone else’s story?

To simply treat the symptoms without curing the disease is dangerous, and yet it’s what most people do. Harper Hill Global is set out to cure that disease through humanitarian communication and appropriate technologies through the Women Arise team.

“You should have heard the different languages at the Women Arise Conference; it was beautiful and words wouldn’t do it justice. Diversity was never meant to divide us; it was meant to be celebrated.”

We must be different from those who choose to manage and manipulate the broken. Instead we must be listeners and encouragers. We are answering the call for gender equality, justice, and health for communities. The inspiring revered Neelley Hicks said to “recognize the power of your voice. Give your voice the respect you’d give to your greatest hero/heroine. Focus on at least one thing you can do; one thing absolutely matters.”

So raise your voice because your voice matters. Let’s not wait for people to fall then be the angels and good Samaritans who pick them up. Let’s prevent their fall in the first place. We have to realise that helping them is helping us. Until they become us and we become them, we cannot make a better world because this transformation needs everyone to stand together as one. As the Three Musketeers said it should be “all for one and one for all”. Let us have a taste of heaven here on earth.

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