For the past two weeks I’ve been working with a group of 14 young women in Sierra Leone. I’m leading a video workshop for the women to create their own documentary films and LitWorld girls club activities. Most of the women are illiterate so I have to be creative to explain and shape the exercises to them. The other day, I introduced them to LitWorld’s 7 strengths. The only word they know beforehand was hope. After explaining and exemplifying the words, I asked the women to discuss in their local language how the words relate to their own lives. The women worked in groups and when they had all shared their thoughts in the small groups I asked them to share in class. Because the discussion had taken place in their local language, I had no idea what they’ve been talking about, so it was an overwhelming surprise to learn the stories they had told each other.
10 years ago a bloody civil war came to an end in Sierra Leone, and it turned out that some of the women had shared war stories. Fanta explained that she was abducted by the rebels and had to live with them in the bush for a couple of months until she managed to flee and came back to her father. When I asked her, which of the 7 strengths she related her story to, she replied: “Even though I was abducted and lived with the rebels, I still belong to my family.”