Sunday, May 22, 2011

All There Is, Is Love

Betty (who wants to be

a teacher) teaching EFT

for an internet mailing

to 300,000 people.

What an unbelievably wonderful two days (but we do believe it). Yesterday we started our usual way with the Energy Medicine Daily Routine and then the Check-In where students tell what has been difficult and what they are grateful for since the last Check-In. We had an extremely busy day planned to be sure to get in a session on forgiveness, more on heart-focus, more on business planning, and more on changing perspective. Lori tore up the notes she had after the third student’s Check-In. Unbeknownst to us, all of them had gotten together and gone over all their notes from the three weeks and thought about what the program has meant to them. Remember that they started out with most of them feeling isolated, hopeless for their future, feeling unworthy and with extremely low scores on the Quality of Life Inventory. I want to quote some of what was said (we did not script this at all): Drogba said “The first few days I was in darkness and now I am in full light, and I won’t cover my light ever again, I will share it so others can find it too.” Etienne had a dream that he was in another African country teaching what he has learned at Project LIGHT. Mathieu said, “In Leadership I learned that you have to change yourself before you can help or lead others and always ask, ‘What is needed here?’, so if there is a riot you can think about what makes people come and riot.” He also talked about two high school students with problems that he has been helping and they consider him their counselor so he really doesn’t want to leave them. Yvette said, “I started feeling well for the first time when I came here. After I got my diploma from secondary school I was happy for a few months, but then saw that it was meaningless because I had to just stay at home with no job, no money and just being sad and confused. In the beginning here when you taught that we have to love and accept ourselves, at first I couldn’t feel it at all. Then I prayed and asked for the learning to enter my heart. It did and now I love myself so much.” Fidele: “I am so grateful for your love. You come from a country where life is much easier and you even come up the mountain from Kigali on bad roads and bad climate and you leave your families to come here. The Bishop taught us about unity and reconciliation and it is not easy to live with someone who killed your family, but I believe I can and I can teach others. I have learned that everyone can be a leader, and I now believe I can succeed. I now know so many people around the world think about us.” Etienne said, “Before I came here I had no hope and could do nothing and I didn’t even pray. All the things I’ve learned here are very important. It’s helped my critical thinking and bettered my mind and all my abilities. Now I pray every day and in the future I will become a pastor.”

I will write more in future blogs of what the students have said, but the impact of their words had all of us on the team in tears of joy and gratitude. The way these young people took everything we taught them, shared and multiplied their understanding, connected and supported one another, trusted us enough to try things totally foreign to anything they had experienced before, and found their inner passion for life and the future blows us away. The only explanation we have come up with is that above anything else, we loved them and we showed up for them through harrowing drives up the mountain in the rain even when exhausted and slightly ill. The other explanation is that when a person suffers the most extreme of traumas, the crucible of that experience creates a strength of character, soul, that yields expanded capacities. All it takes is clearing the negative effects of the trauma and a catalyst to ignite their innate knowing. Words cannot express the joy, amazement and humility I feel at being allowed to be a part of this. To all of you who supported me financially, emotionally or spiritually, thank you, thank you.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


The foam eraser

Alisoun and "It's


Each day seems more amazing than the last. There were so many synchronicities and satisfactions today. Our favorite interpreter, Sharon, has a beautiful voice and writes her own music. She wrote a song just for us: “Imagine what a difference we could make together, if we join our hands together as one”. The melody and rhythm are addicting. Paul, the film maker, corralled one of the students who is an exceptional drummer and taught him how to record by listening to Sharon on earphones. The result could very well become a hit. It will be in the video that is being made to accompany the interview Lori had with Jessica Ortner from the Tapping Solution. Our PLR Ambassadors came up with twelve benefits they had received from tapping (EFT), showing depth, insight and gratitude. They chose the top five, and then chose the five students who speak the best English, and those students came up to the camera, said their name and the tapping benefit. Then one girl who started out so shy, demonstrated the entire tapping process for an e-mailing list of 300,000 people with clarity and confidence. All of us were crying to see the transformation from na├»ve, shy, isolated, self-doubting, hopeless young people to vibrant, confident, creative, hopeful leaders. They have become a team, supporting one another by going to visit one student’s ill mother, doing tapping with them when a student has a problem, feeling incomplete when one is missing (only one student has missed one day), and the local students inviting the homeless ones home to meet their families. Several of the students have lost all family members except a few cousins or one sibling, and two have lost all known family members. Some do not know their birthdays because there is no one to tell them and they were too young at the genocide to know. Two of them have almost constant pain from their injuries and diseases—although the neck pain of one has gone away and the other has a reduced level of pain after tapping on those issues. They look forward to the Energy Medicine Daily Routine (simplified so they can teach others) every morning and report feeling calmed and ready to learn afterward.

Alisoun and I had a group of 33 high school students in the afternoon to begin teaching them to become peer counselors. They are so enthusiastic, and so eager to help other students and us. We use a regular classroom which is an experience in itself. I mentioned before that the blackboard eraser is a torn piece of foam mattress. The board has ripples and sandpapery places and slick places, and you can’t get all of the past writing off. Everything within six feet of the board is covered with chalk dust, and whoever erases the board coughs for several minutes. The chalk breaks after a few sentences when it hits one of the rough spots. It is hard for the students to see what you write because the board is so white from the layers of chalk still there. We gather small pieces of chalk from the floor by the board to use, as there is no chalk tray. Since there are almost no books and definitely not a book for each student, everything has to be written on the board. The teachers have to be dedicated to the students, or they would not continue under these conditions.

We stayed at the school until 6:30 tonight to have a Skype call with Pacific Grove Middle School in California tonight. The call did not work, but the students were prepared with Sharon’s song, a cheer we use (It’s Possible), and thank yous for their T-shirts and crystal heart necklaces. We will try again for the call. We used 19 of the solar book lights to illuminate the area next to the computer enough to do the call at dusk. The two two-foot fluorescent light bulbs in the library were not enough to really even read by (and the power went out for about thirty-minutes). The solar lights are one of the products the students will be selling as part of their cooperative business venture. Tomorrow we continue with the peer counselors and the PLR Ambassadors will make a matrix of all the skills that each member of the group possesses to start their creative process to decide on what business ventures are best for them.

Project LIGHT is working! When you walk into the room we use for training you can feel the hopeful, magic energy that everyone together has created. It truly is an international, intergenerational, interracial co-creation.

Monday, May 16, 2011

It's Possible!

It doesn’t seem possible that we have only five days left with the students. We will have a graduation ceremony on Saturday afternoon. Each morning we start by checking in with each student about what was difficult and what they felt grateful for the day and night before. The majority no longer talk about what has been difficult (the first week they had to be encouraged to find gratitude), and list multiple blessings. One of the students today was grateful for all the changes he sees in himself and in the others since the beginning of the program, the major one being that they have hope and feel peaceful inside. Today the focus was on entrepreneurship. We did the “It’s Possible” exercise where they are to take a half-sheet of paper and make a hole big enough to step through with all their body. It is possible. This group found the solution faster than any other group Alisoun has done it for, including children and top corporate executives. I have my theories about why that is true: poverty and survival force being resourceful; and constant contact with the cycles of nature and moving around without street signs or house numbers make their spatial abilities well developed. My testing is showing much greater skill in visual-motor integration, visual and spatial memory and other right-brained functions as well.

Then two officers of the Equal Opportunity Bank in Kigali came to talk to us about savings accounts and microfinance. The students were so enthusiastic and engaged that they would not let them go. We had lunch an hour late. For all of you out there that think you are paying high interest, the interest is 1.5% per month. That equals over 36% per year. They do offer many services, including monthly tutoring sessions, personal contact with the cooperative group to help with planning, and they are making a loan to unproven people with no collateral. They do pay 4.5% interest on savings.

Tomorrow we focus on skills needed to be a team member and skills needed for an employer. The students are being formed into a remote group (those that live near the school on top of the mountain) and the Kigali group. There are six in each group. We will set up group savings plans, and one suggestion is that the remote group that has access to agriculture bring food to the Kigali group and the Kigali group bring money and “city” supplies to the remote group. We have two products for them to begin selling almost immediately, and have started prototypes of craft items they can market to the U.S. if we can get shipping worked out. Several of these students have no place to go after the program is over, and no reliable source of food. We will subsidize housing for a few months until they get their businesses going.

It hasn’t rained for two days, so the roads are dusty again, and our “chariot” had a gas leak with awful fumes, so I need to do tapping to get my body back to balance and get as much sleep as possible. Sorry, can't get a picture to upload tonight.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

African Travel and Life

PLR students and Alisoun

and Shauna dancing--the

orbs are back

The team

The electricity is off and so is the internet. The internet is actually better on the mountain than it is here at the guest house. Today the students were tired from a play put on last night about HIV/AIDS. They said it was hilarious and very well done, and it was exciting because another high school was invited. I don’t know where they put them all. It is quite possible they sat on one another’s laps. I did about 20 minutes of testing with eight of them today, and I will finish the other four Monday. They are doing surprisingly well on a measure that shows neurological problems in the visual/spatial/motor aspects of the brain. I had thought many of them would have been head injured and do poorly. So far, none has done really poorly, and only two show some problems. They are so willing to try what you suggest and so grateful for almost anything you do for them.

I promised to tell about our bus (a maxi-van made for 13 people) of yesterday. Today we had what would be called a klunker in the U.S., but yesterday we had one of the worst vehicles I have ever seen that has not been in a crash—or maybe it had. Every time we went over the big rocks or deep ruts or huge puddles it shook so much we could not hear one another and we were sure we had lost at least two more parts. The seatbelt was twisted into a rope and frayed on both edges and then folded in half. There were only bare wires where a radio should have been, and other openings with either nothing or bare wires. The emergency brake was broken off and waving wildly over the bumps. Several times he had to try three times to get it into the next gear. The front seats had seat covers with plastic over them, but the rest of the seats had foam sticking out, and the driver had to pick up a metal rod to stick into the fold-down seat before it would work. There were no handles to roll up windows, and the driver had to get a handle that he was using as a key chain to stick on the metal nub to roll up the windows which took two hands, one to pull up on the glass and one to turn the stiff handle. There is more, but I think you get the idea. If we did not believe that we will be OK to finish our purpose here, we would have been pretty scared. We made it home and Lori requested another vehicle for today. I’m sorry to say that others who have been to more parts of Africa report it is not all that unusual. We took extra people down the mountain for the weekend, so we had ten people plus the driver. I didn’t get a picture of it, but above is a picture of today’s van with our team: Front left clockwise—Gakuba (interpreter, only 51 years old), Paul, Alisoun, Sharon (favorite interpreter), Shauna, Lori, Richard, and Eric (interpreter).

The pictures of the last two days are showing the orbs again, and not just when they are dancing. The orbs are smaller. I don’t know what that is related to, but we have smaller numbers of students this year. The energy of connection and joy is increasing as the students do more and more trauma healing and have more and more experiences of connection. Our PLR students are hearing from the school students about problems they are having, and our students are teaching them tapping with consistent good results. They are fully stepping into their roles of leadership and helping. Next week will continue some trauma healing, but will be mostly focused on the entrepreneurship and skill development and planning for how they will form teams to continue after we leave. I have even greater connections with the students this year than last, so I’m not thinking about the leaving.

I continue to see the evidence of such extreme poverty that we have no reference points for. Children walk in flip flops made out of tires, carrying loads of branches or grass or bananas on their heads that are bigger than they are for miles on red dirt and red rock roads. People walk for miles on Wednesday and Saturday, bringing on their heads or on bicycles whatever they have to trade for the things they need—rice, cassava, carrots, cloth, grass, firewood, cabbages, bananas, mangoes, avocados (twice the size of ours), second-hand T-shirts, pots, and things I don’t know what they are. I saw that the driver of the van was paid 2000 Rwandan Francs (about $3.30) for a 10-hour day. Drivers are considered one of the better jobs. People in the villages have no possibility of a job without going the 2-hour moto bike ride into Kigali. I am reminding myself of how much I cannot understand their life every time I have a negative reaction to seeing someone holding out their hand and saying “where’s the money” as we drive or walk by. Most react with excited waving and big smiles. There are so many more things to tell about, but I must get to scoring the tests and preparing for tomorrow.