She stared at me without blinking. I paused. For a second my head went blank while my brain tried to process this profound moment. I couldn’t get my words out, so I looked away and took a deep breath. Without blinking or moving her lips I could hear her whisper… ‘I’m here’.
There I was on stage with the little girl in the audience sitting.
The lights were dim the room was quiet, I felt all eyes on me but somehow the little girl’s presence was compelling. She was sat there in the middle of the audience in a beautiful pink dress, without blinking or moving her lips I heard her whisper ‘I don’t want to miss a second of this’.
There I was on stage with the little girl in the audience gazing.
Overwhelmed with emotions- I start to recognise the little girl, brown skin with long afro hair and a gap in her teeth. Memories come flooding in like a storm. of the places she’s been, the pain she’s felt, the loneliness and despair. It felt bitter sweet. The little girl was sweet but I was somewhat bitter. Unable to look away I saw her eyes tear up as mine did. it was as if we were in sync.
There I was on stage with the little girl in the audience crying.
As I stood there trying to remember my words, what felt like ours was only a few seconds.
I hear clapping as I wipe my tears, and compose myself. a sound that felt like encouragement. I stood in place behind the mic with the stage light on me in my bright pink blazer. Without her blinking or moving her lips I heard her whisper ‘this is my moment’.
There I was on stage with the little girl in the audience clapping.
As I utter these words. “Through it all, I stand before you today as the first Chairperson” for the first time I saw the little girl in the audience smiling… without her blinking or moving her lips I heard her say “I am worthy, I am free” … the exact words I felt in my heart in that same
moment- it was as if we were in sync... it suddenly dawned on me that the little girl is me.
I no longer felt bitter but rather a survivor.
A Creative Resilient Empowered Woman, a feeling that was once nothing but a fantasy.
See, as a little girl I would daydream of the day that I would have my freedom. No, I wasn’t in shackles or caged or locked away physically. But without love, affection, care, attention or security, I felt trapped in a room of darkness. The air in the room polluted with fear, pain, uncertainty, rejection, loneliness and despair, all I had to keep going was my imagination.
The people that were meant to love and protect me were the ones who hurt me, I felt like an object to be used as they pleased, an outlet for their frustrations, an inconvenience when I was weak. Unheard and not really seen, like a dustpan and brush hidden under the sink when I’m not in need.
As time goes on my confidence was low, the light in the imaginations faded more and more each day and become dark as I start to lose hope… overwhelmed with the obstacles faced in order to gain my freedom I would often lock myself away in isolation as a battled depression.
No, my journey is not complete, but the sparkle that was dimmed has been reignited.
Sophie Hayes foundation has given me a community, a sense of belonging that I yearn for. I’m surrounded by people who understand my pain but look beyond it and focuses on my future. I’m surrounded by people who genuinely want to see me succeed and will do anything to help me get there, I’m surrounded by people who don’t see me as a number or damaged but rather people who see me for who I am, who see the potential in me, who encourage me, and provide resources I need to be the woman that I know I can be. The woman that stood before the little girl in the audience and made her proud. The woman who is determined to make sure she plays a role in the world becoming a safer and secure place for everyone.
So, I say to the little girl in the audience, thank you for not giving up.
CHAIR. CREW COMMITTEE