Ayiti Resurrect – With the Elders, Guided by the Ancestors

 

I still remember the first time my charge as a healer became part of my trip to Ayiti. I was meeting the core collective (Angelique, Beatrice & Naima) in Brooklyn. When I first sent them my information, I mentioned my doula work and knowledge of womyn’s reproductive system but mentally had become focused on how I would translate my skills with plaster and gauze to make casts. At the meeting in Brooklyn, the health and wellness clinic was spoken about. I had gotten my first attunement in reiki and shared with the group that I was available to offer that as a service. I remember that another sister was going to offer that service but became unavailable for the trip, so my healing abilities were god-sent.

To be honest, even after this conversation, it didn’t register for me the magnitude of work that I would be doing while out there. I wasn’t present to it until the unfolding of my path in Ayiti. As I mentioned in an earlier post, my plaster was confiscated at the airport. I was upset by this, feeling that I had arrived in Ayiti and was not going to be able to contribute the way I wanted to. I still felt reluctant to do hands on healing work. Despite this, the environment and energy that existed in my delegation helped me embrace my charge.

In my life, I help alleviate muscle tension for folks I know with my hands via massage and more recently reiki. On the last day before our workshops began, I remember walking into the hotel and was told that Hyacinth had come with them from Cormier for a massage from me. I was surprised that my team was already so confident in my skills as a healer when I had my doubts. Hyacinth Judith Laratte is an elder in Cormier. Her ethnic background was Jamaican and she has been living in Ayiti for the last 16 years. She was my co-facilitator and was very excited to meet me. She is one of the warmest people I’ve met in life. With the knowledge she has from having worked with Save the Children and educating herself with books, she serves as a healer in her community, especially for the womyn. She had attended 4 births in Cormier and womyn often come to her with concerns and questions. Our first meeting to talk about our work together for the delegation was awesome – she was just as excited to meet me. I was honored by the way she listened and spoke with me. She treated me as an authority on the subject we both were engaged in – womyn’s reproductive health. It was the first glimmer I got at what was coming for me.

I gave her a massage and was able to help some of her discomforts. I was able to help change her energy and she felt so good when I was done. I looked at my hands and began to realize truly the power I had in them.

Monday morning, the health and wellness clinic was under way.  I was the youngest of the healers at 26 years old; all the others were well over 30s, most in their 50s and 60s. I felt intimidated by this but set out to do my work as it was intended. These were my partners for the 3 mornings:

Dr. Robert Francois: Plant Medicine and Massage, Facilitator of Herbal Medicine Walk

Madame Wilner: Plant Medicine and Massage, Facilitator of Herbal Medicine Walk

Hyacinth Judith Laratte: Reproductive and Women’s Health

Dubois “Pastor” Edmin: Nurse and Plant Medicine Specialist

Iya Anoa: Reflexology, Reproductive and Women’s Health – Breastfeeding

That first morning, I saw about 10 folks. Majority were womyn and a couple were pregnant womyn. I began to feel present to my work as I massaged the lower backs of the pregnant womyn – a common discomfort for pregnant womyn. Hyacinth translated for me and also spoke with folks about what was going on with them. Together, her and I provided immediate relief for them and referred them to Dr. Robert, Madam Wilner and Pastor for long term relief with their knowledge of plant medicine. I couldn’t communicate with them due to my language barrier but I felt a deep sense of appreciation and acknowledgment for our respective work. The next mornings, our work became seamless. Iya Anoa joined us with reflexology and her, Hyacinth and myself worked as a team.

It was quite extraordinary, magical even, to work with Iya Anoa in tandem. We had an unspoken way of communicating. We would know with our hands what was going on with our folks and before she would say anything, when a pressure point she touched released energy, I felt it. She was also able to assist a young mother with her breastfeeding while I gave the infant a belly massage. Hyacinth would also speak to womyn about their health and provide advice as well. It wasn’t until the last day that I began to truly feel the power of what I was doing.

That day, I came in with no doubts, completely present. I cleaned my space intentfully, meditated and prepared for the day. That morning was slower than the rest but the work was still powerful. I did a lot more reiki that day and was able to intuitively ask what was going on emotionally with folks. One brother was really anxious and was short of breath. As I massaged him and did reiki, I felt the impulse to repeat a mantra in my mind, “You are okay. You are safe.” I communicated that to Hyacinth and asked her to talk to him a bit after he expressed his desire to speak. I found out that I was right on – he had anxieties around his education and emotions he was holding from the earthquake.

I felt so connected. I felt grounded in my purpose as a healer. My gratitude for the elders I worked with is insurmountable. They respected my skills and I was their equal; never once did I feel inferior or as though my age had anything to do with my healing abilities. We worked so seamlessly together; it felt like we were communicating a lot of the time without words. Divinely guided by my ancestors on an island shared by two countries close to my heart, my doubts about my charge have melted away. I was able to serve folks on a level I had not planned for but did with all the faith in the Universe that my heart contains.

Ayiti Resurrect – January 2012 Delegation Report Back

 

 

Ayiti Resurrect’s January 2012 delegation was an incredible confluence of dedicated individuals coming together across nations to make an offering toward social, spiritual, emotional, physical, and environmental health in Haiti. A powerhouse team of holistic healers, artists, musicians, dancers, yoga instructors, permaculture gardeners and environmental innovators from the Haitian and African Diaspora travelled to Leogane to work in partnership with artists, healers and community organizers living in Haiti.

Core collective members Angelique Nixon, Beatrice Anderson, and Naima Penniman were hard at work throughout 2011 planning for the 2012 delegation: communicating with partners over the phone and email, traveling to Ayiti to meet in person and insure community input in the planning, devising a model for sustainable programming, fundraising for ground expenses, and assembling our team of delegates.

The 2012 delegation was a powerful culminating moment of two years of relationship building and grassroots organizing. Our fourth collective trip to Ayiti since the earthquake, this time we were accompanied by 17 people who share our vision for cultivating genuine people-to-people solidarity among members of the African Diasporic family while reinforcing the strength and autonomy of the Haitian community. Over the course of three weeks coinciding with the second anniversary of the earthquake, we deepened relationships, exchanged knowledge and resources, carried out health services and trainings, and organized cultural and environmental education programming that served hundreds of people daily.

See Complete Report Back Here along with Photos from the 2012 Delegation!

Ayiti Resurrect – Surrender (What I Came to Do…What I Actually Did)

When agreeing to do the work of the Universe, the ego is often challenged to see beyond its supposed limitation. We are called to yield our need to control the journey and give up our perception of the destination for what is possible. Doing visionary work in Ayiti asked me to surrender to the process from the start. What I came away with from the lesson in surrender to spirit is the knowledge of the roles faith & trust have in my current submission to divine intercession.

I was all ready to transfer my bellycast making skills to mask-making when I got the feeling I should check my suitcase for the plaster I would need. It had been taken out of my bag, probably by TSA at the airport. What I thought I had come to do was shifting. Before I left NYC, I had shared that I was also a birth doula and level 1 reiki practioner. Naima partnered me with Hyacinth, a womyn from Cormier who had delivered 4 children in homebirths and was interested in educating on womyn’s health and childbirth. I had been placed in the mental wellness clinic in the mornings to offer my reiki service. What I actually did while I was in Ayiti is massaged folks for immediate relief, most of which were womyn and a couple of pregnant womyn, and referred them to Dr. Roberta, Madame Wilner & Pastor for plant medicine.

Sometimes, when things don’t go according to our plan, there is a resistance to the flow. I had gone on the delegation with the intention of being open to what the experience was going to be. I was fortunate to be with a group of folks who understood surrender in our collective work. In surrendering to focusing on hands-on intuitive healing, I feel present to my commitment as a spiritual worker in the world. As a group, I felt we were all present to giving and receiving with our co-facilitators in Cormier and surrendered to the flow.

About Ayiti Resurrect’s January 2012 Delegation

Ayiti Resurrect is a team of visionary artists, community builders, mental health specialists, and holistic healers with bloodlines in Haiti and the African Diaspora. We have organized ourselves as a grassroots delegation working in collaboration with local Haitian organizations to facilitate psychological and spiritual healing for Haiti’s quake-survivors based on principles of solidarity, creativity, and collective resilience.

For the January 2012, we were a team of about 13 delegates from the United States. We partnered with APMKL, an association of mango growers from Cormier, a small town outside of Léogâne, Ayiti, and co-facilitated workshops and skill shared. We had a week’s worth of workshops and events, with 3 full days of our health clinic services in the morning and workshops in the afternoons, a commerorative celebration on the day of the earthquake and a day to evaluate the work done and the next steps for sustainability.

The services offered in our morning health clinic were holistic and spiritual in nature. It was held in the community center that we converted into two areas for care and a waiting area They included co-counseling sessions with Leah Penniman and Sandrine Malary, massage therapy & reiki by yours truly, plant medicine with Dr. Robert, Madam Wilner & Pastor, Reflexology with Anoa Jean Paul, reproductive health/translation with Hyacinth and general administrative support with Angelique Nixon and Jennifer Celestin. Additionally, yoga was offered simultaneously by Majida Shariff and Pierre Samson Berlus (who we called Samson) beneath one of the trees right outside the community center. Close by, Maurice Sangodele-Ayoka taught first-aid and CPR to the community folk.

For our afternoon sessions, we had agriculture and composting with Leah and Wislerson (in which a composting toilet was created), solar ovens with Sandrine and Naima Penniman, poetry and performance with Jennifer, Gabrielle Civil and Angelique, reproductive health with Anoa, Hyacinth and I, drumming with Atiba, Nkosi and San Fleur, yoga with Majida and Samson, Haitian/Vodun dance with the womyn’s dance group led by Natascia, stone sculpture with Claremont, Wisnel and Anax, theater with Romulus Lakol and Frenel, recycled art with Sandrine, herbal medicine walk with Dr. Robert and Madam Wilner, young children activities with Madam Henry and mask making with Franz and I.

 

With the wonderful Sandrine Malary on the first day of workshops. I had a cramp in my hands from massaging pregnant womyn for a couple of hours and she was working it out for me 🙂 On the delegation, we had a morning health and wellness clinic. I provided massages for people who needed it, mostly womyn and a few pregnant mommas. I also did reiki and intuitive suggestions for long term care.

Ayiti Resurrect – Into the Darkness

I am deeply committed to healing. It permeates and sustains my passion. It is reflected in all of my endeavors and creations. To be specific, I promote a holistic approach to wellness with an emphasis on emotional and spiritual health. This deep type of healing work is challenging – every person whose life I touch and encourage to be well is a reflection of me. I am constantly faced with my own shadows as I hold the safe space for others to face theirs. To be committed to healing humanity is intrinsically tied to being committed to healing myself. To be committed to healing, all of the things that I fear become signals of the deep work I do to myself so that I may help others work through theirs. The last 15 days of my life found me face to face with the deep terrors that laid within me – I am beside my self in gratitude for the opportunity to be so intimate with them.

I had known about Ayiti Resurrect since their first delegation in 2011. Ayiti Resurrect is a team of visionary artists, community builders, mental health specialists, and holistic healers with bloodlines in Haiti and the African Diaspora, working in collaboration with local Haitian organizations, to help address the psychological and spiritual healing of the survivors of the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti. I was very interested in the project and remember wishing that one day I’d be able to join the work. A sister friend encouraged me to submit my bio after I told her about my wishes. She knew Naima Penniman, one of the core collective members, and sent me the information. I immediately sent her an email, and by mid-October received word that I was invited to join the 2012 delegation. I was beyond excited to be a part of this vision.

As I organized myself and my fundraising effort for the trip, fear gripped me. All my fears that laid dormant to a certain extent began to show themselves. The first one was my fears around finances. For much of my life, money has been a source of anxiety and stress. I especially feared and disliked asking people for money, even for a wonderful cause such as this. I felt like I didn’t deserve to receive money or be in an abundant flow of it. My stomach turned as I typed every word of my fundraising letter asking for donations. I would talk myself out of shutting down every single time I promoted my campaign and sent out mass emails about it. As the trip got closer, my fear of being a leader reared its head as doubts of my ability to facilitate a workshop in Ayiti spun in my head. I constantly asked myself, am I good enough? Do I know enough? Am I enough? I found myself worried about my safety while on the trip, realizing how embedded the myths of how dangerous our homelands are perceived to be in comparison to the rest of the world were in my psyche. I discovered how scared I was to come face to face with Vodun, and how afraid I have been my whole life of spirits and being in that world that my Catholic upbringing showed me to fear.

I packed all these fears with me in my suitcase. It was tough though. In the days right before the trip, I experienced my excitement wane and be replaced by uncertainty and feeling discouraged. Some of my family was not supportive of my choice to go do work in Ayiti. As Dominicans, their views of Ayiti colored their feelings about my trip – all the misconceptions of Haitian people, their demeanor and their spirituality was in the concerns they voiced to me. I was very sad and disappointed to hear the ways colonialism had influenced their perception of this great country. It began to get under my skin and made me feel discouraged and fearful of Ayiti, as their concerns played on my fear of spirits and the occult.

On the other side of the process I went through to get to Ayiti and what I experienced when I got there, the fears were simply that – fears. I found that being part of the delegation validated how valuable I am with my skills and knowledge of healing and intuition. I learned that Haitian people are a wonderful people and that the perception that Dominican people have of them (as well as the rest of the world) is completely skewed and false. My fear of the unknown turned out to be what would have held me back from experiencing my very first motorcycle ride through the countryside that led to a boat ride and jumping into the refreshing ocean waters of the Caribbean. My fear of water led me to surrendering and trusting enough to see Bassin-Bleu, an extraordinary waterfall in Jacmel, the southeast region of the country.

Darkness for many of us is equated with fear. This winter of going deeper within has brought me face to face with my fears in the midst of dreaming of who I want to be reborn as in the spring. I have looked at them and use them for my personal transformation. In these fears, there is the space for clearing them and creating a space for powerfully transform into who I am becoming in all my glory. I look forward to sharing my thoughts and experiences with you over the coming days.

Upcoming Events in 2012 ~

Peace Fam!

Just wanted to share some things I have coming up in 2012. I’d love to have all of you join me in sharing new art and direction in these magical times of creativity. I am also available for spoken word events, college & university presentations and conferences. For more information on my work, visit my site: thesewatersrundeep.com

Upcoming Dates:
January 4th – 15th:
These Waters Run Deep, my bellycasting project and doula service, will be traveling with Ayiti Resurrect,a team of visionary artists, community builders, mental health specialists, and holistic healers with bloodlines in Haiti and the African Diaspora, working in collaboration with local Haitian organizations, to help address the psychological and spiritual healing of the survivors of the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti. I will be facilitating a mask-making workshop with participants there.

Friday, February 3rd:
Featuring new work with Anais Alonso & Lizzy Fox at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture’s Good Coffee House

Wednesday, February 22nd, 7pm – 11pm:
THE WOMEN ON WEDNESDAYS ART AND CULTURE PROJECT 2012: THE NAKED EDITION is co produced by Betty’s Daughter Arts Collaborative, Ocean Ana Rising, Inc., and The Brecht Forum. Each Wednesday in the month of February will feature the phenomenal creative expressions of womyn of the African Diaspora in poetry/spoken word, dance, music, song, and theater arts. The series runs from February 8th until the 29th. For more details on the powerful womyn contributing to this event, check out: https://www.facebook.com/events/228313200576109/

I will be workshopping a 10 minute piece of a choreopoem, poetry and movement put together in play-form. It’s called – La Muerte y La Descarga (Death and Its Purge). It is a body of work that describes the violence against womyn of color’s body, from personal experience and calling in the spirits of ancestors who have been violated as a result of colonization and the African Holocaust. It speaks on sexual violence, racism, sexism, self-hatred and finally, the release.

April 11th – 24th:
Presenting “Hija de Mi Madre (My Mother’s Daughter) – The Effects of Racism and Sexism on Afro-Latina Identity” at the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference in Boston, MA

April 15th – 22nd:
These Waters Run Deep Goes to Dominican Republic to launch its first international collection of birth stories for the video blog, “Dar Luz” (Give Light)

More dates to be added! Stay tuned 🙂