By Nadia Cassim. the Editor
Note to the reader: It was not my intention to write a review of the workshop, but after the extraordinary experience and unexpected positive response, I could not sit back without reflecting and sharing my thoughts with you.The success of this workshop is only due to the help and blessings of the Almighty to whom I thank for bringing me in contact with such amazing, selfless and courageous women- contributors and attendees alike. All perfect praise is due to Him who facilitated this process through His divine help and wisdom.
In January of this year, over a Saturday lunch in a busy restaurant with my mother, the Rise Above Abuse initiative was born. Initially, I had no idea how I was going to approach the subject of abuse and help those in need and I had absolutely no idea of what it would entail, but over the months leading to the ‘big day’ the tiny spark raged into a wild and flaming fire.
With the generous support of a fantastic and selfless panel of women, the workshop was realised and made possible. IRTIQA was born out of a love for others and the determination that the magazine would empower women. It was with this in mind that I decided that the workshop would be free and open to the public. However with that comes a set of challenges. As human nature dictates, anything free must naturally mean that commitment to attending such a workshop despite reserving a seat is left to the attendee’s discretion. This, together with the fact that victims of abuse may simply not be ready to face their plight, resulted in a smaller, although well-numbered attendance by the public. As one attendee mentioned to me during a short break, she had been two-minded about attending the workshop that very morning, but in the end decided that attending was a step towards breaking free from the vicious cycle of abuse she experienced.
The day was warm and bright and set the tone perfectly as sunlight streamed through the building, uplifting the mood of many apprehensive women as they entered the room. Opening with some heartfelt and powerful words from two poets, the intense, open and honest discussion around narratives by women who experienced abuse resulted in emotions peaking and tears overflowing. After a short break for tea, sessions aimed at health and healing ensued. I realised that the attendees through their shared experiences, started to bond. No one sat alone somewhere in a corner and shied away from the group. Instead, everyone came together. Laughter and chatter could be heard throughout the rest of the day. Many particularly enjoyed the yoga and art sessions that aimed at relaxing the mind and body and providing some form of therapy.
When the workshop concluded, I was approached by smiling faces. Many stated that such a workshop was needed in their own hometowns. It was at that point I realised that the objective had been achieved and not only that, but that new friendships were born and a sisterhood had been created.
Below is some of the feedback I have received over the past few days from attendees and contributors alike. Some names and surnames have been removed and initials used instead to ensure anonymity:
“The experience i had at the workshop was encouraging, inspiring and very emotional. The insight of the yoga session was a learning experience. I enjoyed the socializing. I made 2 new friends. I welcomed the colouring session. It was soothing and relaxing “
– A. A
“Rise above abuse: This workshop was not only inspirational but also an eye opener for me personally because I have come to realize many woman stay silent for the sake of keeping the peace hence losing themselves in the process. The hands on interaction was amazing because it makes one realise there is always a way out we just need to find the strength to take that first step forward.
Nadia I have to say your workshop was well executed and very informative.
Well done… here’s to empowering many more woman in the near future… Insha Allah”
-N. B. Sayed
“ALLAH reward you for such a beautiful workshop. All the women were amazing aņd inspiring. This was one of the best workshops I ever attended”
– F lunat
“It started off on a heavy vibe. Abuse is never a comfortable topic but then the event flowed. It was free and easy and enjoyable and I could see everybody was happy to be there and part of the event. i liked the variety of topics and well done to all. I will definitely attend your workshop again”
“I’m still overwhelmed by the experiences of the women. I’m honoured to have been surrounded but such courageous women who have taught me that it’s ok to be vulnerable on my journey”
“A thank you to everyone who made this workshop possible . It was very inspiring and empowering”
“Irtiqa rise above abuse workshop was a heartfelt, emotional, eye opening, inspirational experience for me personally. To hear these amazing, powerful women sharing their life stories with all of was heartfelt. I feel the workshop was for all women, of different experiences in life and backgrounds. The programme was very informative and uplifting. From the bottom of my heart I would like to say jazakallah to Nadia and Jamila and all the ladies who took part in making this workshop such a success. May Allah bless you and guide you in empowering many more women inshallah ameen. Looking forward to attending more workshops”
“Jazakallah for a very enlightening and uplifting workshop. I was at a very low point when I arrived and left feeling like there’s hope and goodness in life, and fantastic people like all the wonderful ladies who were behind all this to inspire other women. Allah bless you and take you from strength to strength. Ameen.”
Nadia Cassim what an amazing workshop it was. Very informative and therapeutic. More of these workshops should be held around the country. Some ladies don’t even realize they are in abusive relationships. Thank you
– S Suliman
“The narrations shared at The Rise Above Workshop were expressions of the wounded, the impacted and the healing souls. The focus of the workshop aimed to grant the bearers the opportunity to feel comforted by the transformational unfolding toward brighter experiences. Our Society is engulfed by the vices of Abuse at all levels, all known. Some concealed. Some revealed. The narrations from the corners of the communities are scripted around emotional, financial, physical, verbal, sexual, amidst many others as well as notwithstanding self-inflicted abuse.
As a Counsellor of many decades, the cases presented range from minor to major, from subtle to harsh and brutal tell tales of vicious abuse impacts. The fragmentation of individuals, groups, families, communities and nations have directly and indirectly resulted in the impact of a broken-hearted pieces of our ummah (community).
When a limb of one is hurt, the entire body endures the pain. Sadly so, the cases are so many, ranging from such vast aspects, that the exposure is beyond the overload. Gladly so, the truth telling has resulted in bold and courageous knowingness so that there is no longer as many “sweeps under the carpets.”
As a Holistic Health Counsellor and Organisational Behavioural Practitioner, case management is crucial in terms of time appropriateness, case appropriateness and case confidentiality. It is of essential importance that each case is listened to, reviewed with intent, assessed carefully and the components are addressed and intervened as it is channelled in the best of professionalism toward support and healing transformation.
The Rise Above Abuse Workshop was aimed to provide a forum for individuals to know that they are not alone, if they should be sufferers and victims of abuse. The platform was designed to allow for open sharing, without bearing their souls. Great care was taken not to enter into any short-term deep-rooted, “on- the- spot fixing “. As a Holistic Health Counsellor and Practitioner the awareness was also protected against indulging in opening up wounds and leaving the candidates in a state of raw incomplete healing. The intention of the interventions was purely to state the open awareness of the communal plights and to indicate and implicate the channels of hope and healing.
The segments of this workshop promoted non-deep therapeutic treatments. It offered a heartfelt consciousness and energy spirited stare of togetherness toward building a bridge of rebuilding individuals that may rebuild an Ummah of bonded, whole souls.
My sincerest love and gratitude to The Almighty and to Nadia for the noble initiative and to each one that honoured the sacred space in a dignified and joyous manner of embracing the celebration of ‘The Self’. The ground has accepted the seeds of possibilities and the avenues of frequent, personal and private sessions would enable a journey toward new healed beginnings.
A road travelled in a state of a tranquil mind is a road travelled with intent of deep spirituality”
-Zarina Mia (Contributor)
“The underlying message throughout the workshop is one that spoke of women’s ability to overcome pain, and to uncover and discover her self -worth. A victim has the choice of remaining as one, or the choice to empower herself and to rise above the adversity. By sharing stories, moments of triumph and many tissues as the tears flowed, the courageous women on the panel who shared their lives, as well as the attendees formed a bond of sisterhood, as the truths were spoken and the moments of strenght were celebrated.
Poetry touched the soul, meditation showed us how to heal it, learning how to understand our bodies gives us a healthy place to house it, yoga showed us how to celebrate it, and art gave us an avenue to express it.
The workshop was well organised, professionally facilitated, and holistically inclusive. I hope that there will be many more such events covering topics that seen as taboo in certain communities. There is a dire need for such dialogue”
-Ayesha Desai (Contributor)