This was a face of innocence and trust. She loves going to church, reading books, and playing with her cousins. She had her dads eyes and his ability to steal your heart. She stole my heart the moment she entered this world and I am just her Aunt. We both now share a very open wound, she lost her father at the hands of someone she should have been able to trust, and I lost my beloved brother.
|Photo courtesy of Jessica Urgelles Photograpy|
She is one of countless girls in our nation and around the world who had her innocence taken. Could you image being 6 years old and having your father murdered by your step grandfather following a domestic violence altercation with your grandmother? No girl should ever have to endure such a heartbreak, and certainly not at such a tender age. She dealt with her emotions with maturity beyond her years. When I wanted to completely fall apart, I held it together for her. We sat graveside in front of his casket. We shared our goodbyes and I was heartbroken when she asked for me to kneel next to her to pray. She prayed with passion and fervor, asking for God’s comfort and mercy.
I prayed for healing. I was so angry. I lost my brother but my nieces had lost their father. Would they remember him? They would never remember his contagious laugh or his kind smile. They had their childhood stolen, and I was powerless to stop it.
Did you know that 1 in 4 women around the world will experience domestic violence in her lifetime? The women of my family were robbed of a loved one by someone we should have been able to trust. It would be easy to let grief, anger, and hate consume me. I can’t let my brothers death be in vain. I want his legacy to be of kindness, hope, and charity. He lives on in the people who loved him, by our words and actions.
My hope is that no one would ever need such a heartbreaking personal experience to inspire them. We can draw our inspiration from the people around us, hear their stories, feel their passion, and let it lead us to be a stronger society.
My passion was renewed recently. I attended a screening of the 10×10 film, Girl Rising. The stories are powerful and poignant. The issues discussed are a reality for girls everywhere. Poverty, domestic violence, human trafficking, slavery, lack of educational opportunities, and child marriage are real. The girls face unimaginable challenges. They found triumph in their hardships and an astounding courage to fight not just for themselves, but to inspire girls around them.
|Image courtesy of www.10x10act.org|
I connected with Senna from La Rinconada, Peru. She was the daughter to a gold miner who perished from complications of working in the mines. I am the granddaughter and great granddaughter of a coal miners which you can read about in a previous post, You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive. She shared many of the same struggles that my own family did thousands of miles from her in Harlan, Kentucky. My family did not endure the same harsh living conditions but they shared struggles for food, clothing, and the general brutal working conditions of a mine.
I encourage everyone to find a local screening of Girl Rising and attend. The girls are real and their stories are inspiring. The proceeds from the film benefit several organizations including the United Nations Foundation Girl Up campaign. The girls will renew your hope in humanity. They are living proof that optimism and good can come from despair and evil.
My hope is that my niece is a “girl rising”. I hope that I can encourage and inspire her to turn a tragedy into a triumph. I like to think that my brother is watching over us with pride and awe. His legacy will not die with us, he lives on in this story and in our acts of kindness.
Please visit www.girlrising.com to learn more about the girls and the film. You can locate the closest screening or email them to help organize a screening in your area. We are presently working to organization another screening in Lexington, Kentucky, and if you would like further information please feel free to contact me.
You can also visit www.girlup.org to learn more about one of the films impact partners the United Nations Foundation Girl Up campaign. Inspired by this post? Get involved with the Global Mom Relay which helps to benefit Girl Up and several other UN Foundation campaigns including www.shotatlife.org
“Inspire a girl and change her world.”
Happy Witty Wednesday,