Dear Young Girl

I’m sorry that you are at a stage in your life in which you question who you are and why this had to happen to you. 

I’m sorry that the media has placed too much emphasis on this unfortunate turn of events and cast your accuser as somewhat a victim.

 I’m sorry that you are not receiving the protection you believe you would get, as society is too caught up on protecting the image of a man who seems to make sleeping with girls a skill than that of a pastor.

I’m sorry that you are another statistic; another young woman who will develop trust issues unless she received counselling for what happened to her and justice is served in the end.

What I can say to you is to be happy, why? You have opened a door to a dark place which people thought would always be closed. People have wanted to burn, shoot and damage that door. The same door that was opened for you. 

Pay attention at this time as secrets will now be stories and positions will be revoked to fix the problem of elderly men believing it is their right to sleep with younger women.

I don’t know what your mother or father was thinking but at no point should you be the victim of such a crime. A matter of indulgence for an older dried up Fart. 

I hope you gain strength from this experience. One in which if you were to this said man you would smile and move along. As he did not break you but made you stronger. 

Use this new voice that you will develop to encourage other women and young girls out there to speak up and rid this nation of men who believe that they have a right to take from the cradle. 

I’m a Boxer 

I feel that this year I’ll do more of what I want to do.

Years ago, I was this child filled with greatness and as the years went by I had allowed comments to guide my actions.  Not understanding then that people aren’t perfect. We are all guided by our experiences and at time strongly believe what comes out of our mouth.

   “I don’t see you as that type of person”

   “You? ??!!! LOL”

   “You can’t dance”

   “No!!! Dat no soun ‘ good” (me trying to         sing and started wrong)

Oh the fuck yous and bashed in heads I have for you. Yes, I’m short tempered that’s why I’m on the reserved end of the vocal spectrum. The many years that I’ve been in this ring called life taking hits from those considered amateurs and heavyweights and boy some of these boxers were annoying in their approach. 

I will never forget when I visited my ailing grand cousin and when asked to pray for my mother (she was a pastor in her day), she looked at me and spoke. What she said unfortunately I can’t remember. I thought it was a mistake, and thinking about it now it was God’s way of showing me that he did not forget me. That he was still and always watching over me. 

My “relationships” have been interesting but I won’t ever say that I regret them but I know now that I’ve grown from then til now. There are few loose strings that need to be cut and that will be soon. 

I’ve reached a point where I’ve realized that I’ve been living for people and have not truly lived for me. That ends now. How can I be an adult if at 24 I’m still concerned about what people have to say? None a unno cyah beat me; the most you can do is get upset and malice me. You do that, I can get a break from you for a while. I won’t be the one affected. There are moments in which they’re advice would count but not always. 

I’m learning to be my true self and I like it. You can deny yourself for so long but eventually it will affect you immensely. 

Evidence of what I can be was first noticed on my leadership challenge for the Blue Mountains. There were moments where I wanted to give up but motivated myself on the fact that I couldn’t tell people that I was there as I never made it to the top. Plus the mountain kept croaking in the dark. Another instance was being president for  my Optimist Club. Right now, I have no idea what I’m doing, but the reassurance of my exec team, members and other Optimist members have me pushing to make my year a good one. 

My beauty is an factor that in my reflection I’m taken aback.Why are you intimated by me though? You see immense beauty and all I can look it how strong my genes are. I see my father his brothers and his mother in my face- to me that’s not cute. They’re family (cracking up as I write this).

I’ve been been belittling my own self using past experiences of when people told me no. Another year is approaching and I intend to do more and talk less. To think highly of myself and try rather than assume that because someone has done it and it didn’t work for them, I’ll also have that same response. 

My ramblings may not mean much but it’s helping me as I complete this blog. I’m in a fragile state now. If I answer you in a way that surprises you. I’m currently renovating.

It’s Time to Talk

From 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign is a time to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world. The international campaign originated from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute coordinated by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991.

In 2016, the UNiTE campaign strongly emphasizes the need for sustainable financing for efforts to end violence against women and girls towards the fulfilment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

One of the major challenges to efforts to prevent and end violence against women and girls worldwide is the substantial funding shortfall. As a result, resources for initiatives to prevent and end violence against women and girls are severely lacking. Frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals, which includes a specific target on ending violence against women and girls, offer huge promise, but must be adequately funded in order to bring real and significant changes in the lives of women and girls.

To bring this issue to the fore, the UN Secretary-General’s campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women’s call for the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence in 2016 is ‘Orange the World: Raise Money to End Violence against Women and Girls’. The initiative provides a moment to bring the issue of sustainable financing for initiatives to prevent and end violence against women to global prominence and also presents the opportunity for resource mobilization for the issue.

In support of this period of activities I’d like to share my experience. In my time of reflection I have made some interesting choices. However, with the treatment that I have received from this type of behaviour it should never be accepted.

I met a man who at first I thought was interesting and it was at a time in my life when meeting him I thought that he was nice. Things started well between us and I began to think that we were going somewhere. In my plight to make the relationship work, I found myself going above and beyond to ensure that I was doing the “right” thing. I now understand there should be comprise in a relationship. However what I did was give too much of myself and lowering my standards just to be accepted. I was in a phase where I wanted so much to please him that I disregarded my values and the image I was painting of myself because he would be happy

There were moments where I felt uncomfortable with what he wanted me to do and at that time, I was afraid that if I didn’t he would end it….I believe he noticed that because he would threaten to do it if I didn’t do what he wanted.

There were other instances where he would make decisions that affected us both without consulting me and when questioned, he got defensive and said that I don’t have to worry I just control the situation. When I decided not to follow through- he got annoyed.  Other moments occurred when I stood my ground at his requests, provided an alternative and he called me crazy for what he claimed he was saying what I had been rambling about all along – Mi ‘ead tough.

My time for redemption came when I did something wrong and that got him very upset. The request he made was his way of making things right but at that very moment, I remembered something my father said to me once “Hold yuh head high”. It was then I realized that my current situation should never be and that if I want to go I can always do so. I’m not tied to him, he doesn’t own me.

I ended it . 

Months passed and I fell for his charm again, then I realized that this second time wouldn’t work. Days after hearing him apologize and reassuring me that things would be different, he went right back to his old ways. The blatant disregard displayed for what he did in an incident that took place, was a sign that I would not be happy. I remember explaining how I felt about the past and was told that I was the reason why he was acting like that. It’s my fault.

Ending it again, I went through months of ignoring his messages, blocking him to ensure that he could not contact me after conversations that went nowhere. I must say that reflecting on what happened he did have a point; he was just being himself. I was the one that wanted so much to be someone else than myself. Since I was willing to do- what’s the issue? With this new information, I was willing to fully accept that he was NOT the one. I learnt that all that glitters is definitely not gold and I should never lower my standards to just be happy in a relationship.

With this negative experience I can say that I have grown, I’m not perfect but I’m no longer interested in him. That is one road that is impassable. I remembered our last conversation where in his plight to win me over, I was degraded. During this conversation he told me:

“You can’t afford to take care of me”

“You’re just a country girl, you’re nobody”

“The only reason why I’m talking to you is just cuz no one else is awake at this time”

If I am a girl that was conditioned by Disney to find my Prince Charming why should I settle for someone who thinks less of me? Where is the love? Looking back at that conversation I have achieved many things. Keeping those remarks in my mind I vowed then and still continue to be the best version of myself. You nah go more dan me.

I don’t  hate people  and I try not to malice either, there’s no progress to be had from that and life is too precious to waste time doing things like that.

It takes two persons to make a relationship work, as I said before I am not perfect but it doesn’t mean that I should be subjected to such treatment.

 

Sources – See more at: http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/take-action/16-days-of-activism#sthash.qiqWOrla.dpuf

Love Potions for the Skin

Growing up, I always felt that I was “too black”. Among that I never used to feel beautiful, I felt unloved, unnecessary and worthless, just because I was black. I got teased a lot in primary school, it would happen quite often too. My skin color was the first thing someone would use to refer to me instead of my name and it was never in a positive way. I was either called “ugly black gal” during a confrontation or just naturally, or I’d have someone tell me I’m simply “too black”. This made me cry myself to sleep several times feeling unimportant in such an environment, at school. The other hurtful part was that it came from the same girls who would call me their friend, smile with me once I brought food to school or once they saw me with my parents.

All this eventually took a toll on me. I grew up not liking the act of taking pictures unless it was on my own, that way I could set the camera at the perfect angle to look pretty. I could scan my environment and get my own lighting. I could finally feel beautiful. I could love my skin for once.

However, as I grew up I realized that my whole past about being black negatively was stupid. I am beautiful, whether or not anyone else thinks so. It’s as if I just gained confidence overnight after doing some mirror talk routines. I slowly learned to love my distinct black features. My discolored, imperfect, yet beautiful skin. My nose, my naturally puckered lips and big forehead. To help myself, I used to take long stares into my mirror to realize how beautiful I was. To look in the mirror and simply smile. I gave myself pep talks, had empowering conversations with myself. I taught myself how to acknowledge and accept my flaws day by day. In the end, I grew into a girl who completely loves herself and appreciates every aspect of my being despite what the world has to say.

My advice to anyone feeling “too black” or ugly due to being black… is that you’re uniquely beautiful. Love your features, but most of all, love your skin. And yes, not all black girls have perfect even-toned skin as the ones on the internet do. It’s okay to have an uneven skin tone as a black person. You’re still beautiful.

~Nykefah Nairne

The Voice Within

I’ve been silent for too long and want to use this as an opportunity to empower and let other women know that they are not alone…..

 

My incident began when I was in Grade 10 with my boyfriend who I knew from Grade 9. My downfall in the relationship was that I never took the time out to know him; who he was, his  background and who his family was. Many times we don’t know the most important details.

I was stifled and beaten. After being beaten, I was brought before the mirror and further degraded by being told that I was ugly. It got so bad to the point in which I was extorted for money- my own boyfriend demanding money from me…..

There was one incident where I was beaten to the point in which my face was swollen. Few persons knew what had happened and others wanted to know what had happened to my face. I went to school and when I got there, some of the girls were jeering me. When I walked pass, one of them said:

“some a dem man a beat dem”.

My self esteem was depleted, I had to make up lies at times to not let people know what was going on with me when the signs were there- I was being abused. It got bad to the point where the police had to intervene and a restraining order was issued for him to leave me alone.

After the relationship I realized that his Dad was beating his mother.

 

A time to heal is not overnight…

 

Forgiveness is one of the hardest things to do but I want to make peace with myself. Confidential people are always hard to find. In my experience, persons would be all concerned wanting to know what was happening between me and him and as soon as they get the details; go right back to him and tell him everything.

I must say THANK YOU to my friends Fiona Grant and Andrea Irvine for being there for me in such a tough time. They offered their support and also got me to see the guidance counselor.

No one wants to get involved in domestic violence unless it is public. We see this happening many times even when law enforcement is involved. We should be using social media to lobby against violence against women rather than promote it. The social construct we are conditioned to believe is the perception of men and women. Ladies must be seen and not heard; they must be submissive if not, they are battered. Men want to express themselves but are looked down upon as weak.

It is OK to say that you are NOT OK. Be honest with yourself, if you are not able to you will have problems with others and the situations you’re facing. Empowerment becomes evident when we talk about the things we’ve been hiding- our experiences and what we’ve learnt from them. I chose LIFE over everything. I could have died in the process of being that man’s girlfriend.

This brings me to the issue of discrimination for persons based on their age. The common misconception of adults towards  young adults and children is that we  no have nuttin fi worry bout. Preconceived notions like that have caused for some children and even young adults to believe this. Some persons are going through real issues, some are able to find help while some are not fortunate enough to get it. So many thoughts and emotions are bottled up for many persons out there.  The society we live in has taught us to pretend. Too many of us are pretending that things are OK when our world is falling apart.

We live in a world of pretense (patch work), where we fix some things to an extent so that we can ‘show face’. However there is a whole lot of unfinished business behind the facade.

 

I can Share, I can Inspire

In the same way that the mirror was used to damage I am using it to rebuild myself. Crying is not a sign of weakness but a sign of release. Life is like the seasons, and in order to gain a rebirth we have to loose some things. Just like a tree looses its leaves in autumn.

 

Tina Renier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UWI MUN Mental Health Week

The UWI Model United Nations hosted their Mental Health Week on March 21-24 with the theme Think Healthy. They believed “Mental health is in an integral part of our overall well-being but is not discussed enough in the public sphere. Recognising the importance of breaking the silence and increasing awareness, the UWI Model United Nations Club is playing its part through a Mental Health Week, March 21 – 24!! #ThinkHealthy” 

The week started with their video campaign that had persons such as Chevion Morgan express his views on living with a mental illness, how it has affected him and how he has been coping since. Having him, someone who is considered the life of the party share his journey, was a step closer to what UWI MUN aspired to achieve as it showed that Mental Health affects everyone.

On Day 2, the day of the Twitter chat, where persons could be apart of the conversation by using the hashtag #ThinkHealthy and give their input. Using 7 questions, the answers for each proved that the phenomenon considered to be taboo further justified the importance of mediums like the Mental Health Week, helping to remove the stigma for persons living with the illness and  their families faced.

When asked:

Persons replied with:

 

The activities continued on Day 3, with a Yoga session  where participants were given the opportunity to free their mind and body from all the tension they had before the exercise. The last which was the Symposium in Day 4, was informative as it was also emotional as persons shared their stories. Participants learnt on how they can deal with living with a mental illness, assist persons who they know who are living with these illnesses and how they can live on a day-to-day basis.

As a former Psychology student who has interacted with family, friends and strangers who are living with a mental illness, and trying to be healthy mentally. I believe that the UWI MUN achieved their goal of recognizing the importance of breaking the silence and increasing awareness in Mental Health. My eyes welled with tears when persons shared their views about their mental health, lines had been opened for persons to seek help if they were not sure where to go or too afraid to speak about their mental health.

Unless you’re in the situation you’ll never understand. Having this mindset can help us to respect the circumstances of others. I can only imagine what persons living with mental illnesses go through; it’s not only about the illnesses, it’s about your mental well being. What you think about when you wake up in the mornings, when someone tells you that you look nice but another person says you don’t. When your superior disregards your efforts when you know and there’s proof that you are working.

From my own experience; going through self esteem issues, the separation of my parents,  being violated by my step-grandfather and the repercussions that followed. Life will always give you lemons, sometimes you get cerasse but when you are able to rise above the issues, accept what is happening and make life better gradually. You then begin receive that peace of mind.

The Optimist Creed

Promise Yourself

To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.

To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.

To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.

To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.

To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

These promises are what I use as a term of reference and fellow Optimists can tell you that though we may face trails looking that this creed helps to make the day better. Being an Optimist goes a long way. Ever noticed how people’s behaviour change when you kill them with kindness?

Be patient, accepting of the changes that may occur in your life, have a strong support system, avoid negativity and smile.

 

Sources:  https://www.smore.com/7a9fy-uwi-mun-mental-health-week

http://www.optimist.org/e/creed.cfm