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|"Be courageous, have faith, move forward as your
forefathers were before you'"
Dear Friends of
It is always such a pleasure
to share with you that which Spirit brings to my attention. I hope these words
will bring you comfort and encouragement for the days to
Courage is the emotion that can quiet the fear that
prohibits you from accomplishing that which you can do. Courage is taking the
"action" that calms the fear.
It is an honour for me to
share with you the true story of a young woman named Selam. I admire her as a
courageous warrior. She is now 27 years old, however the beginning of this
story took place when she was 8 years old living in Ethopia with her mother and
It was the middle of the night and Selam had been
asleep for some time when suddenly she was awaken by the screams of rebels
yelling "Ethiopians go home!" Her mother was shaking her frantically saying,
"Selam, Selam wake up! Get your brother and a sweater. Hurry now!" Her small
country was in the midst of a civl war and the rebels had come to burn her
village to the ground. They began herding the people as if they were animals
going to slaughter on to huge army type trucks that were open to all the
weather elements. Some were beaten, some lost their lives. Those that were
thrown onto the truck as sardines in a can could barely move and had the silent
look of death in their eyes. Her baby brother cried and she tried to comfort
him. As she sat, cramped for three days without food she realized as young as
she was, her life was being changed forever. The ride to the refugee camp was a
treacherous one with no protection from rain, sleet, snow and sun. The narrow
paths up the mountains were slippery. The truck behind theirs lost it's way in
the dark and the those ahead and behind it could hear screams as it tumbled
down the mountainside. Fear turned to into acceptance and eventually no emotion
at all. The truck was filled with blood, waste, illness and
Finally she reached the camp with her mother and
little brother. Here people lived endlessly with only plastic coverings for
shelter. Many died from the filth and disease, having lost the will to live. As
a grown woman now, those memories still move her to tears for the things she
saw and experienced there.
After several weeks, Selam's
paternal grandparents found her and arranged for her to travel to Maine to live
with her estranged father who had remarried and had other children. She did not
want to leave her mother and her baby brother. She cried and fought the
decision, but it was not hers to make. She was sent away to a country she had
only heard about. She was severed from her family, a very tiny, frail little
girl with big brown eyes, not knowing her father, the United States or how to
speak the English language.
On her first day in her
father's home, he spoke to her in her native language. He told her that from
that day forward she was forbidden to speak in any language other than English.
Portland, Maine had a policy of welcoming immigrates from Africa so there were
many children in schools there struggling to "fit in". They watched cartoons to
learn the language. But as time went on, this young child became very ill. She
was homesick and missed the only family she had ever known. She became very
depressed and refused to leave her bed or bring the sheets down from her face.
She wept until there was nothing left inside. So much had happened to this
young child that time and limited space prohibit the telling of the whole
atrocity. All she had left was her wish to die.
One day her sister from the new marriage went to her father
and told him that she was afraid that Selam was going to die. That day a
remarkable thing happened. When Selam's father heard of his daughter's
depression, he went for her and spoke to her once again in her native language.
Oh, the power of our roots! The importance of our own culture! The amazing
wisdom of our ancestors and the stories of their own journeys are the riches of
our heritage! It is the truth and the courage that flows within our bones and
brings us from the brink of death!
That day, a father reached
out to his daughter to bring her life. He put his large hands on her shoulders
and in her native tongue he said to her, "Selam! Selam! You shall NOT die! You
shall live! There is greatness within you! You will be a woman of great power
one day! You must believe in your heart as I believe in you! You must study and
prepare for greatness!" I want to tell you that father saved his daughter's
life and replaced her fear with hope and encouragement. That day, a father gave
his daughter a gift of courage. She felt it flow through her blood. Selam knew
in that instant that she was loved and exactly what she must do. It was the
moment of decision when she heard how he believed in her that she made a
commitment to herself that she would not disappoint him. That tiny little girl
with the huge brown eyes decided she was a woman of greatness in the
Parents and guardians of youth, there are several points to
make here about the importance of keeping the pride of our culture alive. It is
the power of the ancestors coming through and bringing life to those who need
guidance. It is love that brings purpose and courage when those around us are
weak and struggling. I encourage you to remind your children of their
greatness! Tell them everyday that they are meant to do great things. Give them
the gift of believing in themselves. It is the best, most important gift you
can ever give your child. Forget all the latest in electronics, games and cell
phones. Teach them about their culture, teach them about the elders and
honouring the earth and themselves. Help them to become great by believing in
their gifts and abilities.
That tiny eight year old
girl named Selam decided that because her father told her she was going to be
great, she was going to be exactly that. It was not the end of her challenges.
By the time she was in seventh grade she took on the entire school system of
Portland, Maine to offer advanced classes to immigrant children. While in
college she co-wrote with a friend, a book entitled, "Stories We Must Tell Our
Children". It is a book filled with stories of immigrant children in the
Portland area from all over the world. Stories that would break your heart.
Every summer she went back to her native land of Ethopia to work with doctors
and iterns in teaching young people how to avoid
Today, Selam is 27 years old and has just completed her
Master's Degree. She will continue to pursue her doctorate. She will continue
to return to her country to help heal and give encouragement to those who are
weak and can not find their way.
Not long ago, Selam sent me
a beautiful very bright yellow scarf, the colour of the sun when it begins to
rise in the morning. It drapes one of the altars in our home. When I sit there,
I am reminded of the courage of this young woman. I am reminded that every
single day there is a new beginning and at any moment we can do and become
whatever we choose!
I leave you with one last thought that came from a
wonderful teacher named Suzie Orman. She said her favourite mentor of her
lifetime once told her, "You are a warrior and you are not to turn your back on
the battlefield!" She doesn't. Selam didn't. AND I
...know that you are never alone and that the
Great Mystery walks beside you and is with you on your journey.
Ted and I send our love to you and your
Walk in Power! Many
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