By Asja Baško
March is the beginning of the spring, the time to wake up and to start to work on your dreams and goals, as well as to celebrate International Women’s Day. It’s also a time to ‘march’ for something. To be honest, I have never participated in any marching movement – no black dresses, posters, hashtags, or white roses, although there are a lot of worthwhile causes. At least I thought so. Then I remembered my only march – if you can call it like that.
It was before Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, mobiles and PR campaigns. I stood on the white line in the middle of an empty, high traffic road, something that I had never done before or since, and held hands with strangers. All I actually remember is the fascination and the excitement of holding hands and looking around and seeing people just like me holding hands. At that time, I didn’t know what we stood for; I was just six and mesmerized by the whole event. Later I learned that it was the Baltic Way: two million people from three small countries (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) joined hands to form a human chain a length of 675 km to show their wish for independence in a peaceful way. What’s unique is that these people were of different ages, nationalities, and backgrounds, but they were all people who hadn’t been allowed to express their opinions and who hadn’t had personal freedom for years, and yet they managed to show the world the power of coming together and uniting for a cause.
And that’s it: the power of people, the power of doing things together. I know each of us is a strong, wonderful person, capable of turning the world upside down and creating miracles. But we can do even more together as a community. The first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word ‘community’ is the community that is created by being of the same nationality or religion: people who want to preserve their cultural values, language and religion in certain environment. You can see this either in a positive or negative light, depending on your experience, but those aren’t the communities I mean. They are a part of society and that’s it. What I mean as a community is the one that is created by people sharing the same experiences and interests and longing to make the world a better place!
Have you looked into these communities? It’s unbelievable what people, especially women, are doing. People who have been going through various hardships are creating online and offline communities for those who find themselves in the same situation. Parents with cancer stricken children are creating support communities for other parents, abuse survivors are helping abuse victims get out of their hell, single parents trying to make ends meet are banding together, cancer survivors are sharing stories; they are all making communities that are fighting injustice. These are communities with people who know what you are going through and can understand your feelings and emotions and guide you to the solution or solace. More often than not, these communities are created by women who have been through it already and are a step of ahead of you and willing to help you to make this step to get through whatever you are going through, to get out, to move on. Then there are communities that share a common goal like healthy eating, being environmentally conscious, consuming less, finding happiness, sharing kindness, fitness – ones that you join to bring change to your life or to the world, together with the support of people with similar interests. And they are all the same – trying to support you and others in making that small step in the direction of positive change. These communities might seem like tiny soap bubbles compared to what is happening in the world, and contradict our assumptions that politicians or economists are the ones who will or who have to solve our problems and make the world a better place. Yes, they are tiny bubbles, but they are like the tiny drops of water in the ocean that make up huge waves. So no matter what you are doing or how far are you from your home country or family, the number of kids you have, the sleepless nights you’ve suffered through or the dirty dishes in your sink, how busy or bored you are with your life or motherhood, you must decide what you need. Do you want to get support and reach out? Look up, talk with other ladies, search the internet: just don’t postpone.
I remember a story from one of our educational projects in Africa. The goal of the project was to educate people in villages about producing electricity. The result was that educated men left the village for cities to get better paid jobs as soon as they finished their course, but the educated women stayed and installed the lights for their whole village, and after that they educated other women in the surrounding villages. That’s what the community is.
Don’t be alone. Find a community whose goal speaks to your heart or create a one that will help you address questions that are important for you. The community is a way to tackle the problems by holding hands and facing the world together!