School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: April 2010
A Quest for Freedom

By Zoe Binetti

After having felt so sorry, cried and cried and cried, been shattered by not understanding, laying awake puzzled by the unanswered question of how to make a difference, I am starting to wake up to a new understanding….

 For over a month now I have been working in an NGO called Sport the Bridge in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It is a program which aims to re-integrate children living in the streets of this city back into their families and school.

I have been confronted with many unbelievable stories of suffering, of loss, of situations one simply wishes not to be true. I have struggled to not look away and thank God to insights from the Pachamama Symposium I attended in Switzerland the two days before I boarded my flight to come here, have found the strength to bear with the feeling of devastation and helplessness.


I am here as a teacher for martial arts, for the staff of the program as well as for the kids and am finding that under these kind of circumstances one needs to keep finding a very good reason for why one is doing what one is doing. It is of core believe of Sport the Bridge not to provide the kids with material goods such as shelter, clothes, shoes or money but to instigate change from the insight out. For example: a child living in the street often ignores his body; doesn't wash, wears torn clothes, consumes drugs, doesn't rest enough, sleeps in dangerous places, works at night etc. Initially this might even benefit them because a scraggly look will make passer-byes take pity on them and they'll give them money. but of course in the long run the kids are damaging their health. Sport the Bridge tries to make them understand these things through games and sport in an amazingly simple but effective way. The only thing about this is of course: one cannot force anybody to change if they don't want to. So it is entirely up to the kids what they do with these offerings.

It has been a real challenge for me to find value and trust in what I am doing here when I think of how easy it would be to just buy a pair of shoes for a pair of bleeding feet or a piece of bread for a hungry mouth. Instead I give Qi Gong and Kung-Fu, bring the awareness into the body and help to increase the attention span. In the times between classes there's a lot of cuddling, joking, laughing. Just being with the kids in a respectful and loving way.


Now an unexpected thing has revealed itself to me: I have stopped feeling sorry for these kids and the difficult situations they have run away from (overly strict rules in their parents house, poverty, lack of love, alcoholism…) and have found a deep admiration for their quest for freedom. The willingness of a ten year old to leave safety behind, heading into the unknown. I believe it takes a special kind of person, a generation ready to break up some of the old ways of this country. These children have an unbelievably uncertain future, something that I personally have never had to face in my life. It is easy to see all the traps they might fall into, all the hardship they are facing. But I will give my best to hold them in my prayers and to hold the possibility of possibilities far beyond my imagination for their lives and their futures. And I am filled with a tremendous gratitude for these young and bold pirates, setting out to sea not knowing what kind of land they will reach, for they are showing me something I haven't seen before in this way: the fierce willingness of the human heart to create the space it needs to beat.


I thank all my movement teachers that have given me the safe space to explore my inner landscapes and have allowed me to grow into a fluid and stable woman with the courage to explore the unknown. And I pray for the ability to offer this space to others. And I pray for the unbroken spirits of the kids I have met here, so that their heart beats may rock the world.


With endless love for the Medicine of Movement


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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the School of Movement Medicine. Roland Wilkinson, Nappers Crossing, Staverton, Devon TQ9 6PD, UK Tel & Fax +44 (0)1803 762255 http://www.