I can’t remember the first time I realized my voice had power. Maybe it is something I have known all along. I’ve at least had an opinion since I can remember. But, I do know the first time I realized that I wanted to use my voice to make a difference in the world. It was like this inner feeling just knowing, I was supposed to do something big, something to change lives. I feel like I am still figuring this out because like most things, my strength and the power behind my voice ebbs and flows.
I am not actually sure if it is my voice that is meant to be heard or if I am an outlet to advocate for others. As if I am here to tell their stories to a wider audience, give light to injustices, show the strength of those who have defied odds and fought for their rights and to share stories of survival.
It took me years to figure out what cause I wanted to lend my voice to, until I traveled to Cambodia, fell in love with the country and then learned of its dark side. When I returned home, I was guided towards an organization where I volunteered my time to write stories and share news on the issue of human trafficking and specifically, sex-trafficking in South East Asia. I dug deep and I was shocked. And shortly after that, I traveled far to lend my voice and writing again to a project that still has my heart, with an organization that works with children who have been trafficked or are at risk in West Africa. I disconnected, put my emotions on the side. I still have hopes that one day, these stories can see greater light and these issues and these beautiful people, who have gone through hell and survived, will be heard.
As I sit, I am listening to the power behind the voice of Leopoldo Lopez, the Venezuelan politician who refuses to be silenced and has gone against all odds to continue to speak. I am in awe of the strength behind his voice, his story, his refusal to give up. It is voices like this, strength like this, that change the course of history, fuels fire and advocates for others. His voice fuels me.
So, where does that leave me now… what will I use my voice for. I still feel that inner knowing that I am supposed to do something great and use my voice and the power of storytelling to create change… but where? We need to hear from the Rohingya, those in Syria, the people of Libya and the people of Venezuela and we need to listen. Is right now my time to navigate and find a way to tell these stories? I am not sure. I am figuring it out. I am listening.
Perhaps for now I can focus on how I use my voice in my daily life and with my family. My voice is a tool to teach my daughter to have strength and also to guide her, calmly, with care through this life. Having a powerful voice does not mean that it has to be loud but it can simply be a useful tool to help others and to help yourself. So, that is it. And it is perfect. For now, I may not travel far to witness what is happening around our world and write about it, but I will be right here, beside my daughter to guide her, to let her speak up and to fuel her to use her voice as power. I will tell our stories. I will let her write her own. For we need more youth who speak up, for themselves and for others and who feel confident with their voice. And maybe, this inner feeling of knowing I am supposed to do something great with my voice, maybe that something great is this sweet girl full of strength that I am raising in a chaotic world.