Not sorry to spill it out loud

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Enjoying coffee at one of the 24/7 cafes in Zamalek, I had an unforgettable encounter with a writer and professor, he asked me weather my Mac was efficient. Yes, I assured him, I use it a lot because I am a full time freelance writer. He then asked me what my interests in writing were. I write articles on the art and culture scene in Cairo. He disagreed, “well writing isn’t just about covering an event of some sort, you might as well not write. If you’re not saying something that is beneficial, your view or how you see something than it’s pointless. To understand better, I told him, I know you have to feel something to write about. “Not only that. You have to feel and think about it,” he replied.  I attempted to write about the world others see and that I see differently.

 

The women-only village

I had read once that there was a women-only village of Umoja, in Northern Kenya where three women reacted to years of suffering from rape and violence by leaving their own town and moving to a village where they ruled. Women react differently to pain, some fight and some write. I remembered this article I had read in Marie Claire when I decided to act one of the monologues in the Bussy Project, a performance of true stories about women in our community.

 

A community project here in Cairo, Bussy Project

I am yet to hear about an only woman town or village existing anywhere in Egypt. Though we might not have had a socio-economic miracle village initiated by women who have suffered, but there was a voice that could be heard by the rest of us, by many others. I saw Bussy as a channel that allowed women to share their heart gritting and gut wretched -stories. Women came together to put up a play about women for many others to watch. It’s not easy to put up a play based on anonymous contributions but for two consecutive years, there was a performance and many invited to attend. The Bussy Project was formed in January 2006. It raises awareness about women’s issues and women’s rights. Their mission is, “giving voice to those who feel voiceless.”  If women kept their secrets hidden and buried in time, would we be living in an ideal community oris it by expressing loudly fears that we do learn to live with each other and accept each others differences? One of the Kenyan women, Margaret Ejejo 27 one of the three women who started the only woman village says, “ we  love our culture, and we don’t hate men. The idea of Umoja is to give women the freedom to control their own lives. That couldn’t happen if we allowed men to live here, because everyone would slip back into the old ways of male rule,” as quoted in the June 2006 issue of Marie Claire. Each of the stories of Bussy have been written by women who have taken the decision to share it with others, to say what, when,  how and why sometimes they decided no longer. Bussy is an idea of sharing and not segregating women from men.

 

Bussy

Bussy (Look!) is a project intended to empower women, but not only does it raise awareness about women’s issues through creative means. The project also works with organizations to celebrate women’s triumphs, recognize women’s struggles and mobilize individuals to create positive change within their communities.

 

 It’s a healing experience

Love, faith and healing is an experience. Performing in this play was a cherished memory to keep for a lifetime, described by Aisha Nouh, one of the performers as “a healing experience for many”.  There was a bigger cause in performing in this play. My concern was not limited to just having a good acting performance but it was important to be part of something that had a greater cause. I have always held this belief that any art project had to have a bigger cause.  For a film to be more than good, or a play to be exceptional, it was not about getting many reviews or just entertaining the audience. There must always be a heart felt passion and drive in the art being expressed. A cause. Not just a cause, a true one.

 

Getting a lot out it

Sharing, writing, reading stories and acting on stage was a sensational feeling. Transparency is a decision that leaves me wondering how much guts does it take to write about something that hurts.

Telling stories about others was not the same as seeing and acting the same stories of anonymous people. It was a simple yet a bonding experience. The interest was that it isn’t just a play or a competition on writing styles but it’s about women expressing themselves. 

With that thought in mind, that’s exactly how I felt these stories were. They were not just about hardships, vulnerability and pain, they were stories that for many were a kind of closure. I felt these stories were not about rape, sex, molestation, affairs or sad endings. They were individual stories about people and feelings. The fact that these stories were put up on display just meant that those women had the courage to speak out, spell and spread the word of love.

 

After Bussy Project

Those next days after the play was over, I kept on seeing the same people who participated with me everywhere. Mere coincidence, not really! The closing statement of a friend’s congratulatory reply to my e-mail telling her about all the interesting people I met on Bussy, she wrote, “it does make the world go round.” A bond was made among people who knew nothing about each other, there in a community, something special had happened. It would be difficult for others to understand what all of us in the Bussy project shared. I am sure to meet them in Bussy’s upcoming activities that range from lectures, to awareness campaigns for international women related events, and our annual play.

 

Freedom to choose…

The end of this year’s show is just the first step for many other women to contribute their stories and share their experiences. The freedom of not accepting what ill fate has set and battling all through life to repress the memory , doing something about it. Get involved. Send stories for next year!

Contact Bussy at: TheBussyproject@yahoo.com

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