In early September, I was invited by a local community of people living with disabilities to listen to them through a peace workshop. Upon arrival, I noticed their eagerness to learn and to receive any form of support, and we had a good time of mutual sharing regarding the things that make for peace and development in their community. One of the main concerns they expressed was that they feel rarely understood by people like me. I wept when one of them said, “We don’t want to be project proposals, statistics, charity posters and prayer points– we are not disabled people, but able individuals living with disabilities”.
Initially, I had hoped to take pictures of the workshop and the people in the group – simply to document the experience. Yet the spiritual voice in me said that taking pictures would be exploitative. This group had consented to photographs, but my heart told me that it wasn’t appropriate. I quickly switched off my phone and listened to their voices of hope in a sea of despair.
The group taught me a huge lesson, namely that not every moment – or ministry activity — needs to be captured on camera regardless of the people’s consent. I think that with the increase in social media, pictures and videos are quickly replacing words. Globally, there is pressure to show the story rather than describe it, and conversations are no longer what they were before. Some consent does not come from the heart but from inner spaces of fear and desperation. I am learning that we ought to protect ourselves and the beautiful people God sends us. Our greatest teachers are those we teach in our ministry.
Thank you for joining Trees of Peace Africa in prayer for this group of people. And thank you for your support of our ministry!