Silenced Stories —the experiences we don’t talk about

Within my networks I am lucky to be surrounded by a large number very skilled facilitators that run many hours of sessions, perhaps to attend them all I would need several versions of myself.

Silenced Stories was a 3 part workshop facilitated by Christina M. Sayson and Dorian Cave, it was sponsored by the Deep Adaptation Forum —Diversity & Decolonisation Circle and the International Permaculture CoLab. It all started with a presencing exercise as we entered the space, naming what we were bringing in with us.

The purpose of the workshop was to take time to listen to other people’s stories and explore stories, own and inherited delving deep into the colonization and the relationship between oppressor and oppressed. There is a lot of past trauma in the history of the world, it is easy to generalise when taking a wide berth but that’s not the case when it comes to those parts of history that are lived through by our families, by ourselves. The internalised and inherited trauma.

This work is often quite exhausting, perhaps this is one reason the stories often remain untold. My grandfather very rarely talked about the war, only as a teenager I was told that this was because my grandmother after having had eight children died from a disease attributed to spending time in an unhealthy shelter environment. That was World War II in Malta. In order to be able to move on with their lives people in my family talked very little about the war and instead choose to focus on other more pleasant memories — as a coping mechanism. Now as grandparents die, the stories go with them but the trauma remains to be passed down. Trauma has a pervasive effect, the war brought many hardships including food shortages, the waste not attitude, lack of health services together with the repressed emotions in time of stress. How do these show up now?

In this case the inherited trauma has had other more disturbing effects, the scarcity mindset that came along with not only the most recent war but centuries of colonization, slavery and now also modern slavery, general poverty and lack of education resulted in what is today a rampant racist attitude. Not only is this deeply upsetting but also deadly to those on the receiving end as people are left to drown in the Mediterranean or literally treated like dirt once they have been exploited, if you simply look at the comments on any article covering the immigration topic you will be surely horrified.

Nagm Arbab left home at 17 to reach Malta. He now studies industrial electronics at the University of Malta. Photo courtesy: Michael Paris Photography — Black Lives Matter rally in Valletta, held in memory of Lassana Cisse, shot in a drive-by shooting by two soldiers in 2019.

One would be forgiven for going off on a furious rant now about the inhumanity of humans but if we do not make an attempt to understand and listen to the stories that have brought us here then how and where do we being to heal?

Silenced Stories was an interesting and unique experience, a space delicately held to delve deep into self reflection, a gentle prompt to touch base with the family and hear what they have to say, to explore and share stories across generations and perhaps find comfort and healing in each other for a more compassionate future.

#permaculture practitioner, teacher and designer — co-founder of #ecohackerfarm