Women, War and What they fed the children.

                         "There is no greater burden that carrying an untold story."

                                                                                        Maya Angelou.  

Eighty percent of the world’s refugees and internally displaced people are women and children. Eighty percent!

In order to humanize these statistics, we are gathering stories of women and their children from around the world who have experienced or live in war impacted areas – and we include many who are not normally cited – in the United States we will collect stories from Native America whose reservations fit the profile of a post conflict societies – we also include some inner city stories from places like New Orleans which at one point had more killings that Iraq at its peak. There are many places in the developed world that meet the criteria as war zones and we want to address those that are overt. In this moment, we are working with the women in Kosovo to collect and get their stories told. Over 20, 000 were raped and tortured in the war fifteen years ago and very few have told their stories because of the heavy stigma. 

The Maya Angelou quote above came from her own deep understanding.  She did not share her own story of rape for many years.  She knew directly the high emotional price of silence. 

In our project, we asked ourselves how do/did these women cope and care for their families and themselves. How do their children fare? -- their daughters -- their sons. The challenges are different for each. What are the lingering symptoms of encountering the severe stress of war? What unknown aspects of self were called up by these circumstances?  What do they want to tell the world about their experiences?  

How do the stories of the war experience vary from women to women (especially on opposing sides) and from war region to war region? The answers can only come to us through her individual story juxtaposed with the global stories – it is here at these confluences that we see the the commonalities and contrasts. 

As we gather these stories, we will also teach easily learned and culturally appropriate methods that work to reduce or resolve symptoms of severe stress.  

We are honored to provide Witness and accountability for these untold stories that took place in women's global community.   

Write and tell us if you would like to be involved. There are many roles to play. Feel free to request details of this project. For more, check out http://www.ashlar.org/projects.  

And, if you are touched please pass this on.

Who We Are

Where the personal story can be safely explored and expressed.         

Ashlar Center for Narrative Arts is an arts driven non-profit peace building organization that serves the Personal Story. We find that peace is a possibility the more we know ourselves and each other through narrative. We work by invitation with individuals and communities to create culturally relevant programs.  The initial program is to give form to the  personal story with and additional program of Self-care to sustain gains made in the storytelling process. The goal is resiliency and capacity building.

We use writing, spoken word, arts processes and music in the belief that all arts extend language in ways especially in creating the coherent personal story.  We start with a very specific approach to aid people in giving  voice and image to the individual story which is then extended, explored and contained in the family story -- immediate and trans-generational  -- always referring back to the collective historical context in which our stories are held. these stories are then posted in multiple platforms in the belief that as we begin to know the personal story, we find the human story that belongs to all of us.

Our goal is to empower people  to work in community in order to transcend the suffering that results from adverse events and conditions. Our goal is to extend understanding and respect cultural practices: we are very interested in how different communities and cultures meet the challenges of being human.  

Our desire is to nurture relationship, encourage learning and teaching through community involvement.  

We provide lay people the means to become Narrative Arts Facilitators where it would best serve them and their communities. 

While our work is highly therapeutic it is not psychotherapy.  Our processes lie closer to anthropology with its mythological underpinnings.

We invite you to invite us.