Every year I pick a new word to be aware of throughout the year. It may take a few days or even a few weeks in the new year to come across it. And sometimes the word picks me. That’s what happened this year. Resilience.
The word is resilience.
The oxford dictionary defines resiliency as:
The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
So many things fly through my mind. I’m not a mental health professional, but I know there are lasting effects of trauma. I don’t want to make light of any kind of wounding or mental distress that happens to people or their mental health. Okay, now that I’ve said that, back to resilience.
At its basic level, resilience could be seen as a toddler who falls down and gets right back up to keep going. But a few of my recent trips have shown me depths of resilience that I could barely even imagine.
A few years ago, I visited the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Cambodia. Nearly two million people died in Cambodia from 1975-1979 under the reign of Pol Pot. Yet, I saw families, business, faith – love, laughter and hope. The resiliency of a nation to keep moving forward.
This past January I had the privilege of serving some of Food for the Hungry’s staff by coordinating a meeting in Rwanda. It is a beautiful country with green rolling hills, trees, endless patchwork of brown and green fields and quite literally one of the cleanest cities I have ever stepped foot in.
However, in 1994, in just 100 days, 800,000 people lost their lives. Everyone knows someone who died in that 100 day time period. It’s been 23 years and this country and its people are not only moving forward, but proud of who they have become now. The reconciliation and forgiveness between the victims, violators and families has been told many times over because it is so extraordinary. There is healing and hope. Resiliency.
What Makes a Nation Resilient?
But it’s the individual people who make the nation resilient – those who struggle, even to the edge of death, and then come back stronger than they were before. Like Mukagasana and her family. She first came to Food for the Hungry when her daughter, Vestine, was just a baby. The family had nothing to eat so the child was severely malnourished when she arrived at the FH therapeutic feeding center.
Through that program the family has since received a cow (and probably the most beautiful calf I’ve ever seen – which says a lot for this country girl) and has learned better agriculture practices for improved crops! They are able to have plenty to eat and sell and send their children to school. Vestine is now 8 years old and is a healthy little girl. Resiliency.
I keep seeing the resilience of individuals everywhere. From victims of abuse to those wrongfully incarcerated to refugees both inside and outside the U.S., it truly is amazing how an individual can go through difficult, sometimes unthinkable circumstances and still have hope. Where do you see resiliency? Where do you see hope?