23
May
10

Why can’t I stop moving?

My name is Yoshi Merrybird, and I have been running all my life. I run from job to job, from city to small town, from family to friends and back again. I am restless, filled with a sense of destiny and purpose, but also with a chronic sense of disappointment in myself. What more can I do? Is this all there is?

In August of 2009, I began teaching adult education to women in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. It wasn’t my first do-gooder job – before working at the recovery program, I’d also started a volunteer legal advocacy program at a human rights organization for survivors of prostitution, and I’d served as a case manager for domestic violence survivors. I always feel compelled to work with the women that other people describe as “tough cases,” even though I’ve never felt like those women were tough cases at all.

I believe that if you have an ability to do something that others cannot, if you can speak up for unpopular beliefs without fear in a time of oppression, you have an obligation to do so. 

What I’ve seen in the course of my work is that the women who are served by social service organizations are the not the women who are leading those organizations. There are, of course, notable exceptions to this rule, but generally speaking, there are a lot of nice, well-meaning social workers (and some who are neither nice nor well-meaning) who want to help people but who haven’t got a clue about what it’s really like to be beaten by your boyfriend, and/or sold into prostitution by your father, and/or high from the minute you wake up in the morning until the minute you fall asleep. I am no exception – I’ve never experienced 90% of what I’ve seen other people pass through. But I have a sense of humility in the way I work, and I recognize that I am not the expert. And so I became the conduit for other women – the REAL experts, the survivors – to incubate their own ideas for how to change the world, and to find the means and the skills they need to implement their plans. And yes, I am partnering with survivors at the very highest level of the agency I’m developing, because I don’t believe in a lot of talk and no action.

Never Stop Moving is an agency devoted to survivor leadership of survivor movements. We bring adult education and survivor leadership to survivors on their terms and in a way that responds to their/our self-identified needs. We are committed to a survivor-centered vision of social change and social entrepreneurship. Never Stop Moving has brought a sense of rootedness to my restless life – I have finally found a contribution that I can make that involves all of my skill sets, that keeps me engaged in multiple projects all the time, and that introduces me to new people every day. Is our work right for you? Get involved – contact i.never.stop.moving@gmail.com to find out how you can help.

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