' Help ' by   Anoek Nuyens   //  Source : Photo Courtesy of  HOME

'Help' by Anoek Nuyens // Source: Photo Courtesy of HOME

We've all seen the headlines, heard the ever-growing, energetic blend of voices that were once dormant and felt the subtle but prominent shift in the air these past couple decades but even more so now.

Poverty. Famine. GenocideSexism. HealthcareHuman Rights. Politics.

Diversity. Immigration. Racism. Feminism. Ageism. "Alternative Facts".


These are but a handful of issues that barely scratch the surface of attempting to understand the circumstances people around the world currently find themselves in. The outcome of the fairly recent referendums, elections, famines, natural disasters and war crimes make it near-impossible for one to sit back and live unaltered by local or world events especially with all the rallies and riots happening across the globe both online and offline.


Being "different" has sadly almost always been a cause for ostracism once one is old enough to go to primary school. I am not sure what the reason for this psychological inclination is but I cannot wait for a day where that disposition is deemed archaic - especially when it results in voicing states of discomfort in a non-constructive, violent manner with complete reluctance to think otherwise or at the very least agree to disagree. Personally - and this is by no means a profound state of mind - I think the key to living more peacefully than we are now is in understanding one another which requires a degree of patience, communication, active listening and healthy debating. And I am all for that. 


Lolling and Rolling   //  Source : Photo by Thomas Lenden -  Courtesy of  HOME

Lolling and Rolling // Source: Photo by Thomas Lenden -  Courtesy of HOME

SICK! Festival is definitely a festival that cultivates a non-judgemental air and lends a platform for those willing to reach out and discuss emotive topics (not unlike those I mentioned above) in creative hard-hitting ways. Jaha Koo's 'Lolling and Rolling' theatre performance at HOME was part of this year's SICK! Festival programme and it invited its audience to not only learn a bit about the appropriation of the American culture in South Korea but also to appreciate the amount of effort some Koreans make to learn English and how this language (barrier) can affect their well being. Speaking in both Korean and English (I swear, all the hours I've spent watching K-Dramas had me seriously believing I could understand this language - I can't... yet!) , Jaha Koo shared with us a story of how some parents have their children to undergo lingual frenectomy -- a medical operation on the tongue that is said to aid the enunciation of English words -- and another that illustrated the dominance the English Language has in connecting the world as well as the beauty in being able to educate others about the charms of the myriad of cultures in the world, and show just how similar as well as different we all are.


If These Spasms Could Speak   //  Source : Photo by Eoin Carey - Courtesy of  HOME

If These Spasms Could Speak // Source: Photo by Eoin Carey - Courtesy of HOME

If there is a funny and heartwarming interactive show you have to see it is If These Spasms Could Speak by Robert Softley. Based on the anecdotes of several people living with disabilities, Robert gave us an insight into the realities of being labelled 'disabled' the night I went to see his performance. Not going to lie, this was probably the most diverse audience I've been amongst in a while which silently prodded me to acknowledge how vast and intricate marginalisation really is.  Cerebral Palsy; Robert's sense of humour; the fact that children tend to be more adaptable to those living with disabilities than most adults; the fact that there is at least one woman who is disabled with far more body confidence than I are just a few things I got to know of that evening. That and just because someone is disabled in some way does not make them weak, but, like all humans, we all struggle with asking for help from time to time. Now, if I see someone wheeling themselves to a certain destination I not going to be yelling 'Come on you lazy bastard, put your back into it' or an equivalent of that hyper-intense phrase of encouragement anytime soon like Robert suggested, however a subtle yet not-so-subtle theme of the show was non-discrimination.


Satia  (Left) and  Imrie  (right) from   Melanin Millennials   feat. Melz Owusu

Satia (Left) and Imrie (right) from Melanin Millennials feat. Melz Owusu

The last show I saw that was part of the SICK! Festival programme this year was Anoek Nuyens' 'Help'. As far as marketing go, this girl (see header photo) definitely has found a fantastic way to share the cause which clearly means a great deal to her: helping those in unfortunate situations in a way that leaves them able to live an independent life via the charity, Auxilium, that she now oversees which was started by her great-aunt almost 50  years ago. I saw Anoek dance Azonto and talk about a Kenyan project her great aunt started with almost equal amounts of passion. Her desire to learn about the best practices of international aid and implement them by discussing them with people all over the world who are willing to listen was infectious. The heart of the charity is clearly LOVE and the art of giving freely, and Anoek is determined to embody those principles in a manner that results in a sense of sameness in the lives of those she and her charity are helping.


Last month, I came across the Melanin Millennials podcast via Kristabel Plummer's (a.k.a. I Want You To Know) post on her experience as a black, British blogger and after listening to a number of episodes I ended up attending their live recording session in Leeds last month because I just had to see these girls have hard-hitting discussions about all things under the sun in the flesh. I found it incredibly interesting to hear about other people's encounters with racist and sexist comments and how they chose to overcome them; though different we all were, there was already a sense of community due to our shared experiences. And that got me thinking: actively stepping outside of my tiny bubble (be it physically or digitally) enables me to engage with all kinds of people -- again, not a profound statement here -- in a more effective way thereby making it far easier to understand our similarities and differences and show just how equal we all are.

Man, I wanna be where the people are!