Honoring Survivors on June 26 | The Center for Victims of Torture

Honoring Survivors on June 26

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

On 26 June 2014, CVT staff, volunteers and board members gathered in the St. Paul Healing Center with survivors of torture to commemorate the anniversary of the Convention Against Torture. Rosa Garcia-Peltoniemi, Ph.D., L.P., Senior Consulting Clinician, offered these remarks to honor all survivors.

We are honored to observe the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture at our St. Paul Healing Center, where a community of providers, interpreters, and volunteers help heal and support survivors in rebuilding their lives.

Our unified stand goes well beyond those who are currently present with us today. Indeed, countless many others stand to honor torture survivors today, all around the world, as we also stand here to honor you.

I also want to acknowledge the staff members who, as a way to offer a measure of sweetness to this celebration, have brought dessert for all of us to enjoy. The dessert I’ve brought for you was my father’s favorite dessert – like you, he also shared in the pain of having been a survivor of political persecution, and like you, he also worked hard and persevered to regain his life back and to improve that of his family and his community.

His is a story of hope and healing, and I am convinced that hope and healing is available and possible for each and every client here.
Individually we may be limited, but working together we are an undeniable force, an unrelenting image of hope for a better today and future for ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities.

It has been my personal privilege to witness first-hand both the potential and the power of the human spirit that you display. Your courage is enduring and inspiring.

That is why we are gathered here today. As clients and providers, we are joined together in this journey of hope and healing. We have resolved to see an eventual world without torture.

We thank you for being the authors of your own healing, and also for being the active and invaluable participants you are within CVT and your communities in Minnesota and also back home. The kindness, compassion, generosity and devotion you extend to those around you do not go unnoticed and are very much deserving of acknowledgment and praise. You exemplify these qualities in your dedicated partnership in healing, your helping-hand to those around you who are in need, your caring parenting of your children, and your contributions to your communities here and abroad. You do this in many ways; I will mention just a few: the education and training that you pursue with great motivation, the hard work you do at both paying jobs & also volunteering, your contributions to the faith communities and organizations in which you participate.

Together let us celebrate you on this special day, and every day, as you continue to heal from the wounds of the past and work toward building a lasting, successful future for yourself and others.

To our clients, we are honored to both stand and walk with you along your healing journeys. Please know that your presence, your courage, your warmth will remain with us at CVT well-beyond your time here as clients. Thank you for the lessons you teach us every day and the inspiration you give us to continue on with our work.

I want to conclude with a message of hope. This is a poem written by Sarah Motevalli [CVT client coordinator], known to many of you here, in honor of each and every CVT client here and abroad:

What is hope, but a resolve to stand when I feel like crawling?
What is hope, but a song to sing when I feel like screaming?
What is hope, but a choice to heal when I feel like doubting?
I am hope, because I stand regardless of my surroundings.
I am hope, because I sing even though I may feel like screaming.
I am hope – I can heal – I will heal, even if I feel like doubting.

(© Sarah Motevalli, 2014)

May relentless hope carry you along your healing journey. Thank you.

View photos from the event on CVT’s Facebook page.


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