Let’s march together!

by Jeevika Vivekananthan

Are you working in aid and development? Are you passionate about the work you do? Do you want to change the world for good?

Follow this link to listen to the spoken word poetry: Let’s march together!

I believe in working on myself first to be the change I want to see in the world. There are not many times we get a chance to pause whatever we are doing along the way and reflect on our positionality. We must reflect on our privileges and positionality to know our role in transforming the workplace, humanitarian system or the world- you name it. We talk about decolonising aid, localisation of responses, listening to affected communities, and letting them be the drivers of change. They are not possible unless we make an effort beyond Zoom meetings, publications and conference talks. They are not easy until we learn to walk the talk and be true to our values every day. They should become our consciousness. We should not throw words like solidarity in the air unless we mean them and live by them.

The Humanitarian Leadership Conference 2021 by the Centre for Humanitarian Leadership provided me with a chance to finally put down my thoughts in the form of spoken word poetry. The poem speaks of my lived experience from a war child to a development/humanitarian professional. I reflect on my positionality and map it with the change I want to see in aid and development. I encourage you to reflect on your privileges and positionality. I encourage you to dream of system transformation. And, think about your role in the transformation by mapping your privileges and positionality. Due credits to Nikita Shah for coming up with the great idea of mapping exercise at the conference poetry workshop. 

You do not need to be a poet. You do not need to write a poem. Do the reflections and mapping in a way that works for you. How can we change mammoth systems if we cannot change the way we think, live and work? Be courageous and hopeful. Be ready to challenge yourselves in everyday practice.

we have a war to fight

we have a long ardent journey

you, them and i

sister! brother!

we are strong together!

Follow this link to listen to the spoken word poetry: Let’s march together!

This piece was first published on Jeevika’s personal blogspot and is reproduced here with kind permission.

Jeevika Vivekananthan is a researcher in migration-development-humanitarianism nexus. As a social researcher, she is interested in different worldviews, looking beyond mainstream for untold stories and attempting to overcome the epistemological injustices of colonialism. Jeevika perceives poetry as a powerful tool for critical reflections and social change. She encourages readers to reflect on this piece. To get in touch please contact Jeevika at  vjeeva2013 [at] gmail.com