I rushed down the bustling sidewalks of the Lower East side, chasing the golden sun as it dipped below the street signs ahead. I had five minutes to make it across seven city blocks. I’d arrived in New York hours earlier, to kick off what would ultimately evolve into a short documentary exploring the implications of humanitarian aid work. It was hard to conceive that it had only been weeks since I concluded my successful crowd-funding campaign.
Here I was in New York City enroute to Port-au-Prince with a camera in hand and a tug in my heart.
As the campaign unfolded, I received an email from Marianne Elliot, former human rights lawyer and author. She invited me to join a group of Aid Workers focusing on wellness and resiliency. I was touched that my project resonated with a woman of such strength and experience. In what felt like an orchestration of fate, Marianne was arriving in New York the day after me to kick off her North American book tour for “Zen Under Fire”. We arranged to meet in the Lower East Side for a 45 minute meet and greet.
I managed to make it across the seven blocks just in time for our meeting and quickly realized that this would be more than just a meet and greet—I instantly felt the warmth of connection. We walked through the humid, vibrant streets of Manhattan and Marianne told me of the Garrison Institute, an organization she worked with to develop (a contemplative-based) resiliency training for aid workers. She proposed a screening of my yet-to-be-made documentary at the Institute when it was done—I was humbled and buoyed by this new community.
It was in that moment that I recognized the magnitude of the connection.
I had yet to conduct a single interview but Marianne’s enthusiasm and confidence allowed me to confirm that this project not only had the capacity to emote but was needed in order for myself and others to heal.
Fast forward 14 months from that warm New York evening, I released my documentary “Kick at the Darkness” on a warm September evening in Calgary, Canada. As promised, the day after my screening in Canada, the Garrison Institute screened the 10-minute “Kick at the Darkness” for its donor community.
The journey continues to unfold in unexpected and breathtaking ways. I can’t help but feel that connecting with Marianne has not only contributed to my expanding network of connectors and champions, but also gave me the reinforcement I needed to get this far.
Incredible opportunities have unfolded since September, though a big part of this journey has been surrendering to the uncertainty of what comes next. I’m working to carve out clarity, to shape, to mould, to ask, to listen, to be scared and work through the fear. What have I learned through the process? That courageousness does not always look like we think it might. That saying ‘I don’t know’, removing layers and allowing yourself to be nakedly vulnerable and beautifully imperfect takes muster. That being scared and brave in concert is possible.
This journey is about healing, sharing, connecting and providing a platform for others to kick at the darkness—and heal.
Much like her fierce curls, Amy never stays in one place for very long. Her candid curiosity and enormous capacity to care have taken her to the farthest flung places on the globe. Her formal education took her to western Canada, Denmark and the north-east of England, but it’s the living that happened in between classes that shaped her into the gypsy soul she is today.
Since 2011, Amy has lived in Calgary, her sanctuary near the Rocky Mountains. She spends her days slinging her camerawork for hire, practicing yoga, dancing and connecting with her community. Her most recent work “Kick at the Darkness” tales of her journey of experiencing the mental health implications of humanitarian work and creating dialogue within the aid community. More from Amy at www.amybrathwaite.com.