By Carol Waid and Nathalie Sorrell
The Hilde Girls started the evening off behind stage when they invited Truth Be Told Graduate Elizabeth Hampton and co-founder Nathalie Sorrell to join Carol Waid, co-founder of TBT and Hilde Girls, in the center of a powerful loving circle of women. Nathalie and Elizabeth beamed with misty eyes as the singers voiced a song-prayer that took their stage fright and anxiety away.
“One thing you never expect when you get out of prison is to have people with love pouring forth from their faces stand up and applaud you for ANYTHING.”
Shortly after that, Hilde Girls surrounded the audience and serenaded them with Breathing Love. Then on the stage, each in her unique red and black festive or graceful garment, they sang harmonious songs that opened our hearts such as: Like a Feather on the Breath of God, Music of Heaven, We Are One, and Beauty in the World. The evening ended with the Drumsistas rocking the house with 23 women playing African drums and dancing and singing. The aisles were filled with children and adults with the freedom of children, dancing their hearts out! What a night it was!
For weeks at Hilltop prison, we have been playing this celebratory music, behind bars, so that we would be in unity and community with the women we serve. Claim Your Voice was by far the favorite of the songs in our classrooms. In an exercise of gratitude the women voiced their thanks to what was evoked from these songs.
Tammy Y., from the Lockhart Unit, expressed her gratitude with flowing tears of her new found awareness – that she is a valuable women and feels worthy for the very first time in her life.
“I cannot tell you how much the song Claim Your Voice means to me. I shed tears from my heart. I have never been able to say what I feel or meant, because I felt what I say doesn’t matter or that it’s stupid. I never fit in or had knowledge of wisdom, so the only place I felt I fit was when I wasn’t Tammy, which is when I was high or with the addicts. I have found that what I say matters. Thank you for helping me to Claim My Voice.”
24-year old Cherrelle, from the Lockhart Unit, writes:
“Thank you for contributing and even considering incarcerated women. A lot of us are forgotten as time goes by and to know that people care about our mentality upon re-entrance back into society means so much. Truth Be Told is a refreshing program for us in a place and situation like the one we’re in. I’m grateful for your support.”
Laurie S., from Hilltop Unit in Gatesville, wrote:
“There is so much joy in realizing how much people whom I’ve never met care about what happens to me. There is also tremendous honor and responsibility, for I wish to always be worthy of the outpouring of love coming from you all. I have learned much about the ‘kindness of strangers’ while in prison and this is the most inspiring example of all.”
Kristy V., from the Lockhart Unit, says:
“When I heard Claim Your Voice, I got chills. I will claim my voice and I can thank you guys for the inspiration.”
Kay R., from the Lockhart Unit:
“Tears have formed in my eyes as I hear of your music and efforts on our behalf! I believe, together, we can make a difference in the world. Thank you for your drum beats. Thank you for your heart. Thank you for celebrating our recovery. Thank you for believing.”
And from Karen C., who resides in a medical unit:
“We all prayed and sang with you Saturday night and called in a profound and powerful healing in every way.”
Karen gives credit to learning her community building skills through Truth be Told classes. Now she builds a community in the prison hospital, where she and her friends lay in their hospital beds and sing with us. Karen is recovering from a serious surgery and 10 days in ICU, YET still finding ways to connect to her Truth Be Told community and make a difference in other lives with her loving kind presence – She is about Letting Love Lead.
And as always – we who go in as facilitators to help these prisoners renovate their lives end up going home knowing our own selves better, and inspired to do our own renovations by their example.
Special Thanks To:
Nathalie and Carol want to send virtual hugs and praise to the Hilde Girls and the DrumSistas, Elizabeth, and Lee, our Board chair and Anna, our Board Secretary, who did a huge amount of work to set up tables and bring in artisans to help bring in more financial support for our work and all the facilitators who attended and helped during the break to raise more money and answer people’s questions about this work that keeps changing our lives, along with the lives of the women we serve behind and beyond bars.
If you want to become a TBT supporter or active volunteer – just contact us and we’ll send you a volunteer application to fill out, or a pledge card. Whatever you have to give might very well be exactly what we need.