After listening to others tell their dreams, she gets up. She is tentative, shy. There is about her the sense that she could bolt from the room at any moment. We all wait. The room seems to understand that what is about to happen is important. There is a hush. Now she is standing beside me. A small smile flickers on her face, she is proud of herself. I know she is standing very, very tall. I ask her, like the others, 'What is your dream for yourself.'
Her eyes dart around the room. They are all listening. So am I. She clears her throat and in that instant I know - she's never told anyone before. She's never put the dream in words. She's never shared this private private thought. She leaned forward. I leaned in. Then, she spoke. The words were out. Her hands went to her face, she couldn't believe she said it. She couldn't believe that the words formed in her mouth. She must have felt that she was standing right next to possibility.
Finally she closed her eyes and a tremour went through her. Thrill. She managed to ride the wave and stay standing. The room burst into applause for her and she inched her way back to her seat and sat down. I watched her go, feeling the warm heat of her dream as it rested, for a moment, in my heart.
He, too, is a quiet man. He is well spoken but the words are almost in whisper. A polite man, a gentle man in the very real sense. He is standing in front of me, we are alone in a crowded room. He has shared, earlier, that he had been a victim of bullying and teasing. He had talked about being brutally hurt by the meanness of others. I listened carefully, we listened carefully. Then speaking to everyone in the audience through him, I talked about his value. I talked about how he needed to treasure who he was, that others can't take from him who he is and they can't diminishe what he's become. Now he is telling me that he had thought about what I had said, 'For the first time I feel proud of myself.'
Roll play: woman says to staff 'this is my dream' staff says 'I don't believe in you, you can't do it.' 50 people with disabilities surround the two with the low chant 'Believe in yourself, believe in yourself, believe in yourself'. It seems almost a magical and mystical moment. I hear such gentleness in their tone, I feel the meaning they put into the words, I know the faith they have in the gesture. More, I see the one in the roll play close her eyes and let the words of reassurance and faith rain down on her, she is not now in a roll play, she is now getting what she needs.
Arriving back at the hotel, exhausted. Ironically, I never dreamed it would go that well. There are things I'd change, things I'd do differently, but for what it was and what I planned ... I'm happy.