Tash: Port Villa, Vanuatu

19.5 x 26 narrative

Red Cross opened my eyes to some of the harsh realities of the world through my work with refugees from many different countries, where I learned about conflicts I had never even heard about. I heard first-hand accounts of the personal pain of losing home and often even a homeland, but this work also exposed me to the world’s beauty, to the acts of kindness that can restore our faith in humanity. It was only through my work with refugees from war-torn countries that I was able to begin to heal the trauma of losing my own home in Zimbabwe when I was 17, in a cold civil war that I only began to understand through the stories of others. A home represents the safe place that encapsulates shared experiences, emotions and basic human needs and the need to belong and feel safe.

Trauma teddies are knitted by Red Cross volunteers for those who have experienced traumatic events, like losing one’s home, usually from a natural disaster. I lost my home in Zimbabwe in the violence about land reform there, and I lost my second home to Cyclone Pam while doing disaster preparedness in Vanuatu. The trauma caused by fellow humans was the hardest, as it created an existential crisis that made me question if home could ever feel safe again. This teddy represents the importance of home to me, and of having familiar, comforting things around myself.