Artistic expressions by the GRACE Researchers regarding their work, their personal experiences and their reflections on encounters in the field.


Me and My Writing

Arwa Oweis, Jordan

February 2011

I would like to share with you my experience with writing my daily journal not only for the
purpose of keeping me focused on the research process but also on its benefits at the personal
and the professional levels. Ineke (GRACE Research Director) continuously urges us to write
about the journey of our research and to use this habit to reflect on our daily being and doing.

I have been trying hard to discipline myself into writing regularly about this great research and
transformation journey and I managed to do so. I am not saying I am doing it every single day
or I am waking up especially to write, No!!!! What I do is that I write at any time I feel I need
to write because I am thinking about an issue or a situation, or I am dwelling with a challenging
feeling, emotion or thought. Or I am planning for a specific task or about something I would like
to do and do it right through finding personal insights, which many times I found the answer
within me.

To tell the truth, this process has helped me tremendously in many different ways including
improving my writing style and my ability to express myself and my thoughts, improved my
abilities to reflect and track the progress of my project, as well as the different aspects of my life.

When I write I feel relieved and I feel good about myself, so it also could be used as a tool to
improve or boost your confidence because you can write your emotions and observe them and
get them out of your system. I consider it as a tool to get the trash out of my system and go on
with my daily work. I have been trying to keep writing about the project; actually I do not feel
comfortable if I do not write about it regularly at least to document what happened so that I can
keep track of what is happening and I write to be able to reflect on my work and my life.

The empowering, librating, and satisfying effects of writing are influencing everything I do
including how I teach, communicate and interact with others, as well as how I deal with my
fears. I know I have become more organized, more focused, more precise. It is also shown on the
level of my confidence when I have public speeches or I am in a difficult situation. I become less
sensitive to the criticism of others, more positive and I have opened my minded to accept others
and understand where they come from and I’ve started to be more tolerant to other’s values and

I think that without writing I would not be writing about writing. It is not necessary to write the
best grammar and spelling and most sophisticated sentences and paragraphs, it is simply to get
into the habit of writing about how you feel, what do you think, and reflecting on your being and
doing and becoming. I’m reading a lot too; reading and critically appraising what I read have
helped in enriching my language, my thoughts and my writing.

Writing regularly and whenever you feel the urge to release your negative energy and to boost
your positive energy should become a habit and with time you can become more expressive and
writing will become a natural expression of the mind.

Finally I hope that my experience with writing could inspire and motivate someone to start

writing to see and appreciate the values and benefits of doing so.

Poem on GRACE

Presented at the Tunis workshop (May 26 - June5, 2010 ) by Saneya M. El-Neshawy," a GRACE-MENA member

GRACE has grasped me …..as it was the motive for me
Its activities are without any loss... as its leader is a great Boss

Trust and seriousness was the norm

since GRACE - Mena was born
GRACE - Mena with fifteen leaders came to me as a great feeder

Friendly has it always been ... a great achiever as we have seen
     Tasks are always so heavy   however, often get us so happy

In put, out put, and impact … were the theories for the plan intact
Research plan includes interviews   as it shows ideas and views
As landowners greatly encourage… they would become actively empowered
The intervention has been followed… as information and knowledge have been swallowed

How efficient was Ineke's visit … It gave us directions and missions
How great to see the impact so near… as the progress is highly clear

The vast empowerment is the ultimate impact
                                             as the great achievement were on proper track
Participation is an honor for every one indeed
as the blossoms of achievement are greatly increased


Saneya M. El-Neshawy


The Season of Changes

One day I saw it so clearly,
A likeness in the faces of strangers.
At first I tried to hide the fact.
But soon I saw the truth.
I strip off.
I slough off dead scales.
I see myself and others clearly.
I know myself, precisely without picnics or parades.
I see faces I once held,
Open as sunflowers in my hands.
Two years back
My life was a painful crossing,
In and out of storms,
Lost in a jungle of tears.
I slept in a cocoon and held my silence,
Unable to speak.
The sound of my heart muffled in ice.
I lost the meaning of words,
Heavy, hibernating in the dark corners of my mind,
In forgotten nooks and crannies.
Lost poems falling off the edge of the world
Into a dark and empty abyss.
Sealed into this silent world,
Shrinking forever
Within my little lifeless life.
Come GRACE along with its patchwork researchers,
I found pieces that fit together
And pieces that are not them.
I found my way back
To that clearing
At the center of my self.
I can see
What no one living has seen.
My fractured songs had been made whole.
I am not afraid to awake.
I am not afraid to speak.
I am not afraid to rejoice.
I am not afraid to be full
Full . . . filled . . . fulfilled.
I left that body made of ashes.
I learnt to breathe and to invent myself many times over
Bridge building voices,
Engaging with diversity and pluralism,
Brokering knowledge.
I jumped into a new life
With nothing holding me back.
I am ready to walk that road I'd always thought too long.
Now I am a tree and GRACE is my fertile ground.
My fruits are poems and my branches are lines.
I am a poem.
And inside this poem,
Crouch words that have never been written,
Never been thought,
Never been spoken.
They are awake in there,
Ready to come out.
On a wave of words
Waiting to be sung,
Waiting to be celebrated.
I satisfy that within me which is not whole.
My soul whispers graciously
I am a woman,
An Arab woman.



Gracious Poetics
June 4, 2006 Khaya


My fish poem...
Colourful and elegant
Your movements like sunrays
Your bright colours shining 
through dreary dark waters
Your curvy, lithe body making
graceful movements
So confidently curious and content
So full of life, is it because 
you carry life in your belly?
Or are you very aware of the important 
place you occupy in the planet, in
life? The power you hold?
Move on live on and enjoy your 
special place
You belong you are powerful



The Green Leaves


Green, Green, Green gives life,
Green is blossoming,
Green is Life,
Green is everything.

Come see the Life in Green,
Come and Live with Green,
Come find Life in Green,
Yes Green is the fountain of Life.

Come understand life with Green,
Give life some meaning with Green,
Life is all that it is with Green,
Because without Green there is no life.

Is this stem a long, lonely journey
Or a channeling of our thoughts, ideas
That burst from a point
Of coherence?



The interesting part of my object is that it starts from

the larva to a caterpillar and to a butterfly.

Butterflies are not like other insects, which will

have different breed but it colors remains the same

e.g. bees. Butterflies have variety of breeds and

variety of colours. And in my case it’s a white

butterfly with black dots. Its a very cool and

peacefully insect. A butterfly can fly higher;

anywhere in the country can sit on anybody

peacefully without any harm. It’s a friendly

insect to all the creatures in the world.

It’s an insect once its disturbed where it

was it will always fly higher from the level

where it was. It’s in its own world it’s a

beautiful thing, a very neat insect its friendly to

all the animals and nature. It’s not a pest.


Oh butterfly look at you

Grace Bwalya

Beautiful, cool, patient, pretty, flying higher in the air,
I wish I could fly like you butterfly
You are so friendly to every creature,
You mingle with every creature
You are harmless
I want to be flying high like you butterfly
Ever happy with life
Interacting with every creature
Friendly to every creature
You love every creature
Butterfly you are just a beautiful thing
Oh butterfly Oh butterfly



A seedbud

in the form of a cone with a five pointed
 star on its top; evoking images of feminine 
creativity, masculine holding and healing.
Only when the women of Africa

Bring their creativity
In uniqueness together

Will the chalice and the blade
Come to healing and wholeness

And will the continent
Become a light unto itself


white lily


(will try to get a photo of one, mine faltered,

they last max. one day)

You are white, white with yellow lickings
White with a purple heart
I have hurt you bringing you to me
Hurt you being mesmerized by you
Are your black stripes a notion of a dark presence?
Amidst your graceful glory?
Please recover from my inflicted wounds
Let your feathery strivings engulf me, engulf me upwards
To the beauty of your perfection

Lily, glorious Lily of my soul.



Nature genereuse pour  qui vient
du Sahel balaye en permanence
par l'harmattan. 

Pays du voyageur emerveille
par le relief accidente de Durban
qui donne charme et reverie
a celui qui sait ecouter et voir l'invisible
qui surgit de nulle part.

Generous nature for those who come

permanently from Sahel balaye.

Country of a traveler amazed by Durban nature

which inspires charm and dreaming.
For the one who knows to listen, and to see the

invisible which comes out from nowhere. 



The Bottle Seal

Susan Bakesha

It is used to tighten bottle lids of different liquid

products including water, fruit juice, and liquid soap

among others.  The bottle seal protects the liquid inside the

bottle from leakage incase the lid is not tight enough.

  It is also used to protect the product from

contamination, forgery and duplication.

You are never recognized as important
You seem so small compared to the rest
You come last in the production chain
You are immediately destroyed after

offering your services
You are thrown away, trodden upon by

those that you fight to protect

It is all about ignorance

But let us think again
Without you, the process is incomplete
Without you, they are not recognized
Without you, their works are rejected
Without you, their health is in danger
Without you, their faith is useless
Without you, life is nothing but anxiety

So, I choose to celebrate you
For you are the seal to our lives.



The Untapped Potential

The object is a sprinkler that is no longer serving

its purpose and has been thrown away



 Before I was birthed I was an idea, a thought process.
An idea born of knowledge and potential
Through creativity and focus I was put together
And out of me emerged a course and a purpose that had to be fulfilled.

The achievement of my end was a reality
When bits of me were put together to the final product.
I diligently served the purpose for which I was created
And derived satisfaction from the knowledge of it.

Time saw me slowly depreciate and loose my value
I lost the purpose for which I was created
And was rejected and termed as worthless

So here am I, in need of recognition
And hope is what keeps me going.
That the potential in someone will notice and realize
The untapped potential
And a new process will begin leading to a new birth


Tea Bag


The teabag was decayed, dry, turning to soil and

lodged in the green grass. It’s life had begun when

the tea plant was planted, it’s leaves picked and then

processed in a factory, shelved in the shop it had

been picked at random used to brew tea and now,

there it was in the green grass discarded


Used teabags what use have we of you? Dry and rot,

turn to dust and disappear for you are of no use.


Oh you who use me, know you not that my destiny has always been beyond you? My decay after the rain is the source of the earth’s life that you enjoy everyday.

Fare well and live on, a new life for me has now begun.



My friend, what this sudden meeting,
The partner of my soul, why this long absence,
How many times you did not honor the date!
Yet today here we meet!
Without reproach, without anger,
I met you as if we have never been separated before,
You, like I have always imagined you,
You light of spirit and of steps,
Beautiful in my eyes,
You break all patterns,
You attract every one seeing you or approaching you,
With your modesty, sweetness and intelligence.



Listen most often to things than to human beings
Life is beautiful, it is magnificent
Listen most often to things than to human beings
Life is full of happiness, joys and hopes,
Listen also to human beings, there is a shiver, this sound
Remember that something will happen,
It is the wind which in our heart that will transform the world

This wind will shake the world,
One day, these things will water our minds
These things will change the life and together,
We will thank God,
The world is ours,
Hope, hope, hope.

La vie

Ecoute le plus souvent les choses que les etres,
La vie est belle , elle est magnifique,
Ecoute le plus souvent les choses que les etres,
La vie est faite de bonheur, de joies ,d ‘esperances,
Ecoute aussi les etres,il ya un frémissement, ce bruit
Rappelle que quelque chose va se passer,
C est le vent qui est dans notre Coeur qui va transformer le monde,

Ce vent va faire bouger le monde,
Un jour, ces choses  arroseront nos esprits,
Ces choses modifieront la vie et ensemble,
Nous dirons merci a dieu,
Le monde est a nous,
Espoir, espoir,espoir  !

A qui la faute ?

Jeune homme, force de lance de ton pays
Jeune homme, fleur d’aujourd’hui, espoir de demain


Jeune homme, symbole de

vie, symbole de joie

Jeune homme, acteur actif du développement futur de ton pays
Toi marchant, exerçant et donnant l’impression d’aller dans l’impasse
Toi qui désemparé dans une nature à la fois douce et rude
A qui la faute ?
A la nature ? Oui serait-on tenté de dire
A l’Homme ? Facilement, on peut l’accuser
A tes parents ? C’est très facile de l’affirmer
A ton pays ? La critique semble facile, mais l’art difficile
A toi ? Tu diras que tu n’en es qu’une simple victime
Alors à qui la faute ?


Who is to blame?
Young man, power of your country


Young man, flower of today, hope of tomorrow

Young man, symbol of life, symbol of joy,
Young man, active actor of your country’s future development
You walking and giving the impression to walk into the impasse
You are lost in a nature both kind and rude


Who is to blame?

Nature, yes, one would tend to say
Man, easily, one can accuse him


Your parents, criticism seems to be easy, but art is difficult

So who is to blame?

A plant which carries three personalities, and yet

has its own distinctive personality!! 

A shrub, with the red looking like petals

resembles two other plants in a very different way) 
The stem has green as a base with small red hairy on

the stem. The green leaves have red veins, which

probably manufacture the red petals, but its only

the few leaves at the top which turn red and the

rest remain greenish with red veins. The back side

of the green  leaves, is  pale green, contrasted

with the red veins, while the back of the  red leaves is 

pale red. The leaf is connected to the stem by a

small hairy  bud. Probably the location of seeds.

What strikes me from the beginning is that this

plant resembles two different plants in my own garden.

First, there is a shrub with similar leaves except for

the red veins, but does not end up with red petals,

and another one with different leaves and stem

but has similar red petals. This is a puzzle to me.

Initially I thought this is genetically modified,

but a close examination, and by instincts, it

does seem to be a natural plant.

 (In our human life, we probably carry similar

personalities and yet we hold our own identity) 

The green in my cultural context stands for

peace, and red for blood, sometimes, violence.

And yet, blood is the source of our being, the life . 

And yet, the plant stands so peaceful that an association

with violence does not exist. The red and the red

veins resembles our human veins with blood feeding

into our bodies. But the paradox is, the scientific

process of manufacturing food in plants

( from my traditional biology knowledge)

results from photosynthesis which works

with the sun. This is yet another puzzle to me. 


You puzzle me the way you carry three personalities,
The red leaves with red veins,
The green leaves with red veins,
Like red rose without the cent of a rose,
Like my garden shrub without the red leaves,
Like the garden shrub except for the red leaves.
You puzzle me as you symbolize peace,
You puzzle me the way you symbolize life,
You puzzle me because you have your own identity.



My Object – The Ant

A small, but ever-busy creature on earth. It has a shining body whatever its shed is, whether brown or black. It crawls on soil and dusty ground. You wonder how it then keeps itself shining given the environment it stays, work and stay.

Always moving with speed from one direction to another. It is very tiny in built and you wonder how it survives, where the food it eats goes and how it breathes and so on. Everything about its survival is amazing; it leaves you wondering with its tiny body, which looks like just a string that joins the head and the other end. It is amazing how an ant plays its part in gathering food; it works with its team members to create a habitat and carrying food from wherever to its destination. In creating a habitat it leaves a very visible mark in form of a heap of soil with a hole usually in the middle.  The heap of soil is usually visible because the soil will be coming from underground and will be different from the soil on the surface.

It is a creature that crawls and works in danger. There is danger of it being stepped on by living creatures and moving objects like cars, but it does its daily activities as if there is no danger. You only find out that it knows that there is danger when you touch it, it moves with speed such that you can quickly loose track of it especially when you find it among its fellows. Fun how it appears dead when you put it between your hands, only to see or feel it moving again as if it wants to run away. If you keep it for long between your hands, you feel it moving its legs and if you loosen up it will start escaping.


Ant Ant! What an amazing creature you are
Shining, like you have never been near dust
Yet on dusty soil you crawl

You are full of life
Ever busy with your life
You are so small
But what you carry is amazing
It is amazing how you carry twenty time your weight

Ant! You are amazing creature
Very vulnerable to all living creatures and moving objects
There is the danger of being trodden by human beings as you crawl
But still you carry on with your busy life
As if there is no danger

Ant! I envy your smartness, and ever-shining look
Your energy and concentration in what you do is my source of inspiration.
To do what I have to do against all odds


The Wedding Drum              
Jocelyn Muller

Listen, Listen to the beating…
Listen to the beating, beating drum
Listen, listen to the drum beating, beating deep in your heart
Listen, listen to the drum beating, beating one with your heart
Listen sister, listen brother.

The drum is the messenger of Africa
Today the drum speaks of a wedding
The drum sends a message of the marriage of Self with Self

What? People say,
Yes! beats the drum
How? People ask,,
Listen responds the drum, Be silent and listen…

The drum beats out questions that ask,:
How can you love another when you haven’t found love for yourself,
When your body is fighting your mind,
When your mind is fighting your soul,
When your soul is fighting your spirit?
How can you love another sister or brother, when you aren’t one with who, You Are.

The drum beats that when these parts beat in unison,
The power is greater than the power of the individual parts.
The drum beats that when these parts beat in unison,
A new person is borne,
Again and again.

Today, beats the drum,
I  announce the vows of Self to Self
Today, beats the drum,
I demand that all who hear my message celebrate this marriage, this union.

The drum beats a warning to Self and Self,
The drum warns that these vows needs to renewed,
The drum warns that these vows need to be nurtured,
The drum warns that you need to find the heart,
 Of a creative and lasting union.

Today declares …Self  to Self, 
I vow to a joyous union,
Of the top of the head with the soles of the feet,
 The left breast with the right,
The body with the mind,
The mind with the soul,
The soul with the spirit,

Yes, beats the drum, they all beat as one,
As one, to the beat of the drum,
To the beat of your heart.
Dancing joyously in union.


Purple flower description

Buhle Mbambo

My object is a succulent purple flower with a thick succulent flower. It has two petals that interlock to form a shell. Its stem is succulent, a succulence consistent with that of an aloe flower.

Inside the shellfish shape is a collection of seeds, dead leaves dead insects and etc. It is difficult to describe in detail the content of this shell, but it is a collection of dead plants and insects.

This flower resembles a snail in shape, all hard exterior and soft core.

Like a pre-dawn sky you bloom.
Colour emerging out of your blossom
So rich in colour
So rich in texture
So rich in body
So rich in feel.

Purple flower, beautiful purple flower
Were I to name you
I would name you Miss Purple Power
Your purple exudes power
You purple exudes warmth
Your purple exudes royalty

Yet you are so modest
Hidden in the leaves of a modest aloe
Sometimes obscured by dead leaves
Sometimes obscured by buy other leaves in purple
Yet you little flower you drew me.

Off your aloe your life will be short
For now you  are my companion
Sharing with me a life away
Away from those we love
Sad that in picking you I killed you
But would I ask you to know I loved you
To yourself you drew me
To yourself, too I draw myself



My Anchor My Future

Grace Bantebya Kyomuhendo

My anchor
With out you there is no future
Knit together on a small stem
You were once green, ripened, slowly opened
The seed inside came tumbling out for the future
You stand out and show the world
You are the source of the seed for the future
Closely knit with, big, medium and small
All for harmony and future
My beautiful
Strength lies in togetherness
Strength lies in opening up
Strength lies in giving way
Well anchored on a small beautiful stem
Old, young, women and men have a role to play now and the future



The Lighter


The lighter brings light into my life
Oh! Oh! Oh! How beautiful this is

It gives me hope for a brighter future
It brings me closer to the person that I want to be
It is the best thing that could happen in my life

It guides me through the dark alleys of life
It takes me away from the dangers of the night
It makes me a happy person
And keeps a smile on my face.

The lighter links me with GRACE
Oh Grace, what could I do without you?
Because of you I have found light
Light in my life
Light in my research
Oh! Oh !Oh!

Light, light, light.
Let there be light always in my life
And another GRACE Part 2 to give me more light.






Grace is an initiative envisioned and funded by
the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), developed by Research For the Future (RFF) and managed by The GRACE Project Voluntary Association
Grace est une initiative initiée et financée parle Centre de recherches pour le développement international (CRDI), développée par Research For the Future,
et gérée par l'Association Volontaire Projet de GRACE .