The Moth’s “Women in the World”: Stories of Struggle and Triumph

Encore: March 10, 2021

Maybe you’ve caught a compelling story on The Moth Radio Hour on WNYC, downloaded a podcast, or been to a live “story-slam”. The Moth has been dedicated to the art of simple storytelling, told live on stage with no script, just a microphone, a spotlight and a room full of strangers. We caught a behind-the-scenes look at one woman’s personal storytelling journey from the rural mountains of Nepal to women’s health advocate as part of The Moth’s global community program “Women In The World,” recently performed at Jazz At Lincoln Center.

For more information on The Moth’s “Women In The World,” click here.

Aired on November 16, 2016.

TRANSCRIPT

> EVERYONE HAS THEIR STORY, AND WHO IF ANYONE WILL TELL IT?

FOR NEARLY 20 YEARS AN ORGANIZATION CALLED THE MOTH HAS EVERYDAY PEOPLE SHARE THEIR STORY ONE AT A TIME TO A ROOM OF STRANGERS.

THE SIMPLE PROCESS HAS THE ABILITY TO MOVE THE HEARTS OF LISTENERS AS ONLY THE GIFT OF GOOD STORYTELLING CAN.

WE CAUGHT UP WITH A STORYTELLER AND HER COACH AT A RECENT MOTH EVENT IN NEW YORK CITY.

THE MOTH IS A NOT FOR PROFIT ORGANIZATION.

IT'S DEDICATED TO THE ART AND THE CRAFT OF TRUE PERSONAL STORY.

WE SAY THAT THESE PERSONAL STORIES HONOR BOTH THE COMMONALITY AND THE DIVERSITY OF THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE.

SOMETIMES THEY'RE HUMOROUS AND SOMETIMES THEY'RE HEARTBREAKING.

MOST OF THEM COVER THE POINTS IN BETWEEN.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, OUR STORYTELLERS.

I WAS A SOLDIER --

IT WAS MORE.

A COUPLE DIFFERENT SERIES.

ONE IS THE MOTH MAIN STAGE WHICH IS THE BULK OF WHAT YOU HEAR ON THE MOTH RADIO HOUR AND THE PODCAST.

WE'VE GOT OPEN PIKE SLAM NIGHTS WHICH ARE NOW IN 26 CITIES.

AND WE HAVE THE MOTH COMMUNITY PROGRAM, WHICH BRINGS PERSONAL STORYTELLING WORKSHOPS TO COMMUNITY GROUPS IN THE STATES BUT NOW ALSO IN AFRICA.

TOMORROW NIGHT THE THEME IS GLOBAL STORIES OF WOMEN AND GIRLS.

AS A STORYTELLER WHAT IS YOUR SUPERPOWER?

SHE SAID THE PERFECT ANSWER.

SHE LOOKED AT ME AND SAID 'BEING A WOMAN.'

PLEASE WELCOME --

ON THE HIGH MOUNTAINS OF NEPAL ON AN ASSIGNMENT FOR THE GOVERNMENT --

I'M NASUM PAPA.

I'M AN OBSTETRICIAN AND A GYNECOLOGIST.

FROM NEPAL AND AT THE MOMENT BASED IN WASHINGTON, D.C.

THE MORE YOU CAN VISUALIZE IT AND THE MORE YOU CAN PUT IT INTO THE MOMENT WITH YOUR FEELING.

ALL THE STORYTELLERS WERE PART OF PERSONAL STORYTELLING WORKSHOPS.

THE PURPOSE IS REALLY TO FIND THESE PERSONAL STORIES THAT THE STORYTELLERS CHOOSE TO TELL, THEY WANT TO TELL, TO HELP THEM CRAFT THE STORY.

BUT THE STORYTELLERS WILL ALSO WANT TO TELL THOSE STORIES AND OTHER PERSONAL STORIES OUT IN THE WORLD.

LET'S TRY IT.

I'LL TAKE SOME NOTES AND WE'LL TIME IT.

ON A REGULAR BASIS WE CAN TALK TO HER AND SHE'S REALLY TRAINING ME ON STORYTELLING.

AS A SENIOR OBSTETRICIAN AND GYNECOLOGIST I'VE BEEN HELPING OUT IN A HEALTH CAMP HERE.

I JUST FINISHED A SURGERY AND RESTING OVER A CUP OF TEA.

EVER SINCE I WAS A SMALL GIRL, LIKE I HAD ALWAYS THOUGHT I WOULD BE A DOCTOR ONE DAY.

THAT WAS WHAT MY DREAMS WERE.

PARTICULARLY BECAUSE -- IN OUR COUNTRY SO MANY WOMEN ARE JUST DYING.

SO THAT'S WHY I DECIDED TO DO OBSTETRICS AND GYNECOLOGY AND REALLY BE ABLE TO SERVE THESE WOMEN.

THE PHONE RINGS.

I QUICKLY GRAB THE PHONE AS I KNOW IT'S FROM HOME.

THEN SUDDENLY I HEAR A STRANGE MAN'S VOICE ON THE OTHER END.

'I WANT YOU TO CHANGE THE REPORT OF A YOUNG GIRL YOU EXAMINED TWO MONTHS BACK.

THE PERSON YOU GAVE THE REPORT AGAINST IS ONE OF OUR CADETS AND HE'S IN POLICE CUSTODY.

SO WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT THE REPORT IS CHANGED TO NOT BEING SEXUAL ASSAULT.

WE BELONG TO THE ARMED REBELS AND YOU KNOW WHAT THE CONSEQUENCES ARE IF YOU DON'T.'

I WAS FRIGHTENED.

I DID NOT KNOW WHAT THIS MEANT FOR ME.

IN THE WORKSHOP WE TAKE A LOT OF TIME TO FIND IN MANY CASES THE BIG DECISIONS YOU HAD TO MAKE THAT CHANGED THE COURSE OF YOUR LIFE.

FLASHES OF THE GIRL KEPT COMING TO MY MIND.

SHE WAS ONLY 13 YEARS OLD.

AND THAT WAS THE VERDICT I HAD GIVEN.

NOW AT GUNPOINT I WAS MADE TO CHANGE MY DECISION.

BUT ALL ALONG I KNEW WHAT MY DECISION WOULD BE.

I WANT TO MAKE SURE I'M FEELING AS CLOSE TO YOU IN YOUR STORY AS POSSIBLE.

SO TELL ME HOW THAT FELT.

GIVE ME ALL OF THE FEELING.

THE FEELING BACKS UP THE PLOT POINTS.

WE SAY IT'S NOT AND THEN AND THEN AND THEN.

IT'S WHAT'S AT STAKE FOR YOU.

FOR ME TO SAY THAT I'M NO LONGER DOING A CLINICAL PRACTICE.

AND THE REASON IS MY WHOLE LIFE I WAS AN OBSTETRICIAN.

I WAS DOING ALL THAT.

AND NOW THIS CASE IS --

I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT.

FOR ME IT'S SO IMPORTANT IN MY LIFE.

YEAH.

YEAH.

THAT YOU HAD TO GIVE IT UP.

MM-HMM.

I JUST GET EMOTIONAL.

LET ME ASK YOU, WHY DO YOU EMPOWER THE HEALTH WORKERS?

WHY DO YOU TEACH THE HEALTH WORKERS LIKE YOU DO?

THE REASON BEING LIKE SO THAT THEY ARE CONFIDENT AND THEY ALSO UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS.

BECAUSE ONCE WE HAVE THE CONVERSATIONS TO PULL OUT ALL THE PIECES THEN WE TRY TO FIGURE OUT HOW WE CAN PUT IT ALL TOGETHER AGAIN SO THERE'S A VERY DEFINABLE PERSONAL ARC.

THAT THESE GIRLS DESERVE JUSTICE.

THEY DESERVE THE RIGHT TO LIVE WITH DIGNITY.

I DECIDED, I WOULD BE THEIR VOICE.

AT THE END THERE WERE LOTS OF PEOPLE WHO CAME TO ME AND SHOOK MY HAND AND CONGRATULATED ME.

WHICH CLEARLY SHOWED THEY REALLY FELT THE WAY I DID.

THE EXPRESSION WHICH THEY HAD ON THEIR FACE LIKE THEY WERE LIVING THE MOMENTS WITH ME.

I CONTINUED TO BUILD THE SKILLS OF FRONTLINE HEALTH WORKERS, TO EMPOWER THEM SO THAT THEY CAN STAND FOR THESE GIRLS.

THEY CAN STAND FOR THE SURVIVORS.

NO MATTER WHAT THE RISK, NO ONE WILL EVER TURN THEIR BACK ON THEM AGAIN.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, The Peter G. Peterson and Joan Ganz Cooney Fund, Bernard and Denise Schwartz, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, The Ambrose Monell Foundation, Janet Prindle Seidler, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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