Roi writes about how his journey began...
Updated: Dec 12, 2020
It was 1994, I was 21 years old and somehow my own life story led me to Africa, to work as a medic, in an open field hospital, helping the refugees who escaped the genocide and violence in Rwanda and had fled to neighbouring Zaire. We were a small medical team, and I felt like a tiny droplet in an endless ocean of sorrow and suffering, facing the consequences of the massacre that took the lives of close to one million people in 100 days.
We treated children, men and women from both fighting tribes, the Hutu and Tutsi, I did not know who was what, and it did not matter. They were all human beings, ade they were sufffering.
This experience changed my life completely and was the beginning of my spiritual quest. I was unsatisfied with just the ‘healing of the physical body’ that we offered as a medical team. I felt angry at a world that was not there to help young children, who run barefoot for their lives escaping horrific scenes that caused their faces to freeze with shock and their voices to be buried inside them. Nothing I was taught made sense anymore. I knew I had to find another way of healing, find some form of social healing, that goes deeper to treat the root causes and core issues that lead into wars like the one in Rwanda, and the one in the land where I grew up, The land called by some the ‘Holy Land’ and by others by other names.
With a broken heart and soul I decided to leave the medical training and go travelling around the world in search of some answers for the painful questions that were burning in me. My quest kept me travelling for a few years in which I met many people from various nationalities and backgrounds. Each person had a story to tell and listening to these stories I came to realize the incredible power stories held in forming and shaping our identities, our perception of any situation and the reality on this planet. I understood, how clashing narratives, opposing truths, and dark charismatic storytellers played a key role in sending nations to war against each other. I learned the future of our planet is shaped, for good or ill, by the stories we believe and follow.
I started telling stories, studying and comparing narratives of various wisdom traditions while working as a tour guide in South East Asia for some years, where I became more and more aware of the power of words to create, destroy and heal. I trained in Waldorf Stiner education, trained as an actor, worked with activist youth until In 2001 moved to England where I joined the School of Storytelling at Emerson College and found what became my medicine and my life’s work to this very day.
The path of the storyteller proved to heal and transform the soul wounds I suffered in Rwanda into new courage, hope and vision. I feel grateful that through my work as a storyteller over the years and especially at the School of Storytelling I have been fortunate to be able to share the healing gifts of creative imagination and vision with thousands of people, including work with people in places of conflict and war for which we received a peace award in 2011. The work and the story goes on…