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Watson Memorial holds community initiative, ‘Helping Mothers Heal’

1st October 2012   ·   0 Comments

By Mason Harrison
Contributing Writer

Grieving mothers who have lost sons to gun violence in New Orleans gathered at Watson Mem­orial Teaching Ministries Sept. 20 to participate in a “community initiative,” dubbed Helping Mothers Heal, designed to help assuage the pain permeating the city’s Black enclaves as communities continue to lose more and more young men to murder.

“I just felt like there was something missing,” said Belinda Jenkins who attended the event for mothers, referring to the “big old” hole in her heart after losing two sons to gun violence. In 1993, Jenkins’ 19-year-old son was killed in a shooting and in 2005 her 20-year-old son died after being shot 11 times. Jenkins said the pain is renewed when she sees the former friends of her two sons or meets another mother who has also buried a child.

“We know that this is not a save-all or a catch-all,” said the Rev. Patricia Watson who orchestrated the first-of-its-kind event for the ministry she helps to lead on St. Charles Ave. “But we are our sisters’ keepers and we want to let them know what therapeutic intervention might look like.” Watson, who has a background in social work, deployed a team of clinicians to listen to the women who shared their stories about losing their sons.

“There’s a lot of anger there,” Watson added. “Some of them are angry that they are poor and feel helpless. Some of them are angry at the criminal justice system and the people who murdered their sons, some of whom are still out there or who were released from prison too soon for their comfort. They feel that justice has not been served.”

Jenkins is one mother who believes the justice system came up short for her two murdered sons. “If I was a judge, I would actually find who murdered my sons and I would not let them out,” she said. “They just keep letting them out so they can murder someone else.”

But Watson’s effort involves more than just a one-time seminar. The healing mothers campaign will span six weeks and take grieving women through the six stages of grief in different workshops. “We were supposed to meet for just an hour and a half,” Watson said of the initial session, adding, “but we were there for two and a half hours listening to women’s stories.”

Watson said the effort was the first attempt of its kind to pull people “with like pain and experiences” into the same room who had suffered emotional turmoil after losing a child to gun violence. More than 50 women attended the event, more than half of whom were mothers of murdered children. “The others were there to lend support,” Watson said.

At the close of the event, the mothers circled the block surrounding Watson ministries carrying green umbrellas. The “meditation walk,” Watson noted, was designed to help kick-start the contemplative process necessary to begin healing old and new wounds alike.

“The color green,” she added, “means productivity, future, hope, nature, tranquility and is associated with healing.” Throughout the six-week period, Watson said, “we will attend activities around the city with our green umbrellas to represent hope, faith and the future.”

For more information about the Helping Mothers Heal series, contact Watson ministries at (504) 899-4400.

This article was originally published in the October 1, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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