Their smiles are infectious and the warmth they exude is like a blanket on a cold winter's night. This is the atmosphere at the CODEPINK house in Washington DC.
Being a member of the Mothers for Active Non-Violence (MOFAN-V), a women's peace organisation in Ghana, I decided to seize the opportunity of coming to Washington DC for a summer peace building institute, to experience CODEPINK, the women's initiated peace organisation actively working to end the war in Iraq and to stop new wars. I had been following the activities of CODEPINK through their colourful website for some time, so I applied through their website to stay at the CODEPINK house in DC for a week. In less than 72 hours, I got an email from Allison of CODEPINK DC that stated among other things that; "We will be honoured to have you stay in the CODEPINK house". I was excited.
In spite of the excitement, I walked into the CODEPINK house that Sunday afternoon feeling anxious and unsure of how I would fit into this house of 'wild' non-violent women peace activists. But as soon as I stepped into the house, I knew this was second home. With the big "HELLO!" from Liz, and Des immediately abandoning her computer to lovingly welcome me and show me around, I could not help but relax. Everyone in the house that day; Alicia, Julie, Lorena, Les, Jes and James had ready smiles and a warmth that was soothing and welcoming.
Even before I could finish unpacking, I found myself with the codepinkers in James' van heading to a fundraiser and a press conference being organised by the DC chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW). In no time, I had been introduced and I was drinking, eating and chatting with the IVAW guys who had all been to and served the United States Army in Iraq, they had seen it all, returned home and decided 'NEVER AGAIN'! This was a great learning and humbling experience for me. The meeting of a coalition of peace organisations at the Greenpeace office the next evening was awesome as well.
The codepinkers oferred me something new and unique on each of the subsequent days of my stay. From my baptism into activism dressed with hood and all as a Guantanamo Prisonner, to the open-air protest infront of the Heritage foundation building, through the walk-ins and outs of Senators' offices, till my activism 'graduation' inside the capitol when the house was voting for more money to fund the war in Iraq, I had a real initiation into the world of activism. These codepinkers know what they are about, and they know their rights. Not once did they look intimidated inspite of previous arrests and some isolated police harrassment along the way; and I admire their courage greatly.
I watched in amazement how Medea, the unassuming, charming and lovable co-founder of CODEPINK inspired, encouraged and gelled with all the codepinkers; staff, interns and guests like myself inclusive.
CODEPINK does not just preach peace, they live it and I feel honoured to have passed through their house.
To Mila and Gail!, whom I did not have the pleasure of meeting, I appreciate their warm vibes on the phone, to Jason (who was arrested at the protest inside the house of representatives on June 19 2008), I sallute you, and to Sarah, thanks for facilitating that wonderful salon with Tanya.
GO CODEPINK! YOU WILL ALWAYS HAVE A FRIEND IN ME AND MOFAN-V IN GHANA.
Mothers for Active Non-Violence (MOFAN-V)