Project Rebirth & MetaHab: How to Light up the Darkness
September 11th, 2001, Tuesday, marked a dark day, leading to a prolonged period of darkness. Firefighters, EMTs and other professionals bravely and solemly sifted through the site looking for survivors and later for those who did not survive.
Sometimes you must experience darkness in order to appreciate the light. Project Rebirth is such a light. Having researched survivors of catastrophic events for almost a decade, in 2014, I was on a sabbatical researching vicarious trauma survivors and communities that experienced disasters. I attended the 13th Anniversary of 9/11 and spent an entire day going through the museum - a few times. I ended up in the bookstore where I saw and purchased Dr. Robin Stern and Courtney Martin's book: Project Rebirth; Survival and the Strength of the Human Experience from 9/11 Survivors. On the plane back to California I read it all. I wanted to be a part of this movement and organization. I knew I could help. I contacted administrators of Project Rebirth, came back to NYC and was eventually asked to join the team. Unable to hold back my tears of joy, I gladly accepted and have been working with Project Rebirth for over a year. I reached out and found a light in the darkness.
Have you ever been in the dark, looking for guidance, and seen a light? Sergeant Edwin Morales has. On September 11th his cousin, Ruben Davis Correa, a Marine before becoming a firefighter assigned to Engine Company 74 gave the ultimate price while being of service. He was killed while saving guests fleeing from the hotel between the towers, desperately moving them out as the hotel fell when both towers collapsed. At first Ruben was listed as missing. Later it was clear, he lost his life while courageously saving others. He is a hero. Out of the darkness, Sergeant Morales saw a light. A way to serve. He began going, and continues to go to the 9/11 Memorial, in his uniform, talking with and crying with others as he just hugs them. Finding a way to bring lightness into the darkness. Besides his military service, with humility and kindness, he found another way to serve: connecting with others in pain.
This is what the Project Rebirth team and staff do. With humility and amazing dedication, they and Project Rebirth find ways to serve. Generating resiliency programs to support and guide military veterans, first responders, educators and community leaders as they teach, guide and assist survivors to face adversity, trauma, tragedy and other threats, but also, though their film: Rebirth and creation of curriculum, they foster survivors ability to bounce back from these difficult experiences. And they do a fantastic job of it through programs like Project Cohort, Women Warriors, Camp Widow: From Sorrow to Rebirth, First Responders Resilience Network and Project Rebirth Educators.
So to Project Rebirth - thank you for all you represent and do. I am honored to be a part of this organization and team. Being a part of something that pays tribute to the past as well as bringing forth a profound message of support and resilience for the future. Sgt. Morales, Rubin's cousin, told me: "We don't have a cemetery to go to with a head stone. Our headstone is that waterfall with all those names. In a way that is the best headstone you could have. You are surrounded with other people who are connected". That is what Project Rebirth is. An organization where we surround ourselves with other people who connect in an effort to be of service for those who served us. There is so much to write and share about this fantastic organization but I will make it simple and end by saying, "Thank you Project Rebirth for the light and letting me be a part of the team".
God Bless America with gratitude from Metahab and Dr. Joyce Mikal-Flynn.