Its early morning in Sharm El Sheikh in the Sinai peninsula of Egypt. I just reached here after traveling for 20 hours from Dhaka, Bangladesh. My body is aching for a shower, a tea and a bed.
But I looked through my window and saw two date palm trees holding the blue sea between them. The picture reminded me of a woman I know who tries to hold so much of beauty and love in her frail hands. And so here I am - to share this story of that woman who, I have been thinking of ever since the announcement for World Pulse' Spirit Awards was first made.
I never met her in person (but always wanted to), who, at this precise moment, must be going to bed. Living in two corners of the world, we are connected by World Pulse. She is my sister, my - and for hundreds of others - support-giver, my go-to person when it comes to revealing what being a true World Pulse woman means. She is Tamarack Verral of Montreal, Canada. To most of us, she is Tam.
I just completed a decade at World Pulse. Along this decade-long journey, I have met so many wonderful women in Asia, Africa, Latin America, North America, Europe. They are brilliant in their thoughts, articulate with their words, strategic with their works and effective with their impacts.
But what Tam has is this: the BIGGEST EVER heart.
Let me take you back a few years. World Pulse was running a bouquet of programs at the same time. Leadership training, digital activism training, seed funding and so on. It was a bit overwhelming for me to keep track of who is who and who is shinning the brighter torch in the community.
Then one day I noticed, someone was sharing and re-posting every piece of article and news links that I was posting on Facebook.
After a closer look I realized that the person was sharing and re-posting anything worthwhile posted by any World Pulse member. Yes, anything worth a read. Besides posting and sharing, she was also daily commenting on the posts which were always full of encouragement and support. And that person is Tamarack Verral as I know.
A few months later, when World Pulse opened applications for its Ambassador program, Tamarack’s was the first to came in. She was selected of course and when I had the opportunity to lead the program, I noticed that Tam would never ever miss a meeting or a call, no matter how late or early, week-day or weekend, hot or cold. Never! And while on the call, she would wait for others to speak, listen to them before expressing her own thoughts. Putting other women before herself – that’s Tamarack as I know.
Once we were doing a solidarity campaign and everyone was asked to contribute a video to show their support. As video files are large and takes long to transfer, we asked everyone to share their videos through Dropbox. Tam had never before used Dropbox, so she and I decided to have a practice session. It was the dead hours of a cold, winter night when this 68 year old woman came online – wrapped in a blanket, fighting sleep and learning a new technology so that she could lend her support to women across the world - women who she didn’t even know. Walking an extra mile to stand by women - that’s Tamarack as I know.
Tamarack is usually very soft-spoken, one who is always in control. But once when Olanike ( GreenGirl) – our fellow Ambassador from Nigeria met her, she was bubbling with joy and energy. She hadn’t won a lottery or an award, but just met another World Pulse woman and yet she was almost dancing. Celebrating other women – that’s Tamarack as I know.
Once when I wrote a post about LGBT community and how I wanted to them in a happy space, Tam wrote to me, sharing the story of the time she had come out with her own sexuality. In the years that I have seen her standing for gender-equality and holding hands of those who suffered because of their own sexuality, Tam had never shared the negativity that the world must have treated her with. Holding hands and sharing pain of others while silently dealing with her own – That’s Tamarack as I know.
Then came the day she just took off and hit the roads. For weeks, Tam traveled around Canada, meeting groups of women and girls and connecting them with World Pulse. She didn’t win a grant or a fellowship or earn a financial package and her only capital was her own passion to lift up others. Toiling her energy and resources to connect women with a safe platform to raise their voice – that’s Tamarack as I know.
She isn’t rich. She doesn’t have political connections. She doesn't have an organization or an office where there are others to help her out. Or, maybe she has all of that, I don't know because she has never shared her personal life. Shinning the light on other women while choosing to keep her own profile low - that's Tamarack as I know.
Holding hands, lifting up others, giving support when nobody else would, sending out feel-good vibes day in and day out to women who need it the most - that's Tamarack as I know. And so its my joy and honor to nominate you, Tamarack, for the World Pulse Spirit Award because for me, you embody this spirit.
With joy, peace, strength, love and solidarity