Juanita Rea

Interdisciplinary Artist/Activist

& Community Arts Leader

I am passionate about destigmatising childhood sexual trauma & mental disorders, which I've experienced, through visual art, spoken word, storytelling, music & performance. I have facilitated customised, therapeutic yoga, mindfulness & arts programmes at schools, workplaces & private residences in 11 countries with 15,000 people affected by everyday stress, personal & collective traumas. www.edusoil.com

I address racism, the global mental health crisis and inequity through culturally responsive, gamified and personalised Ed and Health Tech platforms, integrating counselling and the arts for children and adults. I have 21 years of global experience in education, wellbeing, arts and social development sectors and am available for worldwide virtual services and on-site performances and programmes in Northern Ireland.

Guest performance at Duke Special Gramophone Club, July 2nd

This was my first ever live theatre performance at the Accidental Theatre in Belfast with the incredible Duke Special and Temperance Society, also known as Peter Wilson and Chip Bailey!

This set includes spoken word, visual art and Peter masterfully providing piano accompaniment to a hybrid spoken word and song piece.

I consider myself infinitely blessed for this opportunity to navigate fears and let my voice be heard.

Afghanistan in my heart

Where did the rhetoric lead?

Weapons of mass destruction

Soft duvet, cushion

Recumbent woman

Who is the demon?

Axis of evil

Boiling kettle

Ache that is menstrual

Afraid to be female

Evil doers

Grey skies, clouds

Raindrops on leaves

Unnamed innocents

War on terror

Warm shower, red jumper

Safe undercover

Hidden pen and paper


This poem was written during a Cheltenham Poetry Festival workshop with Lizzie Parker on August 17th. The prompt was a technique called 'Coupling' in which we were asked to list rhetoric and then list concrete observations from our morning. I wrote this thinking about the political rhetoric that led us to this point of absolute heartbreak and horror, which the rhetoric was always leading towards. Unlike the women and girls in Afghanistan who are afraid for their safety, my experience of the duvet, kettle, shower and over-arching safety allows me to voice my views without fear of death, rape or any form of persecution.

I am heartbroken to see so many women and girls in fear and at risk. I am also equally honoured to know and be a part of the Beyond Skin community led by Darren Ferguson who is actively working to get a group of girls out of Kabul and to safety here in Belfast. Support this Beyond Skin action and help save the lives of girls whose voices we need to hear. https://localgiving.org/charity/beyondskin/project/afghanistan/

My sisters

I have a face that suggests I speak languages I do not speak

Tamil, Hindi, Tagalog and even Spanish.

Well, that’s probably more to do with my name

and frankly who cares what my name is.

It doesn’t matter today.

What matters is that my name is not Afhak—dew.

It is not Afsoon—charming, charismatic, loved by all.

Nor is it Anousheh—everlasting, immortal

for I am not an Afghan woman.

I have a room, which suggests that have a home of my own

but I don’t.

I don’t even have a visa to live and work where I am.

And frankly what does that matter for I am where I am

safe and protected.

For my name is not Benesh—wisdom, intellect.

It is not Esin—inspirational woman.

Nor is it Ferhana—one leading a comfortable life.

Not that anyone in Afghanistan is today.

I have a hope—peace and transformation flourishing

through educational opportunities for the under-served

in Sudan, South Africa, the Philippines, India, the world.

Yet today, I am afraid to feel the despair I feel.

But my name is not Hesther—the shining star.

It is not Hunoon—compassionate loving woman.

It is not Imama—great leader.

Nor is it Kaamisha—happy soul.

Who is happy in Kabul today? Or happy about it?

I have a fear—Afghan girls and women becoming nameless and voiceless

like I was whenever my body was a weapon used against me

by men who thought they had ownership of it.

Yet my fear is just a drop in the ocean of fear sweeping through an entire land.

But what do I know of this fear?

My name is not Larmina—the vast blue sky or Mehrbano—princess of the water.

It is not Nageenah, precious stone or Nahal—the young plant.

Nor is it Nadiaa—hope, the one you turn to in your time of need.

Who do they turn when fear of death, rape, persecution hangs around their necks?

I am struggling today, remembering the Sudanese Massacre

with hundreds raped, murdered while I stood safe in Belfast.

Hundreds injured and thousands distraught after months of peaceful protest.

Tascot Bas! Just fall, that is all!

Hurriya! Salam! Wa Adaala! Freedom! Peace! Justice!

The revolution is the choice of the people

yet choices to brandish paintbrushes were met with arms holding guns.

Choices? I did not choose my name or skin

or placement in the middle ground of racial division and privilege.

I am struggling today, remembering South Africa burning recently

with family and friends afraid, while I stood safe in Belfast.

Struggling as I watched ordinary people, who are not criminals, commit crimes.

Struggling with my name that cannot open borders to bring women and girls to safety.

Paksima—the one with the innocent face and Ramineh—quiet, peaceful woman.

Shadleen—happy soft hearted woman and Shahzadi—princess.

Sharjeela—a spark and Tabaan—splendid, glittering.

Yamna—righteous and Zaafirah—victorious and successful.

Zamaair—heart, mind, conscience.

My sisters!

My heart, my mind, my conscience weeps and speaks.

My struggle to struggle with you is a struggle I will never forsake!

It is a struggle born with the grace and the grit of the ground that hold our feet.

So as you fall, and I know many of you will fallknow, that we, will fly.

We fly free of bodies that say that we as women are worth less.

Free of men who could never own let alone touch our tenderness and might.

Free of societies so afraid of our power that they seek to shackle and silence us.

My sisters!

We fly as we fall and as we cry—we sing.

This poem was written a few minutes before joining an online Poetry Reading event on August 16th organised by the Swansea based Live Poets Society. My thoughts and feelings were centered about the safety that my name, ethnicity and physical location in Belfast grants me. We can help support the safety and survival of Afghan women and girls by supporting organisations like Beyond Skin and others who are working to help Afghan asylum seekers. Our sisters need our help.

Guest performance at SHaME Project event

On May 26th, 2021, I was honoured to be invited to perform this poem at the Writing, Researching, and Surviving Sexual Trauma: A Creative Response panel where Winnie M.Li, Clare Shaw, Ruth Beecher and Joanna Bourke discussed 'how writing enables individuals, academics, and society at large to address the reality of sexual trauma.' I began writing the poem during a workshop facilitated by Winnie that was part of her Writer in Residence programme at the SHaME Project, Birkbeck University in partnership with Clear Lines that examined 'the dialogue between academic research and lived experience through artistic exploration.' A recording of the event that includes my performance can be found on the SHaME blog.

Headline and Special Guest Performances