The Voiceless Child

Through the wonder of my recent conversion to Facebook, we recently got back in touch with an old friend in Paris. Fifteen years ago, Nathalie Mathe was  embarking in a career in animation and filmed several of our storytelling sessions. There was a remarkable day when we passed our talking stick in the circle of 4th graders we were working with in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Charter.  When a girl named Lourdes spoke, to our surprise, the class spontaneously broke into wild applause.  At a little corner deli at lunch break we ran into several teachers from the school  who were absolutely abuzz with the news. “Lourdes spoke!  Lourdes spoke!”  We learned that this was the first time that she’ ever uttered  a word in the four years she had been at the school.

A few months later, Nathalie surprised us with a 4 minute video, loosely inspired by this event.  Now after all these years, we found Nathalie and discovered that we could watch the video on the internet. The brief dialog is in French but the animation and story speaks for itself.

I know that there are many people reading this  who have helped kids and adults find their voice. This is for all of you too!  And I’d love to hear other stories in a similar vein.

Here’s the link



  1. Thanks Bob, a beautiful little piece.

    Reminds me of when I was a volunteer, decades ago, working with regressed nonverbal patients at Northville State Hospital in Michigan, and I gave each of them a one note flute, which could only make music in cooperation with one another (each flute a separate note of major scale). With direction (from me, later from another volunteer, they were able to play simple tunes, then later tease the director by not quite following directions, putting in extra toots, etc.

    One of the patients, between our weekly sessions , sang a song to one of the staff at the hospital, the first such communication in twenty years, and told the staffer he had done so because of ” the student nurses” i.e., us..

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