Sondos Shabayek – or “The Story Woman” – is the project director of the BuSSy Project. Originally from Alexandria, Sondos, who is in her thirties, came to Cairo when she was 17 to study media and mass communication in one of the private universities in the capital. She first worked in journalism before working full time in theater and storytelling workshops.
“The nature of the work I do doesn’t allow for anything to remain hidden. As long as I work on stories and with people, anything I hadn’t dealt with before, inside me, would surface. If this doesn’t happen, I’ll become drained, or I’ll let things get personal with the person telling the story and it will affect my job.”
Sondos feels that telling our stories is therapeutic in a way that can help us accept and acknowledge what we have been through, which helps in the process of healing from traumas we’ve experienced. Besides the healing effect of telling stories, Sondos believes that stories which come from personal experiences give voice to theoretical issues that are usually told in statistics or information – like sexual harassment or domestic violence – and reveal the depth of the experience, which allows for a deeper understanding of the issues at hand.
Sondos can trace a connection between her childhood memories and her passion towards her work. Her relationship to storytelling started at a young age. Moreover, Sondos’s work in journalism after graduating from university gave her the necessary tools to do the work she does now in the BuSSy Project.
“When I started working in journalism, I loved talking to people; I felt that there is much that can come out of what they say. When I watched my first BuSSy performance in 2006, I could hardly believe what I had seen. I met with one of the founders and wrote about the piece. I cried and told her that my life had changed, forever, because I had always believed that it was only me who went through such a thing. I volunteered with BuSSy for healing purposes while I worked in journalism. I was with BuSSy because I wanted to go on stage and tell stories, and I did: I told my first story in 2007. I left journalism in 2011 and dedicated all my time to BuSSy.”