David accepted the Orient Global Freedom to Create Youth Prize for 2009 at a gala event at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum on 25 November, 2009. Introduced by Geoffrey Robertson, QC, the eminent human rights advocate and former judge with the Special Court for Sierra Leone, David spoke the following words on that occasion:

Poimboi Veeyah Koindu --PVK-- arose in the aftermath of war's horrific destruction.  A dozen teenagers who as boys had committed atrocities with the RUF rebel army joined me, a dance/movement therapist from the U.S. then living nearby, and 3 adult male Sierra Leonean co-facilitators for a program of dancing together on a regular basis.  Dance, like other forms of creative expression, empowers people to symbolize the defining truths of their lives.  The Orphan Boys, as they called themselves, repeatedly embodied their lives' central paradox: the coexistence of powerlessness and power.  As small children most had seen their families slaughtered, and had gone on to get caught up in similar brutality against others.  After examining in our confidential group sessions how they felt about that duality in their lives—their dual roles as survivors and perpetrators of violence—they had the extraordinary courage to perform their story for a community that still shunned them for their part in the war.

At their public performance they started out by explaining that they were war orphans themselves.  They asked the audience to “be our mothers and our fathers.”  The elders in attendance rose to the occasion.  At the performance's end, one by one, six of them -- women and men -- welcomed the once outcast boy combatants back into the heart of the community.  One elder stipulated that the youths promise never to take up arms against the people again, which PVK did on the spot.  It was a true reconciliation -- an utter transformation, if you will, of a magnitude only realized through ritual or through the healing power of art.

We from PVK are deeply honored this evening.  I want to express our appreciation not only to Orient Global and those behind the Freedom to Create Prize, but to thank every dancer and every artist of all sorts everywhere for the beauty, dignity and hope that art makes actuality in our world.  Thank you so much.