Then why do I continue to run?
21 September 2010
The second time in my 3 months at site I have walked out of school with absolute anger flooding my bones. Where do I start?
A student walked into the guidance office today and asked to speak with the guidance counselor. They talked for a while and because they were speaking Setswana I didn't know what was being said, only that the young girl was distraught and scared. After she left I asked if she was ok. I was told that last night she had been cornered by 3or more male students (from the same school) and they attempted to rape her by pulling her into "the bush". Thankfully she was strong enough to sit down and begin
to scream until the boys ran away. After hearing why the girl came in to talk I began to get extremely angry because I recalled some of the words that she was told, mostly because here in Botswana people speak in Setswana with English words thrown in. She was told not to say anything to her friends and to go back to class while they figured things out (whatever that means). The part that angers me is that the 3 male students who were invloved are still in school and this female student who was
attacked by them was sent BACK to class!
I am mostly mad at myself. I should have said something but the thing is I am not intergrated enough in my community to tamper with subjects like this. It is probably hard to understand if you have never had an experience in another country trying to live in another culture completely different from anything you've ever known. I can't even understand it sometimes. If I had said something it could have angered my co-workers and I would have lost the trust I am trying to build. The problem in my opinion is that that shouldn't matter when it comes to serious issues like this. But here I am, sitting at home, so angry, so frusrated, so sad and I feel lost. I wanted to hug the student and tell her eveything would be taken care of and that she should be picked up by someone and taken home. I wanted to go to the classrooms of all the boys and look them in the eye and ask them why? Why her? Why anyone? I wanted to tell the people in charge to step it up, get the boys out of the school, get the police here as soon as possible to file a report and to have an assembly letting the other students know that what happened is NOT OK! But I did nothing. It's no their fault for how they're handling it, it's mine for not speaking up. But I am so afraid to ruin my work so far. I am so afraid that I will cause an issue that forces me to not be as involved with the children as I hope to be and as I am beginning to be. I live in fear here. Not for my on safety but fear of stepping on toes, of losing trust, of letting people slip through my fingers. I need their trust to move forward with any ideas and plans I have but how can I be silent and watch when I need to act. Do I need to act? I feel beyond lost, beyond hope, beyond change.
I don't know where I stand. This is the hardest emotional journey I have ever been on.
"One has to face fear..." I have to face fear "...or forever run from it."