I’m sure my loyal readers have noticed my sporadic and overall poor posting lately. It’s not that I forgot about my blog, it’s just that some big things have been happening that I’ve been unwilling to talk about until now.
With less than eight months left in my service, I’m starting over.
Changing sites is a deeply personal decision and one that I don’t believe any PCV makes lightly. That said, when someone does move in the middle of their service there is often a very good reason. That very good reason happened to me, so this past week I packed up my entire house and left Bure.
Unlike the end of service, I didn’t get to say goodbye. My landlord didn’t know the final coffee ceremony was going to be the last. My best friend–who wanted to plan a large party–gave me a shoulder bump and walked away not realizing it was the last time I’d see him for awhile. I guess I’m lucky in that I will be close enough to take a day trip and see the people I care about most, but leaving without goodbyes is always hard.
I’m now settled in Bahir Dar, the regional capital of Amhara and one of my favorite cities in Ethiopia, and I’ll finish out the remaining eight months of my service here on the shores of Lake Tana. I’m sure it’ll go by quickly as I explore and learn more about my new city.
Today I want to share with you a topic that, as a Peace Corps volunteer living in Ethiopia, is very near and dear to my heart: Harassment.
Danielle, a PCV living in Tigray, wrote an amazing post last week called On Being Hated. Writing a post like that is difficult and emotionally draining (I’ve tackled this topic before and it took me 4 months to post), but her post couldn’t be more accurate. Danielle writes:
I’m legitimately afraid of who I’m becoming, of the gentle self I may have lost, of the thoughts that run through my head, of the comments I make about Ethiopia, about Ethiopians. I am angry. Most of the time I feel like a burning ball of hate. I feel unfairly wounded, and feel the need to fight back. I don’t feel the same loving person that I arrived. And I feel alone in this.
Her post gives a small bit of insight to the stress and unhappiness most female PCVs deal with here on a daily basis. It’s exhausting to put up a brave face every day when your friends tell you to “Izosh” (Stay Strong), laugh or tell you that “it doesn’t matter.”
It does matter. We matter. Street harassment is a reality that women have to deal with globally, no matter if the development level of the country you live in.
This week is Anti-Street Harassment Week. I love the posters that Tatyana at Stop Telling Women to Smile created below (as well as the video that was featured on her Kickstarter campaign about taking her project across the US).
Additionally, some women in Ethiopia maintain a blog called Creepiothia about the men who harass women on the street here in an attempt to publicly shame them. By reading the description you’ll realize that these men KNOW it’s wrong, yet they continue to do it anyway.
So whether you are a man or a woman, if you see someone being harassed on the street this week, do humankind a favor and say something. Every person should be able to leave their home and feel safe and comfortable on the street. Let’s make this world a better place for all of us.