Emotional costs and Spirit: How I almost did not write this week's assignment
I went to assist my Adult Literacy class today. I got a new student. She is 27 years old and she has never been to school so today, in the one hour we had, I found that she did not know how to write her name and we learned how to write letters “a” and “b.” Another woman, a 45 year-old widow, asked me if the word “orphan” referred to children who had lost one parent as well. I said it did and she said she did not like calling her children orphans. So I told her she did not have to. She looked at me like I had just told her the rules and then advised her to break them. So I told her my story, that my father had died and I never labeled myself an “orphan” because I had a mother. Finally, we agreed that she would break the rules but she would explain. In her essay, she wrote, “I don’t want to call my children orphan because they have mother.” I did not want them to see me cry, but I wanted to go and bawl in the corner of the room.
I was emotionally drained on my way back home. “Why am I doing this to myself!?” I kept wondering.
A cousin has told me before that I need to not be so affected by the people I meet. Today on my way back, I remembered his words, “These causes cost you, you know. And it is not just the money you use, it is the emotional cost too.” I had broken the little box of my savings money to get transport to class today and here I was, on my way home, needing hugs and on my very last savings. I wondered if he had a point after all. Then I remembered this week’s assignment and actually considered not writing it. I was so distraught, I did not know if I wanted to put myself out there. The journey home was long and noisy in my head.
I asked myself questions. Is the class something that I want to do even when I don’t have the capacity to? Yes. Will I sleep better today, knowing I taught a woman “a” and “b” and gave her hope, despite getting no hugs for my own sensitivity? Absolutely. I would give these women the world, or at least what I have of it. They would probably put it to better use than I have.
For World Pulse, I thought what it meant to be a Voices of Our Correspondent, to have a platform for these women and many more where their voices are heard and their strength is shared. I wanted that more than anything. I wanted to harness what I felt, combine in with what I know and package it to get something worth fighting for.
You see after VOF Week 1 reading assignments, I went on a fact-finding mission. I had been going on and on about women and the media to my friend but he did not get it. I have noticed that sometimes to make the world hear me, I need as many figures as anecdotes. I am still working on the balance of emotion and figures, but I know I will find it. For now, I am looking at our daily newspapers and tallying information in terms of sex of the reporters, of the experts quoted and of the issues covered. This is an idea I got from the assignment and I went back to my friend the other day. I told him the day’s figures. That day, there were only two female by-lines in the paper and one shared by-line. There were 31 stories, no female columnists, twenty-five male experts and one female expert quoted. You know how he responded? He provided the papers for the next day, at no cost to me, “because your project will tell us a lot about our media houses.” I remembered this on the journey home, and knew World Pulse had already been instrumental.
Do I want to put myself, and these women, out there in PulseWire again? Every chance I get.