Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tears on my pillow

I cry myself to sleep a lot. Not because I’m sad or homesick (which sometimes does happen), but there are moments when I cannot believe the poverty that surrounds me. With such extreme poverty, there are cultural and social repercussions. It is a male dominated society. Wives are inherited by the deceased’s brothers. Men beat their wives. And what breaks my heart the most is parents beat their children. One of my students missed a week of her exams because her guardian beat her so hard she bled continuously for days. When my Form 4 students did poorly on their exams, they were caned, because as my principal said, “Some Africans only understand the word of the cane.” It’s psychologically draining to constantly see kids hit, puppies whacked, and wives with bruised faces. What can I do when it is so culturally ingrained in people’s minds that physical punishment is acceptable? Am I insane to think that I can make a difference here? In a society that does not value women's rights nor choice, how can I make an impact? Do I turn a blind eye to corporal punishment because it is “just part of the culture?” And what do I tell my student, who has no one else to turn to, when she asks me what to do about her abusive guardian? These are the questions that fill my head as I get into bed each night and because I have yet to find a solution, I cry myself to sleep.

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