In response to a question posted here I have decided to write about what I would call my lowest, unhappiest moment in Belize. I had made reference to that period here and here but not in great detail – so here is the full story. (I would recommend reading the two previous stories that I have linked above before carrying on)
The day after I got locked out, Mr Dakers, my acting supervisor at the time, personal friend of my then host (I shall call her Mrs X) and the person who suggested I live with Mrs X, came to speak to her. He was a lot more upset than I was about the whole locking out drama and wanted to hear her side of the story.
Mr Dakers is very diplomatic, non-confrontational man and while I had not asked him to speak on my behalf with hindsight I am grateful that he turned up because the conversation turned into more a personal attack and I am glad he was there to witness it.
I can not remember what led to Mrs X outburst nor can I recall word for word what was said, all I know is the one minute Mr Dakers was explaining the dangers of having a young woman locked out of her home in the early hours of the morning the next thing I know Mrs X was saying that I have a habit of bringing men strange men home ( this is a lie! I wasn’t even allowed any visitors! the only men that made it as far as the gate were the male volunteers who would walk me home after dark, usually around 7 pm). The conversation did not get any better, she commented on the fact that I am clearly not here to work, I am obviously sleeping around, that I do not carry myself like a real woman and that I do not perform my womanly duties.
I did not say much during that meeting but after that comment about me not caring about my work and sleeping around I had to speak. This is more or less what I said:
With all due respect Mrs X, I am grateful that you have taken me into your home, that you have fed me and that you have looked after me however there are a few things I can not accept.
Firstly I am 26 years old, I have lived away from my family since I first went to university, I have graduated, I have worked and I have fundraised to get to Belize. I have sacrificied a lot financially and emotionally to be here and will not take someone telling me that I do not care about my work, especially someone who is not involved in my working life. You have no basis to make those comments.
Secondly you have chosen to cast doubt on my morals, my character and my integrity and you have chosen to do so in front of someone who is effectively my boss. I shall not in any way accept that from you or from anyone else. Whether or not I am living in your house I shall not be disrespected in this manner
From then on the relationship was never the same. I lasted a week longer and the day before I was due to move she decided to have one last say and reminded me again that I am clearly not a real woman or a Christian as I would have put up with her till the end and that wherever I move to I shall encounter problems because I am that sort of person. I was not going to respond until she went on to say that I clearly had nevr encountered any hardships in life because if I can move out because of something like this then I am very weak. At this point I had to inform her that (1) when the Kenyan armed guards came to take dad into detention away in 1986, I was 8 years old and face to face with with a machine gun. (2) My mother is in a coma and has been so for over a year (3) I could list a lot of other things that have happened to me that count as hardships and lastly (4) The very fact that I have been through rough times has not only strengthened me but also made me strong enough to know which battles are not worth fighting and living with her was one of them.
If you had asked me then how many days I had Belize; I could have told you right down to the last hour. I wanted to go home and if it had not been for the work I was doing and the support of my placement leader, family and friends I would have been on the first plane out. I was miserable and at that point in time I hated Belize.
There you have it…I know I should probably put something about what this experience has taught me and how it has made me evolve as a person etc etc but in all honesty it seems so far away and insignificant now that I have hardly had time to reflect on how it has shaped me.