As a survivor of gender based violence myself, my esteemed passion ever since has been to improve the safety and lives of women worldwide.
After my assault, I was confronted with a life changing decision: I could be a victim, or I could be an advocate. I could become weaker, or become stronger. I could hate the world, or I could change it.
I decided to change it. I became a women’s studies major. I travelled to Ghana to teach sex education. I educated myself on every gendered topic — from sexist dress codes to the booming sex trade. As my knowledge grew, so did my horror. That’s what gender based relations around the world are: horrific.
Almost more horrific than the relations themselves is America’s general reaction to them. Most of the time the population doesn’t know — the mainstream media can’t sell stories on epidemics like female genital mutilation, or the dangerous and exploitative sex industry, so they resort to reporting on Malaysian Airlines on a loop.
And when the events are reported on? A sigh. A shake of the head. A defeated “what can we do?” And when anyone dares to suggest that we could try to help, the reply is always “we need to help our own first!”
Through my new documentary project She is Me, I am trying to communicate a simple truth: we do need to help “our own,” and we are all each others’ own. We have mirrors all over the world.
I found this truth two summers ago in Ghana. I met Mary, a Ghanaian who had been deaf since birth. She was the only 11-year-old in my kindergarten class. Finding out she was deaf was devastating for me. She was learning nothing through conventional schooling and could not communicate her thoughts, wishes, or needs. I thought of how easily I could have been born into her situation, a quiet world with no resources to communicate. She was me, I concluded, only I had won the lottery of birth. I had done nothing to deserve my circumstances, and she had done nothing to deserve hers. I found a deaf school near the village for Mary to attend, where she’s currently attending and thriving, after being given the gift of communication and a future.
Through this project, I hope to show viewers of the documentary and presentation that humans all over deserve our attention and aid, and to illustrate to the Western community what I found out two years ago: she is me. She is me, simply born into different, often unfortunate circumstances. Remember, someone out there is just like you, but they didn’t win the lottery of birth. They’re being trafficked in a remote Nepali village for westerner’s pleasure, and they’re your mirror.
Don’t you want to help your mirror?
To help, please visit She is Me’s Kickstarter page here.
Every little dollar helps.