I have fallen in love with women in an achy, strangled way.
I am not here to swoop in and save anyone. I have learned that a long time ago. I am no one's saviour, nor a rescuer of any kind. I am a girl in love with strong, oppressed women. I look at them and see my weakness; I look at them and see where I can be made strong.
I first began to feel this way when I started reading this book, and maybe it was because I was reading it in Uganda, but my eyes were opened in a new, and perhaps clearer, way. Like I had just put in my contacts for the first time, and I was blinking. The once fuzzy images sharpened and I began to see women. I really began to see them.
I see them in Canada, and they're strong too. My mom is strong. My sister is strong. My best friends are strong. I am surrounded by female strength. I think women are strong everywhere we go, and I'm proud to be one. I am.
But in Uganda their strength is sometimes invisible. It's weighed down beneath the achiness of their lives, a heavy weight of sadness that hasn't yet had time to be grieved. I saw pregnant women -- my heart feels as swollen as their bellies looked -- and maybe they would live through their birth, or maybe they wouldn't. I was naive, but they weren't. They knew there was no guarantee.
I spoke to some of my friends a few days before we parted. They had told me some things about their lives and I was crying, looking at them, saying, "I don't understand how you've done it. I don't understand how you're still here."
One of them looked at me softly, like I was a small child who didn't comprehend. I don't. How could I? My life is unendingly comfortable. "Aliza," she said across the table from me. "Sometimes the only choice you have is to survive. And you choose it. You survive."
I nodded but knew if our lives were switched I would be long gone by now.
I fell in love with women during my time in Uganda: fell in love with them in a way where I felt strangled by my own luxury, where I ached for release from their suffering. I fell in love with them in a way where I became forever unified. Where I know I can't forget them because I am one of them: a woman who could be strong and relentless against the things that are not right or good. A woman who could believe in other women, who could believe that there will come a day where women won't die because there is no fuel in the ambulance.
I fell in love with the women of our world last week. I hope someday you will too.