Today I’m mad at Ethiopia. I’m frustrated that citizens care so little about the future of their country. People say they want change, they want Ethiopia to be like America, they want a better future for their children, but they refuse to correct even the simplest of bad habits.
A few days ago, Tesfy, a student and close friend of mine called to tell me he was on his way to my house to tell me a story. As we sat outside my house enjoying the nice weather, we chatted about school, his family and plans for university. As a leader at school Tesfy dreamed up something called PCV Club, a spin off of our summer camp, where students practice English, discuss subjects like gender equality and HIV/AIDS and enjoy the company of friends. I asked how the club was going and he said, “Katrin, it has caused me so many problems in school and life.” I thought he was being his usual dramatic self so I asked him to explain.
He told me that a guard at the school had been causing him trouble, refusing to let him use the classrooms, lying about having the keys and generally being rude and disorderly. Having had trouble with this same guard, I knew his pain. The man is a drunk and instead of doing his job, he sexually harasses the girls at the school, berates students who participate in extracurricular or after school activities and leaves his post, despite having the keys to all the classrooms. I’ve complained about this man to the woreda education office and to the high school administrators, but to no avail. Tesfy had also involved teachers and administrators in an effort to stop the man from causing so many problems for students of the PCV club. Nothing.
Tesfy went on to tell me that several weeks ago this guard, a man employed by the school, came to Tesfy’s house with a gun, pointed it at his chest and told him to leave him alone and stop making trouble. He was angry that Tesfy had told the school about the problems the guard was causing. Before leaving his house, the guard stole Tesfy’s textbooks and notebooks, leaving him without his important school materials. Upon hearing this story, I asked Tesfy what he wanted me to do to help. “Nothing,” he said, “I told the police and the school.”
“So the guard is finished, then?” I asked, sure that the situation must have been resolved. Tesfy shook his head. Sure enough, I visited the school the next day, and guess who was standing at the gate, greedily eyeing young girls as they passed? The very same guard who threatened a student’s life with a deadly weapon and slaps the butts of the females that pass through his gate.
Ethiopia, Atsbi, how can you let this happen? How can students be expected to learn in an environment where they do not feel safe? Why is this problem, which could easily be addressed by adults in the community, looked at as unsolvable? The man should be in jail, but instead, he continues to preside drunkenly over the gates of what should be the safest place in the community, the school. Tesfy is a good kid and I’m heartbroken that he must endure so much just because he wants to be a leader.
Today Ethiopia? Today I hate you. Today I see the dusty, barren hillsides and instead of potential, I see nothing but an eternity of suffering, and it’s your own damn fault.