A story about real tribes and a generation of tribe leaders

And we keep on driving further and further into the jungle. The road gets steep, muddy, slippery. We get off the motorbike and have to hike up the hill. The motorbike catches up later and we get back in the saddle. And again off and hiking, slipping, falling, getting up and back on the bike. Three hours later, three hours further from the nearest town, we reach the village. A small community in a valley between hills and jungle. All is peaceful except for the 70 or so curious children running around peeking at the guests. Food was cooked for a feast. We have dinner together with the village, we bathe in the cold river and go to sleep on the bamboo floor of the elders’ hut. 

Next day is a big day for me. I got to meet and train the four ladies that just yesterday were the village children and now they became the village teachers. We make plans on how to educate children and adults that cannot read or write yet. They’re determined to change that. Lunch is prepared by the mothers and we eat all together. Children study in the large bamboo hut and have lunch secured by the village ladies. In the afternoon adults start their class. I join to observe. 

So unfamiliar, yet there is a strong feeling of warmth that makes me feel welcomed and safe. There’s something odd though and I can’t quite put my finger on it. Until I realise the young women teach, the old women farm, harvest and cook, children study and play, and men are nowhere around. It is a self managed village, too far from schools so they teach each other, and too far from jobs, so men leave for months to work somewhere else and, in the meantime, the women run the village. And everyone is well taken care of, even the few children whose parents left for the hospital in town and may not be back for more than a month. The village ladies make sure they get fed and they are protected, even though they’re not their very own children. I myself feel like one of the village children when I leave for the river to clear my mind and the village starts a search party thinking the teacher was lost. Leave no woman nor man behind. And it’s a party run by women. 

Feminism to me is acknowledging that these women right here run their village because they want to and they can and that the village lives in peace, harmony and safety because these women are the embodiment of the feminine energy of the universe. They’d turn the jungle upside down if someone got lost, but they are also the ones to carry on their backs their babies even when they’re 5 or 6 years old because, as one of the mamas said in the most loving voice:” That’s how we are. We love and show love to our children.”. 

Counterintuitive with the circumstances of the remote village with no electricity nor running water, a group of women who lived and got education in the big city and then went back to their small village to give back to the community is feminism to me, is a sign of evolution and civilisation in the community. They had options and they chose to do what they love, to nurture their community and they receive endless gratitude and recognition from their tribe for their work and contribution. The women who run the village have social, economic and political power in the village. Men there are like foreign investors who contribute sometimes. The women are the local government. 

At the same time, me uprooting myself from my home country and moving to Malaysia to serve a community that, by political norms is not mine, but by humanity norms is just like my family, is also feminism. It’s not paying back, it’s paying forward but most importantly it’s paying my dues to myself, taking responsibility for my growth and becoming, for my happiness.

Do we get criticism in doing this? Lots. The ladies could have stayed in the big city and got office jobs and some voices might say they have failed their potential by returning to the village. But don’t we all get criticism in general? Males, females and all in between. We can’t and don’t even want to make everyone happy all the time. So once we iron out common challenges between genders, what lacks more for one than for the other is access to opportunities. We’re not truly free to choose unless we have options. Equal responsibilities and opportunities and, come to criticism, as it’s a global sport and many train for the olympics, at least let’s have that one equal between genders as well, if we can’t avoid it. That’s one face of feminism to me.

If it wasn’t obvious from the story above, I’m an educator with a passion for the process of becoming that us humans go through and I love being of service to others in this process. And, as any educator, I also get depleted so I refill my cup with what I feel is needed at the time, which can be a solo trip to the beach, dancing my heart away, time with people dear to me, studying an intense course on whatever my mind gets curious about, a good meal or a day when my mission is to simply do nothing but relax.

Educator, Romania