So I did something this week I haven’t done since I was at Uni – I attended a poetry night. The aim of the poetry event was to raise awareness of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls on 25th of November and the 16 DAYS OF ADVOCACY between 25th November and 10th December (International Human Rights Day) and was held in collaboration with Bangkok Rising, Bangkok Poetry and UNITE. UNITE is the UN Secretary Generals campaign to end violence against women which has been in operation for 5 years now and is a cause close to my heart. The event was held at the WTF gallery and bar http://wtfbangkok.com/ which describes itself as a “creative social club with a multi tasking concept of food, drink, art and friendship” and I have been there a few times in order to catch up with friends and enjoy a drink before going across the road to Opposite Mess Hall.
I arrived early in order to grab a seat before it got too crowded and started with my standard drink when I go there “Ma Cherie” which is Sherry, Mint and Tonic Water which is extremely refreshing. I had arranged to meet a friend there but couldn’t spot her initially and instead got chatting to the lady next to me who I learned was working with refugees here in Bangkok. It was really fascinating hearing how she had grown up in rural Minnesota yet made her way to Africa, where she worked in Refugee camps before heading to Bangkok where she now works predominantly with refugees from Syria, Sri Lanka and Pakistan which was something I had never really thought about existing here in such numbers for some reason.
The poetry night kicked off and we heard original poems from around 8 people all in all, from the ones that conveyed a message in a fun way to the serious and incredibly moving and I can only applaud the women (and men) who stood up and performed for us. It was odd and unsettling when one of the ladies who was reading a poem mentioned a series of events that happened to her in Salmiyah, Kuwait where I spent 3 months a few years ago and where assault against women is something impossible to escape from – which makes me sick just to write let alone read and is certainly pause for thought.
We had been asked to wear orange (handy in the current political situation in Bangkok that this is a blend of yellow and red!) http://endviolence.un.org/orangeday.shtml as part of the UNITE campaign and I dug out an old orange dress I literally haven’t worn since I went to the Burning Man festival several years ago (admittedly I didn’t accessorize with body paint, a fur coat and a thick coating of playa dust like last time though!)
The night was extremely fascinating and fun and what was even better was that we were able to raise money for “In Search of Sanuk” https://www.facebook.com/insearchofsanuk a local charity which raises funds to help rescue abused women and sex workers (many have been victim to human trafficking.) They have a house in Bangkok where 13 women are currently living and they aim to help them get back on their feet and eventually go back to their home with new skills and the ability to be self sufficient.
I know this is a bit more serious than my usual subject matter but attending an event like this is truly eye opening. I am well aware that I am extremely fortunate to have been born where I was, and to be born into my family, culture and to have had a safe and comfortable upbringing. I have freedom of speech, actions and words which is more than many and I felt on this occasion I should use them to convey something more important than where to eat. Thanks for reading – do please click on the links in this post and read more, they are far more eloquent than I.