Finally, I am here. I am now in Tunis, Tunisia. I hope my fellow Action Partners who also struggled and overcame the similar experiences would be able to understand my feeling. Our feeling will be very similar or the same. When I was informed the fact that I was selected to participate in the OIYP’s Gender Justice Project and to attend World Social Forum both of which would take place in Tunis, I was just overwhelmed believing I am making another milestone. As a committed social worker, consciousness of being able to attend the “World Social Forum” is really a motivated award. I couldn’t wait to meet other social activities from different places, listen to them, talk with them, share each other experiences and learn from them and build a potential network for the benefit of both communities and persons. I can’t also wait to reunite again my fellow Acton Partners who I met in the Kaleidoscope 2010 in New Delhi, India. Kaleidoscope was one of the amazing experiences of my life. I am just sorry that I couldn’t have acquainted with all of the Action Partners. I believe this reunion event would give all of us to be able to connect each other more friendlily and create a long lasting and mutually benefiting relationship. As a feminist and the one who strongly believes in equality regardless of who one is, my heart was beating ruthless to participate in Gender Justice Project. I shouldn’t close my crazy hope to see the Madetarrian Sea, the desert and the camel and the interesting culture which would be new to me.
We came to the time when we started preparing for our dramatic trip. All the unexpected disappointing and disgusting things came to me. That’s also what I could achieve what I want, what I deserve and make my dream come true. Working through for the Tunisia Visa which is necessary for my long-awaiting journey really challenged me. I started inquiry in the Tunisia Consulate in Singapore as I was hoping that my connections there would be able to help me for the process. But I was replied that The Consulate is only for the Singaporeans. That’s understandable. I tried to the Consulate in the Bangkok, Thailand. I was over delighted that when I first learned that the Thailand Consulate provides visa service to Burmese citizens but my hope was destroyed by the fact that only Burmese permanent residents in Thailand can benefit the service. And they suggested me to try in the Embassy in Jakarta and it ended there with I should contact to the Embassy in Beijing. Finally, the Beijing embassy was a right place for me. They really helped me and I processed for my visa electronically with them. I was eventually informed to send my passport and some money for the visa fees and the cost to send back my passport. I believed that my bitter memories have done all. With calmness and huge enthusiasm, I contacted to DHL and my cherry feeling was shook by their words. “Oh, I need an official letter from the ministry of home affairs and the foreign affairs to be able to send my passport to Beijing”. What can stop me? Although I was exhausted and depressed, I went to the ministries. I am sure if this is in the previous regime’s time, I am done. It’s very likely that I was arrested or detained for my activism and activities and my crazy bravery to confront with them. I have never imagined such situation. To be honest, while I was sitting in front of the Chief Police Officer and talking with him, I felt if I should stop and that’s risky for me. But something motivated me. I believe that’s one of the rare chances. I can’t guarantee myself that I can go to Tunisia by myself in the future and attend such World Forum. My dedication and eagerness still kept going me. But, at the same time, I was feeling unsafe and nervous while I was writing my appeal letter to the ministry providing all my information. I was more worried for my family. Finally, all those experiences taught me very valuable lessons. As an ordinary citizen from a third world country and a country with tight policy, that’s we have to suffer as long as we accept and don’t realize the rights we should enjoy. And the more valuable lesson is “just keep trying your best with a good heart, enthusiasm, and your own integrity, good fortune will come to such a good person”. Later, I can’t believe my good fortune. I could have visited to Beijing, China and I got my visa there within ten minutes. All those experiences gave me the understanding that first I am capable of, I am deserved, I am very supported because I also help others. That really strengthened me to be a better and stronger person as a woman, a social worker and human being, off course.
Finally, I am here. I am now in Tunis, Tunisia. While I was greeting my friends and Oxfam staff at the breakfast, I can’t believe that’s real. All the bitter memories turned sweet ones when we shared the experiences; we were talking about our excitement for the Gender Justice Project and the World Social Forum. I have walked around twice. I don’t feel I am not safe, but I am feeling something strange. I don’t see many tourists. While our group is recharging our phones at a shop this afternoon, every localities in the shop were concerned us. I love the face that the city is clean and green. Sure. My travel experience is also giving me some lessons. I bought a socket at a shop with 5 Dinar and later I saw it’s just 3 Dinar. Oh, I should walk around at least. I was very joyful our group night out for dinner. At the dinner, I sit next to a local friend and I learned about Tunis from him.
At this point, everyone in our team seems tired although we all are very excited for the coming activities. I am now ready to be an effective and active participant in the events. And I am waiting to meet and greet more action partners who I haven’t connected. I just believe another wonderful day is waiting me (us).