- Posted August 23, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Speaking up about sexual violence
A Dozen Indian Brothers
I've always wanted to work with animals, so when an opportunity arose to volunteer with wildlife in India, I leaped at the chance. I'd been to India once before, in a big group- but this time, I would be on my own, to an extent. With the help of a dear friend in north India, and the watchful eye of my very own Tibetan Monk, I made it to the wildlife center with little event. Out of all of the physical body types to go to India, I knew that mine would be one of the most foreign and noticeable; a young Arian women with curly blond hair and pale blue eyes. I certainly got attention for my appearance, although I was never physically assaulted because of it.
I was terrified when I got to the wildlife center. All the workers there were adult Indian men who spoke very little English. The first few days I was always looking over my shoulder, expecting to find one of them behind me, following me, waiting for me outside of closed doors. I thought that these men, left to their own devices, would hurt me. I could not have been more wrong. As I slowly got to know the region , and the animals, and the establishment, my worries dwindled to non-existent. The men that I had been so afraid of turned out to be the most respectful and caring individuals that I have ever had the honor to encounter. My last few days there, the keepers all began to call me "baideo," which I later learned meant "sister." So before I really knew what was happening, I had 12 brand-new adult brothers, who I did truly love as dearly as family.
On the occasions that I was sexually harassed, later in my travels, far away from Assam and my brothers, the harassment usually came from people that I least expected it to. To calm myself, and be reminded of the good that still existed in abundance in the world, I would think of those dozen Indian brothers of mine who continue to be the best men I've ever known.