Anisa Nur volunteered with Restless Development in South Africa on the International Citizen Service (ICS) programme. While on placement she reflected on her experiences through poem and in this post she shares six of her writings with us.
In my time with Restless, I found my voice through writing poetry about my time on placement. It was undeniably difficult to distil three months of challenging and tempestuous experiences into poem. Yet I could not forget that with these eyes I saw, with these hands I did, with my heart I felt.
I knew the trials that the people I helped had to live through and I considered it my responsibility to provide others with an insight into this unreal reality. As part of my personal development I was able to perform my poetry for the first time in front of my peers. I’m glad I did it, and I’m thankful to Restless for giving me a platform to continue this passion of mine.
Click the titles to reveal the full poem and a short explainer of its orgins.
I spoke with the host brother who sent his children away to learn at ‘better’ schools that taught English. This meant they had to move away from home for months at a time. That made me think of how speaking English was more valuable than their mother tongue and the colonial aspects.
English is the currency you need to excel here,
Matter of fact just about anywhere.
You send your children miles away to learn a language that isn’t yours.
Your mother tongue and all its lullabies and idioms will be forgotten soon.
English is the currency you need to navigate here.
It’s the instructions on the condoms
And signs by the roadside.
It’s the textbooks you read and the exams you need.