Our class on April 3rd started off with us video conferencing Tamarin. She was able to answer questions that we all had regarding our service projects that we will be implementing when we go down to South Africa.
After we discussed our projects and the progress that we have made thus far, we started watching the movie Yesterday. The beginning entry of the movie was very slow moving and I had that antsy feeling that I didn’t think I would be able to sit through the whole movie and be able to pay attention if it were to continue at that pace.
I actually really enjoyed the movie because it allowed me to put the book Half The Sky that we read into context. It gave me a visual and helped me understand more of how women were treated. The movie seemed very realistic and it was entertaining, yet, very hard to watch because I knew everything that was happening in the movie is true.
Many parts of the movie stood out to me and impacted the way I now think about what has happened there and continues to happen not only in South Africa but in other countries as well. I first noticed that there weren’t any men in the villages. The women did everything and took on every role to support their children.
The lead in the movie, Yesterday, wasn’t feeling well and walked hours to see this one doctor in order to be checked out. It took her multiple times to see the doctor because the line was so long and there was only one doctor. I found it interesting when she finally saw the doctor, the doctor asked why her name was Yesterday. She responded by saying that her father always said, “because yesterday is always better than today.” I found that interesting and kind of epitomized the lives of the women because they are stuck in that lifestyle and if they contract diseases than yesterday will actually always be better than the next.
Yesterday found out that she was living with HIV and didn’t understand how or what it was because she was not educated on diseases or educated at all. Only the men are educated enough to be able to work. Yesterday felt that the doctor was superior to her because she was white and educated. I felt sorry for Yesterday when she felt incompetent in the fact that she couldn’t fill out the form due to not being able to read or write.
Most of the men were in Johannesburg working and having relations with other women. When the men return to the wives, they transmit HIV to their wives that they contracted from prostitutes.
Professor Gallay asked if we thought that the husband, who gave Yesterday HIV, was completely wrong and bad. Immediately I answered yes because not only did he give his wife a deadly disease but he cheated on her and beat her when Yesterday went to confront him in Johannesburg. I was surprised to hear how my peers thought that he may not have been really that bad. Someone mentioned that he wasn’t that bad because he didn’t know any better, but personally I still don’t think that is a good enough excuse to put your family in danger like that. I also thought it was interesting how it related to the book Half The Sky. When an officer said that prostitution was okay because, “what else is a man supposed to do from the time he is eighteen to the time he gets married?” It just goes to show that women are just viewed as objects, and the movie showed that even the wife wasn’t respected enough by her husband for him to stay faithful.
I thought it was very interesting how the women of the village reacted to finding out that Yesterday’s husband had the HIV virus. They were making awful remarks about making sure he gets out of the village. The teacher, who is Yesterday’s friend, tried to reassure the women that you can only contract the virus from blood and that it is not airborne, but all of the women continued to be stubborn out of ignorance. Yesterday didn’t tell anyone that she herself had the virus too because she heard of another women elsewhere being stoned to death for having HIV. The women of the village would gossip about her and run away from her once they found out she was infected too.
On a brighter note, I thought it was very inspirational that Yesterday promised herself that she would stay alive for her child to receive an education. The last part of the movie showed her watching her child, Beauty, walk into the school, which gives viewers hope that not every woman in a village like that will end up having a poor lifestyle.
When the movie ended, we all discussed how realistic the movie felt, and although it was extremely sad to watch, it also gave us a better understanding of some of the things we may see while we are down there.