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  • Biem D'hondt

Trui Hanoulle

'Vrouw aan't stuur, bloed aan de muur.'

Meet Trui Hanoulle.

It’s strange how all fell silent climbing up the stairs. Only a second ago the streets were ringing with city sounds. The room, tucked away behind mountains of books, brightly colored books unable to conceal themselves and others contriving to go unnoticed. A big map on the wall. Although the sun was out I could imagine her sitting here, the rain drumming on the roof, the steady swish of a moderate downpour. It is a good sound to read by - the rain outside, blanketed in silence within. I had a sudden urge to be done with my task and stay in this house forever.

Of all the emotions which surged through me as I spoke with Trui, the dominant one was excitement. She's a traveler, heart and soul, both of which she has in abundance.

#Moveshedoes is her global project about women and girls claiming the public space using specific means of transportation. With her motorbike she made countless journeys to Iran and beyond (#book Girls, Muslims & Motorcycles #meisjesmoslimsmotoren) and was confronted with women facing prejudices, traditions, prohibitive laws, violence while moving in public spaces. All over the world, women are finding ways to overcome these obstacles. 'Bangladesh women are constantly harassed on public transport, so now there are female taxi scooter riders in Bangladesh and Tanzania carrying other women.' Each one of them changes her society from within, and becomes a role model inspiring others to follow suit.

'I wish my project wasn't needed, but it is. Do you remember the ship that blocked the Suez Canal? I know a Sea Captain who was accused of being guilty, which was nonsense of course, she was on the other side of the world at that time. But the damage was done, a meme went viral, it was a picture of the boat and a picture of her and it fit right in with existing prejudices,

'a woman at the wheel, blood on the wall'.

Trui is very conscious of our smallness in this large world. That's why she documents her travels. Some learn to crawl first, she just rides. There is no end. There is only another road.

'Next year me and Gaea Schoeters are going to ride in Japan with Yamaha motorbikes in search of stories. By only working with female interpreters and filmmakers I try to create a safe space. It's a safety that is important to many of us, it creates an unspoken bond. It's also about emancipation, women's rights, about being an inspiration to others. Being queer I may be more sensitive to injustices against females, like an ever present undertone, a constant buzzing sound, if you're a person of color that's an extra buzz.'

We talk about what drives us, why do we do what we do? We experience changes within ourselves, we share what we have learned, rise above our frailty and vulnerability and turn it to trust and hope.

'You need to realize that people from other countries don't want to 'take' anything from you, seeking refuge here. They want the same things we do: food, safety, a home, health, a family, but they don't find that in their own country. I want to get rid of that blindness and take away some of that fear. I've travelled so much, met so many people and want to pass on these insights.'

Trui has a tattoo saying 'life shrinks or knowledge expands in proportion to one's courage', a quote by #anaisnin, and another one from #thelittleprince which translates to 'Straight ahead is not the most interesting, there's so much to discover in side roads.'

Late at night I lie awake - but it doesn’t keep me from dreaming.

Instagram : @truihanoulle

Text : Biem D'hondt

Photo : Marijn Achten


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