April 12, 2010

Gutsy Women of the 21st Century: Women Who Are Making a Difference

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:46 am by lbrosch

Let me introduce some very brave and influential women of the 21st century.

Somaly Mam tells her story in The Road of Lost Innocence: The True Story of a Cambodian Heroine (2009). In this shocking memoir Somaly tells of her own experiences as a sex slave. After her escape she returns to try and save many of the girls who were left behind. The story tells of her efforts to lead them into a new life.
Sisters in War (2009) by Christina Asquith tells the story of the lives of four women shortly after the fall of Saddam.Two are sisters in Iraq whose lives are changed by the involvement of the Americans in the invasion and also two American women involved in helping to further women’s rights in Iraq. All of this is told by the reporter Asquith who spent two years in Baghdad during this chaotic time.

In an earlier post I spoke of Malalai Joya. You can read more of  Malalai’s heroes in this book, Meena, Heroine of Afghanistan: The Martyr Who Founded RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (2003) by Melody Ermachild Chavis and another title becoming popular is Behind the Burqa: Our Life in Afghanistan and How We Escaped to Freedom (2002) by Sulima and Hala. This is the story of two sisters who give first-hand accounts of what life is like for women in Afghanistan but their stories are 20 years apart.

A Thousand Sisters: My Journey (2010) is by Lisa Shannon who left Oregon to establish the Run for Congo Women. This was the start of efforts to raise money for women in the Democratic Republic of Congo who have suffered abuse and death from civil war. Her book chronicles the struggle of these determined women through the history of this long war as well as giving inspiration to all in showing how just one person can make a difference in providing aid.
Warrior Princess: Fighting for Life with Courage and Hope (2010) is a story told by Princess Kasune Zulu with Belinda Collins. Princess tells about her life growing up in Zambia. She is married young and then finds herself infected with AIDS. She sets out with determination to overcome the HIV/AIDS infection and today is a well known advocate, educator and activist speaking about the crisis and its effect on women and children. Her book is of special importance in educating everyone about the AIDS virus and to give strength and a positive outlook to those facing the disease.
Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival (2009) by Halima Bashir
Bashir, now a physician and refugee living in London, begins the story telling us about her happy childhood and the support from her family that leads to her becoming a doctor. She later becomes a victim of the violence in the Darfur region of Sudan where she is brutally gang-raped by soldiers and sees her village destroyed.  Having escaped to Britain she is now using her strength to speak out for the victims in Darfur in hopes of bringing the world’s attention to the terrible tragedies in this region.
I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced (2010) by Nujood Ali
Nujood Ali from Yemen tells her amazing story of child marriage. Her family was typical of many who are so poor that their daughters must be sold. She finds herself married to a brutal man at the age of 10 who rapes her until she manages to run away. She tells her courageous story to help expose the kind of cultural abuse that has long been kept secret in this part of the world. It is hoped that attention to her story will help to save many other young girls in similar situations.
Silent Tears: A Journey Of Hope In A Chinese Orphanage (2010). Kay Bratt went with her husband to China in 2003 as part of a work assignment relocation. She began volunteering at the local orphanage which turned into a crusade to help better the lives of these desperate children which she chronicles in her memoir.  She was honored in China with the 2006 Pride of the City award for her humanitarian work. She is the founder of the Mifan Mommy Club, an online organization which provides rice for children in China’s orphanages, and is also an active volunteer for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for abused and neglected children. She now lives in Georgia.
These are books to be read and discussed by all and especially by women who are seeking ways of helping other women who suffer throughout the world. Learn how to make a difference!!

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April 6, 2010

Moloka’i by Alan Brennert

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:10 am by lbrosch

Just finished reading Moloka’i by Alan Brennert and I can’t get it out of my mind. I have never been very knowledgeable about the disease of leprosy or more recently known as Hansen’s disease. Other than reading about lepers in the Bible I was only vaguely aware that the disease had been known in modern times as well. Since 1980 a part of Hawai’i known as Kalaupapa has been a historical park but this book tells much of its long history as a location for leper exiles. The story centers around the life of fictional Rachel Kalama who is diagnosed with the disease at the age of 7. She is taken from her family and learns to survive through the love and kindness of other lepers and the sisters of the Bishop Home on Kalaupapa. The story describes not only the discrimination against the lepers themselves but their entire family faced isolation so great that jobs were lost resulting in many families becoming destitute.  Often they were forced to move away to a place where no one new they had a leprous family member. Many characters in the book are real people who were a part of the colony’s history. This is a heart wrenching story which will put you on an emotional roller coaster. Many times when you think Rachel is about to overcome the odds, you find that she is thrown down into the depths again and your emotions are stretched to the limit. It is an important story to be told to the world about the history of the treatment of leprosy and the needless suffering of so many who had to endure the loss of family and eventually their lives due to the ignorance of how the disease was spread and the lack of treatment. After taking us through many tragedies in the lives of the citizens of Kalaupapa the book does end on a hopeful note. I highly recommend this book to everyone!!

For more information on leprosy today go to the World Health Organization site.