Thursday, May 14, 2015


Somalian Women

Not Good Husband Material 
Some of us recall the stories our grandparents told about why they left wherever they came from, be it Ireland or Russia  or wherever, when we hear stories about new immigrants in the United States or when we see stories about boats packed with Africans going down in the Mediterranean.  For us, there is a sort of built in sympathy, or a bias in favor of those trying to move from a bad place to someplace better or simply to anywhere else. 

Apart from African slaves brought against their will to America, some Canadians, and the "Native Americans" who may have trekked across the the Bering Straight following herds, almost all the rest of our ancestors crossed the oceans or the rivers because they were running from something bad. 

We now have refugees from Somalia in Manchester, New Hampshire.  As war or chaos grips a country, those who can will go from an area of badness to one of less badness, just as water will cross an osmotic membrane from an area of dilution to an area of concentration. It's a law of nature.  Some people in possession of deranged brains, Congressman Louie Gohmert comes to mind, but there are many like him, will tell you the appearance of these unfortunates among us is something alarming and threatening, a plague, an upsetting of a vital balance.  But these are minds which live in a constant state of alarm.  Any change is a pestilence, for them.

More generous souls will listen to the newcomers and often be moved to try to help, to the extent they can.

One of my neighbors has been traveling from her home in Hampton to Manchester to teach a Somalian woman to write and how to sign her name. The Somalian has recently learned to read and that opened up a new world to her and my neighbor was stunned to think what that must be like, to learn to read as an adult, how life would never be the same. This Somalian, being a woman in a Muslim country, was never allowed to go to school. But now, in the United States, she has learned to read. 

Of course, it was a serious crime in the antebellum South to teach a slave to read. Slave society knew, instinctively, reading was a genuine emancipation, and much as slave society told itself (and everyone else, ) these slaves were sub human, dim witted, child like, the slavers knew reading would be more dangerous than almost anything than a gun in the possession of slaves.

A urologist gave a presentation at a conference about her work in Africa--may have been Somalia--concerning urinary incontinence in women.  In this African culture, girls are married at age 9  impregnated as soon as they reach puberty, at age 11 to 12, when their pelvises were not wide enough to deliver a baby and the delivery so traumatizes their urethra's, they are left incontinent forevermore. This meant they have a constant stream of urine running down their legs to their feet, causing infections of their feet, not to mention an odor which led to ostracism.  The urologist perfected a simple operation to repair the damage and give a life back to some of the lucky few she could reach and treat. 

Of course, the urologist was not treating the basic pathology--a culture in which 9 year old girls are married off, used for sex  and impregnated as soon as they start ovulating.

My New Hampshire friend cannot fix the basic pathology, which is fomented across the sea,  which, in some ways, still afflicts her Somalian friend, but this Granite Stater is doing what she can, and that's where a better world begins. 

It is left to the rest of us to take the bigger steps in behalf of those refugees who reach us. We cannot solve the problems where they start--in Africa, but we can stanch the wounds of those who reach our tent.

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