Friday, September 22, 2006

The Story of Avdohol

It was, yet again, another great after dinner coffee with Mac. The Macchiato tastes good as we both exchanged "how-are-you's", "what-have-you been-up-to"and "what's-stressing-you-at-the-moment".

He confided his heartbreaking and shocking end of a lovestory. I never thought it culd be that shameful but I guess, it is all for the best -we never know. I told him that my application for the Asian Youth Forum 2006 (Jakarta, Indonesia) on October 12-13 stands so little chance of making it since it was handed over a week later of the deadline. (....... I really want to be part of that forum).

Then after a while, well, to be honest, we were arguing about the importance of one Millenium Development Goal-Promote Gender Equality andEmpower Women. I see his point that the issue can get annoyingly cliche since in our country it is not much of problem but I think the issue still needs to be adresssed globally -think about the women from Sudan, Egypt Somalia and the rest of the 28 African Countries who are bound to "cruelty" due to custom and religion but I guess in the end, he feels my cause and began to tell another interesting story.

This time, he relayed the life of one African girl. Born into a life of a nomadic and poverty-stricken land of Somalia, the young Avdohol still had the freedom to enjoy nature's best wonders --watching fierce lions napping, running with the zebras, giraffes and foxes. As a child, she was happy.

Growing up as an African woman is hard. At five years old, Avdohol had the most excruciating experience of having her clitoris cut with a broken blood stained razor blade. The remaining flesh were poked by thorns and sewn together, leaving only a tiny hole (similar to a circumference of a matchstick) for peeing and (later on) menstrual blood to pass. That being said, she was still lucky for many African girls suffered complications, infections and some died because of this practice.

At the age of thirteen, she was arranged to be married to an old man of 60 by her father in exchange of five camels. Avdohol did not want to be married and decided to run away.

One night, her mother woke her and told her to run away to escape her marriage while everyone is sleeping. She left and ran across the desert. She ran even faster as her father managed to find her by following her trail on the sand. She stopped until she realized that her father did not chase her anymore.

Tired, hungry, thirsty and beaten by the African sun she rested under a tree only to be awaken by gnarling sound -that of a lion. The lion eyed her and Avdohol stared back at the predator. Then feeling that her journey across the desert has come to an end, unafriad and ready to die; she said to the lion, "Come and get me, I am ready." Thinking of how the beast would crush her bones and tear her flesh apart, it was odd that the lion turned and walked away.

Avdohol realized that the lion was not going to kill her, she knew that God had plans for her. She sought for that reason and carried on with her journey.

She lived from relative to relative, did household chores in exchange of her up keep, even worked in a construction site -carrying heavy sacks of sand and gravel. Then lived as a maid for the Somalian Ambassador in London. In London, she was seen by a man and was given a calling card (although, at that time, she could not understand English yet so she doesn't know what the man wanted from her). The time came when the Ambassador's term ended and had to go back to Somalia. She stayed behind, not knowing where to go and what to do but she managed to survive and educate herself -she learned english.

One day, she chanced upon the old calling card the man gave her and contacted him finally. He happens to be a photographer. Avdohol went to his studio and he took pictures of her. When Avdohol saw the herself, she did not recognize herself -she could not see the Avdohol the maid but what she saw in the polariod was a different person, it was Avdohol the model.

After that, life came sweeter as a super model but still haunted by her past-her most deepest secret: her circumcision or what we call now Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). She went into a surgery to end her agony. Then she learned the reason why she survived the things she went through.

Avdohol, who is popularly known as Waris Dirie is the UN’s appointed Special Ambassador for the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation. She has decided to break her years and years of silence to speak out to help save the lives of millions of women, young and old, across Africa and many other far eastern countries.

"Female Genital Mutilation has nothing to do with culture, tradition or
religion. It is a torture and a crime, which needs to be fought against."

Waris Dirie, UN-Special Ambassador


sab said...

inspiring yung story. :D
nagulat ako sa FGM. i mean
alam ko meron but hindi ko
alam na ganon pala yun...

goodluck sa asian youth forum.

DOPS said...

Grabe pla, buti na lng di yan nangyayari sa Pinas...

Sna makasali ka sa asian youth forum.


velvet said...

hello jammy,

thanks for visiting my blog. ei, dops is here! nice!

we discussed this in class... i was shocked. its different reality from the way we are raised.

marlbaldez said...

amazing how life take this sharp turns...


Bryan Anthony the First said...

all the reason to be reminded that one may...should...can hope again!


jasmin said...

Dops: yep, buti nalang hindi natin practice yan pero meron din injustice towards women dito sa tin. (but im not saying walang nangyayaring injustice din towards men) =)

jasmin said...

velvet: things we learn from school hehe-how repulsive no? ----hehe its a small blogosphere =)

marlbaldez: its just so nice that good things happen to people when they least expect it...its just a matter of believing and moving to get there. =)

bryan: wooohoo, u came back. hehehe kamusta Guam? Always keep ur hope up! =) Enjoy life as it happens

jasmin said...

mayi, share your stories. you are a great story telling.. im telling you, ur talent is beyond ur years. miss you.

Jen Adams said...

wow! i had goosebumps the entire time i was reading this entry, afterwards, i wanted to cry... real eye-opener... indeed, WE ARE LUCKY. hope u make it sa forum jammy! the world needs more women like u.

Yoshio said...

sensational. nice blog.