Monthly Archives: October 2012

Meet ‘n’ Greet // Rukia: The Mother and The Stronghold

“I have never studied the art of paying compliments to women; but I must say that if all that has been said by orators and poets since the creation of the world in praise of women were applied to the women of America, it would not do them justice for their conduct during this war.” 
― Abraham Lincoln
“…I must say that if all that has been said by orators and poets since the creation of the world in praise of women were applied to the women of Africa, it would not do them justice for their conduct during this war.”
Kelly Ranck

 

There is still much to be said about the individuals I met while training with World Concern in Kenya and South Sudan. A few beneficiary’s stories in particular have continued to stick with me. A couple of weeks ago, you met John, the toothy singing mechanic of South Sudan. Today, it is my honor to introduce you to one of Kenya’s most resilient women, Rukia Abdi.

Rukia Abdi and her daughter.

Rukia lives with 4 of her children in Benane, an arid and drought-ridden Internally Displaced Person’s (IDP) camp in Eastern Kenya. She and her family moved west from the Isiolo District after losing all of their livestock to inner-clan wars and the worst drought in 60 years. Like many of the Somali people of Eastern Kenya, Rukia has lived her entire life as a pastoralist. Though she was once the owner of 500 goats, 200 cows, and 100 camels, Rukia and her family are now left with merely a small plot of land, 10 goats, and 3 camels. Due to the depletion of her resources and livelihood, Rukia was forced to move her family west, without any knowledge of their end destination or future means of provision.

Rukia showing me her compound in Benane, Kenya.

Forced to flee her migratory lifestyle, Rukia used the less-than-ideal resources that the thorn-ridden land had to offer and settled in Benane. Because of her continued lack of opportunity for income, 3 of her 7 children have since been adopted by relatives. Rukia’s husband left home over 3 months ago to go beg for assistance in a nearby town. Left with her 4 children, one of whom had chicken pox during the time of the interview, and Kenya Red Cross rations, Rukia still clings to God and remains a solid rock for her family. The sole caretaker of her home, this resiliency of Rukia keeps her family alive.

Rukia and four of her children in her their hut.

Rukia’s beautiful daughter. Her face is covered in cream because she had chicken pox at the time of the interview.

Like many others in Benane, Rukia is tired of living off of “well-wisher’s” donations and hopes to be able to generate a sustainable source of income- one that will allow all of her children to live in the same home; one that will pay for her children’s education; an income that will bring her husband home and give him opportunities to be a provider; an income that will bring Rukia and her family dignity. Rukia’s circumstances are entirely out of her control. Rukia deserves to do more than survive.

I have tried countless times to empathize with Rukia’s story, but I have never known what it feels like to lose all of my possessions, my livelihood, and my sense of worth. I am humbled (wait, humbled is not even strong enough of a word…) by the fact that it is not because of what I’ve done that I have not suffered such losses, and it is not because of what Rukia’s done that she has— I do not know why I’ve been given, in comparison to Rukia’s, such an easy life. What I do know, is that it is my job, as a fellow human and sister, to know, understand, share, and act on stories such as Rukia’s. World Concern is working to give people like Rukia opportunities to live with dignity and hope. In disaster-related circumstances, such as that of the drought, World Concern works first and foremost to bring relief (such as Non-Food Items [NFIs], food vouchers, and medicine), but it is their primary focus to remain in communities until they are able to help people move into a life of sustainability. World Concern works to see lives and villages transformed to the point of moving past surviving- to a point of thriving. Currently, World Concern is helping Rukia and the people of Benane with agricultural training- a significant step for a community that has lived their entire history as pastoralists.

I cannot wait for the next time that I am able visit with Rukia! It is my prayer and hope that she will be empowered to provide for her family through farming and job training. I don’t doubt that the work of World Concern, coupled with her resilient spirit, will give her the opportunity to live a life transformed. When I return to the field, keep on the lookout for updates on Rukia and her family!

Please consider partnering with me to share more stories of incredible women and men like Rukia by becoming a monthly donor. Help me serve as a voice those who’s stories of pain, resilience, and beauty deserve to be heard. Thanks for tuning in!

Also, it’s not too late to buy a ticket for the Jenny Simmons and Jonathan Young benefit show at the Q Cafe, Oct 19! It will be a night of good coffee, good community, and good music for a good cause!

Lights. Camera. ACTION.

[Lights]

In approximately 2 weeks, on October 19th, Jenny Simmons (formerly of Addison Road) and Jonathan Young, of We Are Arrows (formerly of The Myriad), will be playing a benefit show at the Q Cafe TICKETS!: http://jennysimmons.brownpapertickets.com/

This concert will be incredible for a variety of reasons:

1. Both Jenny and Jonathan are partners with World Concern. Jenny is a full-time musician and Jonathan is the Northwest regional director for ONE.

2. I had the opportunity to travel with Jonathan in Kenya and Jenny in South Sudan- thus they’ve both seen me training in the field and “in my element”.

Jenny and I roadside in South Sudan. No, that is not a spray tan- this picture is post a 13+ hour bumpy ride over red dirt roads. 6 push-starts and 1 traffic ticket later, we made it!

Jonathan and I discussing important matters in Eastern Kenya.

3. They are both beautiful musicians, the Q Cafe is a beautiful venue with beautiful coffee, and this will be an evening for me to share more about the beautiful work of World Concern in Africa and the role I will be taking on as the Communication Liaison.

Jonathan, Derek and I setting up for an interview in Kenya.

4. Derek Sciba will be emceeing. (If you don’t know why this is incredible, you soon will!)

Please get your tickets here: http://jennysimmons.brownpapertickets.com/ and bring your friends, family, small groups, colleagues, and neighbors for an evening of quality music, coffee, art, and community. Please also consider coming out to learn more about how you can become a monthly partner and help me get to Africa by this November!

[Camera]

Here are some recent shots with my camera, soon-to-be my new best friend, a preview of what is to come once I raise the remainder of my budget and move to Africa.

transportation

$1 bowling. $1 shoes.

beautiful sister and bride-to-be

silhoutted

Colorado wilderness

I spy. Garden of the Gods, Colorado.

[Action]

Friends, you have been so considerate and patient in your giving. Thank you for those of you who have generously provided one-time donations. I have now reached my one-time expenses goal; however, I still need to reach my monthly income goal. What this means is that I need monthly donors who would be willing to contribute a set monthly amount. I only have a ¼ left to raise–$900 more per month. If only 18 people donated $50/month, I would be well on my way. Please help me reach my goal is raising this money by the end of this month! Still clinging to the peace in the fact that God’s timing is more perfect than mine.

My training is complete, all of my belongings are packed, and I am eager to move to Africa, but I cannot do so until 100% of my budget is raised. As I prayerfully and patiently (with a hint of impatience) wait for the rest of the money to come through, would you please seriously consider becoming a monthly partner? By doing so, you will have the opportunity to be a part of being a voice of dignity and hope for those who are often given none. Your partnership will enable me to build relationships with and share more stories of World Concern’s Africa beneficiaries- generating greater awareness about the lives being transformed and the work that is yet to be done.

I will most likely be moving to CA by the end of this month, so if I have not seen you in some time, I would love to get together- please contact me! I am always interested in sharing a good cup of coffee, a walk, a meal, or a hike. Let me bless you for all the ways in which you have supported me!

Friends, this is a call to action. It’s go time!

See you at the show!