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Hey cool--she didn't get adopted today, so we get to have another week to play with each other.



"Saturday at the SPCA"

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by Mefeedia


21 November 2005

I've just made the "acquaintance" of Mirsada, a 46 year old woman from Bosnia.

When I was in college, JFK had the idea to get the Peace Corps up and running.  I was very attracted to the idea of going off around the world to do something to help other people, but being the wimp of all time, I chickened out on actually signing up.  (They also wanted college graduates, and I was not one.)

But in my own way, over the years, I've tried to do what I could from home.  It started with Foster Parents Plan, a couple of years before Walt and I were married, when I adopted a young girl named Park Hyun Joo.  I don't remember how many years I sent money to help support Hyun Joo, but she felt a real part of my family.  I remember even having a birthday party for her once, inviting all of my family to come and bring gifts.  I baked a fruitcake for her and got some guy from Korea who was one of the grad students working in the Physics Department (where I worked at the time) to teach me how to write "happy birthday" in Korean,  which I did on the cake, and then sent the whole thing to her.  She probably never got it, but I did at least feel that I was a part of her life.

When Hyun Joo was able to leave the support of Foster Parents Plan, we had a series of other kids, most of whom I have now forgotten from both Foster Parents Plan and Christian Children's Fund.

When we started having our own children, I kind of let the sponsorship of kids around the world go by the wayside...and in its place we started hosting foreign students.

Of course, most of the foreign students we hosted were the from the richest class of their various countries, if they came through an expensive formal program, like the Experiment in International Living.  But the longer we took kids through the program, the more we started to branch out and take people who could not afford a program experience, but who, for one reason or another, wanted to come to the United States.  (There were a few we supported for several months until they could get on their feet here in this country, or afford to go home again.)

It's been a long time since we had an in-house person from another country and we don't support the kids in programs any more, but I still have that "peace corps" tug on my heart.

So when Oprah did a program on the atrocoties that are part of the  everyday lives of women around the world, and introduced Women for Women, which helps women in war-torn regions rebuild their lives by giving them financial and emotional support, job skills training, rights education, access to capital and assistance for small business development, I knew that I had to be part of this movement, women extending the hand of friendship and financial assistance to other women around the world.  I have been waiting a long time to find out who I would be paired with.   I had chosen the geographic area "of greatest need," and the information on Mirsada arrived today.  All I know about her right now is that she is single, she completed primary school, she is literate and she has a daughter.

From Women for Women's fact sheet on Bosnia:

The ethnic cleansing campaign carried out from 1992-1995 left thousands of Bosnian women coping with the loss of their families and communities and the profound psychological trauma and humiliation of sexual assault and torture. Throughout the war, rape was used as a military tactic with the official intent to demoralize and terrorize communities, driving women and others from their homes as a demonstration of the power of the invading forces.

Serbian soldiers and paramilitary groups systematically perpetrated mass rape, forced impregnation, forced prostitution and sexual slavery on all non-Serb women with the aim of ethnic cleansing. Women were sometimes raped publicly when soldiers would enter a village, as well as in the privacy of their own apartments and houses. There were more than 16 rape/concentration camps that were organized by the Serbian military during the war. Women were kept in a camp for a minimum of 21 days, though many were held for longer periods. If a woman became pregnant in the camp, she would be held until the late stages of pregnancy, then forced to leave with no provisions or a place to return. Other women were released as part of a prisoner exchange. During the imprisonment period, women suffered mass rape on a daily basis; they had to cook and clean for the soldiers; and at times they were forced to do so naked. Rape served as a horrifying means of humiliation, not only for women but also for a whole population.

Although rape has historically been used as a weapon of war, it has never been prosecuted in international courts as a war crime. Bosnian and Croatian women are credited for speaking out about the rape and crimes they faced, and for bringing this issue into the international arena. Because of their courage and willingness to speak, rape has been prosecuted as a war crime for the first time in the War Tribunals of former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

In post-war Bosnia, women are still facing the brunt of economic and political hardships. Thousands of female-headed households are still internally displaced in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Women form the majority of the poor population, with limited economic opportunities or health services to deal with the consequences of the war.

Prostitution and trafficking of Bosnian women has also expanded greatly since the war ended. Because of high unemployment rates, many Bosnian women are easy targets for human traffickers who promise them job opportunities in the West, but instead force them into prostitution. Traffickers are often the same warlords and paramilitaries from the war who have turned to organized crime in the post-war turmoil. Women are taken from their homes, abused and forced to become prostitutes and slaves for local and foreign soldiers with the NATO-led peacekeeping forces. In April 2002, the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina recorded more than 1,300 female prostitutes in the country.

I've mailed off my introductory letter.  They say that it takes 3 months (or more) to get a response, but I hope to get some sort of a supportive relationship going with Mirsada and to help her get on track for a better life for herself and for her daughter.

It feels good to be involved again.

I wonder if she'd like a dog....  smiley1.gif (1076 bytes)

Following yesterday's rant, please check The 12 Signs of Facism


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