Nuba Women’s Voices

I talk first-hand each week with women who are trapped in the Nuba Mountains conflict. The women are left alone in their villages with the children.  They have nowhere to go.  All roads to and from their villages are blocked by armed militia.  No food is allowed to enter the villages.  No water.  No medicines.  No doctors.  No humanitarian aid.  Nothing.

What is allowed to enter are the bombs and the missiles, the starvation, the disease, and wounds from the bombings, the fear and the terror of it all.   The rape, the not knowing if they will survive the day—if their children will survive.  The women speak of the “voice of the missiles” and the “voice of the bombs.”  But who hears the voice of the women?  Who hears their cries for help?

The woman with whom I was speaking this week before Christmas (2011) told me of her daughter who is too weak from starvation to be able to stand.  Her voice echoes her fear, her concern, her inability to do anything.  She speaks for all the women in her village.  When they awake in the morning, they wonder if they will survive the day.  Will their children survive?  All too often the women are so malnourished that they are unable to nurse their babies, and the babies die shortly after birth.  The women gave birth in caves where they thought they were safe.  Filth and snakes were the midwives.  The caves are now being bombed.  They are no longer spots of safety.  There is no place of safety.

Markets are closed.  Schools are closed.  Any places people used to gather are no more.  Bombs are dropped where people meet.  There no lights at night.  Lights show where people are and bombs are dropped.

There is a drought now.  Crops cannot grow.  The bombs cause fires and any remaining vegetation is burned.  It is winter and cold permeates their bodies.  There are no blankets for warmth.  The men are gone from the villages trying to protect their homes.  One man told me that it was easier for them because they could eat leaves and roots and they could forage for food.  There are no leaves left in the villages.  They are burned.  There is nothing for the women to forage.  I contrast this with the amount of food that is wasted here in this country.  I remember the woman in the grocery store who was loudly complaining because the baker had not sliced the loaf of bread she ordered.  I told her to be grateful she even had a loaf of bread and told her about the women of Nuba.  She glared at me.

The voices of the Nuba women cry out for help.  Yet the voices of the bombs and the missiles are louder and the women’s voices are not heard.

In the PBS documentary, “Women, War, and Peace,” this comment from Patrick Cammaert, Dutch Major General with the UN Peace Keeping Unit, stood out from all others.  He served in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Cambodia, Bosnia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  After finding out the horrors that women suffered (such as being kicked out of their homes and divorced after being raped, mentally broken, starvation for themselves and their children), he stated, “It has probably become more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier in an armed conflict.”

Our mission and our challenge is to speak for these women.  We must make our voices louder than the bombs and the missiles.  We are women.  We are one.  We must speak now, and we must speak with clarity and force.  The genocide in the Nuba Mountains must stop NOW.  Let your voice be heard.

Tell the story of the Nuba women to as many other people as possible.  Call your congresspeople and demand they present a united front to stop these atrocities.

We have the power of one.  ONE always makes a difference.  We make a difference by telling the stories of the Nuba woman.  We make a difference by our silence.  Be the voice of one.  Tell their story.  Tell it over and over again.  Not just once, but as often as you can.  Make a difference.  Do it now!  Do it today!  Do it often.

Then perhaps next week when I talk with her again, she will be able to say that the “voice” of the bombs, the “voice” of the missles have been silenced and the voices of the women are being heard.   Wouldn’t that be wonderful!

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I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and, because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do. - Edward Everett Hale

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