|This book has changed my life. I never went anywhere without it while I was reading it. There has never been a non-fiction book that I have read that I did not want it to end! I inhaled every single word of it, and was disturbed, moved, inspired, and most importantly driven TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT MATERNAL HEALTH AND THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN WORLDWIDE.|
Nicholas and Sheryl paint vivid portraits of many women throughout the world, and some of whom I will never forget. But perhaps the one that moved me most, and had me sobbing, was the story of the 14 year old girl, named Mahabouba, who was a second wife and was in labour with her first baby for over 7 days. On the seventh day she delivered her dead baby only to realize that she was uncontrollably leaking urine and feces, and could no longer walk due to the nerve damage in her legs. The leaking of her bodily wastes was caused by a fistula, an all too common traumatic birth injury that currently affects more than TWO MILLION WOMEN in developing nations.
Disgusted by her foul odor, and convinced she had been cursed, the villagers and her family forced her to live in a hut outside the village, but not before taking the door off so that the hyenas could come and attack her in the night. After darkness the hyenas came. Mahabouba could not move her legs so she grabbed a nearby stick and waved it at the hyenas and yelled as they circled her all night; all night long she fended them off.
The next morning the only hope that Mahabouba had was to crawl to find help. She had heard of a Western Missionary close by, and with a fierce determination to live, Mahabouba began pulling her self along the ground by her arms, her useless legs dragging behind her. It took her an entire day to arrive at the compound, and she was already half dead.....
Can you even imagine? I can't. I CANNOT. And it is stories like this that have turned my rage into action. I am now an advocate for women's rights in a way I never was before. I have recently became a Circle Of Friends Volunteer Ambassador for The Fistula Foundation, and have also started our only local Chapter of Dining for Women, where we meet once a month and donate our dining out dollars we would have spent at a restaurant to causes that focus on women and children all over the world. I am inhaling everything I can on the topic of women and maternal health, and have recently enrolled in a University course (which I had enrolled in about 6 years ago, only to cancel my registration due to me feeling that I didn't have the time... seriously.) in International Community Development.
I urge every single person reading this to pick up your copy today and read it. Then tell everyone you know about it. I think this should be required reading in high schools, and I believe this could be one of the most important books of our generation on the topic of women's rights.
If you live in the LA area, there is a great Half the Sky exhibit going on at the Skirball Cultural Centre until March 2012.
Thank you, to Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn for shedding light on the issues of women in developing countries, and yes even women right here at home.
If I could give it more than 5 stars I would.
For more information please visit Half the Sky website.
Life: It Goes On - April 23
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