Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Hope... Women on display...

This evening God did an amazing thing. He created a display of the women of this land, in their vast array of bright colours and strong scents, and set it out for my heart to see.

As I walked up and down the Nile Corniche right before sunset, I realised that all the tea-makers setting up their plastic chairs and washing their cups and glasses, they were all women. Many of the socialisers were women, and women were manning the random food stall halfway down the road. They made the sandy beach into a garden with their bright clothes of turquoise, green, yellow, red, blue, and every combination of bright colours you might think of.

Some women were focused, frighteningly so, on arranging the jars of different types of tea leaves, sugar, spices, and incense on their two-foot-tall tables. Others were chatting with friends. Some looked like grandmothers, or older. Others looked like they may have been studying at school all day before they came to work in the evening. One young lady smiled at me every time I walked by, as if I were a good friend.

Have you ever tried to keep a scarf loosely covering your head while you lifted boxes and moved chairs in the riverside breeze? Maintained a small business in the evening hours while caring for your family at home and very possibly going to school or holding down another job during the day? These ladies are amazing.

As I walked and saw pairs of teenage girls chatting, mothers walking with one child's hand in each of hers, fully and decently covered women exercising in faux-'converse' walking shoes, I was struck with the deep needs of the women in this land. They work so hard and earn so little respect. Though they hold their community together, they are kept in their place by little things like the fact that it was always the men driving. They are strong but they don't believe in their own value. They might even know they are amazing but they don't imagine that anyone else might realises how just how amazing they are.

This picture below is of what is surely one of my few treasured posessions, a painting given to me by my parents. The woman portrayed is not Sue Dan ese; she's Nubian (from a small ethnic group in Egypt). But she could be from here. Her scarf, the henna (all good wives here maintain henna on their hands), her breathtaking beauty... she could be here. But if she were here, her clothes might be orange with pink flowers or something equally dazzling.
This painting stole my heart because of the look in her face. Expectation, hope for freedom and for a future.

So as these sights, and the scent of the women's traditional perfumes, and the memory of my Nubian woman, overtook me... as the sun set and the music in my ipod crooned and the breeze wafted... I began to remember why I came here in the first place. And to ask: what difficulties am I ready to face in order to help these women? No one said it was easy, but surely it a woman should be reminded of how valuable she is.

Imperfect Prose friends, thank you for your kind words and comments during the last few weeks. My circumstances haven't changed and I still feel a bit paralised, but I am so grateful that at least I've found a few words to write. And grateful for this community - I looking forward to reading your words tomorrow!

11 comments:

Tamara @ Living Palm said...

beautiful

Joybird said...

Yes, yes. What a beautiful, wonderful mission; to remind or reveal to these women how valuable they are. This just makes me all kinds of excited.

David N. said...

Certainly each one should. I love these weekly glimpses into your life on the other side of the world. I am often so confused about God's work in the world, but I know he is good, and I know he is using people like you to accomplish his good. Peace to you.

Connie Mace said...

"breathtaking beauty"...she is and I love your word paintings that help us to see through your eyes

becky said...

Fascinating. Found you here on Imperfect Prose...first on the list as I read my way through it. I'll be back for more!!!
God's blessings go with you...
Becky

LauraX said...

Kati...this is an exquisite post, oh and beautiful woman in the image...and the image of magnificent women you have painted with your words...my heart expands across the sea and forests and deserts with love for the women whose devotion and compassion and hard work turn the world and care for it's inhabitants day after day through out time.

gentle steps sweet soul

alittlebitograce said...

you show the beauty of those women so well.

ELK said...

such beauty in this community .. i agree with you and send you well wishes ...

Lindsay said...

I like the part where you mentioned women not having the saming opportunities to drive limits their equality and freedom so much in a country.... reminds me of a line in Johnathan Frazen's Freedom

emily wierenga said...

LOVED all of this... loved the bit about the women turning the beach into a garden, and the part where the women are arranging their jars, some frighteningly focused... such good description kati. such heart, here. thank you.

happygirl said...

So glad I found you on imperfect prose. Women have always held the community together with little regard or help. Love the beauty and the desire for beauty in the words and the women.

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