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Friday, September 17, 2004
(by: Sharlene Johnson, MOREMAG)


Angelina Acheng Atyam, 55

She is the co-founder and chair of the Concerned Parents Association, Atyam is at the forefront of a campaing for the release of children abducted by rebels in northern Uganda during the 17 year long conflict. Her daugher Charlotte, kidnapped in 1996 at age 14, is amng the 20,000 children who have been forced to become soldiers , porters and sex slaves. A nurse-midwife, Atyam is married and has five other children.

IMPOSSIBLE CHOICEin 1997, the rebels offered to return Charlotte if Atyam will suspend her campaing, "I love my daughter, but to get only her her back would have meant betraying other parents. We want to stop the abductions and get every child out."

OBJECTIVE: "Peace is our ultimate goal".
SACRIFICE: "My maternity clinic used to run very well, but with all my traveling, I can't attend to patients on a regular basis. I've lost my patients and my income".

TREE OF LIFE "the more the tree I planted in memory of Charlotte grows, the more my hopes look bright.:
(Nabusayi I. Wamboka)


Venus M. Ilagan, 44

Partially paraluzed by polio since she was three, Ilagan became a journalist -- and a pioneer for those with disabilities. She now serves as chairperson of Disabled People International, an advocy group with member organizations in 135 countries. She also runs Katipunan Ng Maykapansanan Sa Pilipinas, Inc. (KAMPI) a federation of Filipino grassroots groups fopr the disabled. Ilagan lives in Quezon City with her husband and teenage son.

Secret Sucess: "I am strong willed. I don't want anyone to think I am not able to do things as well as other people".

Old Attitudes:"Many wondered why my parents sent me to school, then supported my ambition to become a journalist. Some thought I shoukd stay home,out of sight. Later, people wondered why a non-disabled man would marry a disabled woman, even if she sere smart and educated. Then they wondered why I wanted a baby. I saw it was time to change people's perceptions."

Global Problem: "The majority of diasbled persons line in a poor countries under deplorable conditions. Medical care is inadequate or unavailable, and social services rarely accessible. Their main concern is surviving another day."

Double Jeopardy:"In the poorest countries, not even five percent of disabled children have access to education. When resources are scarce and teh needs are enormous, those with disabilities are always at the end of a long list of priorities."

Snail's Pace: "There are times, I feel frustrated, especially when chages don't happen fast. So much remains to be done. But I love this work-- the challenges are great, but so are the rewards." (Sharlene Johnson)

*** Jordan
Unveiling Honor Killings

Asma Khader, 51

A lawyer and activist, Khader spearheaded a sucessful campaign in Jordan against honor killings, in which women are murdered or burtalized for actions, or even suspected actions, deemed harmful to their families honor. She has helped involve the country's royal family in teh cause and started up an Arabic language Web site for abused women. Khader is married with four children.

Universal Issue:"The practice is not necessarily Muslim or Christian or Bedoiun. It exists in any patriarchal, authoritarian system inwgcgh men have been the power to control others."

Progress :Khader had lobbied to amend Jordan's laws. Though hnor killings have recently been recognized as a crime, her work is far from over. "We're fighting to raise the minimum punishment. Now, a murderer could get only three to six months."

Changing Times:"Violence against women has become a public issue, not a private problem."

Stress Relief: "I live with sad stories every day. To remember the positive side of life, I may take my chilkdren to the mountains or to an art exhibitions."

The Risks: "Three years ago, someone kept calling, saying he'd rape my daughters so I would understand what honor is. I thought if that ever happened, I could not go on living. Then I realized that I have to continue as long as my daughters, or any woman is facing violence." (Sarah Gauch)

*** Kenya
Stopping Female Genital Mutilation

Faiza Jama Mohamed, 43

Originally from Somalia, Mohamad is African Regional Director for Equality. Now, in Nairobi, where she works on issues including eradication of female genital mutilation (FGM), in which all or a portion of a girl's genitals are cut off. Her group's Web site is equalitynow.org.Thanks in part to her work, Kenya has outlawed FGM in girl under 18, although it's still a battle to stop it altogether. Single, with no children, Mohamed says her siblings promise not to subject her nieces to the rite.

Horror:"It is torture that stays with you. You may never be able to urinate again without pain. The unhygienic surgery may cause infectionm and later on you may experience pain during intercourse and problems during delivery. FGM is cruel. It's done out of ignorance, to control a woman."

Critics:"Some men say, "Stop. You are destroying the family, you are bringing in Western concepts." I challenge them, and they usually back off."

Progress: "More governments see how harmful this practice and otehr types of violence against women are. I will continue working as logn as possible. If I help young girls grow up knowing their human rights and feeling empowered, I will have made a difference." (Caroline Njung'e)
posted by infraternam meam @ 3:37 AM  
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Name: infraternam meam
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About Me: I am now at the prime of my life and have been married for the past 25 years. Sickly at times, but wants to see the elixir vita, so that I will be able to see my grandchildren from my two boys.
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