because I’m reading about Yemen


One night recently, I was chatting on skype with my dear friend Anissa. We were discussing who knows what when suddenly Anissa did some calculations and realized I was ridiculous for being awake to talk to her.

[2:20:39 AM] Anissa: PS why are you still up?
[2:20:52 AM] Shanda: because I’m reading about Yemen
[2:20:56 AM] Shanda: and its history
[2:21:00 AM] Anissa: of course
[2:21:06 AM] Anissa: naturally

That’s normal, right? Staying up until the wee hours of the morning because you can’t stop reading about the history of Yemen. Everybody does it. [Maybe not.]

You see, I had read a story. And stories, well… I believe I mentioned recently that I’m obsessed with stories. They just have this way of getting to me… changing me… and I want to know people’s stories. Everyone’s. EVERYONE’S. It’s a goal. An unachievable goal. But a goal. Because you see, I also love people. And I love that people each have a story. Stories filled with … well, everything you can – and can NOT – imagine. This story I had read, it was written by Glamour Magazine’s 2008 Woman of the Year. But don’t get the wrong idea. She isn’t some glamorously famous woman. She’s a little girl. Well, she’s a teenager now. Her name is Nujood and she’s beautiful. Look at her (and her mama).

She’s an author now because she has told her story. A story that will break your heart for her, members of her family, and others like them. But you will also celebrate in the victories.

You see, when Nujood was 10 years old she was forced to marry a man 3 times her age. She was 10 YEARS OLD. [Yes, that would be one of those things that we can NOT imagine.] She was ripped out of childhood and made to fill the “role of a woman” – a wife. No longer given any opportunity to go to school or play with kids her age (although she hadn’t been able to go to school much before either because that right is given mostly to the boys) and she was tossed into a very abusive situation. Her father was glad to have “one less mouth” to feed.

But beautiful, 10 year old Nujood, was a fighter and she ran and eventually she got the idea of going to court. She met a judge and told him she wanted a divorce. He, and other judges and a lawyer, listened to her story and were in awe of her bravery. They wanted to help. And they did. I won’t spoil the whole story because you really might want to read the book. It’s a short “easy read” [as far as the actually READING goes. It was written by a 12 year old, after all… but a hard read, if you care about people and hate seeing them in painful circumstances and knowing there are others – many others – facing the same things.]

Nujood is now 13. Her book, “I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced,” came out about a year ago. I bet she’d love it if you read her story and let it get to you… and change you. Nujood lives with her family again – in Yemen. Lately, Yemen has been in the news quite a lot. As I read articles about demonstrations and the hundreds injured, and how the U.S. gov has decided that Yemen’s President Saleh should be “eased out of office,” and how that same President Saleh is threatening civil war… and as I watch videos like this one about the hundreds wounded and I see little boys who were just trying to go to school hit with tear gas:

I always think about Nujood. When I read her story, she became my friend. I always imagine other little girls like her… and other boys like her brothers… and other girls like her sisters… and moms like her mom… and dads like her dad… and lawyers like the one who faught for her… and judges like the ones who gave her victory…

And I stay up until 3am reading about the history of her country and I still want to learn more…

Because that’s the power of a story. And Nujood’s story will forever be one that has gotten to me.

And now, there are more stories to learn and more stories to live… So, I’m here (you know, like – existing) to see how I can become a part of other people’s stories in a way that matters… similar to the way people did for Nujood. But most importantly, learning how better to let my story bring Jesus into the other people’s stories… [Although, first I should probably sleep. It’s almost 2am again.]

{Homorously, during the course of writing the above, Anissa texted me: “Are you going to be up?” and I responded: “Yes. It’s a holiday. And I’m writing a blog about Yemen.” Ha.}

{Remember on Friends when Chandler told Janice he was moving to Yemen because he thought it wasn’t a real place? When I told my roommate that I was writing a blog about Yemen… that was what she immediately thought of. Gotta love how Friends relates to all things and teaches lessons like that Yemen is REAL. For your enjoyment:}

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