I’m trying to be inspired and getting my writing back, but it’s taking a while. So in the meantime I thought I’d share this post for you. I wrote it just over a year ago on my old blog, and it gives a glimpse into what I do in Central Asia, and why.
Self Immolation is the act of setting oneself on fire, normally with the purpose of ending one’s life. As with all suicidal means, it is also used as a way of escaping their current life, or as a cry for help.
Self Immolation is a common issue among women in this country. I am told that across the country cases seem to be lessening, over the past few years, as women’s rights increase and more freedoms are given.
Women who survive and are treated in the various burns units across the country often tell tales of how they were unhappy with their standard of living. Forced marriages, domestic violence, abuse from in-laws, being forced to stay inside the home, lack of access to education, extreme poverty, all these are given (often combined) as reasons for the suicide attempt.
I often go to visit organized groups of poor women in their homes as part of my work here. The other day I went to one of these groups and one staff member noticed that one of the ladies (We’ll call her Obeda) was missing, we asked after her and this is the story that was given to us:
“Obeda died last week. She was very upset with her life, she was not given permission to do anything, coming to this group was the only time she could leave her house. Her husband would be very angry at her, and if she did something wrong he would hit her. Her life was very difficult, and she was sad. One day X and I heard her scream, it was the daytime and I knew her husband was at work. I ran to her compound and when I went through the door I could smell the diesel, I saw fire on her body, then X came into the compound too. We fetched water and put it on Obeda but her burns were very bad. We took her to the hospital, the doctor said she was very ill. The next day she died.”
I had never met Obeda, but some of my colleagues had, she was a young women, late 20’s. I am told that she was always eager to learn, and that the group was where she found her identity and breathing space.
Stories like that of Obeda are far too common here, the issues she faced in life, and the way she chose self immolation to end it. This is one of the reasons I do the work I do, to help women realize their rights, to help them be able to discuss issues of domestic violence, forced marriages, lack of education, to teach them how to cope with emotional stresses, to diffuse conflicts in the household, to try and break the cycle of some of the negative things, and to reenforce and encourage the many positive aspects. To work to bring joy, hope, and freedom.
If you’d like to know more about projects and ministries that help these kinds of women, please contact me. Details can be found on the “Welcome” page.
Do you remember back in August when the UK riots broke out? First in Tottenham, then they spread, some big, some small, across the country. We watched the craziness from our TV screens, some of us from our windows, some of us hearing first hand stories from those close to us returning from the cities and towns. In the UK we couldn’t believe what was breaking out around us.
I love catching up with friends I rarely get to see. I love spending time with them, talking, having tea, exchanging hugs, being with each other, even in the silence.
I love catching up with friends I see regularly. To sit down and talk, really talk. To laugh, and cry, to sit in each others homes.
I love people. I will travel for miles to see them, just for an hour… literally I will get on a plane and fly for hours just for a few hours with some people. I will re-route my journey and go hours out of my way, to spend an afternoon with a good friend. I will make an unplanned trip to see a friends relative who needs a smile, when my friend can’t go. I love people, they bless me so incredibly, they bring joy to my life, and they help me see Christ.
One of the biggest changes I’ve had to make the past 9 months, is not being able to do that anymore. Not for now anyway. I’m told once I get a treatment that works, my energy will slowly start returning a little, and my pain will decrease, and life will be more predictable again. I used to hate predictability, it’s so mundane, and boring. Now I crave a bit of predictability!
This is my confession… I’m bad at learning this change. I push myself, it’s what I do. I push until I get ill, I push before I’m really better, I push for what I want, not what I need. I don’t listen to my body, I don’t listen to God… I “tough it out”, because that’s what strong people do.
This is my second confession… I’m wrong. I’m wrong to push, I’m wrong to not listen, and I’m wrong a strong person is not someone who just toughs it out, but someone who is willing to be vulnerable, to accept help, and to know when to stop, and when to go. So I’m trying to learn.
What I really want to say is... I don’t have the energy to be constantly on the go, to take that 2 hours detour, to travel across the world for a day with someone, to spend a week driving around the country seeing various people. To constantly visit others, with just a few hours at home in the evening. It grieves me, I miss my friends, I miss socialising.
I hope that in this new season of needing time at home, to rest, you, my friends, will bear with me, will be understanding of my limitations. Most of all I hope that you will know I still care, that I still think of you, pray for you, replay memories in my mind. I wish dearly I could jump on that plane, make that long drive, sit on that always delayed train. Hold you close, giggle with your kids, cry on your shoulder, give you my ear, see your eyes, and hear your voice. Just be. I cling to the hope that one day I will have that level of energy and health again.
Until then… know I still love, and care, for each one of your my dear friends.
PS Don’t get me wrong. I am VERY thankful for the great amount of time I am able to spend getting out, able to travel to see people. For nearby friends who I can see.