Thursday, July 24, 2008

How to dress like a Somali...

I never know what will happen when I visit refugee friends in the village!
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Today, I had the great joy of taking a nurse from North Carolina to visit in the homes of some refugees. My Somali friend and I are always happy to see each other. She's a strong woman with a no-nonsense attitude. Today, all seven of her children were home and she was feeding the baby when we arrived at her door.

She has lived most her life in a refugee camp in northern Kenya. All the children except her baby were born in the camp. I gave her a set of photographs I had taken of her and the kids on a previous visit. She looked at the picture of herself and shook her head. "Refugee," she told me. "Not good." Obviously this photo reminded her of hard times. (photo removed by request)

When I asked if I could take her picture, she held up a hand in her typical authoritative manner. "Wait!" she told me. In moments, her older daughter had brought a sparkly head covering from the back bedroom.
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My friend put it on and then pronounced herself "ready" to be photographed. A Muslim, she made sure her daughter was properly covered as well.
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When I admired the head coverings, my friend issued another command, and her daughter brought out two packages containing more sparkly cloths.

"Zawadi!" my friend announced in Swahili. "A gift!"

One head covering was for the nurse and one for me. My friend taught us how to put them on. Each one cost $20, she told us. She had bought them at "the Somali store." I've got to find that place!
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Twenty dollars is a lot of money if you're a refugee, and her gift shows the tenderness of her heart. I will always treasure my head covering. But I'll treasure my friendship with this Somali woman even more.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Linked to you from the those headcoverings blog. I also have Somali friends in Minneapolis and love both their clothing and food. Nice post!