Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My Ramadan Experiences


The fasting in the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islaam.  Millions of muslims all over the world worship Allaah in this manner from dawn to sunset for 29-30 days.  The manner in which the fast is broken and the food that is eaten after the fast are different from country to country.

When I first became muslim, I spent my first Ramadan in Seattle, Washington, USA.  Seattle is very multi-cultural.  The mosque I attended had people from all over the world.  I would go to the mosque at the time of Maghrib and break fast, pray and eat.   I loved the experience of socializing with muslims in this way.  I had never experienced this kind of unity and love before. Little did I know, that my travels in later years would give me a level of unity greater than this.

My first fast outside of America took place in Egypt.  One of the best feelings I have ever had is fasting in a small village in Egypt called Ash-Sheen.  I felt like the whole world was fasting. The nights were filled with the recitation of Quran.  Everyone knows that some of the best recitors in the world come from Egypt.  All of the mosques would have their loud speakers on during Taraaweeh.  It was so beautiful.  Many of my neighbors would send food over during Maghrib.  They were constantly expressing love to me and my family.

Allaah talks about small deeds in Surah Ma’un.  I have always loved this Surah.  Now, living in Sudan, I see these small kindnesses and deeds practiced on a daily basis.  We are blessed to be in the month of Ramadaan again.  I am constantly amazed by the dedication displayed during fasting hours.  The days here are long and hot.  But, I am always greeted with a smile and hospitality.  The later part of Asr, you can see tables being set up, chairs, blankets in some spots; preparations for Iftar.  Neighbors exchange dishes.  If you were to walk the streets after Salatul maghrib, you would see people sitting, laying, laughing together, some eating, some relaxing.  Knowing a person is not a requirement. The haves and the have nots come together. People sat and have true fellowship together. This is a beautiful way for the homeless to be able to break their fast and get a good meal during Ramadaan.  My experience here in Sudan has been one of constant family and unity: a level I have NEVER known.

The people of Sudan are full of traditions, many of which fall in line with the teachings of Islam. I will list some of these wonderful traditions that make the Sudanese people unique:

·         When a neighbor sends a dish; never send the dish back empty.

·         Never ask for anything, but always be very quick to give.

·         Never let your neighbor see you frown.

·         Always show your concern for others.

Although in my country the only thing I ever heard about Sudan was negative, my experiences definitely have been the opposite and the above stated traditions keeps me here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Why Our Children Hate Us

It seems that more than any other time in the past, these days we find many children who hate and despise their parents. Although we as parents are not perfect and we make mistakes in our efforts to raise them to be productive adults; are there things we are doing to warrant their hatred?  What did the parents of yesterday have that the parents of today seem to be missing?
Whether you believe it or not, children expect and respect boundaries set down for them.  Many of the parents today allow their children to do what they want.  You will find time and time again on television programs and talk shows parents who are begging someone, ANYONE, to help them with their disrespectful, out-of-control children.  They, the parents, failed to say no when it needed to be said, backed down , or just let them run the show.  We are supposed to be the first examples of authority for our children. How are they suppose to respect the authority of the parent if there has never been established any guidelines, instructions or rules?  When they go out in to society they will become bitter, angry and rebellious to any one in a position over them and they will point their finger back at you.  You have heard the stories; “When I was growing up, my Mom allowed me to have my boyfriend to sleep over night, my parents bought me everything that I wanted.  They never said no.”   You find them boldly strutting onto the stages of mainstream talk shows stating that they feel they should always get their way.  The people around them hate to see them coming; even you the parents.  And they have no comprehension of why they are hated.
Another thing that has broken down the family unit is the separatist attitude we have adopted.  In the past families ate together and prayed together.  Parents sat down with their children and helped them with their homework and asked about their daily affairs.  They also monitored their children’s activities with a stern but loving eye.  Today everyone is doing his own thing.  The parents work from sun up to sun down.  They come home and order fast food delivery or pop a TV dinner into the oven and sit in front of the television exhausted.  The children pick something from the fridge, throw on a headset and carelessly, eat, dance and do homework all at the same time. Sometimes they simply hang out and eat with friends.
Our children hate us because we are liars and we teach them to lie.  We have become a “do as I say not as I do” type of people.  It is astonishing the expectations some people have for their children while not living up to these expectations ourselves.  How do we lie and teach them to lie?  Here are a few examples:
·        Tell them I’m not home now sweetie.
·        Smoking is bad: DON’T SMOKE, when you actually smoke yourself.  The message you sent is, “I’m a hypocritical liar and smoking is ok.”
·        Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and Cupid: FOR REAL???!!!
We have the audacity to turn around after teaching them all of this and expect them to be truthful; NOT!!!!
Over the years as we have striven to obtain better materialistic lifestyles for our children; we have neglected sound upbringing.  We are so far from our children that we ourselves can’t teach them anything.  He’s having trouble in school; he goes to the school psychologist.  He can’t read well, he goes to the reading specialist.  He wants to have sex and is only ten; he goes to the sex therapist. Do we sit down and actually teach our children anything?  We must take the time out to sit with our children, teach them, express our love, listen to them and also befriend them. We must lay our children’s foundation right.  We must lay this foundation down with good sound morals and consistent quality upbringing.  The way we treat our children today will determine who they will be tomorrow.  The commitment or non-commitment we make in their lives will determine if they will grow to hate us.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Please Mr. Hedgehog

It's late night and I am sleeping outside in my courtyard.  The nights in Kassala are far different than Khartoum.  Everything is quiet and you can hear the sounds of nature around you.  I can hear frogs, crickets and other small aniamls.  But there is one that I never hear, Mr. Hedgehog.

I had never seen a real hedgehog until I moved to Eastern Sudan.  This small animal walks around all quiet with no specific animal sound.  He just pops up.  Every single night when no one is around, he comes over by my bed.  My constant cry is, "Please Mr. Hedgehog, leave my yard!" I think he likes to torture me.  I really think it is the same one, night after night.  My baby calls him California and has vowed to kill him.

I really  need to do my research and see if they bite.  I know I am being crazy right now.  But I don't think my request is so hard.
"Please Mr. Hedgehog, leave my yard!!!"

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Flower Pot Cooking

It has been a week and I am still cooking on a flower pot.  My children have actually gotten accustomed to it. For some strange reason the gas stations that supply people with tanks for their ovens have been out of gas for a week. So, I have taken my clay flower pot, put charcoal in it and a pan on top to cook.   I have cooked everything from homemade flat bread to spaghetti. As I have stated before, acculturation is an ongoing process.  We must relax and adjust to our environments so that we may enjoy our lives to the fullest.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Such a big world or is it?

Often I sat back and think of how big this world is and how I would like to see the many different lands and countries on it.  But is this planet that large?  Have you ever met someone that you encountered years before in a seemingly uncommon place?  This has happened to me on a couple of occasions.

When I was in high school, I had a very good school buddy.  He and I went many places together.  We even worked for the same employer after school hours.  We were a couple of jokesters.  We were constantly playing pranks on others and EACH OTHER.  We just liked to have fun.  He wasn't a very good student.  Did not have any goals for himself for the future, or so it seemed. I, on the other hand, wanted to do anything that included traveling.  It didn't much matter. I fluctuated between wanting to be a CIA agent, international business women to world peacekeeper. I spent many days trying to figure out just how I would go from a small country town like Tuscumbia, Alabama to Papa New Guinea. Didn't have much of a plan.

Thirteen years later, I am on a Luthansa flight from Egypt with a layover in Germany headed to Washington DC. I am sitting with my children who are very antsy after about 10 hours of traveling.  All of a sudden I see this man walking down the isle toward the restroom.

"O my goodness, that looks like so and so".

"What on earth would he be doing on a flight from Germany?"

" No that's not him." 

" Wow, it sure looks like him."

I could not resist the urge to find out.  I stood up and went and got in line with the people waiting for the restroom. As he came out, I stood in his path and said,

"Excuse me, is your name so and so?"

He said: "Yes ma'am it sure is, with a SUPER SUPRISED look on his face." 

See, I had changed a lot. I had accepted the Islamic faith and had chosen to wear traditional Islamic clothing which included a full face veil.  I could see the roller-dex in his mind just flipping, trying to figure out,

"Who is she?" 
"Do I know her?"
"And just where would I have met someone like her?"

Finally, I said,

"You don't remember me? It's _____________."
"What, what are you doing in Germany?"
"Man, what are YOU doing in German?"
"Well, I am in the military now and I was stationed here, but I am on my way home for the 4th of July."
"Well, I had a layover her in Germany, but I am coming from Egypt going back to the States."
"Really, what were you doing in Egypt."
"Living and studying"
"Are you military or your husband military?"
"No, just decided one day to move to Egypt."

You can imagine here, his face is getting more and more bewildered looking.

"Wow, so, I mean, do you have family there or something?"
"No, but I have been there for three years.  I loved it."
"I had a couple of Egyptians in a class I did on base in Germany, nice guys."
"Man, wait until I tell______I saw you here in Germany. Man, so when you coming home?"
"I don't know.  I know I need to, but right now I am headed for DC."

Eight years later, sitting in Sudan, I receive an email saying,

"Every since I saw your name, I have been thinking of a person I met some years ago.  She was a guest in my home.  I really think that you are the lady I am speaking of."  And sure enough, I was. I met her on my trip to DC, the same one that I spotted my old friend from years back. Now years later, I am in Sudan and she in Saudi. We have crossed paths again.

I wonder who's next???!!!  Encounters like these, make the world seem like a smaller place. However, big or small, I am on a mission to see as much of it as possible.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Child's Heart

In today's world, there is violence everywhere. No city, state, country or continent is immune to the disease that has crept in the hearts of men. If it is not in front of your door, its on your television set and if  not there, your computer screen. It seems that love, respect, patience and sympathy are endangered species. They need to be protected by the National Association of Endangered Species.  But, where, where can we store these things?  Where can we put them for safekeeping?  Where? My answer is: in a child's heart.  If we take these things mentioned above, teach them to our children, and patiently persevere, watch and guide; in their adulthood they will have better practices than we have now.

As usual, I was observing my children yesterday. Not that I watch them like they are some lab rats open for case-study but to see the innocence that many of us have lost. Every move that I make, down to the place in which I live, is because I believe in nurturing them, teaching and raising them to be great productive members of a GLOBAL society. Anyway, I sent my twelve-year old son to the store and I stood on the balcony watching. He turned the corner and in a few minutes came back.  He ran upstairs and he had tears running down his face.  So, I went from relaxing to over-concerned Mom in 2.3 seconds. I automatically thought someone had hurt him.

He looked at me and said, "It was an accident Mom."
I said, "What was an accident?"
He said, "On the way from the store I was throwing rocks up in the air and one of my rocks hit a bird, he fell down and I think he is dead."

You should have seen his face.  He was so hurt.  He had tears streaming down his face.  You have many people who kill without a flinch or a blink of an eye.  They kill women, men, children, animals, all one in the same.  But, in my son's heart, the life of the bird had value.  Now, let's think, if our children can give animal life value, what about human life?

Friday, February 18, 2011


I just wanted to share a nice site with your all.  If you are a businesswoman of color; this is the place for you.  I love to read material and network with women who are doing positive things.


What's Wrong With My Mouth

I constantly watch my boys. They are so funny. This week my seven year old had an interesting day with his mouth. The housekeeper was cooking in the kitchen and a spark from the stove-top jump out and hit Thul-Qarnayn (my son) on his lips. Not longer after this, a bottle fell off of the window ledge and hit him in  his mouth. He cried a bit, and then ran a long to play with his older brother, who is twelve years old. They decided that they were going to practice kung fu on each other. The older one did a butterfly kick and hit his brother in the mouth. So, after I tended to him and stopped the bleeding he looked up at me and said, "I know the problem with my mouth today.  The problem is that I know two languages and everyone and everything is mad at me because of it!!!" He keeps us laughing. Now, in the back of my mind I began to question, "Does he really think there is a problem with being bilingual?"

So, in this next coming week, I am going to gently probe him about his feelings and thoughts on being bilingual and multicultural.  I will keep you all posted.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Charlotte Mason: Homeschooling

 For those who may be interested in reading about Charlotte Mason's concepts on homeschooling and forming character, this site has her 6 volume work online.  If the old English is a problem for you , scroll to the bottom of the page and there is a link for her work in modern English.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Forming Habits

Everyone loves the discipline and grace the soldier displays, but shutter at the thought of the training that brought him to this beautiful stance and so it is, the job of the parents in habit forming and discipline. The job is often uncomfortable and not well desired, but if done purposefully and methodically, bring about a child that will be a well groomed and equipped man with purpose and meaning.

Ebook Purchase

For all who have tried to purchase the book.  I have been having technical issues.  The payments can only be made through paypal.  Sorry for any inconvenience. Please re-visit the purchasing site.  www.e-junkie.com/theroadlesstraveled

Thank you,

Fatimah As-Salafy

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I took this picture from my balcony yesterday.  My twelve year old son saw this picture in my phone and said, "Mom, where is that, that looks like the desert!!!" Was he in denial that he lives in the middle of the Sahara Desert?  Hmm, I am wondering if in his acculturation process, somewhere he formed a survival mechanism in his mind of being somewhere else or did a picture bring home the reality of his environment? He is standing here actually laughing at himself as I type this.
The View from my balcony, Omdurman, Sudan

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Education Is

I am re-reading a book by Sonya Shafer called, Education is an Atmosphere, Discipline and Life.  It is based on Charlotte Mason's approach to homeschooling.  What does this concept mean?  When Charlotte Mason talks about atmosphere, she is referring to the home environment the child lives in. We must be very careful about our home environment.  We must ensure that we are setting a good example for our children because what they learn from us, they will take with them the rest of their lives, whether it be good or bad. Discipline  is training our children in good habits.We should take the utmost care to not allow bad habits to form. Charlotte describes discipline as train tracks the parent lays down in order for the child to travel easily into adulthood. The concept of education being Life is somewhat different than most approaches.  She believed that all information we give to our children should be living, not just dry pages in a book.  Yes, we give them instruction, but they need to see these lessons learned in action.  For example:  I was teaching my boys about solar energy and alternative living, so we made a solar oven out of two cardboard boxes, black construction paper, newspaper, aluminum foil and plastic and we used it to cook!!! Now, solar energy is living and real for them; not just something he read in a book.

These three concepts are so important and we must have a balance. The absence of either one will not produce a well-balanced child. If we only give the child the atmosphere, then the child will only learn what we already know. If we give them discipline only, they will have good character but be lacking in mental development and if we provide the child with academics only, we may raise intelligent delinquents.

Something to think about.  Our job is great, but so rewarding.

Monday, February 7, 2011

What is growing old gracefully

I was talking to my Mom the other day.  We speak very often; but we don't talk, I mean reallllllllllllllly talk often. So, yesterday we were having one of our heart to hearts and this is what she said to me. "Why don't you just grow old gracefully!!!"  WHAT....NO WAY!!! This statement sounds so boring, doesn't it?  How about growing old on rollerblades???!!!  Yeah, that sounds better.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ebook Release

Today is the release of my ebook: Who Put Worms in the Cheese: A World Traveler's Survival Guide. It is a short guide helping anyone who wants to travel international or relocate overseas. You can purchase the book at http://www.e-junkie.com/theroadlesstraveled

The Road Less Traveled

Today I sit, just pondering in general as I often do: thinking of life.  It struck me today, that my readers may want to know just how I derived at the name the Road Less Traveled.  Well, it is the story of my life.  It comes from a my favorite poem "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost.

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;        5
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,        10
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.        15
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.        20

I love this poem.  It seems that my journey through this life is always on a path with not many travelers. My attitude towards this has varied at different stages in my life.  At times, it has been a lonely road in which I desired like companions to take along with me.  And there are other times, that this path has brought me great joy and happiness.  I surely hope, that I contribute something to benefit others along the way.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Invitations

A few days before our vacation from work for the celebration of Eid Al Adha, the children and I were invited to spend the first day of Eid at the home of one of my co-workers; who is also my neighbor.  I love when I get invitations.  It gives me another chance to learn more about Sudanese ways and culture.  What better way to learn the ways of a people than to observe a religious celebration.
Our day began at 5:00 a.m. at the time the morning prayer began.  We prayed and then prepared for our day.  Many mosques were saying, “Allaahu Akbar, Allaahu Akbar, laa ilaha illallah.”  Many mosques allow small children to say this over the loud speaker.  It is always a joy to hear the children early in the morning.  At 7:30 a.m. the boys and I left our home going to the next district for the prayer.  We met my co-worker and headed in the direction of the mosque.  I was expecting to go inside of a building.  However, we came to an open field with many men and women dressed in their best and sitting in rows waiting for the Eid prayer.     Everyone looked so lovely.  We prayed and listened to the lecture.  Once finished, we began greeting everyone and wishing them well, making du’a that the upcoming year is full of blessings.  No matter how young or old a person was, they attempted to hug everyone there and wish them well.
After worshipping Allaah in the prescribed manner that we have been taught, we left to have our first meal of the day with my colleague and family.  Although there are many words I could use to describe their wonderful home, I could sum it up by calling it HOME!!!  Immediately my children fell in love with this simple yet wonderful place.  There was a place for sheep and pigeons.  There was a big courtyard for them to run and play.  The Mother of the house was very loving and I was surprised in the course of a day just how much work she did.  A few men from the family took a sheep to the front door and slaughtered it.  They hung him up at the opening of the door and skinned him and began cutting him into pieces.
In the back of the house, me and the women of the home prepared the meal and washed the meat as it came back to us.  I had such an enjoyable le time bonding and learning to prepare Sudanese food.  I learned how to make a drink called Shurboat, salad with peanut butter, grilled lamb, fried lamb, lamb soup and a hot pepper sauce. (Just to name a few)  It was such a delight when I sat down to eat the finished product.  I had watched ad participated in the whole process from live sheep to very delicious, irresistible meal.
About one hour after the first meal, I made preparations to return home.  I thanked everyone for a nice time.  Everyone responded, “Where are you going?”  “Why are you leaving?’ “Stay for our afternoon meal.”  My children, who had made themselves very much at home said, “Please, please don’t make us go, we want to stay with Grandma.”  So, I accepted the second invitation and stayed a while longer.  Everyone lay down for a while to take a mid-day rest.  The children watched cartoons, Eid festivities from different countries and various Qur’aan recitations on television.
Shortly following our afternoon nap, the Mother of the home presented us with our late afternoon meal.  Just as the meal before, it was delicious.  We ate and reflected on our day.  The boys ran back and forth in the yard among the lambs and pigeons.  It was also their feeding time.  After our meal we drank more Shurboat and then tea.
By the time we had finished our second meal, I felt that I had to go home.   I could not eat ANYMORE, but as long as I stayed, I would be presented with more.  Sudanese hospitality is wonderful.  Once again I made the announcement of my departure and began getting my children ready to leave.   Again I was presented with another invitation.  “Where are you going?” “Sleep here with us.”  As if it was some kind of conspiracy, my youngest son had dirtied all of his changes of clothes late afternoon as the sun was going down, so I washed his clothes, hang them up and prepared to stay for the night.  I felt so comfortable and loved the hospitality I was being shown. The night went on and we ate more lamb and drank many cups of tea, coffee, and juices.  We drank to the point we took many trips to the bathroom.  The children professed over and over how much they loved Sudan and enjoyed their Eid.
After a lovely night’s rest, we awake to pray and prepared to leave. Guess what?  You guessed right, another invitation.!!!!  We ate the morning meal, thanked the hosts and returned home with an everlasting imprint in our minds of Sudanese hospitality and the invitations.

Ice Cream in a Bag

I am always trying to find productive and fun ways to spend my weekend, especially since I only have one day off per week.  Often I elicit ideas and suggestions from my students and colleagues who usually have some very interesting things on their lists.  When listening to ideas; I take several things into consideration.  I think of the cost for my entire family, the ease or difficulty in transporting small children, and whether this activity will be suitable and enjoyable for everyone.  So, when one of my students suggested we go to buy ice cream at a parlor in Bahri and then walk across the bridge into Omdurman, I thought it was perfect.  The trip would not be too expensive and transportation very easy. 

Friday came and the children were very excited.  We talked about different flavors of ice cream we had tasted before and the many types of ice cream cones that were available.  It had been over a year since we had a good ice cream cone.   It was winter last year when we left American, so no ice cream was available.

We had just about decided what cones we wanted when the time came to go.  We got on the bus and left Thawrah off to Bahri.  As we travel, I think of the many cone varieties. “What kind would I get: sugar, waffle, or plain?” We make it to the shop and I see BLOCKS of ice cream.  I have never ever seen BLOCKS of ice cream.  My children were stunned!!!  There were men cutting off smaller blocks and putting them in bags.  I was still searching for cones.  I was thinking this was some kind of factory and the people had special orders for some big event.  Finally, it was our turn in line.  The student accompanying us asked what flavors we wanted. After choosing, the worker started cutting blocks of ice cream, put them in four plastic bags, wrapped them in newspaper and gave them to us.  It was then that I realized we were about to eat ice cream out of a bag.

As we walked across the bridge, the Nile was unbelievably beautiful.  I looked at my boys faces.  They were going through some major adjustments trying to eat ice cream from a bag.  We were having an experience of a lifetime.  The ice cream was very delicious.  But the bag thing really made me laugh and say, “Only in Sudan!!!@$$#%.!@!!”

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Negative Side of the Media

Technology has really come a long way.  With the many advances in the internet and multimedia, the world seems like a much smaller place.  The technology we have available to us today enables us to make friends   from all over the world.  We can now conduct business without ever leaving our homes.  However, a lot of the advances in technology have been used to spread negative things about people and countries across the globe.  This has certainly been the case for Sudan.

Coming  from a western country, I know first-hand the image that the media has painted of the Sudan:  the country that hosted Usama Bin Laden and allowed him to establish training camps; the country that flogs women for wearing pants and keeps them uneducated; the country with the longest war in African history because  the people are extremist and fundamentalists and want to commit genocide of their own people who are of pure African descent .Well, because I am muslim, a lot of this fell on deaf ears so to speak.  But, I realized after moving her that some things had formed and shaped my opinion of the Sudan.

One of the areas that I found I had accepted the opinions of the media was in regards to the status of women in this society.  I did not realize that I had a negative view towards women in this country until I began working in a local school and started administering placement tests.  I would ask the question, “Do you have a job and what do you do.” I found myself being shocked when a lady, looking just like me, dressed just like me would say, “I am a doctor.  I am a dentist.  I am a pharmacist.  I am a lawyer.”  I thought to myself, “Me of all people, why am I amazed?  I am black, a woman, a muslim, and educated.”  But, after thinking for some time, I realized that I had never seen anything positive on TV in America abourt Sudan.

When I first arrived, it shocked me that the uniforms of the women working in the airport were pants.  What was all this media coverage about a lady being flogged for wearing pants?  Pants are worn by women on a daily basis with freedom and no condemnation.  Of course, they are not worn in the manner they are worn in the United States and other Western countries.  They are usually worn with knee-length or ankle-length shirts.  But, the reality is, they are worn; not as it is made to believe in the media.

Although many of this site’s readers are Sudanese, this message is for the non-Sudanese readers; my family, friends and acquaintances and anyone who dares care about justice and realities.  Think twice when you look at a news clip of Sudan on your televisions or the internet.  Think twice before you accept everything you hear on the radio.  Am I saying that everything you here about the Sudan is false?  Of course I’m not saying that.  Am I saying that there are absolutely no terroristic thoughts from anyone in the whole country?  No, I’m not.  There are extremists all over the world.  There are extremists and terrorists in places like America, Britain and New Zealand but no one labels them as a terrorist country.

Some may say, “She has moved to Sudan and become one of them, she’s just speaking from the heart.”  No, I am more American than many realize.  However, I speak from my heart and from the evidence that my eyes have seen.  The majority of Sudanese are: 1. Proud to be Sudanese.  2. Striving to make a good life for them and their families.

We Share the Money!!!

As long as I can remember, I have had the dream of having a good job, MY own house, MY own car, husband and children.  I have had this dream that I am successful.  If you notice, my success is MY success.  My dream did not include anyone but ME and MY own personal achievements in life.  Why?  This is how I have been conditioned.  I come from a society that teaches us to be self-sufficient and to possess a character of individuality.  We are taught not to depend on others for anything.  So, you can imagine my suprise when I experienced the unity between families here in the Sudan.  It is something I have never seen.  It has caused me to wonder how much we could accomplish in the West if we had more unity and cooperation.

Teaching in Sudan has taught me much.  On my job, I administer placement exams for English courses.  Two of the questions we ask on the test are, “Could you tell me something about your family?” and “Why do you want to learn English?”  The answers to these questions always leave me astonished and amazed.  It is Oh so easy for us self-centered and arrogant Westerners to believe that everyone wants to learn English so that they can pursue a life in one of the English speaking countries.  But, this is not always true.  Through asking these questions, I have learned how to be a better mother, daughter and neighbor.

There are sons and daughters here in the Sudan who want to learn English as a small step to accomplishing a larger goal.  Being English proficient increases your chances of obtaining a good paying job with stability.  So, some simply want to be able to pay their parents back for sending them to school or to take care of them so that they no longer have to work hard anymore.  One of my students answered, “I have a typical African family. I have many brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins who need to be fed and who need higher education.  I want to be able to contribute like everyone has contributed to my education and well-being.”  Another student was working in a high traffic tourist area during Ramadan and taking English classes as well.  When he found working, studying and fasting to be too difficult, he quit his job.  So, I asked him how he was going to pay his bills and eat for a month.  He responded with surety, “My brother will give me money for that.”  I sat for a moment wondering to myself how he could be so sure of this.  So, I asked him.  He said, “No problem, when he was in school to become a dentist, I always sent him money.  Here in Sudan, we have unity.  What is money?  Money is nothing.  You use it to survive only.”  I felt so ashamed.  People here would be shocked to know that I have a couple of millionaires in my family!!!  They do not and would not give to any of us and we would not dare ask them for anything.  My grandmother raised both of them and they have never reached out to help her financially. We really need a lesson in unity.

I have found myself doing so much self-analysis; teaching my children to function as a unit.  I hope that being here in Sudan will cause my children to have a personality of giving, sacrifice and love. This is truly one of the most beautiful things about Sudan and its people; a spirit of giving.