One year ago today, an 18 year old boy boarded a rickety boat with two friends and sailed off into the Bay of Bengal. This small boat was bound for a larger ship floating near the coast of Banglade…
Says the master of words and emotion: “I was with the Rohingya, of course. The beautiful, kind-hearted and brave Rohingya whom the government wants dead and is working hard to eradicate. I spent the day with these gentle people and I kept wondering why they are not given the right to live.” Oddny Gumaer
I knew I was not a criminal, just a simple woman wanting to help starving people.
When our kids were young we spent a fair amount of time at zoos around the world. It was always with mixed emotions for me. Are animals supposed to be caged in? I also remember seeing high security prisons in different counties. Uninviting and foreboding they loom on the horizon making one decide there and then never to become a criminal deserving a life behind those walls. Rarely did I imagine normal moms, dads, kids, teens, uncles, aunts or grandparents having to live behind barbed wires of the same quality as the wires used to protect humans from Grizzlies in the zoo. I never thought that rice farmers, shop keepers, fishermen, teachers and lawyers needed to be kept enclosed the same way serial killers were enclosed on Alcatraz.
We went to spend time with…
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Oddny in Myanmar again!
Coffee with a monk-view
“So you are hungry and tired?” “Yes, very hungry and tired,” I replied to the kind-looking man in airport uniform. He was a little perplexed. “You are not leaving for four more hours so just go away for a while and come back at one o’clock.”
I had arrived from Singapore from Amsterdam from Trondheim earlier in the morning. Spending the night on an airplane next to a family with a two-year old and a baby made sleeping more challenging than it ought to be on an airplane. The only redeeming factor on the plane was getting to watch Bradley Cooper and the red wine was good.
Arriving in Yangon I remembered my visa. It was only on my computer and not in my passport. I decided panic was not an option and acted as if I thought everybody just opened their computer and pointed to the…
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When Hafsa saw my dad approaching her hut, she began weeping, saying between sobs that “We haven’t eaten in 6 days, my children, look at them, they are hungry!” He told me Hafsa was completely desp…
The Half Child speaks with clear wisdom.
“Are you half-child?” This is a question I am asked on a daily basis here. And by this they don’t mean half American half Norwegian. Because if this was the case, I guess I would be. No, most of them wonder if I have a Thai mother or father. They say that I have a Thai face and that my eyes look especially Asian. I always feel so flattered when I hear this, it makes me feel like I fit in, which hasn’t been the case for most of my life. There are so many things that makes me feel like I am home here which has been great now that it is Christmas. The hot weather and the plastic Christmas trees brings back childhood memories from when I lived here.
Christmas has also felt very different this year. Last weekend, I had the privilege of visiting one of the…
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She never cusses from the stage or in meetings, but off camera and one on one, get her on the topic of exploitation and the poor and needy; watch your step!
It happens every year. I suddenly realize it is soon Christmas and I haven’t done what I intended to do a year ago: Buy all the Christmas presents and have it ready before December 1 so I can enjoy the season. Today, my mission was twofold. I was going to stores to see if some of them would want to buy some bracelets refugee women and other poor women had made. I have designed cards to go along with them that explains that by buying a bracelet, you help a child go to school for a year. In my mind it is the perfect gift for the person who has everything. In my naiveté I thought store owners would love the idea and gladly sell them for no profit other than a much better conscience for selling all the other crap. My second mission was to see if some potential gifts…
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A Generous Justice prevails, even though 6 hours goes down the tube.
I am terribly late. In just 18 days (or it may be less by now. I just don’t want to think about it) I need to submit the biggest paper of the semester for my class. As always I have put off starting way too long, and now I am regretting it. Like a cartoon dog with ADHD I am throwing papers around, trying to find the perfect quote that can confirm that my thoughts are correct, if not genius.
Today was the day I was going to get a good solid introduction and some of the content down. For six whole hours I sat in front of the computer and resisted (sometimes) the urge to check Facebook instead of writing my thesis. Satisfied that I had 1/5 of my paper down…
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What makes a financial problem feel trivial? Read this.
There is a photo that has been haunting me all day.
Another haunting thing is the huge power bill we got yesterday.
This has been the most expensive power-month in the history of Norway. It has never been more expensive—ever, ever. The reason: It has been very, very cold, and the power companies accidentally sold a lot of electricity to Germany and other countries last summer. Now there is not enough for us. They claim they forgot that we would have a winter. The consequence for me: We got the most expensive power bill in the history of Gumaers. 939 USD to be exact. 5500 NKr to be exact. And that was with no heaters on at night and hardly none during the day. Must be the showers every other day. (Is this too much personal information? Sorry. I shower after every workout, just to get that straight. Some times…
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This blog, just posted to the Partners Relief & Development blog by one of our staff members, puts into narrative form what our core ethos is all about.
I missed him the first time, on the railway platform at Brahmanbaria in Bangladesh. A kid of about 12, dragging himself along on his stomach, legs so badly twisted back up behind him that his feet touched his lower spine. He tugged at my trouser leg and I looked down in pity but with little respect or understanding. I asked a local staff member “What do we do in these kinds of situations.” “Give him a couple of Taka” was the reply. I reached into my pocket and ‘generously’ gave the kid 10 whole Taka. About 50 cents. His eyes and his incomprehensible words spoke gratitude. I felt sick inside though, and the Spirit gently tapped my shoulder “If you’d sat down and looked him in the eye you would have seen and talked with Jesus” He said. I’d missed my chance.
God is gracious. A couple of days ago and some 20 years later, I was in the concentration camps of Rakine (Arakan) State in Burma (Myanmar). We’d been visiting for a couple of days as I looked at what my friends in Partners Relief & Development had been up to, providing food, shelter, medicine and compassion to some very desperate people. We’d stopped to get a pair of crutches remodeled at a motorbike repair shop – as you do. This is for a kid whose leg was broken in a riot, the ends of the bones sticking out. Our friends had got him to a hospital where staff, doing nothing about the break at all, had sown up the flesh in the most careless, dismissive way.
All of that is another story for another time, but here we are in a bike repair tin shed and I see this kid come to watch. He moves by using his arms as crutches and his butt as a third leg. He’s 10, his legs are folded beneath him and clearly he is unable to straighten them. I’m not going to miss a second chance to meet Jesus! I get down and sit in the dirt, cross my legs as best a stiff overweight old man can, and look at this child.
Someone rushes over with a piece of flat polystyrene for me to sit on. A chair is bought. I get them to put the child on the chair and I hold his feet. We can get his legs to about 90 degrees before the pain is too obvious. I have no language and our translator is gone – we were on our way home – but with signs we figure out he’s been like this since about 2 or 3. I hold his knees, I pray silently pleading with God for healing and some insight, I look in his face and say “God loves you” and I get a glorious smile back. I do not give money but instead I look intently at his face. I don’t want to forget what Jesus looks like. We part with a handshake and my promise to do something to help.
I need to find an orthopaedic surgeon (I think) who wants to meet Jesus in a concentration camp in Burma. If you’re a medical person and can put me right in what I think I need that would be fine too. But I want to introduce you to my little friends. Two of them at least. One of them looks very like I imagine Jesus to look. If you’re that person please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by a Partners relief team leader .
Oddny’s thoughts as Elise moves out. Every mom can identify. Every dad can wish she was still 5 years old, learning to ride a bicycle.
This morning I looked through an old album of photos of when you were little and thought about how fast time has passed. All mothers do this. When our children leave home, we get all sentimental and miss those years when our kids still needed us to tie their shoes and put on Bandaids on bruised knees.
We miss the times together on the bed or on the sofa reading The Rainbow Fish, the Wizard of Oz or other classics. I think back on the first time you sat by yourself, walked by yourself, rode a bicycle by yourself, went to school by yourself, swam by yourself, spoke in front of a crowd by yourself, played the piano, sang solo, spelled your name, took the school bus by yourself, had your first sleepover, went on a school social, had your first test, got your first tooth and when you lost our first…
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