Catching Up with GTW

July 7th, 2016 | Posted by Barbara Belknap in Gather the Women

It’s been way too long since I wrote a blog for the Gather the Women. There’s been illness. There’s been a bit of malaise. There was also a 3 week visit from our daughter Amy and her baby Edith Simone. One forgets how much attention and care a baby needs. Edie is 9 months old now. She was tentatively walking from one piece of furniture to the next, always holding on to something to keep herself from falling. It was wonderful to have them here. Amy is a professional chef so we had gourmet dinners and heavenly desserts. (I probably broke all Facebook records for posting pictures of a grandchild.)

Before Edie and Amy arrived in Juneau, I went through the house and baby-proofed it as best I could. This time, it was fairly easy. Shut the doors to the bathroom and bedrooms. Move all breakables above five feet. When she was awake, put the kitchen waste basket up on the counter. Next time, Edie will be taking shorter naps, walking, and, as we learned from a play date with Benny, her little boy cousin who is a few months older, everything is fair game. Benny’s mother, Heather, never skipped a beat in our lively conversation as she kept one eye on him and both hands ready to catch, move, grab, or rescue anything and everything. Amy watched this maternal ballet with some amazement. (I wrote a blog about Heather’s baby shower May 11, 2015.)

I’m so thankful that Amy and Heather and their babies live in safety and are thriving, just as I did with our two children in the late 1970’s.

However, expanding the lens out as far as possible, I’m looking with great concern at the American election and what impact it will have on women. On a much deeper level, I worry about the women in the tide of migrants trying to get into Europe. My heart breaks for the women in the refugee camps in the Middle East, who are trying to feed their children on the stingiest of rations. It’s difficult to discern the ages of the older women. They could be 67 like me, but with the toll being taken on their lives, they sometimes look 80.

Looking back at articles and essays I’ve written, I found one I wrote on October 22, 2014, about refugee women. Here’s an excerpt: “As a woman, when I read a story in the New York Times (link below) about the Zaatari refugee camp for Syrians in Jordan, and the reporter is walking through rows of identical sand-colored tents pitched on dirt, I see the women. When a woman TV reporter ducks into a tent to interview the women, there are always four or five kids, and usually the mother is nursing an infant. How are the refugee women staying sane week after week, month after month? They don’t know if their homes are still standing, but the odds aren’t good. Are they safe walking through the camp? Do they worry when they send their girls to the community spigot for water? Slowly, the refugee camp has become a small city. The women are doing the best they can. That is what women do. What would change if women truly had a voice in how our countries and communities are managed? If women had an equal voice in the Middle East, would there be less fighting and more peace? I want to believe that there would be fewer guns and wars, free health care, affordable and magical daycare centers everywhere. Actually, that would be wonderful if the United States had it.”

What can I do? I can contribute to international charities like Women for Women International that help women in war-torn countries. I can contribute to politicians who share my values as a woman. I can use my voice when they cannot use theirs.

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