“I want to kill myself. I don’t want to live anymore.”
What horrors did this young mother from Congo experience for her to utter these words in front of her young children?
Mami is a late afternoon walk-in to Women of the World. She has cried through the day, her dark complexion stained with sadness. She is thin, her past sickens her. She is striking. Her kids are adorable, quiet, and well-behaved. They place their heads gently on the new blanket I give them from our donation closet.
If you cannot be compassionate with Mami, you aren’t capable of compassion.
Mami’s friend, Pam, brought her to Women of the World. Pam has donated all of her time today. At dawn, Pam happened past the office. It is fortunate she did… more than fortunate, Women of the World is on an industrial street, we don’t get foot traffic. It was grace.
“Mami, I know you have suffered…”
Mami cut off Samira, the WoW Director. “You don’t know my story, no one knows.”
“Mami, it is true. I don’t know. And you don’t know mine. Everyone has pain and feels their own hurt is more than what anyone has.”
Mami is not her name. It is a term of endearment that WoW service staff have picked up to call central-African women. Iraqis use momma. It’s like a Southerner woman’s “hun” to another woman. The respect and love of cooing “Mami” began to settle her down.
“I want to get you some help. Give you the opportunity to see a counselor.”
Mami was violently raped in Congo. The beautiful kids with her are not her husband’s, they are the children of soldiers sent to rape and pillage. Refugees did not come to Utah for the American dream, they are fleeing a nightmare. Modern war is hell on earth, the most psychologically damaging sequence of events you can imagine, times thousands. You can’t imagine it, it is more horrific than your psyche will allow you to conjure.
“I don’t want to go back to my resettlement agency. Not them. They don’t help.”
Refugees did not come to Utah for the American dream, they are fleeing a nightmare.
We get this from time to time. The resettlement agencies serve a lot more people, but they can’t always spend the time needed to listen, empathize, and rebuild trust. Women of the World is different. We offer custom solutions, a boutique for cases more dynamic and difficult than the majority of refugee cases.
Women of the World offers a sisterhood.
“No I will get you someone to talk to at UHHR. They can help you. They will listen and give you advice to find a way to not be sad all the time.”
The Utah Health and Human Rights organization is trained in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) treatment and only serve refugees. Women of the World partners with them often.
“Can you trust me to help you?”
“Yes, I can. You are my sister.”
“Yes. You can always find your sisters here. Abby, Maya, and I and any of our volunteers we have help you are your sisters.”
“I never have had family here…”
“Now you do, Mami. Now you do.”