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Afghan Entrepreneurship, African Survival, and Sarajevo Siege

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon:

  • five sisters, one remarkable family, and the sister (Kamili Sidiqi) who risked everything to keep them safe
  • an incredible true story of an unlikely entrepreneur who mobilized her community under the Taliban rule
  • this was an amazing read and one of those stories that are hard to fathom especially since my three daughters have grown up in such a safe environment
  • it provides some wonderful insight into life in the capital city of Kabul during this most unsettling of times, of which there have been many for this country
  • I’ve read a number of books (Kite Runner and I Am Malala are my two favorites) related to Afghanistan and have thoroughly enjoyed trying to understand the struggles of these people
  • as a result of this, I look forward to being able to visit this country in the next few years
  • kudos to Gayle for all her tremendous research to pull this book together

 

Say You’re One Of Them by Uwem Akpan:

  • this book entails two longer stories and three shorter stories of the perilous life in five different Africa countries
  • the first story is of a family trying to raise funds for their eight-year-old boy to attend school in a shantytown in Nairobi, Kenya with his twelve-year-old sister taking to the streets to try to make this happen
  • the second story centers around two siblings in Benin, aged five and ten that are being prepped to be sold by their uncle into slavery in Gabon
  • the third story involves two six-year-old friends in Ethiopia that acted like twins, but who are separated by a religious struggle that is hard for children of that age to fathom
  • the fourth story tells the story of a group of people fleeing northern Nigeria for the south and the main character who is trying to hide his Muslim faith around his Christian bus mates
  • the fifth story portrays the gruesome nature of the Hutus vs. Tutsis Rwandan civil war in the early ’90s and how it pitted a family against itself in the most gruesome of fashions
  • all of the stories were extremely disturbing, but it helps to put the continent in perspective in terms of the struggles of the past, that in a lot of cases, are still evident today
  • I found that some of the longer stories tended to drag on a bit and when they used the local dialect it was a bit challenging to follow the verse
  • the interview with the author provided a helpful insight into his background and provided an excellent backdrop to the stories
  • the bottom line is the biggest challenge faced by children in Africa is staying alive

 

The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway:

  • the story is set during the 1990’s siege of Sarajevo, which was the longest of a capital city in modern warfare
  • it revolves around three people trying to survive in a city rife with the extreme fear of desperate times, and of the sorrowing cellist who plays undaunted in their midst for 22 days
  • the cellist is based on the real-life event of Vedran Smailovic and I always like when a story has a true component to it
  • I enjoyed the way the author rotated between the central characters to give slightly different perspectives on the same situation
  • it was a very worthwhile read to get a feel for the unfathomable environment that these people lived through
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