The Girl From Syria

Eight years ago I was on my way to Cairo, Egypt, to observe a program developed by a Christian Egyptian physician who recognized a dire need for boys to learn to respect girls and for girls to learn to respect themselves. It is a culture where abuse of all kinds against women and girls is both exceedingly common and silently tolerated, where abuse is automatically assumed to be the fault of the woman…or young girl…or baby girl.  Where family honor and silence are more important than a daughter.

The program was proving to be amazingly successful.  So much so that many public schools in Egypt were including it along with their classroom study.

Flying over, I sat next to an Egyptian woman who spent half her time in Southern California  and half in Cairo.  I had just started to tell her about the program when we arrived in Dubai for a three hour layover.  She told me she was a psychologist and wanted to hear more,  so we sat in the airport and discussed it.  At that time, 10,000 girls and boys had gone through the program. The goal was to increase the number by 15,000 each year.

Three hours later, when the plane to Cairo was announced, a pretty thirteen-year-old girl with huge  brown eyes who had been sitting close by came over and shyly stood beside me.  I smiled and said hello.  She said, “Will you come to Syria, too?” I asked her what she meant.  She said, “I’m from Aleppo, in Syria, and we have those problems too.  I want to learn how to say no.  Will you come to Aleppo and teach us?”

I said I was sorry, but I couldn’t.  And I didn’t

Today Aleppo is in flames.  The people who are still there are running for their lives.  No one is talking about plain old abuse anymore.  They’re talking about their prospects of living to see another day.

That girl would be twenty-one now.  But every evening when I watch the news, I think of that lovely young girl with the huge brown eyes, and I cry.

“Hope is a waking dream.”


About kaystrom

Kay Marshall Strom, who am I? Well, I’m a traveler, a railer against social injustice, a passionate citizen of the world. I’m a follower of Jesus Christ. I’m a 21st century abolitionist who speaks out against slavery of all kinds. I am a beach walker and a gardener and the off-key singer of songs. I’m a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend. Most people, though, know me as a writer and a speaker. So here is a bit more about that part of my life: Of my 43 published books, seventeen have been translated into foreign languages, and two have been optioned for movies. My writing credits include magazine articles, books for children, short stories, television scripts and two prize-winning screenplays. I love to write, and speak, about topics close to my heart. I speak at seminars, retreats, writer’s conferences, and special events throughout the country. And because I enjoy travel, I even speak on cruise ships. Because I don’t see how a writer can really reflect another people and land without spending time there, I’ve been trekking through India, China, Indonesia, Cambodia, Nepal, Sudan, Senegal, Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt, Japan and South Korea, tape recorder and camera in hand, to gather stories from the world-wide family of God. Thanks to my “virtual friendship” with John Newton, 17th century slave ship captain turned preacher, I traveled through Ireland. In West Africa I toured an old slave fortress off the coast and saw a tiny set of baby manacles bolted to the wall. I was struck dumb. From that horror came a story question, and from that question, my foray into fiction: The Grace in Africa trilogy. Come join me as I travel and rail against injustice. Maybe you will choose to be a 21st century abolitionist too.
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2 Responses to The Girl From Syria

  1. B.J. Taylor says:

    Oh, sad! Kay, you are doing the very best that you can. Reaching out to help so many. Writing about things that most people would cringe from. Thank you for opening the eyes of so many in the best way you know how.

  2. kaystrom says:

    It seems as though the world is a sad place right now, doesn’t it? But there’s hope. What would we do without hope? Thanks so much for being such an encouragement. I so appreciate you! xo

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