Friday, May 2, 2008

My Struggle to Get a Good Education

I asked myself: “What has impacted me the most as a person?” The answer is my journey to get a good education. This journey has made me sacrifice the most precious things in my life: my family, friends and culture. However, it has made me a young woman of dignity by giving me a purpose in life and by opening the doors of unexpected opportunities.
I was born in one of the biggest refugee camps in the world. It is located in the Southwestern Algerian desert, where the temperature can reach 130 degrees Fahrenheit. It was there where my family and I, as victims of a three-decade-long dispute between Western Sahara and Morocco, took shelter. It was there where knowledge about the outside world was lacking, but where there was a hunger for learning and the determination to improve the rate of illiteracy was found. Growing up, all I knew were the hardships of the desert, mud-brick houses, and the tents made of thick, green canvas material. Nevertheless, things took a turn in another direction when I was selected for a special program that takes children who lost their fathers in the war to spend the summer with a Spanish host-family away from the hardship and the heat of the refugee camps.
It was at the age of ten when I made the decision to stay in Spain to begin my education. It was not an easy decision to make after having to leave behind my most beloved ones for twelve years. This decision made me miss the births and the most important stages in the life of my four younger sisters. Not only has this decision made me sacrifice my family, but also my culture, language and values. However, this sacrifice has taught me the most important principles which have helped me to learn how to live in different cultures and to respect their peoples. In addition to that, I built my character and strengthened my beliefs as an independent young woman.
These principles have helped me to be the young women of dignity that I am today by giving me a purpose that has given me a sense of understanding of my own hunger to get a good education. This hunger is the root of my passion and the dream of being one of the first female ambassadors of my nation to help my people in their fight for freedom. This purpose has given me a sense of belonging that makes me appreciate my own ethnicity, culture and language despite the fact that I have not lived with my people for a long time. It has also helped me maintain my language and culture throughout these years
My determination has opened the doors of unexpected opportunities, making the impossible a reality: first, going to Spain to study and later, being one of the first Saharawi to ever come to the USA and graduate from an American high school. This summer, I had the opportunity to read one of my poems in the presence of dozens of congressmen and senators in a reception on Capitol Hill. Similarly, in October of this year, I spoke as a petitioner before the UN’s Fourth Committee as an advocate for my people making me one of the first Saharawi women to do such a thing. Not only have these opportunities allowed me to meet many ambassadors and representatives from around the world, but also allowed me to have a Saharawi diplomatic-traditional tea and make connections with the Saharawi ambassador to the UN. Moreover, I received lectures by the Saharawi Minister of Foreign Affairs. In fact, when I asked him at the end: “What advice would you give to a young woman like me?” he simply said: “Study, study and study very hard, and be a good diplomat for our nation.”
Having analyzed the impact of education on my journey in life, I ask myself yet again: “Do I regret the sacrifice of being away from my beloved ones?” The answer is: No, I do not regret the sacrifice of being away from my family, or any other sacrifice because those sacrifices are what have given me a purpose to pursue my dreams and the opportunity to live an extraordinary life that leaves me with a unique story to tell. Moreover, my journey and the determination to get a good education will have an impact on my people in the refugee camps as well as others of different nations

By Agaila Abba blog freeewesternsahara

47 comments:

ala2 said...

salamo3alaykom Zeina.i'm a sahrawi girl from the occupied areas,exactly from Laayoune our precious capital.i've read your strrugle story and i found it so impressing;i've also read your grand mother and father stories which are the best example that can represent the courage,the genorosity and the sacrifice of saharawi people.And what i want to say to them is that i admire them as i admire every saharawi in refugee camps.
I thank you for your telling and describing your life story in a good english writing style,this story is an inspiration for all people,especially for us,your saharawi sisters and brothers in the occupied Sahara.
What i want in the end is to say that i'm inviting you to be a friend of me,so i can,me to,share with you my life story,my dreams,my goal and my problems...if you accept it,here is my email:LALLABAHAHA@hotmail.com

Mafuti said...

Hello Zeina

Congratulation for your blog!
I found it a few days ago, I will read it during the following days, but let me say: thank you very much for writting this blog and giving knowledge for te people who doesn't know anything of Western Sahara.
As you and as many people in the world and of course as every saharauis, we are goint to get the independent and the freedom!.
I'm going to add your blog to mine.
Have fun and sucran!

Mahfud

devoteeofwsahara said...

hello Agaila i found your true story to get a good education so impressing and amazing because you told your own struggle i think it is mixed with destiny and tragedy and frustrations but finally it has give us a good diplomat in one of the most important countries in which all the policies are made and i hope you will defend the sahrawi cause with devotion.America is the key figure in the conflict of western sahara now it support Morocco thanks to the israeli lobby which dominated the american white house and foreign affairs and which is paid by the moroccan government with millions of dollars,but we the sahrawi have no dollars to give we have the power of our right and the efforts of our youth neither here in the occupied zone nor all over the world.am really surprised when i found that most of the blogs owners are foreigners there is WILL and THE DUTCH VAN KASS and the italian AX ,so we have to support them in many ways since they did a good job really and i think that it is time to work harder for our cause because it is worth fighting for so we have to exchange ideas news and help between us not only sahrawi but defenders of the same cause.
i finally want to mention that am a student from Aaiun the capital of western sahara i have allways defended our right in self-determination and i will always defended it.
fuertfrente@gmail.com

Maren said...

you tell an inspiering story!
I'm very intrested in the subject of Western sahara, in fact im going to the refugee camps in south western Algeria in September and I will be there for 4 months! I'm really looking forward to the experience and to learning more about the situation there, since we don't get much information about it here in Norway...
You said that you were born there, maby you could tell me a bit about the life there, what I should expect when I get there??
Hope to hear from you!

Youssef B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Youssef B said...

I am an Amazigh man, the native poeple of north Africa (including western Sahara). First, let me congratulate you on your achievements; they are extraordinary. I am sorry about your unfortunate life and I know as well as you do that your familily is a victim of the Algerian military who finance and sponsor the separatist movement called Polisario. This movement does not represent the poeple of Western Sahara who are Moroccans and proud to be. I am sorry for your misfortune but you should know that your family could've come to their homeland anytime if it wasn't for the Algerian militray and the gangster militia who forced them to remain in the camps in order to use them as a political card. This has never been about the Sahraoui people, it has always been about the expansion objectives of the Algerian junta in their pursuit of getting a window on the Atlantic ocean by establishing a proxy state in Western Sahara. Again, your people are welcome in Morocco to live like all Moroccans live. The alternative is very clear: remain a tool -political card- in the hands of the Alrgerian totalitarian and military government and remain in refugee camps. The Algerian recent history and current events are full of preposterous human right abuses, the government of Algeria has been bombing its own people by the hundreds in many areas of the country; this is not to mention the ten years of a civil war in the country during the 90s, yet at the same time they claim to want to help the sahraoui poeple to live in peace and have human right! Please, be reasonable. Your poeple are been manipulated and taken advantage of by gangsters and generals and I really hope one day you revolt against them and demand that they let you poeple go free. Morocco's record on human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, respect of private property etc are not perfect but in comparison with Algeria it's heaven on earth. This recognized by respected world organization monitoring these matters. I am really sorry for the misfortune of your people and I hope you come join us to continue building the Morocco of tomorrow. A Morocco where each region will govern itself and manage its resources but unite as one block in the international front. This is how civilized countries are working; but unfortunately Algeria is not interested in this solution.. they want to govern and rule western Sahara remotely, from Algiers and for that your people are paying the price. This is my email if you have any comments or questions: amazighman@gmail.com Peace!

Youssef B said...

Hi again,
Far from the sensationalized and misleading information you provide the readers of your blog, i would like suggest a more reasonable reading of the reality by putting forward some questions to you in hopes to shed some light on this issue. Popele who do not know the history of this issue often fall victim to the sensationalized narrative people such yourself provide to them, the result is more confusion and misunderstanding. It goes without saying that like all Moroccans I sympathize with you and understand your situation. We welcome your family anytime in their home country as many have done before:

1- Why do you not mention to your readers that there is a "sahraoui people" in Algeria as well, the Rguibat in Tindouf just across the border from Morocco? Only the Moroccan sahraoui are interested in independence? Is life in Algeria that good?

2- Once Algeria establishes an independent state in Western Sahara, what is the reaction of the majority of sahraouis who've always felt Moroccan going to be? What are the odds of civil war in this case?

3- How do you conceive delivering a secured and governed territory to a band of gangsters sponsored by an Algerian government who has proven to be weak and incapable in the face of terrorist organizations such as Al Qaida? Aren't these groups and other backward narrow minded terrorists roam freely in Algeria, literally slaughtering people in the streets, car-bombing buildings and killing innocent people in the process?

4- On the Moroccan side, how will you convince the Moroccan army, the political parties, grass root organizations, and indeed the hundreds of thousand Morocan poeple from Western Sahara to just pack up and leave after 30 years of trying to unite their country?

5- What do you make of the 4000+ Mauritanians who are suing the Polizario for keeping them in prison camps and torturing them? (See Eruonews piece on the issue: Growing voice of the bewildered in Wester Sahara)

Thanks and good luck!

Rymou said...

I tried to read as much as i could.. i'd first like to thank you i learnt a lot through your articles. I've been researching for the past days on north african and sahrawi culture i was just thinking for a theme to my new project and as im very interested by african and arabic cultures it lead me to here:) I'm doing fashion design in london and am lebanese but your culture is very impressive and i want to make it my theme for my new project.. maybe inspire myself from it to create clothes and create a woman that's struggling and suffered.. a wild woman. from deep nature. what do you think :)? i just need a lot of informations concerning beauty in north africa and sahara.. i dont think anyone ever thought of inspiring themselves from it.. i dont know i want it to be something new..do to something no one has ever done and i dont want to feel useless i hate working for something that's not gna provide the world something valuable. clothes is not enough.. so maybe i can use clothing for something better? maybe showing a new woman. a woman that's victim of so many terrible things and that's been through a lot.. excision rape forced mariages becoming a mum at the age where she herself needed one, al charia and.. i just want to depict a woman that is victim of violence and that is still suffering in some of the countries. I dont know why im telling you all this, but your articles helped me in a way :) so thank you zeina. And if you could inform me on beauty and what sahrawi women are caractherised by, please tell me. and if there's still a huge inequality between men and women. thank you!
Rim_b90@Hotmail.com

sonia sin gluten said...

Bulletin of the World Health Organization-الدابوق الحرة -Gluten Free


Bulletin of the World Health Organization
Print ISSN 0042-9686
Abstract

RATSCH, Ilse-Maria and CATASSI, Carlo. Enfermedad celíaca: un problema de salud potencialmente tratable de los niños saharauis refugiados. Bull World Health Organ [online]. 2001, v. 79, n. 6, pp. 542-545. ISSN 0042-9686.

OBJETIVO: Caracterizar la repercusión clínica y nutricional de la enfermedad celíaca (enteropatía por sensibilidad al gluten) entre niños saharauis que vivían como refugiados en Argelia. MÉTODOS: Se procedió a comparar a 65 niños saharauis con enfermedad celíaca con 71 testigos de edad similar no afectados por la enfermedad. En cada caso se llevó a cabo lo siguiente: historia clínica, exploración física, anamnesis nutricional no cuantitativa de 24 horas, mediciones antropométricas y del pliegue cutáneo, análisis de la composición corporal mediante impedancia bioeléctrica, y toma de muestras de sangre venosa para determinar la hemoglobina.

RESULTADOS: La alimentación de base de los niños saharauis eran productos que contenían gluten, especialmente pan. La presencia de dolor y distensión abdominales fue significativamente más frecuente entre los niños con enfermedad celíaca que entre los testigos ( P < 0,05). El valor medio de la estatura para la edad fue significativamente más bajo en esos niños que en los testigos (-2,5 + 1,4 unidades frente a -1,8 + 1,3 unidades, respectivamente, P < 0,01). No se detectaron diferencias significativas en lo relativo al pliegue cutáneo o la impedancia bioeléctrica. Los niveles de hemoglobina tendían a ser menores en los niños con enfermedad celíaca que en los testigos.

CONCLUSIÓN: La enfermedad celíaca repercute negativamente en el estado de salud de los niños refugiados saharauis. Dada la alta prevalencia de esa dolencia en la población saharaui, debería establecerse un programa específico para tratar a todos los individuos afectados. Es necesario realizar nuevos estudios para cuantificar el impacto de la enfermedad celíaca en otras regiones del mundo en desarrollo.

Keywords : Enfermedad celíaca [etnología]; Dieta [efectos adversos]; Estado de salud; Refugiados; Niño; África del Norte; Argelia.
· abstract in english | french · text in english · pdf in english
© 2009 World Health Organization
Avenue Appia 20
1211 Geneva 27
Switzerland
Fax.: +41 22 791 489
Publicado por sonia sin gluten en 23:43 0 comentarios
Etiquetas: Catassi, Saharauis
Por un Sahara Libre e Independiente.
Mil abrazos sonia cortes España

http://minietasingluten.blogspost.com

三合 said...

愛情是盲目的,但婚姻恢復了它的視力。.........................

亮麗 said...

我們不是因為快樂而歌唱,而是唱歌使我們快樂........................................

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may the blessing be always with you!! ........................................

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It's great!!.............................................

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與其爭取不可能得到的東西,不如善自珍惜運用自己所擁有的........................................

向霖 said...

Learn wisdom by the follies of others. ..................................................

志義 said...

失意人前,勿談得意事;得意人前,勿談失意事。..................................................

銘雅婷木 said...

灰心是動搖的開端,動搖是失敗的近鄰。..................................................

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HaroldM22 said...

your son/daughter is so cute............................................................

紫倫妍勳 said...

Well begun is half done. ............................................................

羅志誠 said...

成功可招引朋友,挫敗可考驗朋友 ............................................................

VinnieAuxie23254 said...

成功可招引朋友,挫敗可考驗朋友 ............................................................

劉淑芬 said...

一沙一世界,一花一天堂,掌中握無限,剎那即永恆......................................................................

林奕廷 said...

新手上路哦~請大家多支持^_^

李哲維 said...

良言一句三冬暖,惡語傷人六月寒。....................................................................

芸茂 said...

Poverty is stranger to industry.................................................................

雅慧雅慧 said...

幸福不是一切,人還有責任。............................................................

王雅筑 said...

人生是故事的創造與遺忘。............................................................

佳皓佳皓 said...

人因夢想而偉大,要堅持自己的理想哦..................................................................

懿綺懿綺 said...

看到大家都留言-我也忍不住說聲---加油..................................................................

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累了嗎?來杯咖啡休息一下吧!............................................................

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卡爾.桑得柏:「除非先有夢,否則一切皆不成。」共勉!..................................................................

李志杰 said...

朋友是一面鏡子............................................................

王美妹 said...

第一忠誠,第二勤奮,第三專心工作。..................................................

姚宜潔 said...

教育無他,愛與榜樣而已............................................................

吳淑芬吳淑芬 said...

工作,是愛的具體化~~~~努力吧!............................................................

肇戴佩 said...

唯有學習不已的老師,才能認真的教,唯有燃燒自己,才能點亮他人的燈............................................................

承王蓁 said...

愛,拆開來是心和受兩個字。用心去接受對方的一切,用心去愛對方的所有。......................................................................

謝俊林奕宏宏 said...

老天爺賦予了強者的能力,就是要他比弱者多擔待..................................................

储涵 said...

你不能左右天氣,但你可以改變心情.................................................................

誠陳侑 said...

Subtlety is better than force. ......................................................................

法榮陳法榮陳法榮陳 said...

打聲招呼,祝你一切平安!............................................................

廷家祥家祥雯 said...

心平氣和~祝你也快樂~~..................................................

jabeen824 said...

Asalamalaykum Zeina,

My name is Nabila and I really enjoyed reading your blog. I am writing a senior thesis on Sahrawi women and your writings helped me to realize that there is a huge difference between the role older generation and the younger generation of Sahrawi women.

My thesis will focus on how Sahrawi women can maintain their presence and power in society after liberation (iA). I would love to hear more from your perspective. I have provided my email below and hope to hear from you soon.

Choukran,
Nabila

nabila.taj@gmail.com

Kathy said...

Greetings Zeina-

My name is Kathy and I'm looking for literature from Western Sahara. I've been unsuccessful in finding authors from the country and translated into English. Do you have any recommendations or links?

Thank you

Kathy