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Hawa and Goliath

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The International Herald Tribune reports:

On May 5 2010, just after sunup, 750 militants surrounded Dr. Hawa Abdi’s hospital. Mama Hawa, as she is known, heard gunshots, looked out the window and saw she was vastly outnumbered.

“Why are you running this hospital?” the gunmen demanded. “You are old. And you are a woman!”

They did not seem to care that Mama Hawa, 63, was one of the only trained doctors for miles around, and that the clinic, school and feeding program she built on her land supported nearly 100,000 people, most of them desperate refugees from the fighting and poverty that has afflicted this nation.

Dr. Hawa Abdi might only have been a woman, but despite being threatened and held under house arrest for five days, she prevailed. Not only that; inspired by her defiance, hundreds of women in the refugee camp serviced by the hospital dared to protest. Their voices and those of Somalis abroad were heard, forcing the militants to back down, and, upon Dr. Abdi’s insistence, even apologize in writing.

I think we forget that courage is not the absence of fear; it is the ability to do what is right despite that fear. The news is full of stories of despair and injustice and people wailing that there is nothing they can do to change their world. But that isn’t true, one person, even an old woman, can make a difference.

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