Boys & Girls Club/ International Women’s Peace Conference
Kerrville’s Folk Festival grounds were not covered in tents, and people, nor the scent of patchouli and the late night twang of guitars. There were wide open grassy pastures, and tiny wildflowers, and twenty four awesome kids from the Boys and Girls Club who came to participate in songwriting, music, canoeing, camping….I taught classes on songwriting (fantastically unbelievable what the kids created…oh, my), and the sweetest, most talented folks, Kelly and Donna of Still on the Hill (http://www.stillonthehill.com), taught orchestration with an array of musical instruments that were making my mouth water! I wanted to be in their class! Our friend, Jena, was there, too, and she and Tim were teaching poetry! Lance and the girls came out for Monday and spent the night with me in John’s RV (thank you, John!) and we had a blast playing softball for several hours in the lazy afternoon sun. Each night was a magical treat on the Threadgill stage, where everyone presented their music from the day’s work. A talent show of heart and soul.
Tomorrow I leave to go to the International Women’s Peace Conference in Dallas to sing with Kristin. Here is a biography on one of the women who will be presenting and present…Thanks to J Kendel for sending me the info about Lucy.
BIOGRAPHY FOR LUCY SEMEIYAN MASHUA
Lucy Semeiyan Mashua was born on March 19th, 1978 in Illassit, Loitokitok a remote village in southern Kenya. She is from the nomadic tribe of the Maasai people and is fluent in 10 African languages as well as English and speaks some French and Arabic. She graduated in 1998 from the International Central Management Institute and holds a degree in Hospitality and Public Service specializing in Communications. In 1999, Lucy was the only Kenyan at the time to qualify as an international radio broadcaster with the Voice of America (VOA) radio.
Lucy has lived in eight African countries including Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Somalia, Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo engaging in social and political activism. In 1999, at the age of 21, Lucy became an activist, speaking out against the subordination and abuse of women, and became a mobilizer of peaceful demonstrations. In September 2003, Lucy was the head of Public Relations and Media at the 13th International Conference on AIDS and STDs in Africa (ICASA) held in Nairobi, Kenya. She has also volunteered with the International Somalia Rehabilitation Association (ISRA) helping to organize the 2006 International Women’s Day in Baidoa with the Ministry of Gender and Family Affairs in Somalia. She has been on the forefront of the fight against governmental corruption and the misuse of funds in Africa. Her activism soon put her life in danger. Eventually, she had to flee her homeland, leaving behind three young children. In 2006, Lucy came to Dallas seeking asylum. Today, she lives in Grand Prairie and is fighting to gain her asylee status. She is now a member of the United Nations Dallas Chapter.
At the age of nine, Lucy could not escape the deep-rooted tradition of female genital circumcision and was forced to undergo the procedure. Then three years later, at the age of 12, she was forced to marry. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a controversial practice that violates several human rights laws set into place by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. While speaking out against the genital mutilations performed on girls in her native Kenya, she has faced strong resistance from people in her tribe. She has even had to hide her family for fear of reprisals. Soon her eight year-old niece whom she has adopted as her own daughter will have to endure the procedure. Relatives are keeping her children safe, but she hopes someday to bring all her family members to the U.S.
As a result of her horrific experience, Lucy is now fighting hard to stop the tradition of female genital mutilation. She wants to establish rescue camps for girls in her country. “I want to be a voice for the voiceless,” she says. “I would like to start an organization here to help with this,” she said. She hopes that she can help end genital mutilation by raising awareness of the practice.
As a survivor of torture, Lucy now speaks out on the following topics: Female genital mutilation, early childhood marriage, forced abortions, human rights abuses, and the abuse of women both physically and emotionally.