I was flipping through posts on facebook when I stumbled on one shared by my friend, Ebiere. I immediately knew I should not just read and move on. The urge to share was strong. If there’s anything to go by, one should not reject strong urges; especially one to help humanity.
Here’s the story as written by Brian Crandall.
When Aden Santur messaged me, asking me to write about his family, I asked, “Are you sure? These are very personal details.” Indeed, how do we inspire people to help others in need, if we don’t provide intimate details about their struggles and suffering?
Abuse, Rape, Threats of Death, this is the story of Aden Santur and his bride, the love of his life, Fardowsa.
As a child of only six years old, Aden Santur’s home town fell under the control of terrorists. His mother and father were brutally murdered in front of him and his three siblings. Aden’s eight year old sister was raped, resulting in psychological scars that would never heal. Along with his older sister, two younger brothers, neighbors and a few others who survived the invasion, they fled Somalia to Kenya. If not for the kindness of others, the children would not have survived this 20 day trek to the border.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had an outpost at the border where desperate refugees could check in, and be assigned a refugee camp to continue on toward from there. Having no immediate family to stay with, a neighbor with whom they fled Sudan was kind enough to take the children in.
As time passed by, Aden’s older sister took a job as a housemaid to earn money for food for the siblings, while they attended school. The trauma of her early childhood experiences surely weighed heavy on her mind as her health began to deteriorate rapidly, as a young adult. Eventually, Aden was forced to abandon secondary school in order to find a job to help support the family. His sister passed away not long afterward, during 2010, and then a younger brother passed away in 2011.
Poor living conditions, sorrow and grief were obstacles Aden had to cope with every day, and every night. Despite this, he worked hard and earned a job as a social worker, working at the reception center of the camp. One day he noticed a young lady who was visibly distraught, unsure where to go as she arrived at the camp, not knowing a single person there. He saw the pain in her eyes and felt an immediate connection, offering to help her through the process of admissions to the camp.
As they talked, Fardowsa told him about her parents and how they both died in the chaos of civil war. A step-father informed her that she would be marrying a man older than her father, and when she refused, she was subjected to torture until she finally submitted and agreed to the marriage. She was very unhappy and ran away; fleeing to the camp she was currently checking in. Aden told her about his own experiences, explaining they have much in common with childhood misfortune. By the end of the day, he invited her to move in with him. They fell in love, and were married a year later in 2012.
Not long after they married, the husband from her forced marriage somehow found out their location, and the couple began receiving death threats. The threats became real acts of violence on the night of March 3, 2014 when armed men invaded their home, physically beat Fardowsa, and raped her. They promised to return and kill them both.
In their culture, there is a negative social stigma attached to women who have been raped. While Aden stood by the woman he loves, the clan’s people turned against him for refusing to divorce her. As if all of the suffering as a child was not enough of a burden to bear, to this day, Aden and Fardowsa are subject to harassment and humiliation by the people in the community they live in.
Both have written letters to the United Nations, detailing the fear and anxiety that haunts them, always harassed by those around them, and always living in fear of the return of the husband from the forced marriage earlier in Fardowsa’s life. They begged the U.N. for assistance with relocation, hoping to find a place they can feel safe. There has been no response from the UNHCR, as the family lives in danger.
It is unfortunate that one man can be born into great wealth, while another is born into tragic circumstance. We should not sit idly by in comfort, when others suffer. Humanity should not rest until there are no longer any children suffering hunger, abuse, poor living conditions, even war all around them. When the citizens of any nation are oppressed by a ruthless regime, we must unite and speak up, making sure the leaders of every nation know that this is not acceptable.
We The People, around the world need to apply more pressure to the leaders who represent us, and let them know we need to prioritize our spending, away from wasteful projects, and apply those funds in a way that helps others who suffer, both near and far.
When we say nothing, when we do nothing, those in power begin to realize that they can do whatever they want, even promote policy that creates great wealth for a few, at the expense of the masses, and nobody will notice until it’s too late.
This world will be a better place if we all make an effort to improve the lives of others, in any small way we can.