Travel Log 11 “Holding up Half the Sky” by Aileen Sheluck – London, England

The book Half the Sky was a very interesting read for me. It was really eye opening but saddening at the same time. I think this is a topic that is difficult for a lot of people to discuss or read about because it is so sensitive. Especially being a girl, it is really difficult to read about how other girls in other parts of the world are being so oppressed and are not allowed the same rights simply based on their gender. I think the overall message of the book is to show how so many women are still being oppressed. I think this is an issue that not a lot of people realize is happening since most women in America don’t experience this kind of oppression. The authors really just want people to understand how much these women deal with. I think this book uses experiences and stories as a call-to-action for people to stand up for universal human rights. Everyone can do something – whether it’s donating a small amount, physically visiting and aiding these areas, or simply raising awareness about this massive issue. I think this is what the authors’ real purpose what is writing this book.

One girl’s story that impacted me was that one Dina – the seventeen-year-old who was raped by men of the Hutu Interahamwe militia. Her story is so shocking. And what’s even more shocking is that this sort of behavior is common in her area. She was left, basically to die, in the grass. “’My people had no tribal conflict with them…their only purpose was to rape me and leave me bleeding and leaking wastes’” (Kristof 85). This line in particular really gave insight into the helplessness of these girls. There was absolutely no reason for the attacks against them. Dina was so injured, and her family couldn’t afford to take her to the care facility. Luckily for Dina, HEAL Africa was able to take her to Goma for treatment. Even after she was healed, however, she returned back home. She thought that, no matter where she went, she was exposed to a tremendous amount of risk (whether it was the war coming close to Goma or being raped again in her hometown). It really is so awful what happens to these girls, and the people who commit these heinous crimes are never tried for it. They believe they have a right to violate them. It’s horrifying.

There is a section in the book about micro lending, which I really relate to since I am a finance major. Micro lending is the lending of very small amounts of money to people in a developing country. For example, in the book, a woman named Saima took out a $65 loan to buy beads and cloth for embroidery. To companies in countries like America, $65 is absolutely nothing. But to women like Saima, $65 is everything. I find this whole concept very interesting. There is an experience for Quinnipiac students in my program to take a micro lending trip to Nicaragua. I’m not sure if I in particular will be taking this trip, but doing things like this can really help a lot of people in developing countries. They really have nothing, and lending such a small amount of money means that it isn’t really a big deal if the debt can’t be repaid. Of course, the idea is that this small loan will allow a person’s business to grow big enough to when they can repay the loan easily. But the main point is to give people something for a foundation. It is very easy for people to get involved with projects like this, and it makes a huge difference in the lives of the people who receive the loans.

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3 thoughts on “Travel Log 11 “Holding up Half the Sky” by Aileen Sheluck – London, England

  1. I really like your discussion about micro lending. This was not something that was emphasized in the movie. I think it’s a really great concept and it goes to show how much people like us can make a difference in someone’s life with just a small donation. A lot of people think they can’t make a difference without physically going to a place to help or making a very large donation that they cannot afford, but every contributions makes a difference. Everyone has a bit of pocket change they can donate that can go a very long way for women like these.

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  2. I completely agree with your summary of the book’s main aim: to spread awareness about the oppression of women worldwide. I’m also studying a business related discipline and I found the section on micro-lending interesting as well. It was a concept that I learned about in the class room and it is great to see examples of it in action!

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  3. Your summary of the book could not have been put any better. At times it even made me cringe that someone can treat someone else like that. In my travel log I talked about how I have a mother and sister and to treat a woman like that is wrong. In continuation, to treat a human like that would be inhumane. It is interesting and sad to see that these are some of the citizens that live in our global community. As responsible citizens it is our job to educate and try to make a difference.

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