Sunday, March 31, 2013

Traditions, 1st and 2nd Generations and Expats

Sitting here this morning watching a show on TV called "Namesake" got me thinking
about a few things. 32 yrs ago a young man traveled to a new land, not knowing at the
time he would not return home again til 32 yrs had passed.  What ever his reasons for not returning home all those years I still have only bits and pieces. We really haven't had much time to talk about why he left and for
many years it really didn't matter. He never really spoke of home. When we had children
he felt there was no need for them to learn his native tongue they would probably
never meet their grandparents or any other relatives and except for a few friends that
lived somewhat close to us, there was no need in this new land.

We had promised each other when and "IF" the time ever came we would head home.
No ifs and buts about it we would go.  His family at one point had sent us tickets for hubby, myself
and our new son. We could not go then part being a promise he had made to me
we would never leave without trying to get daughters who I had been denied
back in my custody from a first husband who had made my life miserable for the years in
which he lived. It was not til his death nearly 15 yrs later could we even dream of that.

Now, move forward in time. Five other kids had became part of our small family, neighbors and
other local muslim families became our "family". I myself not really having much to do with
my own family members most living scattered across the USA.  My First generation children of a mixed race
mixed culture family, knew little of the world of Islam beyond the borders of the local
mosque and saw on TV like many of us the cracked, fractured and misunderstood world that they were
a part of but not a part of.

With the fall of Tripoli almost a year after the war began, a glimmer of hope rose in my heart. My husband
felt with trepidation the glimmer of hope as well. I PUSHED him along in the hope that one day soon;
I mean I could go tomorrow, but we had responsibilities and after years of separation with my two oldest daughters I had a relationship with my youngest daughter who I had the least time with. Her and her husband and my two wonderful grandsons lived blocks from me and Grandma got to see them whenever she wanted. How could I now uproot and move to another place clear on the other side of the world? I had my other daughter with her two children living in another state but the idea of a house with grandma and grandpa visiting on weekends and those darn family days suddenly seemed to crumble. After 25 yrs of marriage and of not really setting roots everything we knew was about to be suddenly changed.

Sure we could just go on with our lives here, going back and forth visiting family here in the winter and living in our country visiting it when we could. In reality we barely made a life in the USA and struggled to give our children the things that made life what it was.  So the cost of traveling to another country halfway around the world for a few weeks each year was not in the remotest chance of happening. My husband and I talked, well take that back "I" talked, he grumbled. I told him your the oldest son for your mother and your youngest brother has carried them all these years and wasn't it time that he bellied up to this responsiblities as a man? See Kharma works like that, you ignore your grandparents, your parents and well
when your own kids grow up well it will come back to haunt you.

He finally relented, and we made plans to visit and see how things were. I mean they had just came out of a war and 32 years of repression and lack of even basics and we wanted to come headlong into that? So we packed two suitcases each and took what we could and headed home.

Things really hadn't changed much since the kids and myself were here 6 yrs ago. Not physically but mentally yeah. AS I said before there was a new air about the people.

It took a bit first a bit of anger on the parts of the kids being drawn up into this MOVE and being dragged from all they had every known. Me being the child of a military family it was all I ever knew and I was getting restless having sat so long in one place. Maybe I was selfish.

Its 6 months in and hubby returned to the states back in November to settle our business there. Wish I had planned differently, wish I had more time to plan when I was planning and people had listened to me and readied themselves. Packed up the rooms when I suggested it saying at least if we come back things will all be here and not dusty and we can repaint and refresh the house at worst.  Now he is packing our life in boxes, hopefully not tossing out what he didn't know was important.

I attended a Volunteer group today, we got there an hour late I thought we would be on time. No they seemed to be just about wrapped up. Two people spoke to us we got a few stares. I was hoping to see some folks from Twitter there if you were there I wish we could have met. The young man we had met that assisted us in getting there told me he had called my son so he was on the way back felt bad 1/2 hour and hey come back. Something I don't know said, "Don't think they really care if you came, these youth."

Hope I'm wrong. I'm frustrated not having anything to do and not having money to do more that I NEED to do after sitting in a basement for almost a year watching screens show me a world thousands of miles away and wishing I could be there to do something, anything, I feel unwanted and unneeded. Maybe im'm wrong, I pray I am. Where is the activism that I saw sprout out and yell for the chance to make a difference? I went out to the local ducan (store) and watched as the restaurant deposited their garbage on the sidewalk in front of the store. One bag broke open and salad and bits and pieces of food fell onto the ground
its not that hot yet the flies have yet to multiply to monstrous proportions, but by days end I'm sure it stunk. They looked at the mess and walked off waiting for the cleanup crews to pick it up.

So much needs to be done. Locals will ask, "where do we start?" Youth will say we got to have jobs, we are bored, we don't want to pick up garbage or clean up a mess of a building. It's not our job. Much needs to change. Again I pray that those outside, those who know better and have been raised differently, should come home.  We need, LIBYA needs your help.

What will the next generations have? What are we building now that will benefit them? Certainly not a new shawarma shop....Grand Prix racing? Do we really need that? Glitzy buildings of foreign companies touting goods and services that would be better if they could harness the local economy and skills have begun to come. I guess there is a place for Cinnabons and Starbucks Coffee.  Where is a shop that shows off and sells Amazigh clothing and wares? Harness the dates and the honey and all the riches of the
country in natural beauty.

Oh I forget while we sit, foes still plan and whisper in the ears of youth and tell them that the dream is not their dream.  Burn down that store, kill that person for some old wrong, destroy a bit more of your history that hasn't already been damaged from time or lack of care. Destroy your history, bit by bit til nothing is left. Fill the beaches with hotels and resorts touting the views of the Gulf while slowly you destroy the view for those who sit behind it. Block off bits and pieces as your own and charge to use what should be the right to free use of all Libyans.

I look back to my own country, how long after our own revolution did it take us to turn our country around? Set up government and laws?  I don't know i'm a genealogist by hobby, but a historian no. I'm no politician, no mega conglomerate. I'm one person who had a dream.  Keep reading my blog, not many people respond to me so I have no idea who is really reading it or what they think about what I am saying.
I'm a dreamer, maybe a fool. But I'm not the only one. Realizing as I post this today that most of this I have already said before. Guess the feeling is still there.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Humm, Trying to Think of a Catchy Title?

Sitting here its early morning like most of my days.  Been a week or more since I got sick and pretty much haven't gone beyond my front door. Came down with Pneumonia and had a few trips to doctors and clinics. Guess I could tell you about that since well if you got kids its going to happen you will have to visit a clinic or hospital soon enough so brace yourself.  First, I have to say I have connections so from what I have seen so far I guess its tame as compared to other places you might end up visiting. Tajura is home to a Heart Hospital which I guess was one of the best since it was right across from the Khamis Katiba. During the war a dear friend had family members working there and we held hands virtually each night reading for bombing raids on the Katiba across the street. Let me say NATO did well not a scratch on the surrounding buildings. Katiba well that's pretty much demolished. Second, you have free clinics and you have pay a fee clinics. Honestly except for conditions of the building I haven't seen much of a difference so far. The level of medical supplies varies and you best listen to family on where to take someone depending on connections and your location. Fatimah sprained her ankle a few months back and we went to the first hospital and they had no one in radiology available at night. Second hospital had someone but you pay a fee so we went on farther into Tripoli and ended up at one there. Connections got us seen pretty quickly. Funny story one of the family members who took her well the family wants her to marry him, so she is limping around while the "doctor" in the family is scurrying around trying to find his buddies to look at her and another cousin who went with us is like "how about we slow down and find her a chair to sit in since she seems to be having trouble walking" look on his face. No there is no emergency room check in. No there is no triage nurse to assess your needs, at least that i have seen so far. So back to my illness, we went to the Heart Hospital first its free and late night the local clinic was closed pretty much. I had been coughing a week or more and had gone to the local pharmacy with a couple that speaks English helping me choose cough medicines. Name brands here are different so use the internet when you get a medication PLEASE as contradictions are not discussed here. If you have health issues or allergic reactions to medications please check online sources like WebMD before you take any medication there is no Walgreens Pharmacy personnel that has every medication you ever took on their computer and can sit and discuss any reactions with you.  Pharmacies are iffy when it comes to who is behind the desk. Anyways, I was having difficulty breathing since a over the counter (everything is over the counter here) medication i had taken from suggestion by the Pharmacist gave me a reaction of asthma. I was barely speaking above a whisper and was trying to fill my son in on what I thought the doctors might need of my medical history. We sat outside cause inside was crowded and I just could not breathe inside. The family member who went with us gave my name and possible reason for visit to the clerk in the hallway and we sat waiting. He kept going back and fourth asking when I could be seen and a "doctor" came out looked at me talking to my son and said, "well she is talking so I guess she is breathing OK".

We finally were seen and I showed the doctor behind the curtain the medication I had taken and my son told him that it gave me a reaction. Seems as if he had another patient with the same issue so I got standard treatment. What is standard treatment? Well I get to sit on a bed that has a single sheet of tissue on it in a curtained off section with a few instruments in it and wait for a bottle of oxygen to be set up. I was given a nebulizer and sat up on the end of the bed breathing it in. NO medical history, NO xray, NO doctor comes in to assess me beyond someone listened to my chest. After a bit I was released and sent home with some more medications.

I took that stuff for a week but I was getting worse and we went to another hospital and my family member commented see that is why we go to Tunisia for care. But I told him if Libyan's have to see these doctors then that is who I see. Not like I could go to Tunisia.  The second doctor was three hospital later we found a friend of my nephew on duty at a PAY hospital  He spoke English and my son sat outside since this time I took my SIL with me. I was sent into a room with a few nurses is all i can guess as to why they were sitting there.  I was told to sit and a sweet young lady set me up for oxygen.  The two ladies who had just occupied my BED moved over to the adjoining bed and sat playing with their cellphones behind the curtain while I looked on in awe. My sister in law needed a place to sit so she sat on the same bed as them. While I got my treatment they sat chatting about their settings I guess. After a bit he told me we needed to go get a chest xray and we went downstairs to have that done. The intern at least asked if I had jewelry on thank god. I had one man come in and in broken English told me hold still and breathe in and hold it. Glad I know about chest xray procedures. After a few minutes we were handed our film and we went back upstairs. He took a look and said I had Pneumonia I could see the cloud in my lower lung. He wrote out a new prescription and we were off to home. After a week on that medication I still had a rattle in my lungs and worse in the night and mornings when i felt like something was sitting on my chest. So, after a week I felt it was best I go see him again. We called and he was not in but we saw another English speaking doctor and he ordered xrays, looked at the medication  I had been prescribed and asked me a few questions about my health. There is a light at the end of the tunnel!!  As we wrapped up he asked me why we had came a common question I have gotten since we arrived. I told him Libya needed people to help now, people with experiences outside of Libya who could help inform or educate Libyans on what was missing here. And I told him I kept a promise to my hubby. This was his home and we were here to stay. He smiled an told me he hoped that within 10 years Libya would be better. I like that optimism. I thanked him for his time and he told me come back in a week so we can assess you again. See there are good doctors.

Its also a bit to tell you conditions of hospitals. They all need repairs even the nicer ones. They try to keep them clean but well think about the local free clinics in your town, yeah like that. Low on supplies, old outdated machines, not quite so sterile environments. Well all I can say is if you have family with serious health issues you might want to wait. Normal everyday stuff well educate yourself and be proactive. So far we have had no surgery or serious medical condition so I cant comment on things beyond what I have seen. I heard horror stories, most will say better to go outside, but think about it if Libyans continue to go outside for medical then when does their system get better? What about those who cant afford to go outside? Libya deserves just as good as the rest of the advantaged parts of the world have.  Yes it will take time but if people continue to accept things as is well when does the change begin?  The doctors and nurses need to be evaluated and hospitals need to be brought up to standards.  Painted and repaired and bring medical supplies into them so even the smallest of clinics can have better.  Pharmacies need actual people who studied more than a week to give you medications. And laws need to go into place for medications so that you simply cant walk into a store and buy anything you want without a prescription. And they need follow up of patients, medical record systems, charts and triage and so much more. I have been told many doctors ask for this but are denied by higher up as not a necessity.  I can tell you its a necessity.  Im feeling much better after this last course of medications a bit raspy this morning but i forgot my nightime syrup and I hate that metallic taste in my mouth all night long. On Sunday I will go back cause I do believe in followup at my age.

Some may say I'm dreaming here. Libya is full of issues and no way will it be better even in 10 years. Well with that attitude no it won't.  People need to demand in honest dialogue changes be made. Progress will take time. But small steps are being taken everywhere people are waking up and seeing they deserve better. Medical health is a issue in many countries and no system is perfect not even Canada's system as my son suggested.  I'm sure there are people there who slip through the cracks in the system.  Everyone deserves in this day and age better.  Not just the ones who can afford it.  Well its been an early morning I was up before the crows for once.  Been sleeping oddly lately with this cold but I think in a few days I will be my old self again and I will be back driving around town trying to find my way in a new place. Thanks for listening.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Be Swayah and InShallah Or "Step by Step and If God Allows"

Seems as if I can't sleep and I find I'm able to access my blog account for once so let me get it off my chest so I can sleep. Seems as if the terms step by step and If God Allows have become the two most common words around here. Step by step my kids are learning how to speak Arabic and If God Allows you will remember the offer or promise you made to my family. Now let me rant a bit....

First, I'm beginning to realize after all this time that my husband never thought he would come back to his country so that's maybe why he felt there was no need to teach his kids his language let alone anything about his native land. Second, we have always tried to teach our kids when you promise someone something you do your best to keep that promise and if you can't for some reason let them know why. Seems simple enough.

We have been in Libya now since September and Taher went back to the states to wrap up our life there and yes I had hoped he would be back by March but teasing us saying he left us here and found a new wife or to keep asking when he is coming back EVERY time you see us can get painful. Second, we don't know the language so how about offer to take us shopping and let us actually shop for the things we said we needed not "Hey I guess we just came along to follow you around while U do your shopping". Months later I have gotten use to a calculator as a tool of language and I am blessed that Libyans in general are honest people and if I have handed you too much money you are kind enough to say this is too much we needed this much. See I will remember it like the guy today who I know darn well I gave him a dinar for the potatoes yet when I took my potatoes and turned away you insisted that I hadn't paid you yet. That guy isn't getting return business. Plenty enough vendors on the line and yes I remember now how much they should cost so I can haggle the price if I'm so inclined next time. Next I'm a very prompt person and yes I can be patient a bit but if I say I wanted to go at a certain time then 4 hours later is not an option...get it.

Next, as a Foreign wife, being separated from your spouse is hard enough for most people but to have people tease you is may not hurt me personally but my child standing there is another story especially cause they miss their father too.
Then now lets move on to getting us comfortable in our new surroundings. We came with pretty much a suitcase each leaving behind all our other possessions until they can be shipped so let me see what would YOU pack? Surely not a gown for parties, shoes that you wear less than once a year, clothes for more than a week, things that provide a bit of comfort from home, like maybe a game or that favorite toy that was left on the bed cause they didn't really think dad was going to stay there was he? So going to a Wedding or a Baby Shower or just about any social gathering can be a bit difficult and lets see it was summer when we came so now its cold and no we don't have warmer clothes with us...and my kids are not your size nor is that outfit anything they could wear cause your all pencils here and my kids well are built different. Next, IF you are going to invite us to something would it not be nice to actually tell us what day its on and dear GOD what should be the proper attire to wear to this function see we have never been to a LIBYAN one before to know. Secondly, how about sit near us or ask someone to sit near us and fill us in on the customs we see before us or maybe offer to take the kids around to meet your friends so they can you know MEET SOME PEOPLE!! I mean they did leave their world to come here and all their friends and now instead of going out and meeting people they sit in a house all day or you promised them to take them to so and so well over a month ago and yet you still haven't found time to fulfill that promise.
Now put yourself in our position, if you came to our country let me see we have middle eastern markets, restaurants and large communities of other expats that many of us go out of our way to introduce you to and make you feel welcome and at home. I should also remember after the umpteenth time that we know you didn't bring much with you so let me take you shopping so I can help you to assimilate yourself into my world.  Then, hey I'm really busy but I can ask so and so to sit near you and fill you in on our social customs of why we do this here.

Honestly, I do love it here. I am determined to make my life here and yes I don't expect to find everything from my native land in yours but if I really wish I had something and you know where it can be bought how about take me there or stop by and get it and I am more than happy to pay you back or thank you generously. Growing up in a military family I remember momma going to the new neighbors to "get a cup of sugar" see that is how you introduce yourself to others and most military wives have a bit of a club where when they have a new family in town they get together a basket of stuff and walk over an say hi and offer to take them around base or town to show them where you can get this and that. You bring your kids by and they take them out and introduce them to their friends so hey your kids can make some new friends cause their whole life has just been uprooted and they are heartbroken having to say goodbye again....seems its not like that here.

I promise ladies those of you who know me you come to Libya contact me and I will be happy to take you around and show you where you can find your basics then we plan a social visit where I can bring by a few friends and we can chat for a bit.

Now I'm beginning to feel a bit better putting my feelings on to paper as the saying goes or airing my dirty laundry some might say...oh well take it as you like.
Tonight was the third night of a wedding for a family member. After months of waiting for my car it finally arrived and we washed it and were excited to finally have our own transportation to go somewhere and not have to rely on waiting for someone and being split up into a dozen cars to go somewhere where one of us has been there for hours while the other sat waiting for so and so to get ready..
My son said mom I want to go help set up something for a family member so I need you to be ready to go by this time and I was. I had done my hair and all I needed was some lipstick and I was waiting to get there to put it on since I was covering and didn't want to wipe it off on the scarf I was wearing. And by the way I am not use to wearing a face veil and its hot and I can hardly breathe and see and I am walking in heels that I haven't worn before cause they aren't mine to begin with.  I get to your home to find out hey no one is there. I call other family and NOT ONE BLAME PERSON could tell me it was not going to be there tonight we move to a bigger place, so I go back home to wait for someone else to be ready who is still in their house dresses and not expected to go for another hour or so I got livid actually and pulled out my hair that my daughter had worked so hard on to make her old mother look nice and put on my pajamas and crawled into bed. Oh and by the way my two kids are not coming tonight cause they sat in a corner being ignored last night cause "they are American and they don't speak Arabic . And now you know they really feel like attending more wonderful parties in the future and have become more social inverts being pointed at and talked about all evening the last time.  Oh and when it comes to FAMILY I expect you to invite everyone unless its a female only or male only event, cause you know my sons would like to get to know customs here too cause you know one day they will probably choose a LIBYAN wife and they need to start now learning all the stuff they are going to have to go through. And my daughters have pretty much sworn there is no way they are doing that at their wedding!!
So instead of a lovely evening of which no one took out anything to cook cause we all planned to be out and its late so lets walk over to the local sandwich shop for a quick bite to eat.

Now for the "If GOD ALLOWS"....I have always tried to keep a promise to my kids and I have told people if you promise my kids something do it.  I can understand a change in plans but four months down the line and you still haven't met your promise well they give up on you and it makes a rift in our relationship cause I have to tell my kids not everyone keeps promises. Well we finally got our car but that is another rant maybe I will post in the morning cause it's like 3am and I just might finally feel like I can sleep now. So to all of you ladies out there, yes its worth it and more than likely his family is going to do the same to you so do what you can to plan ahead if your not coming anytime soon. Its small hurdles we have to cross over no one in life said it was going to be easy but we are making it and eventually we will have all our stuff from home here and wish for years that we could find that one thing we desire most from back home here that you just don't have or it just doesn't taste like ours does...Be kind to each other folks. Now I will post this on my Facebook account so everyone there can find out what I have been up too. Oh and by the way internet here SUCKS. And more than likely I will not have it again in a few days, week or even a hour from now cause someone was so desperate to have someone from home to talk to that they used up all our minutes...Life goes on.