Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Hidden Girl, Shyima Hall

I couldn't find an image url that would work here, I guess the book is too new!

This book is incredible.

Shyima Hall is a beautiful woman who went through something NO CHILD should ever have to go through.

This book is her memoir of what it was like for her to be sold into domestic slavery by her family in Egypt when she was 8. A couple of those years were spent in Egypt, where unfortunately, it is fairly common and accepted practice for wealthy families to "employ" the lower class as servants. Some of these families receive a small compensation. For instance, it was Shyima's older sister who first served a wealthy family and her family got paid the equivalent of $17 US dollars per month for her to work for them. She stole from this family and the family required something for justice. So they said they'd take Shyima to work in her sister's place to uphold the family honor and repay her sister's debt.

Her stroke of luck came when the family she was serving had to move out of Egypt because The Dad of the family had gotten into some sort of trouble and couldn't stay or was running from the government. They chose California in the US to come. They smuggled Shyima with them. She was around 10. They had 2 older daughters (teens), a daughter Shyima's age and two younger twin boys. Shyima was their only servant they brought to the states.

A day in her life: wake up on her own before dawn in her tiny garage room. Knock on door to be let in (since it was locked) to even be able to use a bathroom. Then she'd get the twins up, iron their clothes for school, wake the 10 year old daughter, iron her clothes for school, make breakfast and lunch for the 3 younger kids and get them off to school. Ask the older girls "What can I do for you?" and iron their clothes, make them a breakfast of coffee, orange juice, cereal, eggs and bacon. Bend to their every whim of requests to re-iron clothes, find purses and keys, etc. Clean kitchen, bathroom, office. The Mom and the Dad would wake up around noon, she would then have to draw a bath from The Mom, then vacuum and dust two living spaces that were never used. Then clean all the upstairs bedrooms and bathrooms. Go next door to where a family member of The Mom's lived and clean THAT house top to bottom. Come home, get snack ready for younger kids, start cooking dinner. Serve dinner, get younger kids ready for bed by turning down their beds (that she had made that morning), laying out PJs and even putting toothpaste on the boys' toothbrushes! If the boys were late for bed, or didn't listen to her to go to bed, SHE would get in trouble for them not getting to bed on time, not them. Then she would finally be able to eat her one and only meal-whatever was leftover from the family's dinner. She often didn't even drink water during the day. She'd have to clean up the kitchen and the house long after the rest went to bed. Sometimes she'd be up as late as 4am only to get up and do it again in a couple hours. The one thing we can be grateful for is that she was not sexually molested during any of this period of time. The only time she had issues with that was some of her older brothers in Egypt when she lived with her family. Her clothes were not allowed to be washed in their washing machine, so she had to wash them in a bucket. They denied her medication when she was sick. When she started her period, The Mom said she didn't deserve to have good pads, so they bought her the cheapest thing available. They only spoke Arabic at home so she never learned English.

She has no idea who made a call about her to rescue her. But she is grateful. She gives you ideas on how to potentially spot a child or adult who is the victim of human trafficking. It was a LONG way for her to learn English, to become literate, and to become a citizen of the United States. She has come a long way in being able to trust people. I may not agree with the way she thinks about everything, but if I had gone through what she did, I am almost certain I would feel nearly identical to her. And she is definitely evolving as a person. I found a few interviews with her that I will post links too.

If you want a fresh perspective on life, read this book! I love how she says that these bad things need to be a memory not a present thing if you are to be able to live the life you want.




If you want a long one:

And one thing that I think is exceptionally incredible is that whoever Shyima's rescuer is has continued to remain anonymous. This person obviously does NOT care about getting ANY fame or glory for doing the right thing. I could understand giving an anonymous tip until you knew for sure that something was wrong. False accusations to CPS can be crippling to an innocent person, so no one wants to be on the wrong end of a false accusation. But once it came to light that it WAS a bad situation, to never come forward and claim that you were responsible for setting her free, I like to think that it shows that the motives for this person were pure.

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