domenica 7 agosto 2011

I paria della trippa

Il quotidiano keniota "The Standard" ha recentemente pubblicato un interessante articolo a firma di Adow Jubat che denuncia le misere condizioni ed i pregiudizi dai quali devono difendersi alcune donne che, per non morire di fame, si sono adattate a raccogliere le frattaglie scartate come rifiuti per rivenderle poi ai margini della strada. Questa attività viene considerata "inaccettabile" dalla popolazione locale che letteralmente castizza ai margini della società chi la pratica. Per le donne, una ventina di età compresa tra i sessantacinque e gli ottanta anni, il mestiere di "trippaia" è l'unico modo per guadagnare qualche spicciolo ed evitare di doversi abbassare a chiedere l'elemosina per sopravvivere. Ed a farne le spese sono anche figli e famiglia, sottoposti ad abusi fisici e verbali: "È doloroso essere trattati come intoccabili, ma non possiamo farci niente".
PHOTO: ADOW JUBAT/STANDARDStruggle to stay alive pushes women to "unacceptable" trade

Twenty women in Mandera have chosen to do a job that is considered an abomination in the Somali community. They brave the scorching sun to walk for several kilometres to collect tripe and other animal organs disposed of at butcheries. The women make ends meet through selling tripe (matumbo), which has become their only source of livelihood after drought swept away their livestock. But this business has cost them their friends as they face discrimination from the local community who consider their trade unacceptable. The women aged between 65 and 80 embarked on the business after discovering an opportunity to fend for their families following years of begging for food. Unlike their counterparts who have resorted to begging on the streets, the group is able to fend for their families despite wading into unacceptable territory. "These women have defied culture and tried their luck in selling animal intestines, which are usually thrown away after animals are slaughtered," said local leader Osman Abdi. Mrs Suban Adan, 60, who is the oldest in the trade after joining 20 years ago, said she suffers unbearable discrimination from her community for doing a "dirty job". A visit by The Standard to Mandera's only slaughterhouse found the women deep inside the facility cleaning tripe. Before the 1991 drought hit the area, Adan's family owned hundreds of livestock and were respected in the entire Mandera County. "We were the most respected family in the entire Elwak town at the time before drought claimed our livestock and reduced us to paupers. My husband was consulted for everything before drought came and dispossessed us of our pride. As family we were highly affected socially, economically and mentally. In less than a month we were reduced to beggars," she remembers with nostalgia. Adan said her husband was most affected after he lost social status and died due to trauma in less than three months after the devastating drought. She was left to single handedly take care of their 12 children. "Before we lost our animals villagers came to our home in droves bringing their problems. I used to serve tea and milk to every visitor who stepped on our compound. But when our animals were no longer there to parade our pride, the number of people coming to our home consequently declined and my husband was no longer involved in any community issue. In less than two weeks of losing his animals he was traumatised," she said. Adan said after her husband's death and left with a family to take care of she camped on the streets El wak to beg. "It was a difficult shift from the life of abundance we were used to as family to the one of carrying a begging bowl among the people we used to help. But at the time I had no option but to accept the changing lifestyle and ensure my children got food," she tells The Standard. Ms Habiba Hassan Issack, 40, another woman in the matumbo hawking business, said she joined the trade six months ago after losing livestock to drought. The family lost 200 goats, 150 cows and 53 camels. Issack joined the business in order to provide food and school fees for her ten children who are all in primary school. She said she also suffers discrimination from the local community who cover their nose and hands whenever they meet on the streets or in public places. Ms Fatuma Maaim Adan, 45, was pushed into the business after her husband left her when drought swept away their cattle last year. "We are called names here and even our children are abused because of the work we do and they are traumatised. If they pick a quarrel with other children, the barrage of insults they face are unbearable and they often refuse to go to school because of discrimination," she added. Pupils refuse to share books with their children and even the playing field as they are considered outcasts. Adan who has been in the business for the last eight years said: "We are nicknamed nagaxaa calololey [Somali for women tripe sellers]. People here treat us as outcasts. At times we feel very hurt, but we have no option," she says with tears welling up her eyes. Mrs Halima Hassan, 50, whose husband is disabled, said she educated her four children using money from the business. A man who wanted to marry her daughter deserted her after he was told the mother was a "dirty woman".

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