(Note: This is fiction, entirely made up by me. --Will)

WEST OF GAALKACYO, SOMALIA
Related by a fifteen-year-old Somali girl.

For generations in my village of Bu’aale,
My family had practiced a quiet, compassionate Islam.
My father would not give our cattle to Shabaab fighters,
So they killed him, took our xoolaha, and burned our farm.
They told us strict Shariah is the only true Islam.
They laughed at AMISOM, and AMISOM laughed back. 

I was the wife of five fighters.
I am Shia – to them a blasphemer and apostate.
My mother, brother and I were their prisoners
Until we escaped and fled toward Kenya.
My mother disappeared; Ahmed was captured by fighters.
I hear they took him to their xerada, trained him in the jihad, 

Ordered him to bring me back, and set him on my trail.

I seek safety in the camps of Dabaab.
I run relentlessly west, from death toward survival.
With unwashed guntiino and muddy, malnourished body,
I am less visible to pursuers.
Barefoot two months in the bush;
Festering sores constantly stinging;
Far from roads and sounds of vehicles;
No time to rest; no shelter from heat, cold, dust, rain.
Drinking biyo dhoobo at murky water holes;
Eating locusts, grassroots, and red sand;
Each pang of hunger a stab of pain.
Ever watchful for snakes, spiders, hangarallayaal,
Shabaab, and other predators hunting day and night.

If Allah is most merciful, why has he created this misery?
Why must his fighters kill, rape, maim, and torture?
Why must his fighters seek power and rule by fear?
Why must they strive for a global caliphate?

What will change my world?
Not an ineffectual UN.
Not an uncaring African Union.
Not the huge egos of small warlords who
Terrorize in the name of Allah.


I refuse submission. 
I refuse oppression. 
I am Caraweelo!
I seek life!


–Will Walsh  2016