What if you were Soukaina?

rooftop view of street below

Have you ever stepped into someone else’s shoes and tried walking around in them?

Soukaina is sixteen years old. She lives with her parents and two year old brother in a poor neighborhood of a bustling North African city. In that tiny, sixth floor apartment, personal property and space are out of the question. She doesn’t have her own bedroom. In fact, there is only one bedroom for the entire family.

She usually attends school but spends her free time on the streets. She gets in trouble for bullying neighborhood kids. Her parents send her out of their way, but paradoxically rebuke her for spending too much time on the streets.

Her father is diabetic and doesn’t have a job. Her mother works herself to the bone six days a week. Her little brother follows her around and gets into everything.

To get anyone to listen to her, she has to yell. Sometimes, it’s just easier to hide. Once, she said, “I don’t like to live here. There are many bad people.”

Yet, she is loved. Despite the abstract and irregular displays of affection, her parents love her.

So what if you were Soukaina? Well, what if you were? What would your life look like? What choices would you make?

I’m not asking these questions so you can recognize your privileges or count your blessings. I’m asking you because looking at the world from someone else’s perspective makes you better capable of loving them.

2 thoughts on “What if you were Soukaina?

  1. >>What choices would you make?

    If I were Soukaina I would pray, plot and plan to get out of that North African city.
    Now matter how long the odds, now matter how long it took, I would seek a way out.
    I would tell my parents, “I love you, but some day I’m leaving here. I’m headed to higher
    ground. I have no future in this place and some day I will leave, if God helps me.”

    I have been in bad and desperate situations in my own life, and I eventually fled those
    circumstances. Of course, I had the means to do so, which Soukaina does not. But if
    she searches and waits and prays, a door of escape may open.

    Easier said than done, I know.

    And certainly there are great dangers she must avoid in seeking a way out.

    1. Very true. And you also have the cultural expectation that a woman should not leave her parents until she is married. That adds a lot more pressure to an already poor situation.

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