2014 October | UNA Greater Seattle Chapter

United Nations Association Greater Seattle Chapter

The Epidemic of Birth Defects in Iraq: Conversations with an Iraqi Doctor

October 29th, 2014 by unaseattle

UNA Seattle is pleased to be a co-sponsor of this event held on October 27, 2014 at the University Temple United Methodist Church in the University District.

Dr. Muhsin Al-Sabbak, head of the Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Basra Maternity Hospital is coming from Iraq, and will be joined by Iraqi environmental toxicologist Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, University of Michigan/Ann Arbor. This team will be speaking at a number of other U.S. universities, e.g., Harvard, Boston University and Columbia University.

This is the video of the event. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4N_KZmdlDM

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The Woman From Gambia

October 29th, 2014 by unaseattle
This is a story about Yai.  She is from The Gambia.

When she was 9 years old, her father and aunt forcibly took her from the classroom to a place she had never been to before.  Her father held her down while the aunt took a well-used and rather dull razor blade and proceeded to cut her clitoris. The pain was unimaginable and the bleeding continued for days.  Sitting in a bucket of warm salt water did little to alleviate the misery.

Still in her teens, her father married her off to a 67 year old cousin.  She became his fourth wife.  The first wife was unkind at best, and downright cruel at worst.  There was never enough to eat, and Yai was forced to cook, clean and take care of the other wives’ children.  When she faltered or took a break, she was beaten. She would run away, but each time, her illiterate father would somehow find her, and bring her back to that terrible place.

At the market place, she met Lamin, a nice young man with gentle ways.  She treated Yai with kindness and consideration.  Together, they found moments of happiness in the midst of grinding poverty and began to wonder about another kind of life.

They decided to escape from their small village and went to the capital, Banjul.  There, they lived in the bush for a year while working to save money for airfare.  When they had enough, Lamin took Yai to neighboring Senegal for a flight to America.  She arrived in New York’s JFK airport with the clothes on her back and about $100.  She went to Detroit for a short time until she learned that another woman from her village was living in North Seattle.  So she borrowed and begged for the bus fare.

I met Yai when I agreed to help her file for asylum.  The process was long and with many hoops to jump through.  It was the kind of thing that was technically so complicated that it would cause even the most courageous of applicants to consider giving up.  The basis of our case was Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and it rested on the Federal cases Mohammed v. Gonzales, Abebe v. Gonzales, Abay v. Ashcroft and Benyamin v. Holder.

We didn’t give up, however.  About a year after the application packet was submitted, we received notice of an asylum hearing!  The hearing went well and a few months later, when I was on vacation abroad, I received an email from my law partner with “Open, Open, Open” in the subject line.  Yai was granted asylum.  She is doing well and no longer in fear.  The doctors at Harborview Medical Center tells us that she can have a normal life, including children of her own.  The last time I saw her, she said she is going to name her first daughter after me.

Thank you, Yai, I think I got more out of this experience than I gave to it.


Submitted by Octavia Hathaway

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UN Day 2014

October 28th, 2014 by unaseattle

On October 25, 2014, UNA Seattle hosted a celebration at City University. We were honored to have David Korten, author of “Change the Story, Change the Future: A Living Economy for a Living Earth” as our keynote speaker.

Thank you to all the participants who took time out on a windy, blustery day to join us in discussing these very important stories that affect not only us here in Seattle, but people all around the country and the world. Our opinions and comments will be summarized and submitted to UNA-USA, which is in the process of gathering up the various discourse from at least 33 other Chapters. Our thoughts and concerns will be part of the larger program, the Sustainable Development Goals.

A very special thank you to the UNA Seattle Board Members; our new Executive Director, Mike Beard; Heather Jarvis of City University; Kat Gjovik of Great Turning; Stacy Barmuta; Maureen Mullen and Kaitlyn Crawford. This event would not have been the great success without you.

Dr. Korten’s speech is in the link below. An article by David Lampert (“Universal Development Goals For This Millennium”) is also linked. This article recently appeared in Columbia University’s sustainable development journal, Consilience. Both are fascinating reads, and we encourage continued thoughtful discussions among yourselves, and at Club UN.

David Korten UN Day 2014 Presentation

David Lempert Universal Development Goals Final Consilience






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