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An unfinished tapestry, pushed deep into the unlocked drawer, brought unshed tears to her eyes. After her grandmother’s death, the unowned tapestry was now hers to keep or, perhaps, upkeep.

The granddaughter unjammed the drawer, unwrinkled the unvalued tapestry and tugged at it, slowly, to unravel an unloved memory.

Her grandmother had worn the hijab when she unfortuitously was forced to flee. She was unbearably young, unable to unidentify herself from the only life she had ever known.

She had untangled, untamed dreams. But in her flight, unwontedly flushed with misery, those ungratified desires were undreamt.

It was someone, unremembered, who pushed the cloth and needle into her hands. “Here, stitch and stitch and don’t look up. Unthink what you thought, unclench strings of yesterday.”

Her un-shining needle pricked the un-colorful cloth.

Each day when an unfed child cried, she undecorated the embroidered cake she would never eat.

When the rain unrestrainedly covered the ground, she unstitched the coat she would never wear.

When a mother moaned, she unwrote the poem she would never read and unmeasured the music she would never sing.

When unutterable screams surged through the un-dawned day, she unclimbed the mountain she would never see.

The granddaughter cradled the unfinished tapestry in her arms. Her fingers unexpectedly pulled a thread, undoing one stitch and then another.

Unwinding undreamt; for her grandmother’s true tapestry was sewn with love.

*Undreams ,won an international poetry contest sponsored by Persimmon Tree. Published at http://www.persimmontree.org/v2/summer-2015/international-poets/

See American University in Cairo Facebook page:


See American University in Cairo Press website: 


On the night of April 14, 2014, over 200 girls were kidnapped from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State, Nigeria, by terrorists.

Boko Haram has abducted 2,000 girls, women since 2014 –Amnesty

“Undreams” is for all those imprisoned in exile, forced from their homes, separated from friends and family, their way of life banished—the Palestinians, the Syrians, the Chibok girls and millions more…

Read Malala Yousafzai’s “My Open Letter to the Abducted Chibok Schoolgirls.”

Follow: https://twitter.com/csrchildren

Sign Petition to commission monument to remember abduction of women and children in Nigeria. This monument is a constant reminder of human failure to protect the innocent. Not a popular concept for a government or nation but a reminder that might stir actions in the hearts of those able to protect.

*Copyright 2015 by Lesley Lababidi. All rights reserved. To copy or re-produce photography and/or writings, written permission from Lesley Lababidi is required.copyscape-banner-white-160x56

#Bring Back Our Girls

 Bring Back Our Girls! We Want Our Girls! No More Abductions!

We chant, we yell on a hot and sweltering Monday morning in May. None of us are happy to be here, the circumstances for which we march are too grim :

We Want Our Girls!IMG_1171

Over the weekend an email forwarded from one person to another gained momentum. Other mail queried: is it safe? is there security? can the traffic be controlled? what about area boys (local hooligans)?

The email stated that we would meet at Allen’s Roundabout in Ikeja and march 2 miles to the Lagos State House in Alausa. We should bring a white handkerchief and candles with circular paper around the stem so as not to burn our hand.IMG_1172

We were to wear red.

The program announced that we would begin the march promptly at 10 am, which for Lagos, we miraculously did. We were to deliver a formal letter of protest to Governor Fashola. Indeed, we did. At the State House,  speeches, singing, candle ceremony and waving handkerchiefs were on the agenda, it did not happen.

What did happen was a group of about 200 men and women IMG_1191came together from diverse backgrounds—Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, foreigners—ethnicity didn’t matter; religion didn’t matter. Race didn’t matter. We marched for every abducted girl; we marched for our daughters. If only our calls could bring just one girl back into the arms of her family, we would rejoice. But we know this will not happen.

If only our calls could kindle a fire under the politicians to spur to action, we would rejoice. But it has been 3 weeks since Boko Haram kidnapped 234 young girls from the Chibok Girl’s Secondary School in Bornu State in northeast Nigeria, and took them deep into the bush. We do not rejoice.

We yell louder: BRING BACK OUR GIRLS!


For weeks there is silence, there is blame, and the formation of a presidential committee; but, no action. We hear the girls have been moved to Chad and Cameroon; they have died of snake bites; they were forced to marry and sold into slavery.IMG_1217

But there is no action, only we…we yell louder, we demand, but we go home to our families to our dinners and still:

        over 200 girls are missing.

IMG_1173Article: Bring Back Our Girls, Valerie Magazine