Saturday, March 26, 2016

Hidden Girl: The True Story of a Modern Day Slave Child by Shyima Hall

Usually when we think of Egypt images of pharaohs and pyramids pop into our head. We may picture a visit to the country as a warm place for a vacation with stops to see lots of interesting artifacts. However, for the people of Egypt there are many different social positions and for the majority it's poverty. Shyima's family is part of this group. With seven brothers and sisters, she falls in the middle. Often being left in charge of the littlest ones. Her family must share an apartment with two other families. She doesn't have a mattress and when it's time for bed her entire family shares the floor of one room. It's a life that may sound sad and small. But even wither her father's constant yelling and sometimes abuse, she's happy. She loves her family and she loves where she lives. Her happiness comes to an abrupt halt when she is seven years old. Her parents send her away, away to be a slave for a well to do family. Long days, no time for her self, her name is almost forgotten as her captors refer to her as "stupid girl". Shyima is hours from home with no end in sight. Her terror rises to a new level when she realizes her captors are moving to a new country, the United States. Shyima is taken with them and is their only servant left within the household, all of the duties fall upon her. A child that she be outside playing or attending school. She is left to clean, cook, care for her captor's children, and then possibly rest for an hour before her day begins again. Right before Shyima becomes a teenager (she has lost track of her age at this point), there is a knock on the door...

Is the title not enough to pull you in? As soon as I read the title I was hooked. Even more nerve racking this book is not located in our fiction section, I stumbled upon this book in the biography section. The author, Shyima Hall, is a real woman. This was her life. At seven years old her parents knowingly sold her into slavery. She would never see them again. I cried. At seven years old I was making friends, friends I still have today. We played out on our backyard swing set, we rode bikes, went to school. My parents tucked me in and told me how much they loved me each night. Sure I was expected to clean my room and help with the dishes. I was not Shyima. Each time this poor girl got knocked down I felt it. I wanted to reach through the pages and yell for her. Her situation is not an isolated case. In Egypt, servitude or slavery that she experienced is illegal however, it's common place. In the Unites States there are more than 17,000 people sold into slavery each year. Many of them are smuggled into the country such as Shyima. Scary, right? Shyima's story made me more aware of a situation that I didn't know existed aside from a Hollywood movie. Hidden Girl is a must read. It's a great eye opener and a book that you will thank yourself for reading.


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