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CLOUD WOMAN BLOG


Computers, Grant Writing & Paddy McLaughlin

The other computer is Danica's as both women work on getting women and children, the "most vulnerable category," a female geography. The female geography, the kolo (circle), allows women to be seen as indivduals beyond their roles as mothers or as victims.

"Fargo" (Not the Movie)

Categorized in these topics: Bosnia Female Social Justice Feminine Matrix and Female Culture Kolo Trauma Format Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Rape Refugees Sexual Abuse Social Memory Torture Violence War Women's Trauma Issues


It was the meeting with Darci Ashe from Lutheran Social Services that works with the US government to help refugees establish a home that highlighted the need for the kolo trauma format in Fargo. This small town has about 180 to 220 refugees annually. Grand Forks has about 20 to forty refugees yearly. The refugees bring in new life to the dying and declining population in North Dakota. Along with them in baggage not seen are the litanies of crimes against her female sex. Julie Mertus wrote “War’s Offensive on Women,” and stated that an estimated 75 to 80% of refugees (worldwide) are women and children.

Paddy McLaughlin, a Fargo resident, has a woman’s retreat center in Fargo now but felt impelled to start a WomansPeace center for New Americans-especially for women. The large in flow of Bosnians after the war estimated to be about 2500 to 3,000, now has Somalia peoples, Iraqi, and Bhutanese flooding Fargo. Since I am seasoned in trauma therapies and treatment, I, already, know that almost all humanitarian agencies and helping aid do not fund for healing trauma. It is too costly, mostly women and children with males who survived the impossible traumas to include in their helping aid budgets. It is not a small wonder that trauma is intergenerational and ever repeating, like the machine guns with thousands of rounds fired in a single press of the trigger.

Perhaps, this is why Paddy McLaughlin made contact to the Kolo: Women’s Cross Cultural Collaboration for the trauma format that has the afflicted population of women healing traumas and war crimes. I have been working a decade in Bosnia with war crimes survivors and war survivors where the women are my teachers. It meant that I stood there alongside them shoulder to shoulder bearing witness to the crimes against female humanity. Women who experience the abuses and violence taught me that having a female geography of their own is the core for healing.

Female geography, the simple round dance, kolo, has been traced to the Mesolithic Age. The kolo worked way back then and does now, although, the traumas are no longer Mother Nature’s but manmade. Poverty is the most common companion of women and the number one indicator of illnesses. It stands to reason that the statistics of gender, female, also, impact health, especially for single mothers and young children. To have readily available a female geography, where women gather, sharing over coffee or tea is to teach their intensified learning from the ongoing wars or reoccurring violence/abuse, simply, by sharing how to halt the vicious cycle to each other and their families. The rippling effect heals the community at large from the microcosm to the macrocosm.

What is extraordinary about Fargo is how the various services for New Americans ranging from abuse/rape/domestic violence clinics to social services have been stepping up to the challenge and know that an initial first step or home away from home (female geography) is needed before a clinic environment. Fargo Police Department has a cultural Liaison Officer, Cristie Jacobsen, who has been in Iraq and other foreign countries stated the need is there for women to just talk and have coffee with each other. Ms. Jacobsen’s in-depth knowledge of the diverse community and cultural aspects is certainly extraordinaire. It appears nothing is ordinary in Fargo, a caring and peaceful community of Americans with open arms.

Then, there is the Peace organization of which Paddy McLaughlin is president. Paddy is a very busy woman because we can add to her list of peaceful activities, a radio show every Saturday. My presentation on the Kolo, in Bismarck North Dakota, at the Peace organization’s annual meeting was received with not a deepened understanding but rather an immediate knowing. I talked of needing a human geography that included the female geography for peaceful efforts. What occurred was a fostering of agency. What I mean is an agency that reminds us we can respond and act in the moment, when needed and not after “further investigation.”

Paddy and I struggled with the grant writing but embraced the meetings with the various services availed to the New Americans. One of my main concerns was to invite in the First Peoples, Native Americans, who certainly, with the Bosnian New Americans, Somalia peoples and others, can help to guide and heal those seeking refuge from war and violence in their land. I was informed of Native American women’s circles that can aid displaced populations. Their wisdom stands center to this need for a kolo trauma format.

With fingers crossed, Paddy will not know of the outcome of the grant until mid November. Regardless, of the result, my week in Fargo showed the developing responses to the New Americans and how the services for them continues to take steps to work on any obstacles, challenging and even denouncing difficulties where appropriate and easily taking action where feasible.

Fargo may have mountains of snow and sizzling heat in summer, but the sun is literally in the North Dakotans themselves!



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