Thursday, March 18, 2010

Unfiltered Voices: Nadia al-Sakkaf and Christie Coombs

In February 2010, women from all over the world came together for the second Global SAVE Conference in Vienna, Austria. Below are some excerpts from the conference participants about who they are, how they got here, and what their vision of the future looks like. For more information about our conference, download the conference report here.

Nadia al-Sakkaf, Editor of the Yemen Times, Sana’a, Yemen

“In 2005, I became the Editor-in-Chief of the Yemen Times, which Yemen's first English-language newspaper. I have grown many white hairs since then because of the tension, not just because of meeting deadlines and media work, but also because there's so much you get exposed to. You hear the stories, and you assume the responsibility of being the spokesperson for the people.

Many journalists, well-established journalists, feel the heavy weight of the responsibility of knowing that you have to fight for your people's rights. You have to be the voice for the voiceless. It becomes heavy. And if it weren't for meetings like this, I would have quit a long time ago.”

Christie Coombs, Journalist, Founder and President of the Jeffrey Coombs Foundation, Massachusetts, USA

“This is the farthest thing that I ever thought I would be doing, growing up as a little poor kid—the youngest of 12—in Arizona. But my husband was killed on 9/11. I haven't witnessed the kind of horror that you have seen, but I certainly have lived it. I've held six inches of my husband's remains in my hand. Soon after the attacks that killed Jeff and so many others, I decided it was time to teach my kids a lesson about paying it forward, and we held a big fundraiser to raise money to help other 9/11 families that had been impacted by losing someone on September 11th. And we took that money and sent it to immigrants who were working at the restaurant at the World Trade Center, and to adult children of parents who died in the terrorist attacks, because they weren't receiving money like the traditional families were.

I think [this conference] gives us the opportunity to remind Americans in particular that terrorism is something that has hit our country, and it's likely to hit again. It's no longer something that hits other countries. It’s something that we need to be aware of, and we need to do what we can to stop it, even if it's just making people aware of what's going on around them. I think we are taking a stand that we're against terrorism and we want to do something to make it stop. So this is an incredible experience. It's very new to me to be working with a group like this.”

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