One Bowl of Porridge: Memoirs of Somalia

Joan Baez, Author John Daniel & Company Books $8.95 (94p) ISBN 978-0-936784-12-0
Writing with aplomb, wit and an eye for poetic, earthy detail, the mother of singer Joan Baez recounts here the months she spent as a volunteer relief worker in famine-ridden Somalia in 1981. With other women from the San Francisco area, she helped set up a feeding station (which she calls ""Camp Confusion'') for hungry women and children, many of whom died despite her best efforts. Conditions were abysmalmonsoon rains followed dry heat, scorpions and poisonous snakes abounded, most volunteers become ill with fever at least once, supplies were insufficient, cleanliness was a luxury, the angry native women sometimes rioted. Yet Baez's humanity and warmth make the story bearable, even uplifting. For example, when the native cook Ossman is sent away for stealing small amounts of food, she writes, ``He took the clock I had loaned him from his pocket, and the furrows were deep in his face. `Keep it,' I gestured, and he slipped it back. He put his long graceful hands together and touched them to his forehead. `Nabut-gelyo goodbye,' he said, so quietly I hardly heard him.'' (September)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1985
Release date: 01/01/1985
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