Self portraits

Self portraits

Friday, July 15, 2011

Peace Garden

Part of my job as Health Educator is getting people who are often sedentary up and moving. Most of my clients are Somali and Oromo elders, who live in Minneapolis.  I take my people on field trips to beautiful and fun places to get a little exercise, usually places they've not yet seen. A few days ago, we went to Lake Harriet -- starting at the Rose Garden, and on to the Wildflower Garden and Japanese Peace Garden.

Somali Woman in Garden
I told the drivers the route and led the caravan. When we got there we piled out of the vans and cars. A few people spoke a little English. One woman had a radio and was listening to the BBC in Somali language. Things are really bad in Mogadishu now, we all knew, due to the drought. 

We walked through the Rose Garden, then everybody wanted to see the lake. We crossed over to Lake Harriet, everyone heeding my warnings about the bike path (but, some bikes still going way too fast and thinking they have right of way, which they do, but still). We are a slow moving group of about 30 people, mostly women, very colorful.

We lingered by Lake Harriet and the mood of the group became quiet and introspective. I suspect some of the people were praying for water, by the water, for those back home. At the Peace Garden, some of the women walked barefoot in the fountain and appeared refreshed.

Later, we sat in the shade and one woman brought out a Qu'ran. Most of them just talked together in their own language, and laughed. Those of us in the shade did a little stretching. Some women walked around and around the park in groups of three or four. A few women sat alone on the 'peace stones', in the sun, and looked out at the park quietly. The few men in our group including two drivers and maybe two elders, went off to walk alone and sit under their own trees.

I amused a few women with my small knowledge of Somali language, trying to count to 20 as we sat in the shade. The drivers passed out water and we walked a little more. I took some photos with someone's camera at her request ~ and got two thumbs up from my fearless interpreter ~ so I knew the trip was a success.

I led the caravan back to 38th Street and waved them goodbye. In Af-Soomaali (Somali language) ~ nabad gelyo means 'goodbye', or literally, 'go in peace'.
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