A week ago, the Huckabee newsletter featured a “Huck’s Hero” named Betty Bengo, telling the story of her growing up in Uganda, being allowed by her father to attend school, getting a law degree, coming to America, meeting and marrying a Ugandan man who shared her dreams of helping desperate children in her native land, and founding the Malaika (“Angel”) Orphanage in her native country.

Well, I happen to know Betty Bengo and was at the Malaika annual fundraiser this weekend, as both a musical performer and a donor to this worthy cause.  It was a wonderful international festival full of caring people, African drumming and Hawaiian dancing –- and me singing standards from the good old American songbook.  We heard renditions of both “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the Ugandan anthem, and the pastor of the Laotian Baptist Church led a prayer, first in Laotian, then in English.


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Betty had made matching traditional outfits for herself, her husband Peter and their three boys.  The Laotian church members had prepared a buffet with authentic Laotian cuisine.  But the thing I’ll remember most about this unique event, at least this year, is the speech Betty gave.  You see, she didn’t just talk about the plight of the children, but also about the world into which they are born, especially the girls.

 

She talked at length about what it’s like to be a woman in the place of her birth.  And in doing so, she made me wonder whether or not young and typically well-to-do college-educated American women, with their “safe spaces,” accusations of “microaggressions” and complaints about white male privilege, ever really stop to consider how “privileged” THEY are.

 

From the podium, in her pleasant, richly accented voice, Betty related matter-of-factly how it is for many women in Uganda, particularly for those in poverty.  A young girl is thought of as chattel, really nothing more than a commodity like a cow or goat, and in order to be given in marriage her small value must be enhanced with a dowry from her family, whatever they can possibly give.  Rape, often brutal gang rape, is commonplace –- the girl has no say in what will be done to her by men, even if she’s as young as 9 or 10  –- and once that happens to her, she’s like a car that depreciates by half after being driven off the lot (my analogy, but I’m sure Betty would agree).  More tragically, if she becomes pregnant, both she and her child have likely been infected with HIV, which is, not surprisingly, rampant there.


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There’s no HR department to help her resolve her grievances, no campus organization, no ACLU, no Gloria Allred, no #MeToo movement, no Judiciary Committee senators, no counselor, no protection from disease, no birth control, no Child Protective Services, nothing.  On the one hand, anyone would believe her if she said she’d been raped, because the likelihood of that is about like that of the sun coming up in the morning, but on the other hand, so what?  Her prospects, already limited, would be ruined, and she would have no recourse at all.  The man or men who raped her would just go on to rape again and again.

 

To illustrate, Betty told of a specific case in which a man had raped a woman and gone on to disfigure her with a knife and try to kill her to keep her quiet; he was let go following his arrest when he bribed the police.  “This is how things are done,” she said.

 

In the place Betty came from, an unmarried girl or woman with a small child (especially a girl child) is desperate.  This is why so often they or their families bring the babies to be cared for at the orphanage.  Malaika took in over 200 babies and children before they had to temporarily close their doors to more due to lack of space and funds.  Since that happened, they have occasionally found a baby literally thrown over their tall fence and onto their grounds.  A mother’s desperation is sometimes so great that she thinks, “At least this way there is hope.  If my baby survives being tossed over the fence, they’ll have to take care of it!”

 

Ingrained cultural beliefs that have existed for perhaps thousands of years can take centuries to change.  When our nation began a few hundred years ago, there were vestiges of the old ways still clinging to our culture, but America stands out for having come incredibly far in its short history.  Her founders created the greatest blueprint for government of, by and for the people that the world has ever seen.  Americans fought a brutal war that ended slavery, something that had been a part of human existence since...forever.  Women got the vote almost 100 years ago.  As for rape, it’s much easier to prosecute now; in fact, we need to make sure we don’t “bend over too far backwards” and take away men’s rights in the process.  There’s been sweeping change in the area of civil rights just in the last several decades, none of it without struggle, but it happened and the progress continues.  Life is not perfect –- I’ve experienced “sexually hostile” workplaces to be sure –- but when I think about how hard existence is for women in many cultures around the world (try genital mutilation), I get down on my knees and thank my lucky stars that I was born when and where I was.

 

As an aside, I’ll admit that the concept of reincarnation has always terrified me, because so much of the world is still enslaved or impoverished.  I’ve seen the slums of India (where they do happen to believe in reincarnation) from the airport in Mumbai, and they stretch for many square miles.  What are the odds that I would return to life in a country that would give me intellectual freedom, education and opportunity, especially if I were to be born a woman?  Would I hit the lottery twice?  No, I’d probably end up in, I don’t know, North Korea.  Or Saudi Arabia.  Or Syria.  Or...the list goes on.

 

Incidentally, I don’t care what CNN says, President Trump was right when he referred to some places as (to clean it up a bit) hellholes.  Some places are hellholes.  We could open our borders and let everyone in and turn America into one, too.  Why not let the world be one big socialist hellhole?  That, after all, would be fair.  Not counting the political leaders and their cronies who would live lavishly and safely behind walls, like the wealthy in San Francisco.

 

Most of America, aside from some pockets of crime and poverty in large cities (predominantly Democrat-run, but I digress), is a wonderful land of freedom and possibility, especially for women, when compared to the place where Betty Bengo was born.  But it seems that most young, American, college-educated women have been trained to obsess over and pick apart every tiny infraction, to classify all men as rapists even if they don’t actually rape, and to search for and find offense even when none is intended, and it’s just getting sickening.  Women who enjoy telling white men to “check their privilege,” need to check their own once in a while, and remember how lucky and, yes, privileged they are to live here.

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Comments 1-21 of 21

  • Joy Williams

    10/31/2018 07:45 PM

    That article really hit the nail on the head. It needs to be posted where everyone can read it - Facebook, etc.! So many young women today are all about their rights, their "safe spaces", etc. They should thank the good Lord that they were born in a country like the U.S.A., where they can almost certainly have the best life on the planet.

  • Cynthia Frith

    10/30/2018 11:33 PM

    Amen to that, Mike H! While no one lives in a "perfect society" we gals in the USA have an exemptional chance of doing exactly what we want with our lives. Women have choices, but they also can make bad choices and must learn to except the consequences of said choices.

  • Carol Gordon

    10/30/2018 06:41 PM

    Excellent article. We here in America are so priviledged and blessed to be born here. Thanks.
    Did you see the repentance address given by the Prime Minister of Australia on Oct 22?

  • Bill Sanner

    10/30/2018 04:08 PM

    You're such a gifted writer! As Chairman of the board of Malaika Orphanage Children Foundation, the organization which Betty Bengo founded, I would appreciate all who read your article to consider supporting our babies. I understand that there are needs in other organizations like ours, but we're so small that every penny is put to work directly. Thanks, Laura for featuring Betty in this article. She was honored in March this year as Humanitarian Woman of the year. She deserves it!

  • Brenda Womble

    10/30/2018 10:15 AM

    This is something that every young person in our precious United States needs to hear. Such an eye opening commentary. Let's remember our privileged lifestyle. I am truly blessed. Thank you for the truth.

  • Geraldine Tinnin

    10/29/2018 10:56 PM

    Well said!

  • Geraldine Tinnin

    10/29/2018 10:55 PM

    Well said!

  • shelley Rubinstein

    10/29/2018 08:55 PM

    I read every one of your columns that come through Huck's newsletters and I think I've posted every one of them! But, I have a question for you. I am currently taking care of my parents. My dad is 92 and my mom is 90. Both are ambulatory through sheer willpower but I have no idea if they will need me for days, months, or years. I am recently retired as a teacher, am homeschooling a friend's 4 year old, and still tutoring in the afternoons. I did get a chance to teach at a Cornerstone Development residential school one summer. THAT was such a treat! I'm wondering if there is a place for an old lady school teacher there at the Malaika school...Just curious...I'm 64 so I'm pretty old but still feel called to teach...Just curious!

  • Kathy Ferguson

    10/29/2018 08:44 PM

    Laura, so well said. Everyday I am so grateful for the blessing of being born in the USA. I am a retired professional woman who has been privileged to be on mission teams in other parts of the world. I try really hard not to bring politics into my mission reports but it is so very hard to not say “if the progressives in our society would just visit Eastern Europe and see the end result of socialism/communism they would certainly change their stance”. As for third world countries, well, as you have so clearly pointed out, women are only chattel.

  • connie miller

    10/29/2018 04:19 PM

    If there is some kind of way I can donate monetarily please let me know and I will be praying for these women thank you for sharing your stories

  • Patricia Dugan

    10/29/2018 03:04 PM

    Thank you so much for your extremely well written insightful article. Having earned my degree in Journalism from Kent State University a half century ago I can safely state that you would likely earn a very good grade from Professor Taylor. I can only pray that you will inspire other young women to "tell it like it is" in such readable fashion. Continue to communicate well and to be eternally grateful for the blessings of being an American.

  • Joy Bonde

    10/29/2018 02:39 PM

    LOVE it!! Thank you for being a female voice of REASON. Many (MOST) women are SO tired of this coddled, toddler-style, temper tantrum threatening attitude of these women and their emasculated, quivering male counterparts (yes, mainstream media pundits, I'm looking at you). If it's really that bad here in the US, I wholeheartedly encourage you to PLEASE, go live somewhere else. Somewhere, preferably, where you will learn what coddled, privileged lives you really have. Thank you for your no-nonsense, unbridled honestly and clarity Laura!

  • Sherri Olsen

    10/29/2018 02:33 PM

    Laura/Mike....is anyone else having an issue of your newsletter giving their computers the warning that your Certificate doesn't match the name that it should, hence my browser says I shouldn't read your newsletter? Sorry to post this question here but I was unable to find a general comments page...

  • Betty Knoche

    10/29/2018 01:00 PM

    But for the grace of God there go we. Because of our forefathers being Christian and seeking a different way of life and because of the spreading of the gospel we have a different kind of country. We still have to pray and obey God and He fights for us. God is the only One who can turn this country around through the power at work in His people.Eph.3:20 and 11Chron.7:14. Satan is trying to turn this country into a Socialist country also. He is the thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy.Jn. 10:10

  • Marti A

    10/29/2018 12:31 PM

    Any chance her speech script is available? Sounds very informative. Thank you.

  • Lisa Ford

    10/29/2018 12:29 PM

    One place that re-educate women is the daytime tv. The "women's talk shows" are shameful. Maybe, start with them seriously touring the would. And not in 1st class. Then return to speak the truth. Make part of University training, mission trips to actually do hands on helping. We have a bunch of pampered sheltered brats, that are in desperate need of hands on education. Not more classroom nonsense.

  • Arlene Kovash

    10/29/2018 12:26 PM

    What an eye opener! Hope this is on Facebook so all my liberal friends can read it!

  • Christine Morgan

    10/29/2018 12:21 PM

    Thank you for saying what I believe. ??

  • Darlene Hill-Parks

    10/29/2018 12:17 PM

    Great article and I absolutely agree! So thankful every single day to be an American woman and raise my daughter in America!

  • Darlene Yamane

    10/29/2018 11:57 AM

    Thank you Laura, for so clearly speaking truth of the plight of so many women world wide and the rich privilege women enjoy in America.

  • Darlene Yamane

    10/29/2018 11:56 AM

    Thank you Laura, for so clearly speaking truth of the plight of so many women world wide and the rich privilege women enjoy in America.