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Robert Matzen “Audrey Hupburn. The warrior”, translated by Maria Gębicka-Frąc – excerpt:
Audrey got up on the morning of Tuesday, September 22, 1992, not realizing how that day would shorten her life line: she was only four months away. To her horror, the stomach ache continued as she and Robbie flew the helicopter to Baidoa, two hundred and seventy kilometers northwest. Until recently the city had perhaps forty thousand inhabitants, now, with a quarter of a million refugees, it has become the main scene of the Somali tragedy. Ian MacLeod advised that lately it is better known as the “city of death”. He was there and he saw this tragedy with his own eyes.
Also seen by Phoebe Fraser of CARE Australia, daughter of former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser. She had been to Baidoa for the first time a month ago. “As we drove around town, the car fell silent and even the cheerful security guards on the roof fell silent in the face of this daydream. Men, women and children, all so weak they could barely stand, wandered down the street. highway in search of food. Driving was dangerous because people who were close to death react slowly and cannot hear or pay attention to oncoming traffic. “He suspected these unfortunates would welcome a quick death under the wheels.
It’s time for Audrey and Robbie to start. On the plane, Mark Stirling reported that the weather had changed and it was raining, it actually rained last night. Maybe rain is good for a country where water is scarce, but it also spreads germs, and germs mean certain death for starving people. The smallest and most vulnerable left the fastest. “The first sign that it was raining was the number of baby carcasses on the streets of Baidoa,” Stirling said that week.
Ian MacLeod said: “Baidoa was the epicenter of hunger. I anticipated them.” [Audrey i Robbiego]: “You saw a tragic situation in Kismayo, like in Mogadishu, but here it will be much worse.” “His words were a blow to both the guests of this godforsaken country and the people of the people. They prepared themselves for any prospect they could imagine, he could not imagine what awaited him.
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When Audrey got out of the car, she remarked, “I was in the middle of a nightmare.” Visualization it was so terrifying that it could shorten her life: volunteers who came to Somalia to improve the situation were throwing canvas sacks on the truck. Audrey realized there was a dead body in her bags. She bothered that they looked like shopping bags and that they were tossed around like that. “They collected over a hundred bodies this morning, most of them very small.”
Ian could see her hesitate to move on. After a while she forced herself and she walked away from the car, because she came here for this: to see the worst. Ian realized, “It seemed like being able to see everything and tell the world later gave her strength.”
They entered the building of concern. A nurse named Margaret explained that they served fifteen thousand hot meals a day: unimix and protein cakes. You mentioned a “treatment center” for the worst cases. Audrey and the others set off in the direction indicated, across the little bridge. Audrey’s friend Anna Cataldi came the same way the other day as she was preparing the material for her newspaper.
He wrote: “To get to the treatment center, we have to break through a sea of tormented people and naked ulcerated babies and rags lying on the ground covering sleeping people or a dead body – you never know.”
“It was …” Betty Press began, then stopped, overwhelmed memories. – I couldn’t believe it, these guys were so skinny. It’s really impossible to describe. “
There was a tree in the yard care center, and around it, as Audrey had described to the press, were dozens of blankets with “skinny, monstrously skinny children of all ages, small and a little older, who I thought was dead. Their eyes were huge pools of … “he paused, looking for a word” … questions. They look at you like that … I just don’t know how to say it … as if they were asking “why?” “.
The children “were more or less force-fed” by Concern volunteers, he explained. They were carefully given “a spoonful of food every few minutes, because they can’t drink or eat themselves, or they don’t want to. I’m amazed at the human immunity that they were still alive.”
He looked down at a battered boy, perhaps fourteen, who was struggling to breathe. “I knew he was struggling with every breath … I had asthma all my childhood … and I was so anxious to help him breathe.” As she looked at him, he “just shivered and died.”
Everywhere he looked, the tragedy of tiny creatures unfolded everywhere. “There was a little girl, standing still, leaning against a wooden door. Someone of her wrapped a piece of white cloth around her.
They were unfortunate, hungry, abandoned, orphaned creatures. Tiny, some with their mothers, but most alone, with swollen bellies and a vast emptiness in their eyes. “A traumatized child […] he had seen parents killed or tortured, or other atrocities […] he can’t return his parents, ”said Audrey desperately.
Silence was the worst. “They are silent. Silent children. This silence is something you never forget.” And immediately he corrected himself, “Sometimes you get a cough. Lots of coughs because most of them have tuberculosis or diarrhea that kills them, or bronchitis they can’t handle.”
Ian MacLeod recalled “the deep shock and horror on Audrey’s face as she watched the pain of mothers who, even in pitiful conditions, knew there was nothing they could do to save their children from death.” Ten children died in the tragic hour they spent at the Concern feeding facility.
One of the young Irish nurses walked over to Audrey and touched her shoulder. She whispered that she maybe she should go to the staff quarters to get away from that nightmare for a while. “Watching is much worse here than working,” she added. Audrey forced a smile and she replied that she was here for this: to see the worst and then tell the press.
“The workers there ran the field as best they could,” Betty said. “I’m sure they’ve saved many lives.”
The director of the film crew pointed to the baby and asked Audrey to try feeding him. Audrey quickly realized that the baby was not going to survive. She disagreed. She didn’t want to be recorded at certain important moments. She had always felt that “evil footage was necessary” to publicize a desperate situation, but in this case she refused. These people deserved privacy, “human dignity”, as you put it, even now. Especially now.
“After walking into such a feeding center,” she said, “you are overwhelmed with curiosity, I can call it that, as well as embarrassment and shyness. I feel I shouldn’t be there. I feel I should go out. It’s like walking into a room. where someone dies.: there should be only the family and the nurses, you know what I mean … you’re some kind of intruder. “
Robbie described his partner: “Filled with love for people beyond compassion. Maybe it’s more than empathy. The ability to design his imagination so he can truly feel what others are feeling.” For an empathic person, such a burden was simply too great.
So many here have died in ways she knew all too well from the starving winter. “I wonder if people think about the pain of starvation, what happens to the body. The process is very slow.
His brain turned on autopilot. She clung to the children who started recovering from the food that brought them back to life – she sat with them and uttered words they didn’t understand, but her smile caused smiles to appear on their faces as well. This was how she had treated children since the days of Ethiopia. The actress could do it. The woman inside was screaming.
“I was in hell”, he later confessed to his children. Baidoa was hell – and it became the end of everything.
“UNICEF killed Audrey,” said one of her friends in a voice choked with emotion after twenty years. She meant that Baidoa had killed her.
Luca believed that from the day of the Liberation in 1945, the war had relentlessly pursued his mother, who had been tracked down by a bullet, signed Audrey Hepburn. “For a while, she understood that life was an equation and that she had to make sense of it,” he recalled. – “This is the best thing about my mother; something that I miss and that the people close to her desire. She knew that she could close the circle. She can go out and meet this war dance.” For him, closing the circle was a trip to Somalia. He knew he would kill her. And she killed. She donated the last drops of her life force to Baidoa’s unfortunates and didn’t keep a dime for herself.
Those who were with her in Somalia saw signs of her physical deterioration, such as when Betty noticed how difficult it was for her to squat in front of her baby and then straighten up. The press also noted her intense concentration. “She wanted to make this trip. At all costs.”
“In the final days of her stay in Somalia and then Kenya, where we held a press conference, Audrey complained of an irritating stomach ache,” MacLeod recalled, “but she and Robert were sure it was just food. mild or water poisoning. Symptoms that we have all experienced quite regularly in Somalia “.
Later, Robbie said, “Of all our travels [dla UNICEFu] this was what Audrey cared about most and pursued it with the utmost determination. Her journey was draining her emotionally and physically, but she was as tough as on other expeditions: she had tremendous energy and courage. “Yes, she had a stomach ache, and yes, it was due to” amoebiasis “.
Robbie knew his psyche had been ruined by the trip he wanted to take “at any cost”. On returning from Somalia, the toughest womanas she had ever met, she announced to the world that she would never be resurrected again. Were you determined and courageous to the point of exaggeration? Did you get a Pyrrhic victory by overcoming all obstacles and experiencing the worst in Somalia?
The reporter who followed the London press conference understood the risks she was running. “He is not recognized in many Third World countries, so he can enter unstable areas where officials are not allowed. She admits she feels nervous,” although not enough to keep me from leaving. “
MacLeod had known his courage two years earlier during their trip to Canberra, but after Somalia he saw the full picture.
“He was doing something he shouldn’t have done,” he said when asked about the warrior Audrey. “She just wanted it. I tried to understand why. She went where other goodwill ambassadors hadn’t been. They were holding a concert or attending a gala. No one else went to Somalia. She wanted to change the fate of most of the disadvantaged people. ., she was a fighter. “
The book was published in Poland on March 9, 2022 by the Albatros publishing house.
Audrey Hepburn. Wojowniczka – cover by Albatros
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