Bless This House
by Anna Brown
My life began several years before the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. As a citizen of one of the states in the former Soviet Union, I grew up knowing very little of the freedom and affluence experienced in Western nations. Islam was the dominant religion in my country, and my family followed the way of our ancestors in practicing folk Islam—a type of Islam that has beliefs and practices of other religions mixed in. My parents tried to please God. They led our family to read aloud the Koran on holy days, and remembered the souls of dead holy people whom they believed would bless or protect us. As I grew up, I practiced these things.
For Want of a House
I was the youngest of three children, born to parents who were educated people. One of the hardships my parents faced was not having a house of their own to live in. Once for three months my parents, older brother and sister, and I lived in a tent, and for several years we lived in a metal wagon. During this time I went to a pre-school from Monday until Saturday, where I slept every night. This school was for children whose parents could not take care of them—either because of alcohol or drug abuse or other problems. I stayed in this school from age two to six, missing out on the love and attention I needed from my parents.