Noelle Hunter, Fighting to Bring Her Daughter Home! The story continues in Mali!Sandra Stokes Walden
Posted by: Sandra Walden
Date: Jun 05 2013 3:06 PM
Muna is now 5 years old. Until this week the only communication about Muna have been from the American Embassy in Bamako, Mali. The Embassy staff has been able to send Noelle a picture every three months of Muna when her father would take her to the Embassy. Hunter’s ex-husband has refused to allow a telephone call between Noelle and Muna.
Hunter’s ex-husband, a former instructor at Morehead State University, now faces felony charges for “custodial interference.” Muna has dual citizenship both in the U.S. and in Mali.
The case renews concern about the relative ease with which one parent can whisk a child out of the United States without Joint parental consent because it is relatively easy to accomplish. The Grio has posted more details about Noelle’s journey since the alleged abduction of Muna, Christmas, 2011. You can read the complete article posted by Kunbi Tinuoye on The Grio by clicking here.
Through facebook and MissionforMuna.com Noelle has told her story of this journey. Noelle has received the support of many people who have made telephone calls to Washington, to the United Nations and to the Mali Embassy. Noelle has also received prayer support from many of her friends, both past and new, petitioning God for the safety of Muna and for the return of her daughter.. Noelle stated, “I need to let people know the situation here so that we may continue to petition our God ( who is just moving beyond our natural ability to comprehend) for HIS strong hand to reach into Bamako, lift Muna up and bring her home!”
Following are Noelle’s updates for this week.
Tuesday, June 4, 2013 Update
I saw our precious Muna again yesterday evening (Monday)! I arrived by Mahmed Taxi (the nickname for my very nice driver, we continue to fumble around to communicate between French, Bambara and English but its working!) When we got there. Muna and Ibrahim were waiting outside. I saw her and waved vigorously as we approached she did the same. This time it was only happy, no sadness, and I can see that she feels a little more comfortable that mommie is here for her.
We went inside and sat and I held and kissed her for a bit and she enjoyed it very much. Then I gave her a blanket sent from granny. I said “Granny sent this blanket to you” and I held it up in the air and said “Granny prays over this blanket and said ‘Dear God please take this to Nyeeleni’ (Muna’s middle name). She smiled and grabbed it and put it on her lap and smoothed it out. She is very dainty!
Then I said, would you like to see more pictures? She nodded. I pulled out my laptop and we looked at pictures--- some she’d already from the photo collage I gave her previously--- but others she had not seen, including: some of her and her sister Rysa playing Twister; her at her preschool’s Christmas party hugging Santa and opening a gift of a baby doll. I showed her pictures of our new house and pointed to the window of her bedroom and said "de chambre ou nyeeleni" (nyeeleni’s bedroom) then a few pictures of Rysa painting her bedroom a cheery yellow. I said "sistee painted nyeeleni’s room yellow because nyeeleni likes yellow!"
I gave her a ring pop that turned her lips and tongue blue and we laughed when she looked in my pocket mirror to see. I read a book to her about a mom and baby elephant sent to her by Pat Collinsworth my former boss at DOVES women’s shelter and also a book about the sea that had shiny colorful foils for the fishes’ bodies.
I then asked Ibrahim if we could Skype so that her sister could see her. He asked his attorney if there was an Internet connection and the attorney said no but maybe next time. So I held her some more and then we played a game on my laptop. Oh! I forgot, in one of the pictures I showed to her, she was wearing a dress that Auntee Angela had given to her. I brought that dress with me. It is one of the dresses that I had to beg her to take off and let me wash it!
I pulled it out of the bag and she took it and held it close to her. I asked her to stand up so I could put it against her to see if it might still fit, but she began to try to take off the dress she was wearing! (which, by the way, had trim very, very similar to what I was wearing!- thank you again God). I said "no let’s try to put it on"....it still fit, though much shorter! Once again, it is the dress she would not take off!
Soon the time was up again, and Ibrahim’s attorney said so. I said "C’est bon". "It’s good". I prepared to leave and Ibrahim asked me if the laptop had a camera for Skype. I said "of course". He said this was his concern that I would use the picture as a trophy. I said "no it is you who wants the trophy, and this is what you have sought to gain by taking her". I then said "her sister is in agony, many people are in agony because of this. You have even made your own daughter cry".
He said "you are the one who has done this, have brought shame to the family name" (he spoke of my addiction problems SIX years ago). I asked him "Iba, have I paid for this with my life yet?" (as he suggested some years back that I would have to do). He said "no if I wanted you dead you would be dead by now I swear on the Koran".
(I apologize to each of you for sharing this and what follows because I always always always try to keep this positive, but at this point I need to create a public record of all the exchanges between us just in case. I am certain that Ibrahim will be angry with me sharing this, but as I told him, for an entire year I tried to do this the “Malian way” – quiet, nice, gentle with absolutely no results so it must now become a public pressure campaign. I am sorry to have to expose his family to this as well, but it is what it must be now. There is no more time for hush-hush).
We moved into the hallway, I was holding Muna in my arms and he said "the laws of hospitality in this country are very sacred" (he said this to infer that I was being inhospitable by arguing with him). I moved very, very close to him, within inches and said "and you have violated them". He said "I have violated them?" I said yes, you started this argument. When the attorney said it was time to go I only said c’est bon but you began to press me".
(He has violated the sacred laws of hospitality here. When I saw him first I had to make him greet me, which he should have done by custom. After I spoke to him he did not want to speak back, I asked about his mother, his father, his sister, his family -as is custom. At first he would only mutter but because I kept pressing he finally said ’everyone is fine thank you for asking’. That was a violation. He did not invite me into their home. By custom, ( this is what his own aunt told me on a previous visit) when a person travels from overseas, ’they are like a god to us’ and that person is supposed to be welcomed and cared for with great care. That was a violation. I even brought gifts for his mother and father, as is custom. Where were my gifts? Where is my welcome?)
As we walked outside, I said "if I began with shame to this family you are continuing it." I bit my tongue because I wanted to say that I am not the one wanted by INTERPOL, but I thank God that He restrains me because I didn’t want to say that in front of Muna, but at least she can see that I am fighting for her. He was still grumbling as we walked out and I said "I am not afraid of you". He said "this is not about being afraid". That was the end of it. We walked out. I kissed Muna and said "this time mommie will not forget to give you the gifts (last time I was so overcome by emotion that I took the gifts I gave her with me, but the attorney graciously came to take the bag to her). I wrapped all the books and stickers inside of the blanket from Granny and handed it to her. This time again no tears, just happy waving goodbye!
The judge is supposed to issue a ruling on June 6 regarding visitation to precede the June 17 custody hearing. I hope that it is a favorable ruling so that I do not have to visit with Muna at Ibrahim’s discretion. I am taking a big risk by disclosing the exchange between us, which is likely embarrassing and infuriating to him, but as I said the time for discretion has long past. I need to let people know the situation here so that we may continue to petition our God (who is just moving beyond our natural ability to comprehend!) for His strong hand to reach into Bamako, lift Muna up and bring her home!
By the way, I am posting from a cybercafé that is just a five minute walk from my new residence. And here I thought I might be offline for a bit! Only God!
Noelle’s post thanking everyone for the messages of support for the Wiregrass:
…Thank you to Dothan Eagle Reporter Ebony Horton for this update in my hometown newspaper. In the past few days, my inbox has been flooded with messages of support from people in the Wiregrass area, many I know (Northview HS representing) but also from many, many new friends. Thank you also to Sandr Stokes Walden for getting the word out on Rickey Stokes news updates! My dear hometown, you "raised me right!"
June 5, 2013 post from Noelle:
Here’s today’s faithbuilder!!! I was sitting at a café in the neighborhood this morning waiting for the server to bring coffee. I glanced across the road and this sign was straight in front of me. Adonai is a Hebrew word that means "Master, Lord, LORD!". It’s known as a superlative way to address God for His progressive sovereign nature! Thank you Adonai for reminding me that there is nowhere, not one place that I go that You are not there!
Noelle is not sitting idly in her room waiting for the court hearings and visits, she is sharing gifts with the children, gifts collected in the United States through missionss4muna.com and mission4mali/mission4muna relief drives.
.. the following is just one example from her posts:
“I just gave the little giraffe blow up ball you sent to the sweetest little girl at the Senegalese café, where I ate dinner. She wasn’t quite 2 yet I dont think. I asked her mom if I could give her a gadeaux (gift) and you should have seen the way she was squealing as I blew it up! I wish that I could have taken a picture but I think that would have been inappropriate, but you need to know how far your gifts have gone. This morning I blew up a ball for 3 kids at the little corner store where the owner speaks English. At first there was only one of his kids there, and then two and then three. As I blew it up for them the were laughing and pointing. I gave it to the oldest and said "jouyez ensemble" (play together!) They took that ball and ran!!! The mini footballs, soccer balls etc I gave to the leader of children’s church. Thank you!
Picture one: Noelle's faithbuilder for today.
Picture two: Muna's picture before the alleged abduction.
Picture three: February 21, 1013 picture taken in Mali by the staff at the American Embassy in Mali.