Day 6: A book that makes you sad.
I know the cover seems to be showing the opposite but that’s what I felt when discovering that women now are still being treated like objects in today’s so-called modern world. No matter what they (elite groups, societies) claim how modern and progressive they’ve become, if they still oppress women (and other minorities or underprivileged) and perform various acts of injustice, they are going backward because they are putting an insult to their own intelligence. We all are capable of being intelligent on one condition, we should beautify ourselves with good manners, that is by having a sound heart. By doing so, our intelligence level could go higher and higher (inshaAllah). Pure knowledge won’t enter our mind if our hearts are tainted by sins and are diseased. That is what happens to the world we’re currently living in. Monsters are created, all because of these darkened hearts. Sometimes I feel so helpless to see thousands and millions of girls being treated as if they were the lowest creatures to ever live on this earth. La hawla wala quwwata illa billah! But…in the end, it is all between our individual selves and our Creator. He is All-Knowing and He is Most Just. He knows best and most of all, He NEVER forgets. 

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Remember Oregon Trail? Most millennials remember packing the ole wagon with rations to venture the Wild Wild West– all while fighting the ever-persistent threat of dysentery. Well, New York Times contributors and power couple Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn are asking gamers to log in this month to play another educational game. But this time the stakes are higher than the survival of your virtual-wagon-family. Kristoff and WuDunn’s Half the Sky Movement: The Game has the potential to affect the real of lives of marginalized women around the globe.

This innovation in online gaming is so engrossing that Farmville plots everywhere will be left untilled (Really, we can only hope). Produced by Games for Change, Half the Sky Movement: The Game allows users on Facebook to play as Radhika, a young woman from a fictitious town in India, as she faces everyday challenges like finding food for her child. While gamers navigate through objectives and storylines, they unlock more than half a million (real) dollars from sponsors that directly affect female education, maternal health, sex-trafficking, and women’s business development.

The success of Half the Sky Movement suggests that for brands playing the content marketing game, actual gaming could be worth the dice roll. This interactive contentinvites participation in the brand’s mission and then acts as a conduit to change consumer awareness into consumer action. And that is something every brand wants to hitch their wagon to.  

Yesterday, I had the incredible opportunity to meet Nicholas Kristof, the author of “Half the Sky.” He gave a talk at the Mondavi Center about his work and about how to enact social change. The talk was amazing, and it was great to take advantage of the opportunities that the Mondavi Center has to offer!

I met him earlier in the day, and we nerded out about activism and human rights. He told me about his work around the world, and I informed him about Invisible Children, a Ugandan based nonprofit organization that I work with. Because he is such an inspiration to me, I gave him a thank-you gift: a reed bracelet that was handmade by a woman in the Central African Republic. The bracelet represents our shared passion for advocating for human rights around the world.

Day 22: A book that makes you cry.
The same book that makes me sad. I remember I had lots of mixed emotions reading this book. It is so important that I think everyone should read this to better understand what has truly been happening around the world. Though some of this story has been recurring on daily news but tbh that doesn’t really tell us anything. By simply relying on the news is like talking to a stranger for the first, second time whereas reading a book is like making that stranger as your friend - you get to observe him/her at a deeper level so as to better understand them.. The more and better we know our friend, the more sound our attempt to help solve their problems…inshaAllah.

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The Maternal Child Health (MCH) Center in Balligubadle, Somaliland has recently undergone some dramatic improvements thanks to the hard work of Edna Adan, Nimco Cabdilahi and staff. The health outpost once lacked 24-hour electricity, had cracks in the roof and the delivery room was so small it could only allow for one patient at a time. 

Adan and colleagues used funds from a Half the Sky/ Students Rebuild grant to make a series of renovations that included expanding the delivery room space to accomodate multiple deliveries at once and installing new solar panels for full electricity. They also made the very important purchase of a new oxygen concentrator, which will help save the lives of premature babies. 

Read more about the Balligubalde MCH Center improvements at ednahospital.org

As we celebrate the phenomenal women that have touched our lives and the fantastic women all around the world today, let us also take time to remember the enormity of the work still left to be done.

Access to EDUCATION, the issue of SEXUAL ASSAULT, the issue of DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, the right to VOTE, the right to EQUAL PAY, and YES the right to bodily AUTONOMY. These are not just women’s issues but humanitarian issues!

#InternationalWomensDay #TagAWomanWhoInspiresYou #HalfTheSky #SaveTheWomanNotJustTheBoobs #ThisIsForTheWomen #TheSingleOnesAndTheMarriedOnes #ISeeYou #IStandWithYou 💕👑

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Giving thanks.

To all my fellow Canadians, happy thanksgiving! I hope by now, you’ve all had a well deserved long weekend break, and got to spend some quality time with family and friends. In keeping with tradition, we celebrated with friends over a delicious home cooked meal. Aside from the holidays, we rarely have big gatherings there anymore with everyone present, since all of us “kids” are grown up now. It brings back memories of my elementary to high school days, when all of us were practically there every single weekend!

Being well-fed and rested, it’s easy to get caught up in the festivities, but at the end of the day, it’s all about giving thanks. This year, I’m thankful for everyone’s good health (especially with what had happened in the last year or so), and for those dear friends whom I continue to be close with, even though I don’t see them often. With some people, you drift apart over time, and that’s just how it is. Others, you pick up where you left off, and it’s easy laughs and fun times all around. I’m thankful for finding a new job after a relatively short search (and at a reputable company as well), given my limited education and experience in this field. I’m grateful for the opportunities I have been given, and having the ability to give back to the community.

Last Sunday, I participated in my 2nd year of the CIBC Run for the Cure, benefiting the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. It’s become a very important cause to me, so I’m thankful to have such generous family, friends and colleagues for their support, and so happy that a couple of you had decided to join me in the run! It’s hard sometimes when you are so tired and out of breath from running, and just want to stop.. but I keep reminding myself that this is the least I can do to help. It’s always amazing to see so many people around you, from all different walks of life, joined together with the same goal in mind. It really lifts your spirits and keep you going :)

Just this past week, PBS aired the documentary Half the Sky - Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. The movement was inspired by journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, and the series brings us into the harsh reality faced by millions of women out there every day. With a focus on third world countries, it features 6 main issues: economic empowerment, education, forced prostitution, gender-based violence, maternal mortality, and sex trafficking. Some of the stories you hear are truly heartbreaking. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like, yet there are so many of the women there who have lived through it and are brave enough to make a change, and be the difference.

There is a lot to take away from the documentary, but a couple of their comments have really resonated with me. (It’s not verbatim, but the gist of it is there)

There are so many issues out there that needs a solution, sometimes it becomes overwhelming and it doesn’t seem like we’ve done enough by helping just ONE child.. but to that child, that one girl, it does matter.. and her life is changed forever.

When you really look at it, we’re not that much different. We didn’t work a lot harder, or did things better [to be born into this life/deserve this more than them].. we were simply luckier. When we have won the lottery of life, we have a moral obligation to help.

I can’t wait to read the book and get more insight. Try the documentary. I promise, it’ll be worth your while. If you are interested in the Half the Sky Movement or want to take action, visit them here.