Change the Face of Your Nation

I recently forged new opinion of much of the continent of Africa. When most non-Africans think of Africa, we think of ebola, hunger, FGM, children soldiers, tribal culture, and maybe ankara frabic and unique jewerly. What we should think is educated, motivated, entrepreneurial people.

Here are some amazing Africans I met at the Social Good Summit:

Mercy

Mercy Chepkoech Sigey
Youth Inventor Global Minimum
“Mercy is a freshman at Strathmore University. She is passionate about wildlife and enjoys working with electronics. In high school, she started making a motion sensor along with two other classmates as they saw the need to fight against poaching in Kenya. Her team’s current prototype consists of a PIR module and an Arduino microcontroller which senses movement with a range of nine meters and sends the information to a computer through a cable. Learn more about Mercy and other youth inventors at http://www.gmin.org/.”Masshable SGS Bio
Olanike Olugboji Nigeria
World Pulse LIVE
“She has witnessed the environmental exploitation of her beloved homeland and mobilizes grassroots women to take charge as they have been most impacted. She believes that the only way to ensure the environmental security of Nigeria is to make sure that women have equal voice in these decisions.”  Mashable SGS Bio

Gerald Kobobo Afadani, Cameroon

Public Management, Howard University

“Gerald has over five years of experience working with presiding magistrates and liaising with litigants and counsels in the administration of justice at the Court of First Instance Tikoas. He is a Member Delegate to the Joint Court Registry Administrative Board and Permanent Disciplinary Council where he participates in the career evaluation and management of over 2,000 colleagues. He also serves as the Chief of the Trade and Personal Property Rights Register where he is responsible for the study, verification, and registration of companies. Gerald holds a master’s degree in Business Law, and a law degree in English Private Law, both from the University of Yaoundé II in Soa. Upon completion of the Washington Fellowship program, he plans to extend the use of electronic templates in the incorporation of businesses to the Courts of First Instance. He also plans to advocate for and pilot the use of an integrated court management and business incorporation model.” Young African Leaders Bio

These amazing people not only inspire us, but help change the way outsiders view Africa. You can make people view your country differently too, where ever you live!

What can you do to change the face of your nation?

  1. Raise your voice! Use media (traditional and social) to share what you think. This can be about current events, the environment, techology, anything you want to voice your opinion on
  2. Be visible, volunteering in your community & attending local and national events, so people see you and the wonderful thing you are doing!
  3. Educate yourself not only attend school, but read, watch lectures, and listen to the wisdom of those around you
  4. Share your knowledge with in your community and media to tell the world
  5. Repeat these actions, because learning and sharing are not stagnate just like life is not; we are always changing and the world continues turning. Be apart of the present, honor the past, and plan for the future to make your goals a reality, because we want #2030NOW

Digital Empowerment: Providing the World Educational Opportunities

I had the wonderful privilege to attend the Social Good Summit in NYC 9/21-22. Yes, I met celebrities, entrepreneurs, and executives, but that is not what moved me. It was the story of Jampa that inspired me and made me tear up.

Jampa Latso grew-up in Tsha Ra, Tibet. In this snowy mountain village, she was raised knowing her entire community wished she had been born male. Her mother told her  “The birth of a child is a miracle and its worth cannot be equated anything else.” As Jampa stated at the Summit,  this helped her find the strength to  “navigate through the maze of the educational paradigm”.

Upon graduating High School she saved up and bought time at her local internet cafe to study. This past spring she graduated from Asian University for Women in Chittagong, Bangladesh with a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Asian Studies as her Major and Development Studies as her Minor. She was the first people in the history of Tsha Ra to ever attend a university.

Now she is able to “reflect my life as well as people in my community; I embrace multicultural values while strengthening my own identity, as a Tibetan girl.”

Jampa is currently a contributor to World Pulse.  She also has created and implemented small-scale development projects “Solar Panel Project (30 solar panels to 30 households); a Flash Lighter Project which benefited 54 families; a Second-hand Clothes Project which benefited 160 people and a Book Project that benefited 342 students and 18 teachers…The purpose of these projects is to have parents send more girls to school because they could see girls also can do so much.”  You can learn more about her here.

Her story should not be unique. Children should feel empowered and be engaged to learn. I may sound overly optimistic but with the Millennium Development Goals, the many projects I learned about at the Social Good Summit, and the amazing work I see people like Jampa doing each day I know that technology can help bridge educational gaps.

How can we bridge the educational gaps?

  1. Take back the computer labs, public libraries, and internet cafes. These computer centers usually have affordable internet access and sometimes have web-cameras, microphones, headphones, fax machines, printers, scanners/copiers, and much more depending on the location. Unfortunately, in recent years this facilities are over run with gamers, social media fans, video chatting, and erotic film aficionados. We should not feel timid to buy 2 hours of time to study, take online classes, watch a lecture, or read an ebook! Petition your local computer center for a study only time. If that is unsuccessful don’t be disheartened, continue signing-up to for time to use the computers to educate yourself.
  2. Donate to  organizations the give students computers, cellphones, scholarships, and free or near-free classes. Take a look at the Social Good Summit’s Agenda to find organizations.
  3. Volunteer to tutor or teach students worldwide. One such organization was discussed at the summit: Skype Classroom

Please comment to share your ideas and plans to digitally empower the world to provide educational opportunities.

I am a Feminist and so are YOU!

What is feminism?

People tend to either love or hate this term but it generally stems for a lack of common understanding.

Websters defines feminism as: the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.

If you support the idea of women’s rights being equal to men in those setting then epsfacto you are a feminist. Feminists don’t all get naked a make a scene like Femen most of us simply want the women in our lives to be happy, successful humans. We understand that equality is a God given right, but unfortunately, society forgets this, and we are here to remind them. Yes, “we” because you and I are today feminists and the ye’-old supporters of equality.

Confidence 

I was raised to be confident and demand equality. I am frequently surprised how many woman are not confident in themselves. They constantly need to be told they are good enough, pretty enough, special, talented.

Why do women need a confidence boost?

Is it because we call them bossy or because girls are horrible to each other by bullying? Partially, it is because as a society we allow men and raise boys to have set concepts of what a girl and a woman should be. Recently experience I’ve witnessed: Little boys restaurants call a large woman at the next table “fat”, teenage boys talking about a pretty girl woman drinks is  “easy” “slutty” “cheap”,  a women who is divorced being called “un-marriageable”  and I even was told by an acquaintance “if I decide to marry a woman she is privileged to have me”. Girls hear these things and internalize it. Girls don’t think about why they talk a certain way, act a certain way, or dress that way until another person comments on it. We can be b*itches to each other dissing things for a myriad of reasons but when our brothers or father figures say these things it hurts in a different way. This more than woman on woman aggression (or whatever you prefer to call it) because it increases her insecurities, lowers her confidence, and can cause self-hate. It is a pattern of male comments–insecurities,low confidence, self-hate–confidence boosting (video like the above, counseling, etc are needed)–woman or woman aggression–male comments–and the cycle repeats.

Minding the Gap

The confidence gap widening hurts everyone. Whether you believe a woman can have it all or not, statistically females wage earners are the “future of the American economy” and the mothers of the future generations. Perhaps, we should be focusing on the teaching men that talking and treating women poorly is not ok, rather than making awesome videos focusing on boosting women’s confidence. When the females are the target audience of the videos above then it also means that men are not even seeing the message. It means men are still verbally and physically hurting girls and woman, so the videos are therefore just a band-aid trying to fix a woman’s already weakened confidence.

When a teen in Texas is raped, we unify as a community to support the girl #IamJada and we say #realmendontrape, but it should not take a rape to call society to action. Society should expect men to not rape.  We need to rethink our empathy from the arrested predators to the victims, and focus on justice and prevention rather that making more band-aids.

We Can Change The Pattern

There are many guidelines to boost young girls’ self-esteem, but the scary thing this most of them say ““prepare her for sexism” In reality it starts with dad’s, uncles, mom’s boyfriend, etc just being there.

The Shriver Report recommends that adult male figures can take nine steps to change the pattern.

  1. Let her know she is loved
  2. Avoid “daddy’s little girl” and instead let her know you see her as strong, self-reliant and resilient.
  3. Teach her to problem solve
  4. Encourage her to break gender stereotypes
  5. Model respect for women
  6. Have an open dialogue that is not judgemental
  7. Set the bars high–for her education, for her to make good chooses, for her to have good friends, for her to find a good man
  8. Empower her physical strength, and not focus on her weight as fat or thin, but as healthy
  9. Constantly try to learn about what matters to her!

When men model these 9 steps, boys see how to treat woman, helping end rape culture. What are you going to do to change the pattern and stop rape culture?

 

*learn  more about empowering women at: ShriverReport.org

Inside Views on Israel & Palestine

Every time I turn on the news, log into my social networks, or talk to my Muslim or Jewish friends I hear about the current situation in Israel and Palestine. The situation is often misreported and the facts are often lost among the drama of the situation.  InshaAllah, peace is found soon, but right now this is the state of things.

A-History-of-Violence

Prior to 2014 summary of the violence using data from the UN

FACTS AS THEY STAND NOW 

Less than two weeks ago, the world was still happy about the unity Pope Francis had started to cultivate between the leaders of Palestine and Israel. They had worshiped and had peace talks at the Vatican May 26th and Jun 8th. What happened?

July 1st the bodies of three Israeli teenagers were found brutally beaten. The Israeli military that found the bodies and the Government of Israeli determined that these betweens were the work of members of the “Terrorist Group” and current ruling party of Palestine, aka Hamas. To defend themselves them bombed Gaza.

In the meantime, at boarder crossings violent shouting matches had increased. Citizens of Palestine were advised to flee and Israeli increased their military presence

July 2nd, Mohammed Abu Khudair, 16 years old, was kidnapped (thought to be by ultra orthodox Israeli Jews) from his neighbourhood in East Jerusalem. He was found later than evening with burns of 90% of his body, throat cut, but according to an autopsy conducted by Israeli doctors it was a carcinogen he breathed while being burned alive that finally killed him.

This of course lead to a massive Palestinian protest only to be met by Israeli protest of the last set of murders of their youth. The angered Palestines threw stones, the Israeli military stopped the protest and bombed Gaza again that night.

July 6th, Tariq Khdeir an on looking to the violent clashes was released after 4 days in an Israeli prison. He emerged badly beaten with few details of why he was every taken in for questioning and who beat him. His American Family worked closely with CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations) to get him released.

Both sides governments and military are enraged. Every night there is a new report about Hamas killing gunmen from Israeli, 25+ deaths a night in Palestine from bombings in Gaza, know as Operation Protective Edge.  Hamas is now bombing Israeli, no longer at the borders, but in major metropolitan areas such as Haifa, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv. Egypt has closed the border in Rafah. Israel has stated that their is no set end date on the Operation Protective Edge they have encouraged and succeeded in getting many Palestinians to flee by dropping leaflets early this morning.  What do the citizens of these countries think of the nearly constant attacks?

ISRAELI VIEWS

Long before I became a Muslim I was interested in exploring faiths other than my own, since then I have made many friends in Israeli. I have had the pleasure of working with a few wonderful politicians, former-military, activists, and journalist who currently reside in Israel. Between July 10th and 13th I had the opportunity to have a Viber phone call and several Facebook chats with those friends and former-colleagues.

“The Media is so bias! Flat out bias. I am only hearing about a few deaths Palestine and the dozens in Israeli, but I go online or talk to friends here and I can see this is not true. I don’t agree with what my country is doing, even though Hamas is a terrorist, this is NOT the Government I voted for. I actually didn’t vote for this PM, but either way I don’t think people who did vote for him support the killing of women and children. A terrorist is one who targets civilians, and we as well as Palestine are targeting civilians.”–Female Journalist in Haifa on Viber

“Obviously a big nuisance to live in Tel Aviv under sirens and rockets, something that has basically never happened in Tel Aviv, or not in a long time and certainly not in this way. That said, of course I am opposed to the attack on Gaza in all forms. I do not think that it will solve the problem of the rockets. Of course the rockets are a terrible dangerous nuisance and pose a threat to many people I love and care including many leftists living in Kibbutzim near Gaza, but in return attacking Gaza, is not the solution. And if we invade Gaza by land, many will be killed on both sides, it will be far more devastating even than what is happening right now. So hoping that somehow international pressure will prevent that and bring about a cease fire, as certainly the current government here is terrible.”–Male Activist in Tel Aviv on Facebook Messanger

“Ridiculous, that is all I can say to describe this situation. I support a free and independent Gaza. A Gaza free from either government. The fact that 5 teenagers (3 murdered Israelis, 1 kidnapped and murdered Palestine, and 1 arrested and beaten Palestinian) can cause such havoc is frightening. I strongly belief there is more to this. In June we had a hope for a positive bridge to peace and then suddenly (she snapped her fingers) bombs in our cities, leveling even the homes of neutral parties and allies? A Church is leveled because our governments shoot first policies. This is not about religion but power; by land, bombs, connections, and money.”–Female Politician in Jerusalem on Viber

PALESTINIAN VIEWS

Shortly after I converted to Islam, I became friends with activists, doctors, and lawyers in Palestine, mostly residing in Gaza. Between July 4th and 13th I had the opportunity to have several Facebook chats with those friends. Here are some of their comments.

khalil hamara

Gaza 2013 Photo by Khalil Hamara

“Do you see this man standing over this journalist, Tom Hurndall, this is my best friend. He and I have always been passionate about Palestine. This was in 2003, Tom died, but his story inspired me. Do you know about Rachel Corrie? She was run over by a tank in 2003. I volunteer at the Rachel Corrie Children’s Center in Gaza. We normal run a summer camp for the children here, but we cannot now. In the evening, it is Ramadan and we want to have a big iftar with the children, volunteers, and staff here, then walk together to taraweeh prayers, like we did last year, the year before, and that. These bombing hurt everyone here, directly. We all bleed, we all ache, we all go to funerals daily. I don’t know how it will stop except to have the UN step in, physical send help or maybe a western country US, Canada, Britain? Even Russian support would be great, just where is it? When is it coming?” Male Volunteer in Rafah Gaza on Facebook Messenger.

“Salam alaiykum sis. Alhamdulilah I am well but so many are not. (I’m sorry. I’ve seen what’s going on, on  the news. What’s up, specifically?) Today at work I children with burns were treated. I heard about a kid who asked if these his fast was broken if he swallowed the dust from the rockets. It is heartbraking.” Female Doctor in  Al-Azhar University Pharmacy, Gaza on Facebook Messenger.

“The elders are arguing all time. A few people took advantage of the situation, they stole bread from a neighbors house, but it is ok. I talked to them. It is very upsetting that this is happening during Ramadan. So many injuried and their lives will never be the same again…Although I don’t understand Hamas. We elected them but them, but they shouldn’t be targeting families or hopitials that is lowering ourselves.” Male Lawyer in Rafah Gaza on Facebook Messenger

“It doesn’t make sense. Why did Israel bomb us? (You mean the response isn’t fair compared to the deaths of the 3 teenagers?) Yes, it similar unfair, not equal retaliation. But…. (long pause and no typing for 10 minutes) Why are we bombing their cities? Hamas, this…this is not the Hamas I know. They normally would target just outside the strip but this is different the last time I saw this happen was 10 or 11 years ago. I was 14, it was scary (but you had your family then) Yes, but I was still a child, a teen. Imagine the young ones today? Both sides are not listening. each other, or their people. are you listening? (yes, of course.) then do something.” Male Activist Gaza City, Gaza on Facebook Messenger.

HOW YOUR VOICE BE HEARD

I asked the same questioned to the Palestinian friends and associates that I asked the Israelis, “How is the Situation there?” I was surprised about how similar their responses are. They is a desperation from both sides. Both hate the actions of their governments, both had the violence and the death, both hate want allies to intervene.  Everyone can take action today by sign petitions here are a few:

Americans can sign these: petitions.whitehouse.gov

Internationally you can sign this petition to the UN:  causes.com

The UN says  that a peace treaty needs to be signed and suggests that the November 2012 Ceasefire Agreement is re-instituted. What do you think should be done?

 

 

1st Week of Ramadan Reflections

The first week of Ramadan 2014 has officially come to a close. InshaAllah you have been enjoying my vlog a day this Ramadan, as much as I have been enjoying making it.

It has been an intense week of prayer, reflection, and religious-political intrigue.

This week I focused on improving my prayers, in-terms of recalling sunnah dua’as. I used the book “Fortress of A Muslim” to learn the dua’as. I used these prayers in-addition to sibha/zkr/dhikr and prayers from the heart. It is this personal relationship which is key. Everyone, Muslim or otherwise, can best increase their relationship with God by praying in their own language. Whether it is a prayer for help, devotion, or repentance I found these words are spoke in the truest sense when they are from the heart and in one’s native language.

I reflected terms my non-Muslim family wanted more insight on and included these in my vlog. I was surprised how many of my viewers messaged me with more topics and questions they wanted address. The non-Muslim viewers have written to me about politics, current events, and history questions. My Muslim viewers have been much more interested in Islamic terms and what I know about Islam. Please send me more ideas and subscribe and I’ll keep making videos.

This week was also the week of the 4th of July, or US Independence Day! It is a joyful celebration and I enjoyed making a short video about this.

There were many sad reports in the news about ISIS and Palestine. I will talk more about this in my next post. Please follow this blog and Ramadan Kareem!

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