Thursday, 17 July 2014

Little Girls, Kites, and Those Things You Ride On

We've been having a heat wave of sorts for the last few weeks. Up here in the great white north, anything over 25 is hot, hot, hot. The heat (which isn't really hot, not on a global scale anyway)  has forced us into a quite enjoyable new routine. As soon as we get home from work, we head down to the cool, dark basement where we dunk freshly BBQed veggie samosas into our mugs of spicy hot, milky chai. De. LI. cious!

As the sun softens and falls to mid-point in the Edmonton summer sky, we head over to the park for our nightly kite flying fun. Our little girl usually runs off the last of her energy by getting tangled up in the spool of thread and running for her Dad's kite when it lands in the grass.

But last night she was more interested in watching the little boys playing basketball. She tottered over to the court where, after trying to take their ball away, she discovered a skateboard type thing with a long pole at the front, topped off with handles. (Yes. I'm that kind of mom. The one who doesn't have any idea what those things are called that all the cool cats are playing with.). It's leaning up against the wooden park bench; she wraps both of her little fists around the pole and tries to stand on it. Oops, over it goes. She tries again. A few times. Then she just sits down on it and tries to pedal herself around.

We show her how to stand up, place her feet one in front of the other, and hold on to the pole. She put one of her little hands in her Grandma's, and off she went. I watched as Grandma pushed her around. Her perfectly round head, her wild brown hair falling into a square little bob at the back. Purple elastics in her pig tails. A pink onesie with a whale on it, unbuttoned and hanging out of her black and white striped jailbird pants. A turquoise baseball cap from Jasper with a toothy brown bear grinning out from the visor, mirroring her own little toothy grin. She rode around, and around, and around. That chubby little fist grasping the pole, the other hand outstretched grasping onto Grandma. Wind blowing through her hair. Riding in circles. Huge smiles, dream-like. Sounds of the boys, and the basketball and the crickets beside her. Not a care in the world. Mom there watching. Dad in the distance flying his kite. Mosquitoes and grass, and sand and cement.





As we walked back home, she ran in front of us all the way, cloth-diapered bum sticking out the back and belly sticking out the front. I wished I had had a camera with me. With the passage of time, these vivid memories will fade.

But then this morning, I turned on the computer. And I know that I didn't need a camera last night. For there was an image staring out at me, tearing into me, all the way from Gaza. Juxtaposed with my little girl in her turquoise cap.

Little girls, with their bikes, on two different sides of the world.

Gaza, during a 5 hour cease-fire. July 17, 2014 


Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The Cheap Life of Gaza's Children

This video. That wall. That floor. Those chairs. That beach. Those children. I spent hundreds of hours in that hotel, on that beach, in those chairs, my feet on that floor, my eyes drinking in the beauty of the sea. Oh my God, that little boy. All the little boys. That could be my Yalda, or anyone's Yalda, everyone's Yalda. Please, stop this madness. Please, somebody rein in Israel before I die of a broken heart.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Muslims Hate Terrorism, Too

You don't say?

Seriously, this new study, released by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, has earned its place on my "most ridiculous things of 2014" list.

If life has taught me anything, it's that you can't argue with stupid.

I lived in the Islamic World for well over a decade and I learned something seriously shocking:

Muslims put their pants on one leg at a time

I know. Totally crazy, eh? 

Muslims hate terrorism, too. 

No! No, they don't! They just love getting blown up, watching their children get blown up, blowing up others.

Apparently, the study reveals that "concern about Islamic extremism is high among countries with substantial Muslim populations." Well, I guess so. 

I don't know who comes up with these things. By even asking the question, this study's basic assumption is that Muslims - all 1.6 billion of them - quite possibly like terrorism. We'd never tolerate such a presupposition about any other group. Imagine, studies released claiming Jews Hate Cheapness, too! or Christians Hate Colonization, too! The world would go off the deep-end.

Let's end the Islamophobia. Let's stop seeing Muslims as one faceless, nameless, homogeneous, ideologically impaired group and start seeing them as the individuals that they are, in their full human complexity.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Happy Birthday, Canada!

I've always enjoyed a good Canada Day celebration, but as a first-time parent this year, it held even more meaning than usual. We spent a lovely day down at the legislature grounds soaking up the sun, live music, mini donuts and sour lemonade. Thousands of families did the same. Bouncy castles, kiddie pools and face painting - what more could the littles ask for?

My travels have taken me to places where families struggle every day for survival. Where a nutritious meal is a distant dream. Where wading pools, chlorinated water and mini donuts are an absurdity. As I watched my daughter stick her face into the water to practice her bubble blowing, I was overcome with a sense of gratitude that nearly brought me to my knees.

It is a privilege to live in Canada. An accident of birth for which I will be forever indebted. I am so grateful for the ability to earn a living, pay taxes and take advantage of the incredible infrastructure that we have developed for our families. Millions of children around the world, who are no less special, deserving, or loveable than my daughter, will never feel the cold, crisp chill of swimming pool water splash their innocent faces.

Today I take a moment to whisper a thank you for the beauty of this land. And a loud acknowledgement of what was lost, and what was taken.

~ Sky

Friday, 16 May 2014

First Round Afghan Election Results Announced

Abdullah Abdullah, leading presidential candidate 
The results of the first-round of the Afghan elections have been announced. Abdullah Abdullah is in the lead with 45% of the votes. Ashraf Ghani trails, at 31.6%. Since neither candidate obtained the requisite 51% of votes, a run-off has been scheduled for June 14th, with final results to be announced by July 22nd.

The elections were widely heralded as a success, with Afghans turning out in unexpected numbers to make their voices heard. The elections commission places voter turnout at 7, 018, 049 from an estimated 12 million eligible voters. 36% of the voters were women. All good news.

What is not so good news are the troubling reports from friends and coworkers in Kabul about corruption in the Abdullah camp, with claims that up to 800,000 pro-Abdullah ballots were falsified.

Personally, I hope the run-off puts Ghani in power. His educational background and international experience, coupled with his well articulated ideas and actual action plans, make him not just the best, but the only choice.