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Who Is Malala? #1000Speak, #StopGunViolence

Malala Yousafzai has just three words for you: BOOKS NOT BULLETS

Malala.org

“Let us pick up our books and our pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.”

I write with many things in mind today.

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion

This is part movie review, part

1000 Speak post,

and part outcry against gun violence.

Note: possible “He Named Me Malala” spoilers ahead.

I want to answer the question, just in case it isn’t already known: Who is Malala?

The word “Malala” means grief stricken or sadness and she was named after Malalai of Maiwand, a famous warrior woman from Pakistan, who fought and died.

Malala’s story went differently. Bullets did not stop her, on that bus, back in 2012 and hatred did not silence her.

He Named Me Malala

This film shines a light on Malala’s everyday family life, in and amongst the news clips from the shooting.

Just like any other teenage girl, when an interviewer asks her about crushes and boys, she replies with shyness and giggling.

She appears on television, doing many interviews. On The Daily Show, she states the idea that girls are more powerful than boys. John Stewart replies, feigning shock at just such a thought.

The scenes with her arm wrestling and bickering with her younger brothers showed the sweetness and the love of a family who only want to live in peace.

Her mother does not speak, for the most part, throughout. She loves her family, her daughter, but she has found settling into the new life they have in Birmingham, England and far from their home, which is now too dangerous, a struggle to adjust.

Their Islamic culture has taught her things about modesty, as she still points out to her daughter, when they are out. Her mother notices any man that appears to be looking at her. She was raised in a place and time when it was the norm to cover the woman’s face in public, but Malala tells her mother that “he may be looking at me, but I am looking at him too.”

It isn’t easy to blend these two countries and cultures for Malala’s mother, who is unable to speak the language and, despite all that’s happened, misses her home.

She says, in the film, that she looks up at the moon and reflects on how everything is different, in their new home, except the moon. She knows this is where her daughter is safe from those, in the Taliban, who would still want her silenced, and so she adapts.

Only those filled with hate could be threatened by an innocent child. Nobody who understood what love means and the power it has could or would act with such cowardice.

Malala tries to educate, about what is said in the Quran:

“Allah says, if you kill one person, it is as if you kill whole humanity.
The profit of Muhammad is the profit of mercy. Do not harm yourself or others. And do you not know the first word of the Quran means “read”?”

Malala Yousafzai’s 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech

I can hear her bnervousness, during her acceptance speech, by the sound her mouth makes as she speaks. It’s as if her mouth is extremely dry, but she makes a hugely important statement with her words..

“When you light a candle, you also cast a shadow.”
–Ursula K. Le Guin

Malala is the candle. The shadow barged onto her school bus and shot her and her friends.

These monsters, under the guise of the religion of Islam, made their way onto that bus and asked, “Who is Malala?”

Now, her story and her documentary shines a light on that shadow and on the candle that brings the world’s attention to what must be done to keep candles like hers burning.

Malala went to her father’s school, studied and played with her friends, and then things began to change.

The Taliban came to her village and began to worm their way into people’s heads, to seize control and to indoctrinate. They would, soon enough, turn to the only thing they know: violence.

Women were rounded up, flogged in the town square, and people were killed. Schools were destroyed.

“Education for girls went from being a right to being a crime.”

Girls were forbidden to go to school, to speak up, to have a future. Most people were, understandably, too scared and remained silent. Not Malala and her father.

Malala was still young, but not so young that she couldn’t be afraid, for her father more than herself. She speaks, in the film, about checking and double-checking all the doors and windows in their house before going to bed because she was afraid they would come for her father in the night.

This is love and it can drive out hate. No young girl should have to live with this fear, I realized as I thought how I would feel if my own father were under threat like that.

Her father taught her and believed that if you have to live under the control of someone else, enslaved, that becomes a life not worth living. Some might find it controversial, for a child to do what she would do, but try living under such a regime and then judge.

Malala did speak up about her right to education being taken away, the rights of her female friends, and she did it in a blog for the BBC. At first she was anonymous, but eventually, as she did more speaking and interviews, her identity was revealed. This made her a threat.

She is sometimes asked:

“Why should girls go to school? Why is it important for them? But I think, the more important question is…why shouldn’t they?”

Brave brave girl.

Malala has only ever wanted children to receive education, women to have equal rights, and for their to be peace for every corner of the world.

These aren’t too much to ask, are they?

She wants all frightened children to have peace, for the voiceless to have change.

“It is not time to pity them. It is time to take action.”

She says it is not enough to take steps, but that a leap is needed instead.

Her story of hearing from a girl she once went to school with, after losing touch with her, only to discover this girl has two children sticks out in my mind most sharply.

Malala is asked what her life would be like if she were just an ordinary girl and her response is that she is still an ordinary girl:

“But if I had an ordinary father and an ordinary mother, then I would have two children now.”

Nothing ordinary about this young woman. Number one thing that makes a difference in any child’s life is getting the love they deserve, that all children deserve, but that so many don’t receive.

“It is not time to tell world leaders to realize the importance of education. They already know it. Their own children are in good schools. It is time to call them to take action for the rest of the world’s children, to unite and make education their top priority. Basic literacy is no longer sufficient.”

Watching her documentary and her Nobel Peace Prize speech make me cry, but they empower me too.

When she talks about that moment when you must choose whether or not to stand up or remain silent, I get chills and I want to cry. I know about feeling voiceless and powerless. I am sure we can all relate in some way, to these words, whether it’s due to prejudice against women, inside the oppressive walls of old fashioned cultural beliefs, or against people with disabilities.

You don’t know how lucky you are to have an education, until it’s being taken from you.

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

She demands to know why governments find it so easy to make weapons, tanks, and wars but building schools, bringing education, and spreading peace instead of violence is so hard.

This is the same question I’ve had for a long time, when I see my own country of Canada (who have made Malala an honorary Canadian citizen) saying goodbye to one prime minister and welcoming in the next, when a new president will be decided upon for the US next year.

Why do we value weapons like guns and tanks and bombs, over words and books and education?

Malala asks why is it so easy for countries to give guns and so hard to give books and build schools?

Speaking about her attackers:

“Neither their ideas nor their bullets could win.”

Guns, in the wrong hands, the hands of a violent group of terrorists like the Taliban put Malala in a coma, have damaged her smile, her face, her hearing on one side of her head, but they really ended up doing the opposite of what they were hoping to do. Instead of silencing her, living or dead, she survived and is louder than ever.

“They shot me on the left side of my head. They thought the bullet would silence us. I am the same Malala.”

And does Malala hold any grudges or feel any hatred? Has she forgiven them?

No and yes are her answers to those questions. No hate. She has decided to focus on love, compassion, and peace.

“I don’t want revenge on the Taliban, I want education for sons and daughters of the Taliban.”

Some men, spoken to on camera for the documentary, go so far as to claim that Malala’s story is simply a publicity stunt and that her father is behind it all, that he wrote every word supposedly attributed to his daughter.

I couldn’t believe this when I heard it. What arrogance. The fact that a girl is thought to be unable to say anything of any value is the saddest thing of all, but it is so often the reality.

Malala’s father is proud to be known as such.

“Thank you to my father, for not clipping my wings, and for letting me fly.”

This film is about love. It’s about the love one father has for his family, for his daughter.

My Daughter, Malala – Ziauddin Yousafzai – TED Talk

It’s easy, for some in the west, to think of all men in the Muslim culture as being oppressive towards women. Ziauddin is a father, just like my own, just like any other. He and his daughter are squashing stereotypes and showing the world that most families, no matter where they come from, only want peace, safety, and an education for their loved ones and for themselves.

This father has taught, not only his daughter to stand up for her rights, but he’s shown his two young sons the value girls and women deserve. He’s imparting, into these two impressionable boys, the respect that is going to make a kinder, gentler generation of men everywhere.

“My father only gave me the name Malala. He didn’t make me Malala.”

So then just who is Malala Yousafzai?

“I tell my story, not because it is unique, but because it is not. It is the story of many girls: 66 million girls who are deprived of education.”

I chose Malala’s story for October’s #1000Speak because I saw nothing but compassion and love.

“I had two choices: remain silent and wait to be killed or speak up and then be killed. I chose the second one. I decided to speak up.”

I can speak up, without the fear of being killed and hopefully now so can Malala.

Love triumphs over hate.

EDUCATE.

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Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Interviews, Kerry's Causes, Shows and Events, TToT

TToT: Do Or Die – Mercy! #10Thankful

“Writing and reading to me is synonymous with existing.”
–Gertrude Stein

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What a difference a week can make.

Last week was the perfect autumn weather and this week all I keep hearing about is snow.

Last weekend the Toronto Blue Jays were not expected to be in the game for much longer and this week they still have a chance.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

I seem to remember something about a book of rules for the TToT and there’s one of those for baseball, not that I understand it, but more about that later.

It was a difficult week, in some respects, but only because I am finally putting myself out there, my writing and myself, and receiving feedback. This translates into criticism and that can be difficult to take sometimes. Doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it.

Ten Things of Thankful:

For my immune system.

Mine works for me. Okay, so I may be singing a different tune come the middle of winter, but at the moment I think all’s well.

I have been around several sick friends and family in the past month and I just assumed I would catch their colds, etc.

I haven’t. I have a lower immune system, as a transplant recipient, and it can seem to permit multiple colds each winter, every year, but it is unpredictable. I can’t predict when or if I’m going to get a cold.

I am visiting a friend in Toronto tomorrow and her niece is there recovering from a bone marrow transplant. As long as I don’t jinx myself and come down with something in the next twenty-four hours, I will be happy and thankful. Not to mention, my immune system hasn’t decided to completely attack my father’s kidney, in nearly twenty years, so that’s something to be grateful for.

For a delicious cup of coffee, some relaxing Lorde inspired tunes, and a couple of hours at the salon.

Portishead

The coffee and the half hour I sat there, listening to music playing and the hustle and bustle of my cousin’s salon, while my hair had foils in it and waiting for the dye to do its thing made for a most relaxing break.

For the chance to feel like I was dressed up and with somewhere to go for the evening.

For the deliciousness that is movie popcorn.

Who’s with me?

For a totally eye-opening documentary experience.

“Our voices are our most powerful weapons.”

I went to see He Named Me Malala and I found it to be every bit as inspiring and moving and sweet and real as I thought it would be.

This film needed to be made and it needs to be seen around the world. It makes me cry, but it forces me to be thankful.

For the game that kept Toronto in the running, for the first time in over twenty years.

It was a real rush to know that we had little chance, at that point, but that I never lost faith. It ended up being one for the record books, and I don’t pretend to understand all the little ins and outs of the game and its rules, but I know the tension and the energy felt, sitting there watching.

We were losing two games in a five game series. Nobody thought we would go on to win the next three, but I believed.

What is it about rooting for one’s sports team that can cause such strong feelings and stress?

For my white cane.

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October 15th was White Cane Day or White Cane Safety Day. I feel like a lot of these days are more US based, a lot of the times, but it doesn’t really matter where or what day.

I will admit that I have had my battles with the white cane. I have truthfully felt embarrassed about it, like a little brother or sister, always tagging along, but being forced by a parent to let them join in the fun.

Yeah, I’m working on getting over my issues because without it, I would be in more danger and would have been left without the means to get somewhere, anywhere, unable to see my surroundings well enough. I can’t deny the importance it has played and must play to me in future.

For my first Internet radio show interview.

Traveling With the Speed of Sight

I think I’ll stick with writing my blog, but it never hurts to try something new.

For you never knows’.

I did not expect a lot of people to listen to that interview, honestly, but all it takes is one.

One of the writer/editor friends I’ve made online and on Facebook just happened to be listening and immediately messaged me after the interview ended.

I admire her and her work so much and her online publication is at the top of my list of places I am determined to see my writing on.

Full Grown People

For the good and the bad that comes from putting myself out there.

Sure, this week I received some hard to hear criticism, but I also received some personal invites to submit my writing and to do more guest posts.

This, to me, would be considered a week of triumphs.

The Canadian federal election tomorrow could be the change we need, but there is a bit of a clash of events happening.

Elections Canada vs Jays Fans On October 19

Oh, don’t we Canadians have problems in our country?

😉

At least we’re aware of the issues that are important to us and as long as we know our priorities, right?

Mercy Mercy Me

I’ve been inspired, again this week, to not be silent, in whatever way that might be.

I love the female voices I’m hearing lately: both young and old.

Do I look scared to you?

You tell em Hazel!

“There’s a moment when you have to choose whether to be silent or to stand up.”
–Malala Yousafzai

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TToT: A Rainy Day In Paradise, #10Thankful

Love does not appear with any warning signs. You fall into it as if pushed from a high diving board. No time to think about what’s happening. It’s inevitable. An event you can’t control. A crazy, heart-stopping, roller-coaster ride that just has to take its course.
–Jackie Collins

Jackie Collins and Phil Collins: One is known for writing salacious novels and the other for his drumming, song writing, and singing, both as a member of Genesis and as a solo artist.

The only connection, for me, between these two has been their last name, up until this past week. One writes memorably and the other has had a huge influence in my life. Guess which is which.

10 THINGS OF THANKFUL

This week has had its ups and downs, pierced by the news story here in Canada, about the little girl who went missing and whose father was found murdered.

Hope turns to heartbreak.

Well, in this case, there was no happy ending to be had. I listened to the mother of the girl, during a press conference, and I was reminded all too sharply of the events that took place in my town over five years ago.

The Dark Mark

What kind of sick monster would do this? How does the world make sense to anyone at any time?

In comes creator of TToT

Lizzi,

Who has been touring around parts of the US for over a week now and I know she was worried about something, before she left. I made a promise, I would help make sure her friends back in the UK weren’t totally forgotten about, which I am sure she hasn’t stopped thinking about them, even as she’s having the trip of her lifetime.

Still, it’s important to be thankful and grateful, and that is the theme of my post this week, although it is every week, but this week I make it a double dose. There is so much I can’t do to help people, but I thought I could do this.

GO FUND ME: Home For Jenny

Ten Things of Thankful:

For My grandparents, although they are all gone now, and for the grandparents my own parents have become to my niece and two nephews.

This week was Grandparent’s Day and I want to highlight the things that make grandparents so great, both the big and small things, especially my parents, as they are now grandparents, and have been for nearly five whole years.

I miss mine every single day, but when I watch my mom and dad interacting with my niece or either of my nephews, I feel better because I see all the memories being made, so many things that remind me of everything I loved my grandparents for, all those years. It is one of the most special bonds in life.

For another guest post, this time with a musical theme, that I had out at the start of the week.

Perfection – Jingle Jangle Jungle

Some albums leave a lasting impression and “Jagged Little Pill, 1995” was one of them.

You Learn – Alanis Morissette

For strong female examples and the possibilities borne from these women: Jackie Collins, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, or Malala Yousafzai.

He Named Me Malala

“Our voices are our most powerful weapons.”

Malala is right. This film trailer and this quote give me goosebumps and bring tears to my eyes.

Happy Birthday, Chimamanda and Malala, who celebrated this past week.

These are three examples, of reasons to celebrate life, the lives of females who do not apologize for who they are and for what they stand for.

It gives me hope – a representation of past, present, and future for women.

For the honour of two writing assignments I’ve been asked to do, one of them from one of those strong females I’ve alluded to, and for the surprise invite I received to be interviewed, next month, on an internet radio show.

I am now nervous because I now have to deliver. I am thrilled to be asked for these things, but now comes the fear of disappointing these people or of not being able to give them what they were hoping for.

I am working on developing my confidence and pride, to know in my heart I can write something worthwhile or speak up for myself, but I am going to need to focus to be able to give them my best.

I hope this will lead to more good things and I think I need to get down to business, to get writing, to show what I can do.

For repeat thankfuls.

That’s right. I am thankful, once more, for my first published story.

I used this one last week, in previous weeks before that, in different ways, but I am using it again because I am still grateful, so incredibly thankful.

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I forgot, last week, to include the link to where the book is now available in print. I’d been waiting for that for months and months.

After the Scars: A Second Chances Anthology

Also, I believe this thing warrants a spot in the thankfuls, two weeks in a row, because I believe we should pay special attention to those things we are truly thankful and excited for and about, especially when so many other parts of life are so shitty sometimes.

Plus, I have barely let the print copy of the book with my story in it out of my presence since it arrived last week. I sleep with the thing pretty much. I can neither confirm or deny this to be 100% the case.

😉

I am not too ashamed to admit I hug it against my chest sometimes, hardly able to believe how lucky I feel. How proud I am. The best feeling in the world.

For the fresh apples I’ve been waiting so long for.

Honey Crisp apples are expensive, in the grocery store most times, but it’s at this time of year that they are in the markets and are most worth it. They remind me of fall and they are so juicy. They are what good apple juice is made of. They are the perfect mixture of sweet and sour, and so wonderfully crunchy. Huge too. I have been looking forward to the start of the fall season and these apples, even more so, ever since visiting a giant apple back in July.

this photo is of brian, dad and you on the stairs in front of the apple.
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For my brother’s help, as I am once more in need of pictures of myself, and seeing as he takes pictures for a living and has done it for years I am glad he is happy to help and not to expect a fee.

🙂

It ended up being a joke between us, when I texted him to ask if he could take a few pictures, and he ended up taking nearly two hundred. I wouldn’t blame him if he did ask for payment, but that’s what is so amazing, the generosity to be found in my family.

They need to be high resolution, (of which I have no clue) and are travel themed. I will have them to share in a future post, but let’s just say I ended up dangling in the apple tree in his back yard with my white cane. All for the writing.

For the chance to give my nephew his birthday present, as he turned two last month, but it’s taken a few weeks for the summer excitement to die down and for us to see each other again.

I’m thankful he liked his present so much. I got him my favourite thing, a book.

No. I did not give him a copy of the book with my story in it. Not exactly his level of reading material, at age two. I did bring his father, my brother a copy of the book though. I was excited to do that also.

As for my nephew, I gave him the new Dr. Seuss book and a singing and talking toy iPhone.

After all, shouldn’t all two-year-old children have their first cell phones?

For the chance to get to know my youngest nephew, as he is the third.

My niece is almost five and has known me the longest. She is in school and has been talking for a couple years now.

Then there’s my middle nephew and he lives close by and sees me on a weekly basis. We are incredibly close, as a result.

It’s my youngest nephew, youngest of the three, and he is just recently growing his vocabulary and changes so much, every time I see him, which only happens every other month or so. I sometimes worry he won’t remember me from the last time, but this is changing, slowly and surely, as he grows and with every passing visit.

Each time I can spend time with him and he can become a little more comfortable with me, and me with him, hopefully our bond as nephew and aunt grows a little stronger.

I am thankful we were able to spend a little time together, just the two of us, playing trucks in his bedroom, after his initial shyness wore off upon seeing me with his sister and daddy, when he wasn’t expecting it.

For the life he and my niece have, for everything they have, that their mom and dad work so hard to give them, when so many children have nothing nearly as good. They are tucked, in their beds and safe at night, and I can hug them goodbye, after a day of fun and games, and sleep securely in the knowledge that the most important children in my life are safe and not in danger.

Not all children are so lucky. I am lucky.

And now, the answer to the question I posed at the beginning of this week’s TToT:

I loved Danielle Steel’s romance novels, as a teenager, but I have never even read a Jackie Collins book. I just thought, after the years of writing and the career she’s had, she deserves to be mentioned here, on her passing.

I didn’t get into her novels, but I did follow her on Facebook. Up there with authors like Anne Rice and Danielle Steel, Jackie Collins was one of those authors I enjoyed getting to know a little on her author page.

RIP Jackie Collins (1937-2015)

As for Phil Collins, I have been focusing so much on the things I am thankful for, for months now with Ten Things of Thankful and a particular Phil Collins song has always made me realize how lucky I am and how thankful I am, for the life I do have.

As the week came to a close – as I let certain recent events upset me, as I felt like crying because I could hardly make out my nephew’s shape, and because I can no longer colour with him and my niece – I thought about why I need to keep making these weekly lists.

It’s just another day, for you and me, in paradise.

Another Day In Paradise

Just think about it.

–Phil Collins

I’ve thought about it, Phil, many times over the years – many, many, many times. I will never stop thinking about that, being grateful, and staying thankful.

And, as I was in desperate need of something to totally counteract that part I mentioned about a poor child being taken from the world, here is a video that made me smile from ear to ear, which I desperately needed mid week when the worst was confirmed about her disappearance.

Pup Quiz

RIP sweet Hailey.

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Bucket List, Feminism, History, Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, Special Occasions, TToT, Writing

TToT: Second Chance Stories

“He’s so precious!”

We were sitting in the lobby of the long-term care facility where my aunt now resides. We were spending the morning with her and we wanted to get her out of her room, bring her somewhere else, so she could watch people and we’d already determined that the wind was too much for her outside.

Suddenly a voice spoke and my head jerked upward at the words.

Who was that? Whom were they referring to? Who was just so precious?

The lady who spoke walked over toward my father who was sitting to my left.

“I’m going to give you a hug,” she said.

Then she blew kisses to us all and went on her way. It was time for lunch.

Ten Things of Thankful

Sunday: Happy 18th Birthday Malala!

For a strong example of what truly matters in this world and the greatest hope we have for the future.

Malala Yousafzai has been through hell and back and is fighting using words and education, against the violence and hatred shown toward her, to come out on the other side to fight for–

BOOKS NOT BULLETS

sounds like the best idea I’ve ever heard.

That is the outcry and the call to action of one tough young woman.

Monday: first dates sometimes lead to second ones.

For the chance to meet someone new.

It’s not so easy, for me at least, to find someone I can talk to and click with.

I am grateful for a connection made and a new friend, at the very least.

Wednesday: Happy Second Anniversary Bri.

For selfless angels who give the ultimate gift and for the strength shown from their family too.

On July 15th, 2013, my brother received a kidney from a selfless angel.

I’d watched him attached to dialysis machines and unwell, unable to move forward with his life for years.

Finally, he could start to live his life again.

For a long awaited release and a dream of mine that I have now checked off my bucket list.

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On my blog I wrote about my short story and the reason why I wrote about love, loss, and starting over.

One Last Kiss

I am very proud of my story and the anthology it can be found in.

After the Scars: A Second Chances Anthology

Thursday: sometimes travel brings unexpected things.

For the unexpected stop on a road trip.

Me and a giant apple.

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Enough said.

For old buildings and holding onto history.

I have always had a a phobia of old places and things. I remember it from an early age. Visiting a local pioneer village was not my idea of fun. I disliked secondhand stores and antique shops.

Now I try to introduce myself to the past because it matters.

On my latest few days away I stayed in a bed and breakfast, an old house which has been turned into a lovely place to stay.

Where I stayed was up on the second floor. It had two bedrooms, a full kitchen, and small sitting room. Plus, it had a nice porch.

This house would have been over 100 years old. It felt very homey and comfortable, even for someone as picky as myself. I slept well there and stood at the window, in the morning, enjoying the warm sunshine on my face.

Friday: life does not stand still and we all age.

For another chance to visit with my aunt. She’s not in an ideal situation. She is unable to take care of herself now and must be in a long-term care facility.

I worry about her there, for her days of endless monotony. She will be there for the rest of her life, more than likely. I wish she wouldn’t have to.

For the chance to have met her, made possible by my parents, who believed that distance (whether physical or emotional) shouldn’t prevent family from getting to know each other.

My family visited her several times over the past 25 years and made some memories I’ll always cherish.

I hope, if she can hold onto a memory, that she remembers that we care, always.

For a lovely lunch, provided by my cousin.

She is full of energy and so is her daughter. They offered lovely conversation and a delicious meal.

I’d never had a dill pickle wrap before.

I’m glad we got to know them and could spend the afternoon together, catching up.

For a spectacular view, even if I can’t see it and must take other people’s word for it.

We ate our lunch at the golf course, with an amazing view of the Ottawa River in the background.

I can not see these views anymore, but I can imagine them and I can feel their presence. I will never forget or take that for granted.

Whether it’s the woman from my story earlier, girls wanting an education, the little anecdotes revealed when entering into any new relationship, or a book of stories (part fiction and part non) we all have inside our imaginations – I am grateful for my own and for the learning and discovering of others.

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Kerry's Causes, Memoir and Reflections, Special Occasions

“He For She” and EQUALITY

An article on TheAtlantic.com (The Unsafety Net: How Social Media Turned Against Women) says:

“A 2013 report from the World Health Organization called violence against women “a global health problem of epidemic proportion,” from domestic abuse, stocking, and street harassment to sex trafficking, rape, and murder.

Last Saturday, October 11th, was The International Day of the Girl. The United Nations declared it thus back in 2011 and this year this day just so happened to follow the announcement that was years in the making.

After all she went through at such a young age, all for the basic right to get an education, Malala Yousafzai was awarded as the youngest ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. with her advocacy and bravery when speaking up for girls and their right, everywhere around the world, to receive the same educational opportunities as boys, this equality is key for a bright future for both sexes and I have found it a hopeful sign.

I recently found myself growing more and more interested in speaking on gender equality. I often feel like I have a double burden placed upon my back, being both a woman and with a disability.

I guess I used to feel like I couldn’t say anything about my thoughts and feelings on the subject, for fear of sounding like a whining, complaining victim. Oh poor me! Poor her…the poor blind woman!

I feel I am not that far off from being born in a time or a part of the world where I would be less lucky than I currently am and this thought gives me chills. Where would that leave me then? What would my life be like if I had not been alive and brought up at this time in history, in Canada? A blind girl wouldn’t historically or culturally be given all that many opportunities or rights.

I guess it’s only been a coming together of very recent events, first the speech Emma Watson gave at the UN with her “He For She” campaign. And then with Malala’s award. These two aren’t keeping quiet and neither am I for that matter.

Check out the Atlantic article,

Here.

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I found myself in a fast-food restaurant today with my two-year-old nephew and sister. As my sister got up to dispose of our tray, I remained by the table with my nephew. I held my white cane and he examined it with great interest. He needed to be reminded not to pick it up and let it fly in the air, risking bodily harm to other customers, but then he grabbed my hand and led me carefully out of the restaurant.

Any aggressive little boy behaviours such as playing with a long white stick indoors were instantly switched up for a more intuitive, thoughtful, and sensitive act like helping me out of the restaurant. Just these very gender specific behaviours are valid ones and we can teach both young boys and young girls to be whatever they want to be. That is what we should truly be fighting for, both men and women of the world.

It was the second time he has done this and as I cautiously walked with him to the door, through the entrance, and out and safely crossing the street to the car I felt again a growing awareness in him. Perhaps I am imagining this because I know how smart he is, but he seems to be developing an understanding beyond his years, a thoughtfulness he shows in wanting to help his auntie. This is what I hope, that he receives something many other children don’t, that I can give him an outlook on life through my relationship with him. I will always just have been his aunt first, but his blind aunt with the white cane too.

It’s not about him having to drag me along with him, relieving me of any responsibility for myself as the adult, but that he knows what a white cane is and what it means to hold out a hand and help someone. I see, in him, a growing empathy and kindness that more of the world could stand to learn for themselves, boys and girls from a young age and into adulthood.

I am a big fan of symmetry, more it seems, as I get older. I found this mid-week, Wednesday, Mid-month, October 15th to be highly satisfying. Speaking of equality, for disability, October 15th is International White Cane Safety Day. I want to be taken seriously as a woman with something to offer and as a person, who just so happens to carry a white cane. I hope that campaigns such as Ammas’ and awards such as the one given to Malala and the occasions such as todays’ will make our world a more tolerant place, full of opportunities for us all equally.

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And finally…

For Ronald McDonald Children’s Charities. Today I remember my memories staying as a patient with my family and, years later, giving back as a volunteer. I celebrate the house that welcomes sick children and their families with open arms, during some of the more difficult moments in life.

I continue to hope for a “Day of Change” all around.

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