Month: July 2011

The Time For Change Has Come

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A lot of us complain a lot about the state of the world nowadays. The Arab revolutions are taking the lives of many in the streets of Libya, Yemen, Syria, etc. Putting the Arab World aside, East Africa is hit by one of the worse drought in decades. As a result United Nations says 3.7 million people “now in crisis” and more than 10 million affected by worst drought in decades [1]. There’s a large influx of refugees into Kenya’s Dadaab. World Food Back Programme director says that many of the refugee children are in Stage four malnutrition, with a survival rate of less than 40%. [2]. Even Kenya is affected. Areas affected are Wajir, Marsabit, Turkana, Garissa, Kwale, and Mandera where 1.4 million people are at risk. In short, thousands are dead, thousands dying and more than 1o million people are at risk.

Meanwhile, people are preparing for Ramadan by flocking the supermarkets, getting two to three trolleys per family, filling it with products that they might – or might not – use, producing bills that could reach a meter long.

So instead of complaining about how horrible the world has become, maybe the time for change has come. The time for us to cause that change. We need to stop complaining and start doing, to start with ourselves,  so we can lead by example, to start by lending out a helping hand to those crying for help from the Horn of Africa. If you think that your one dirham won’t cause a change, think again. I’m Kenyan, and I’m telling you, at today’s rate, 1 dirham is nearly 24 kenya shillings, and 10 dirhams can provide a meal for a starving child.

I’m sure there are many people who are willing and ready to help, and it’s inspiring to see how they come from all kinds of places. They don’t care about the difference in nationality, the tribalism, instead, they are showing the world that we care for humanity as a whole, because we are one people. When a child in Somalia is crying for food, another in Dubai decides not to buy that ice cream and instead gives his money to charity.

So to help the Horn of Africa; here’s what you do;

There are so many campaigns

From the UAE

1) Etisalat Numbers only; Send an empty sms to 6212 to #donate 20 AED to starving people in #Somalia. And for 100 DHS send an empty SMS to 6215 

Hashtags on twitter; #SharjahCharityInternational #UAE #ActforSomalia

2) Flea4Charity & Dubai Acts 4 East African Drought on Saturday the 6th of August 2011 to raise funds for the Somalian Crisis.
Donate your unneeded clothes and accessories (must be in good condition) to help fundraise for the Dadaab Camp Crisis. Location; Stargate, Zabeel Park – Dubai, Entrance Gate 4

To Donate conact:
Luz 050-9891461
Jihad 050-1622716

Update: The next event is on 20th of August inshaAllah

For more on the event;

From Kenya

3) A social campaign called Feed Kenya was started by my cousin. 10 days into it, and the results were as follows;

Kshs.624,602.20/= from donors via Online, Mpesa and Airtel

-KAPA OIL REFINERIES LTD donated 1.5 Tones cooking oil worth 250,000/= (excl taxes)

The call is as follows; “WE can DO this together – We can show our strength as ONE – We can make a difference just as an individual. Your say counts, your participation counts, your heart counts and more your ACTION counts.

Sacrifice A Meal Today; Take pride, stand for Kenya and support FeedKE:

  • M-Pesa Paybill to ‘10,000’ Acc ‘feedke’
  • On Airtel nickname ‘REDCROSS’ reference ‘feedke’ “

Hashtag on twitter: #Feedke

4) Safaricom and company. Individual donations to the fund are being made either through cash or cheque deposits into KCB bank account number 1133333338 or via mobile money transfer system M-Pesa on Pay Bill number 111111. As written in the news article [3], “The minimum contribution via M-Pesa has been pegged at Sh10, with service charges waived as the mobile provider hopes to cash in on its large subscriber base to make the cause a success”

twitter: #kenyans4kenya  @kenyans4kenya


For other people from the rest of the world, you can donate online through Islamic Relief. Visit the following websites

Take action, and make a difference. The least you can do is spread the word on twitter, facebook, and to your friends.






Choices We Make

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A couple of days back, a crime shook the society in Mombasa. A robbery took place, and the thief pulled out a gun and shot a young man through the eye. He was buried with the bullet still in his eye. It was a choice that the thief did to rob the house, and then pull the trigger, ending someone’s life.

Every morning, a mkokoteni guy wakes up and walks through neighbourhoods, shouting out the items he sells from his mkokteni, whether they are oranges or lemons. Maybe his family lives in the farms, so far away, and he lives in a single room with sparse furniture; a godoro, a travelling bag and a bedsheet he uses as blanket. He could be robbing people’s houses, but every morning, the mkokoteni guy makes a choice to earn his living decently.

Every morning, a young student goes to university to attend classes. After class, his friends invite him for a ride around town, but he declines. He’s about to be a doctor and his final exams are coming up, so he knows that there’s no time for idle talk and aimless driving. Instead, he goes back to his room, brews himself a cup of steaming tea, and hits the book, really hard. He could be in the car with his friends, wasting time, but every day he makes a choice to excel in his studies.

Our choices are influenced by different forces; some include family, friends or society as a whole. A lot of times, we find ourselves using reactive language; language that absolves us of responsibility. You’re guilty of it. I’m guilty of it. We claim to be victims of circumstances, we make statements based on the conditioning that we have received over the years. Statements like, “There’s nothing I can do,” “I have to do this, because it’s how the world works,” or simply, “I can’t. That’s me.”

But if we are to re-condition our minds to unleash our true potential, then we would replace reactive language with proactive language. Proactive language shows that we are fully responsible of the situation we are in, and that we are no longer victimized. We do things not because we are forced to do them, but because we choose to do them. It shows that the solution is in our circle of influence, and not out there, in the hands of other people or society.

Examples of proactive language include; “Let’s look at what we can do,” “Let’s choose a different approach,” “I don’t have to do this, but I choose to do it…”

So today, notice the language of the people around you. Is it reactive language or is it proactive? What choices are you making today?

“There are always two choices. Two paths to take. One is easy. And its only reward is that it’s easy.”P

P.S. 1 Reactive vs proactive language is explained in detail in Stephen covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

P.S. 2 While the first story is real, the next two characters were depicted as examples only.

P.S. 3 to find out what is mkokoteni, click here

Welcome To Kenya – the 2011 version

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So if you’ve been following this blog long enough, then you know about our history with Kenya Airways (aka KQ flights) from continuous delays to a famous strike we were stuck in the middle of back in 2009.

This year we heard of a new airplane that flew from Dubai straight  Mombasa – Rwandair – so we decided to try it. Another reason for trying RwandAir was that it took us straight to Mombasa (whereas with KQ we had to go to Nairobi first and then take another plane to Mombasa).

The result?

“Rwandair express” proved to stand true to its name, and please notice the term, “Express”. Immediately when the gate opened shortly after 11 pm, we were filing straight into the plane, and by 11.38 pm we were seated in our seats. The plane started taxi-ing out at 12.12 am (12 minutes late), something that would be akin to doing something illegal according to KQ standards (since KQ are amazingly famous for their delays). So not sitting in the waiting area was something that was a bit too surreal for us since we were not used to it.

But it was funny that the taxi-ing out took a bit too long that my brother and I joked something along the lines, “Is this plane ever planning to take off, or is this how we are going to Kenya – on the ground?”

Some passengers complained that the seats were a bit tight, and the temperature was a bit hot in the plane. By 4.30 am Kenyan time we were landing (that’s 5.30 UAE time) and the airport was semi-empty with the exception of a Kenya Airways plane on the runway. We wondered if it was supposed to fly the night before (and had delayed).

To welcome us of course, there were some crows on the floor next to the baggage belts. Now if you know Mombasa’s airport, it has some wildlife there, and I wonder if it is to give people a preview of what they were going to see in Kenya. For instance, these pictures I took in 2009 show a monkey and a crow watching us from the airport building as we were going to the Departure area on our way to UAE (sorry if the pictures are not that clear).

Of course, the weather in Kenya is beautiful since it’s winter now. This morning it rained a bit, and then it rained again around 3pm. Other than the weather there isn’t much to report except that there’s a wedding tomorrow that I should be attending (and since I hate weddings, I was a bit reluctant, but now I think it might give me something to blog about).Also, I’m spending the night babysitting my baby cousins – who happen to be sleeping so it’s a lovely babysitting experience – since their mother had gone to a wedding.

Yup, it’s wedding season here.

Guess that’s it for today.


If Tomorrow Never Comes

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Some time back I wrote a story about a young emotionally-fragile girl who tends to explode at the slightest thing done by members of her broken family; a father who walked away from them, a younger brother who’s so aloof from her and a mother who’s lost in her own world. So her older brother taught her how to deal with her emotions. He told her to write it down, write everything she felt down on paper, the hatred, the jealousy, let the venom out of her system. Then he grabbed a lighter and burnt it, throwing it – symbolically – into the sea. Then he left her with those words, “Don’t let your emotions get the best of you.”And that’s how she got over painful events; one after another.

You know sometimes we find ourselves struggling with a lot of unspoken words. A lot of unfinished chapters. A lot of hanging bridges. A lot of burning bridges. And then we hear that a tragedy had befallen and now it becomes too late to speak those unspoken words, finish those unfinished chapters, connect and build those burning bridges. In such a case do you find yourself crying with regret, holding with remorse whatever memories you shared with that person, hoping that you had easily swallowed your pride so you could say, “Sorry,” “I love you” “I never meant to utter those words, they were spoken with anger”?

But then some people are given a second chance, and yet they don’t jump at it. They think it’s not important anymore. They back out, they fear to be labelled weak, or emotionally-unstable, or whatever….but then when the words are out, finally, they may feel relieved, relieved that they had the courage to face their fears and be human again, face their fears and be weak, face their fears and let their guard down…even if those words were just written in a piece of paper, that is later burnt and thrown into the sea.

So today’s homework, think of a person who meant a lot in your life, and write them a letter. write them a physical letter. An email is too impersonal, but if the only connection you currently have with them is email, then I guess the email will do. Tell them what they mean to you. Sincerely thank them for the moments they made you smile when you were upset. If it’s a person who has hurt you,let them know that you’ve forgiven them. If it’s a person that you have hurt, then sincerely tell them, “I’m sorry.”

And record the reaction that you would get from a heart-felt sincere letter.

Alternatively, burn it and throw it in the sea.

Today’s quote; Sometimes there is no next time, no second chance, no time out. Sometimes,it’s now or never!

As for me, I know what I have to say to all of you…

Image courtesy of Google Images