I am a human, a woman - a woman who is in love with a very kind very sweet woman.
I am also Asian, Bangladeshi and a Muslim.
My family consisted of my mother, father and a lot of siblings. My closet siblings were either 5 years older or 5 years younger. I was the odd child: I felt like a stranger at times, the one not in the group with the others. My relationship with my parents were good: my father was very doting and in a way, spoilt me. My mother - may God rest her soul - cared for my needs, fed me, clothed me and took care of me when I was ill. She had a big family to look after, but made time for me in my times of need. When I got injured, she cried for me, looked after me, stayed by me. Sometimes the other siblings would let me join them in games of football.
Over time, our family life got complicated. I was questioning more and more of society and the adults’ way of thinking. I kept asking: are there a sense to their actions? Are these actions just?
My experience of puberty would reveal much about the members of my family, and responsibility to me as child growing under their supervision. There was no sympathy, no care towards me from my siblings. I was once again the odd child who had to learn by herself. And that suited my just fine; confusion and self-learning became my companion.
Growing up, most of my friends were mostly boys. They were easier to talk to. In a sense, I didn’t care what they thought - their opinion never mattered. But girls were more delicate: I needed to play the game by their rules and tried to never hurt their feelings, though they had the opportunity to hurt mine. And hurt me they did. Yes, I fought against boys, but I couldn’t hurt a girl.
I got into fights with boys. I felt no attraction to any boy at school or towards any male movie star or singer. I may have considered their abilities to act or sing well but I never enjoyed their physique.
I remember now, from as early as 12, I that I admired women’s physiques, their curves, attributes and skills, their sensitivity, kindness and how they can be very sweet without wanting anything in return - their softness.
Yes, I liked a few girls in school. There was one who made me question my attraction to women. She made me start to think and question where my affection and attention were. I can still remember that day and moment. After her there was another girl that I tried to get close to and wanted to be her friend at least, but I didn’t know how to, so I interacted with her and admired her from afar.
During my teenage years I noticed how other girls were swooning over boys or actors. I couldn’t understand why. Men to me were rough, harsh, insensitive and disrespectful of women. I liked women - girls my age - who were sincere, kind, gentle and soft. I can still remember who they were.
A lot of times I wanted to impress the girls and my female teachers. I wanted them to like me. I can still remember my favourite teacher.
As I entered teenage-hood and then my early 20s, I started to question why I was not physically attracted by men and felt a repulsion towards them instead.
On the other hand, I loved, admired and adored woman’s natural figures, whether they were thin, average, or full-bodied. Their minds and hearts shone through. How could I not find that attractive?
Being in a family of religious siblings, I questioned my attraction to women all the time. I could not ask anyone, be it schoolmates, friends or family. It was a time where I could not support myself and therefore could not risk anyone finding out. So I did what I knew best: I researched, learned and contemplated. I thought hard, the pros cons from my perspective, from my family’s perspective, from the view point of nature, the relationships of mammals, through the lens of history, about the point of view of other religions, and the biggest question of all: God
I thought: How can a creator that says peace, love and kindness are the most important virtues, leave out humans who just want to love freely? After all, He created all of us and there is no flaw in His creation. All has purpose.
I understood one thing that basically settled everything for me: LOVE. True, sincere, unconditional love is never wrong in any religion or life.
We love our parents, our neighbors, friends, our siblings and other family members. These are all forms of love. All unique forms of love.
We devote our entire being into for our love for our God, our Creator. It becomes the only thing we know, the only thing that matters to us.
Our love for the one that completes our soul, gives peace to our mind and hope to our hearts.
It makes sense that love is love, very powerful, very sincere, very pure, and very precious when it finds us.
My belief in my faith and love got more defined: I knew I had to wait for that one woman I would fall in love with.
Meanwhile, I looked after my family, supported and helped them, even when it was a disadvantage to myself. I knew that they would never accept me unconditionally and would never sincerely love me.
They wanted me to simply follow their way of life, but the child in me, the romantic in me would not do so. After all, I did not every feel any physical attraction to towards men. I hated the very idea of intimacy with them and wanted it with women instead – a woman that I would wait for.
Whenever I could, I reached out and looked for Asian LGBTQ support groups, dating sites and meet-ups. I joined many. While I had some bad experiences with a few women, I still wanted to meet her who would accept me love as the human and the woman I am.
I joined a group called Imaan and that was where I experienced the good and the bad. I had become more independent, was able to move out of family home if needed and was planning actively on doing just that. I started to travel to meet more women.
I was at a point in my life where I had lost my sense of purpose and felt that my existence was meaningless. I wanted to love and be loved, but my dream and hope of meeting that one woman was nowhere in sight. I had tried dates, from dating sites and to joining groups. None were successful. From all the women I met and spoke to on Imaan and other LGBTQ forums and meets, I never felt even once a connection to the women there. All I felt was a sense of hollowness, perhaps because that love that I wanted did not exist in those groups.
I became resolute that all I could do was exist, work, have my own place and help my family when needed. I started to believe that if love is meant to find me, it would.
Hiding my true self from my family, work and friends, only made me feel nothing but loneliness and a loss of love. I never thought I would find her.
But then I did. She completes me and loves me. I love her beautiful, kind and compassionate mind and heart. At first, I was afraid to accept it. I thought she would not love me. I thought she was a dream I was having. But love had finally found me. SHE found me. I was and am complete and happy. I could not deny my love for her. She became my first and only best friend in the whole world. She is my soulmate, my equal.
Thank you for loving me as I am. I love you with all my existence. As long as you want me, I will forever be with you. My loyalty my fidelity, my devotion and my love are all for you, my heart.
I love you AS.
I am an Indian Australian-Hindu woman in love with a girl from another country and religion. Her religion and our long distance have never occurred to me an obstacle. In a world where finding a gay person you can connect to is rare, it seemed to me finding someone from my part of the world who could love me unconditionally was not going to be easy.
I was born in India but came to Australia at the age of 3. I was 14 when I felt I had same-sex attractions. I had read an “Ask Aunty” column where an Indian girl had asked about her same-sex attractions and whether it was ok. The response was gay-friendly and the writer of the “auntyji” column said to not pursue forced marriage, but that she should find true love instead.
I was conflicted at the time because same-sex love and relationships had never been mentioned by my family and in my community or religious gatherings. Was what I was thinking allowed? Was I going to cause ridicule to my family? Bollywood initially explored the topic of homosexuality in a ridiculing way. A movie called Girlfriend came out which mocked same-sex female couples. I went to an all-girls school but I never felt anything for the girls there. This made me question whether I was asexual. Was my sexual side lying dormant? I never felt the need to have a partner at the various school proms we have in Australia.
In my first year of university I joined a few political groups on campus. One was the women’s collective. It was here that I met my first lesbian couple. I admired the love between them and it made me sad that people would want to deny them equal rights. I tried going online to make more Asian lesbian friends. I joined a few LGBT American sites where I came across some American South Asian lesbian/bi girls. We had regular skype sessions which were helpful for my budding sexual orientation. I got to know them, flirted a little but was not satisfied by my friendships with them. I joined Imaan, a British Muslim dominated by south Asians. Here I found my first few online relationships and eventually would find the love of my life.
My parents first suspected when they saw a screen age of an LGBTQ advice page. I once again denied it. My first relationship was with a British Pakistani hijabi girl who in the end decided a long-distance relationship was not for her. It may have been her views on religion as well. On the British Muslim group I was on, many Muslims tended to want to date within themselves. And then I dated (online) a Pakistani American girl whom I thought wanted something long term yet once again she couldn’t face the distance and sadly cheated on me. The hard thing about being closeted it is it is hard to speak about these issues without facing homophobia. These issues were routine issues that straight people can talk to their friends about without being judged.
I met a few other Muslim girls whom I tried to support but the relationships didn’t last. I was too far to be of use to them. I was also non-Muslim and some of their gay-friendly relatives asked them why they couldn’t find a Muslim person. Meanwhile, my parents had come across some of the messages I had sent and were suspicious of my activity. The online world was the only place I had to find someone similar to me.
I hid my online life from my real life. At the same time I was finishing my medical studies and all of these online relationship struggles were affecting me mentally and socially. I joined a number of LGBT groups online hoping to find friends who would understand and respect me.
My mother was an amazing doctor and was supportive of me. She never insisted I get married or settle down as my first priority but to focus on my studies and career instead. After I lost her, I lost hope in finding true and unconditional love.
One day, an angel from an LGBTQ Muslim group walked into my life. I was giving up on love and love stories but had decided to give love another chance and to post a thread about finding a soulmate.
I found someone similar to me but from another culture and religion. I got to understand her culture and religion. I had always been against generalising and stereotyping any group but she made me realise how unique she was. Unlike the past girls I had talked to, she did not restrict her search for a soulmate to geography or to race and religion. Rather, she saw these as aspects of my life to cherish and love: Extensions of me to love.
I felt freed and uninhibited around her. The walls I had steadily been putting up melted in her company. Unlike the girls who would leave after a few months because of distance of culture or society restricting them, my girlfriend was not fazed by any of these obstacles.
I work a stressful, demanding job in healthcare. I face tough decisions and issues daily. Having her there for me takes a load off my mind. I can easily vent and talk to her every day to work. I know she will listen to me and support me for hours on end, more than a friend would. I feel safe and secure in her arms and in her company. Before her, I felt like a traveller on an unknown and empty traveller in the middle of the desert. In her, I have found my destination and my oasis. Now my thirst has been quenched.
I used to feel sad about the past and worry for the future. I do not fear or worry now. I live in the present bathed in her love. We have short-term and long-term goals but we don’t dwell in the future or languish in the past. The past taught me to love, to learn from mistakes and to know sadness and loss so I can appreciate happiness, joy and true love. The future doesn’t make me worry because I have the rock-strong foundation of her love and together we will navigate life’s difficulties. I have waited 8 months to meet her and now I will wait another month before I have her in my arms. One moment will be a moment of eternity.
Thank you for loving me as I am. I love you with timeless passion, endless admiration and deep respect for your independent thought process. As long as you want me, you will be part of my love and existence. Though we have never met the physical manifestation of our love will just be an extension of our emotional/mental connection.
I love you RB.
A Look at a Few Feminist Initiatives from Around the Globe as we Celebrate International Women’s Day
By Mohani Niza
Female genital mutilation (FGM) has always been a complex issue. Despite existing in countries with significant Christian populations, and outlawed in countries such as Muslim-dominated Egypt, the practice has largely been associated with Islam.
“The Quran - the highest authority text for Muslims - is very clear about not altering what God has created, which includes mutilating the female body. In verse 4:119, the Quran warns against behavior that will “change the creation of God,” author and strategist Shireen Qudosi said.
Writer and strategist Shireen Qudosi helps build the coalition to #StopFGM and elevate the voices of activists and survivors. Image: Shireen Qudosi
“A lot of what “Islam” is today developed over the course of a thousand years through scholars sitting around debating religion, and turning those debates into the religion. In other cases, after Prophet Muhammad’s death, Muslims were desperate to define the religion so they created concepts like the hadiths [Prophet Muhammad’s practices], sunnahs [Prophet Muhammad’s sayings], and sirah [Islamic history],” Qudosi added.
Qudosi works with America Matters which runs the #StopFGM campaign. Despite popular misconception, FGM exists in the United States, and is currently legal in 24 states, including Washington, Connecticut and Kentucky.
Qudosi realizes that FGM is a sensitive issue, and therefore aims to tackle it carefully.
“My role has involved listening to survivors and on-the-ground activists campaigning against FGM. I also consider how we can ease the unwillingness and understandable hesitation some American groups have in discussing FGM without stigmatizing a demographic. Looking at the way African activists are dealing with FGM can help us build a framework for how to address these issues at home. I point to the Maasai [tribe in Africa] as an example of a community that is embracing evolutionary values without undermining their identity as Maasai warriors, laying a blueprint for how immigrant communities can do the same,” she added.
Meanwhile, in Berkeley, another Muslim woman is upholding social justice through Islam. Last year, Rabi’a Keeble opened the Qal’bu Maryam Women’s Mosque. Despite the name, the mosque also opens to men. It also welcomes people regardless of their sect, ethnicity, nationality, etc.
Rabi’a explained the significance of opening the mosque: “A woman's inclusive mosque recognizes that women are alert, aware, and are capable of hearing, learning and wanting to participate in worship services. Right now the design is, men do it all, and women sit in back or perhaps in a balcony or basement. The expectation is that women come to the mosque to gossip, talk about everything, not God, the implication is that women cannot absorb what is being discussed by men.”
Frustrated at the discrimination against women in mainstream mosques, Rabi’a Keeble opened the Qal’bu Maryam Women’s Mosque in Berkeley, California in 2017. Image: Rabi’a Keeble
“Women deserve to learn, to discuss, to debate, and to control what they learn and by whom. Women deserve to be given the opportunity or to take it, to lead prayer and to recite Qur’an and do all other things. We don't believe at our mosque that women are any different than men in intellect or body. We do not restrict movements of women and we celebrate their wisdom, and intellect and inspiration,” Rabi’a said further, adding the reason she started the mosque was out of frustration at how imams in mainstream mosques usually address men, and mostly ignore women.
In Malaysia, women – and men – are also busy with feminist initiatives. This Southeast Asian nation is predominantly Muslim (as of 2013, 61.3 of its citizens are Muslims). Despite its race towards modernity, it has also seen a rise of Islamic fundamentalism since the early 1970s, a trend which human rights defenders say is impinging on the rights of women. Islam is a big influence in the law and public policy of the country. The Syariah legal system (Islamic legal system) exists side by side with secular laws (criminal and civil) and has influence on the lives of Muslims in matters such as marriage, inheritance and apostasy. These Syariah laws usually favor men.
Furthermore, despite ratifying the international United Nations treaty called the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1995 and being obligated to report to the body on the status of its implementation, Malaysia has only done so twice: first, in 2006, and recently, this year.
Young Women Making Change (YWMC) member Shakirah Rahman is working with other Malaysian feminists to create a Standalone Sexual Harassment Bill. Image: Shakirah Rahman
The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG), a collective of 10 local women’s rights groups, started with a proposed bill in 2002. Their efforts have recently regained traction with the participation of Young Women Making Change (YWMC), a group of young Malaysian feminists.
“We have certain laws and options for legal recourse already in place to deal with sexual harassment, including in various sections of the Penal Code, the Employment Act, the Code of Practice on the Prevention and Eradication of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace, and the recent Tort of Harassment - but the Code Of Practice does not have legal force, while the burdens of evidence and cost might prevent victims from pursuing redress under the other laws,” YWMC member Shakirah Rahman said.
And lastly, on this website: Muslim World Today held several campaigns to the lead up of International Women’s Day: the #girlswillbegirls social media campaign (showcasing the power and strength of women and girls from various parts of the world), the #stopFGM campaign, the #loveyourself campaign and a campaign called #womeninhistory.
We also held a writing competition. Readers were encouraged to send in their story on which woman inspire them the most.
Check all of these out on our website and happy International Women’s Day!
Salman Mubarak of Rotary Club of Multan Cantt has been awarded the prestigious Regional Service Award for a Polio-Free World. This year, 55 dedicated Rotarians were selected by World Health Organization (WHO) from 7 regions worldwide.
Mubarak, a dedicated Rotarian since 1999, has been actively working for the eradication of polio since 2005 and has represented Pakistan at international forums. He is an active member of The World’s Greatest Meal to Help End Polio program and is also the country chair for the Rotarian Action Group for Population Development since 2015.
1. History and present funding of the Polio Plus Program of The Rotary Foundation with specific grants for Afghanistan and Pakistan
As of November 2017, the funding for the Rotary is US$1.782 billion and includes funding for Pakistan (US$184 million) and Afghanistan (US$137 million).
2. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Matching Funds
The Rotary has committed to raising US$50 million per year over the next three years in support of global polio eradication efforts. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will match Rotary’s commitment 2:1.
Funds help to provide much-needed operational support, medical personnel, laboratory equipment, and educational materials for health workers and parents. Governments, corporations and private individuals all play a crucial role in the funding process.
3. Worldwide recognition through Regional Awards for a Polio Free World and the history of this award
At their April 1996 meeting, the Trustees approved a regional and international award (decision 132) to recognize special contributions made by Rotarians towards the goal of eradicating polio.
It applies only to service which has occurred since 1st November 1992. Regional awards, for outstanding service solely or primarily within a World Health Organization (WHO) region, will be made annually, not exceeding 60 per year.
Financial contributions are not a basis of the award. International awards are given to any Rotarian who has served outside their WHO region.
Regarding peace and security matters in the world, Al shabab have become so aggressive that other militias are formed to counter them; like the suhufi Group called Ahamdiyya which takes advantage of this and recruits children to fight back Al-Shabab.
This is against the “International laws of 1973 no 138 on child lawsꞌꞌ that state the age of 15 to be the minimum age for child employment. The reason most of these children fall victims is due to poverty, while some fall for the deep-rooted concept of Jihad, i.e. one must die for Jihad and that those who do are granted paradise in the afterlife.
How and when will this young boy be able to understand that this is the wrong mentality? In Islam, this is wrong. Furthermore, he would not be likely able to reach teenagehood due to the risks of war crimes. The children are psychologically traumatized for the rest of their life. Which Quran is the Al –Shabab militia using or are they simply murderers who use the cover of Islam as a shield? How are the parents influenced by Al-Shabab? Al-Shabab is performing human Rights atrocities as stated in the Amnesty International Report of 2010.
This is unacceptable as it is an abuse of children laws, especially on international standards.
Innocent children being trained to combat militia training on Al-Shabab Source: Al- Shabab-affiliated website
Statistics in the UN Security Council Report by Antonia Guterres as written in Wikipedia state that the number of children being recruited into Al –Shabab are 6163 children between 2010 &2016 - 230 of them were girls. Al-Shabab accounted for 4213 and they are recruiting children as young as 10 years old into the movement. Who will tell them that Islam is all about love and peace and obeying their parents?
Al-Shabab is drowning our children
Barbie Unveils 17 New Dolls Based On Inspiring Women Like Frida Kahlo And Chloe Kim, And We Want Them All
Barbie dolls have been introducing girls to beauty and fashion trends for 58 years, but recently the company decided to switch things up. To better understand what the current society needs, Barbie surveyed 8,000 mothers. It found out that 86% of them are worried about what kind of role models their daughters are exposed to, so the company created 17 dolls of real and inspiring women.
“Girls have always been able to play out different roles and careers with Barbie and we are thrilled to shine a light on real-life role models to remind them that they can be anything,” senior vice president and general manager of Barbie, Lisa McKnight, said in a news release.
Each “Inspiring Women” doll comes with educational information about the way each woman shaped society. The lineup consists of both historical and modern-day figures. Amelia Earhart, the first female to fly across the Atlantic Ocean and Frida Kahlo, the acclaimed Mexican artist and activist, are among them. Although the series has only three dolls so far, the lineup is set to grow with the release of new ones, a spokeswoman for Mattel said.
Barbie also made new additions to its Shero program, which began in 2015. The initiative has already honored such history-making women like Ibtihaj Muhammad, Misty Copeland, Ava DuVernay, Eva Chen, and Ashley Graham. Now, it’s celebrating even more modern-day figures: gold-winning Olympic snowboarder Chloe Kim, world-renowned chef Hélène Darroze, and others.
More info: mattel.com
Barbie surveyed 8,000 mothers and found out that 86% of them are worried about what kind of role models their daughters are exposed to
In response, the company has released a series of empowering women dolls from both the past and present
Frida Kahlo, Artist
Amelia Earhart, Aviation Pioneer
Martyna Wojciechowska, Journalist
Hélène Darroze, World-Renowned Chef
Ashley Graham, Model And Body Activist
March 8 is International Women’s Day, the day we should be talking about women fighting for their rights around the world. From Iran to India, there are some big fights underway.
In Saudi Arabia, women are battling their country’s archaic guardianship laws that deny women the basic freedoms we in the West take for granted, such as travelling overseas, going to work and leaving the house as we please. With no public outlet to raise their voices, Saudi women have turned to social media with the hashtag #StopEnslavingSaudiWomen. In Jaipur, India, Muslim women are this week marching against the unfair treatment they receive under Shariah divorce laws.
And the fight closest to my heart is that of women in Iran protesting laws that make wearing the hijab mandatory.
In recent months we’ve seen a handful of brave women take off their hijabs in the streets of Iran to assert their identity and call for freedom of expression — a crime in that country since 1979. These women are hunted by the Basij, Iran’s force of religious watchmen and women who police morality and suppress opposition on behalf of the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard.
Reports have circulated that 29 of the protesting women have been arrested; some are still in custody. According to Amnesty International, a number of these women are facing charges of “inciting corruption and prostitution” and face 10 years in prison. But this hasn’t deterred their sisters. Dozens more Iranian women are waving their headscarves in public marking “White Wednesday” each week.
"I was forced to wear a hijab. This was in Canada and it was my family that forced me, not the government."
Like the many millions of women in Iran, I was forced to wear a hijab. This was in Canada and it was my family that forced me, not the government. Rather than threats of arrest or “re-education” for being seen in public without a veil, my family threatened me with violence. My mother threatened to kill me when she saw me without my hijab. Mine is not a unique experience. In Ontario, Aqsa Parvez’s family succeeded in killing her for not wearing the hijab. All around the world women are socially ostracized, fined, imprisoned, raped and murdered because they fight against wearing the hijab.
I was forced into a hijab from age nine and traded it up for a niqab at 19. It took me many years to realize just how much of my identity it had stripped away. The niqab covered every inch of me including my face and hands. It robbed me of every sense: my sense of sight was shrouded by a thin veil of black, my sense of hearing was muffled by layers of cloth, my sense of smell was impaired, the gloves impeded my sense of touch — it was a personal sensory-deprivation chamber.
"I risked my life and that of my daughter to be free"
I fought to escape that world. I risked my life and that of my daughter to be free. Imagine my surprise now to find Western celebrities, companies and social justice warriors fetishizing the hijab. I imagine the women of Iran would be as shocked as I am to see the hijab airbrushed in advertisements, in magazines, and even on Barbie. They would likely feel betrayed seeing the hijab on posters for a women’s rights march, considering they marched against the hijab in Iran in 1979. Now bizarrely, women in North America march for the hijab decades later.
By Salman Mubarak
A team of Cardiologists from Knoxville, Tennessee, USA visited Multan. The Rotary Club Multan Cantt hosted the team for dinner at Ramada Hotel last night.
The team members include:
- Bruce Jones
- Yasir Akhtar
- Scott Frazier.
They came on a medical mission and are performing procedures for the first time in Punjab. They are also training the local cardiologists here.
The procedure is called TAVR.
Yasir Akhtar MD from Tennessee USA explained that TAVR stands for ‘Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement’. They have been performed in Karachi and possibly in Pindi as well. It was the first time the procedure was performed in Southern Punjab.
Yasir Akhtar said: “However, we do not want to give the community the perception that this replaces surgical valve replacement. Surgery is still the gold standard. TAVR is meant for patients when it is too risky to do surgery. TAVR programs should always be led by a surgeon. Surgeons need to be the gate-keepers or otherwise, this procedure will be over-utilized. In the US, 2 heart surgeons have to approve TAVR before the procedure can be carried out.”
Dr. Bruce MD further explained: “We used the latest generation Edwards Sapien 3 Valve. The other valve by Medtronic is also made in the US. I believe, however, the $15000 is the other generation CoreValve and is made from pigs as opposed to the cow valve”.
Edward Life Sciences manufactures the Sapien 3 valve, the ones that were used today and yesterday.
The compassion of these fantastic human beings and medical professionals is highly commendable. They have come all the way for this noble cause and brought these kits with them which costs $32500 a piece and includes a valve and delivery system.
A total of 5 procedures will be performed totally free at Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi Institute of Cardiology, Multan.
What is worth mentioning is that they were donated by humans who should be called angels. They have chosen to stay anonymous.
Rotary Club Multan Cantt is screening 1800 children for congenital heart disease in special education schools. There is a large number of patients who have been on the waiting list for a long time and sometimes the wait is as long as 3 years as there is only one cardiac surgeon in the whole of south Punjab and therefore children face the risk of dying.
The need to bring in a team of cardiologists, anesthesiologists and nurses were highly stressed by Salman Mubarak, Charter President, Rotary Club Multan Cantt.
The request was enthusiastically acknowledged by the visiting cardiologists. It was resolved that efforts will be made to make this happen soon in the near future and that this mission will become an annual event.
It was a great spending time with these amazing humans this evening.
Their passion to serve humanity is incredible. It was truly an amazing experience talking to them. I wish we had more people like them. The world would be so different.
Though this is the city of saints, we met some real angels in shape of these doctors.
I have now realized that as pain, disease and sickness know no borders, the power of human compassion and the love for humanity have no limits as well and transcend geographical boundaries.
This visit is a shining example of international volunteerism to help humanity win.
Special thanks to Dr. Rana Altaf, Executive Director, Chaudry Pervaiz Ilahi, Institute of Cardiology and Chief of the Hospital Dr Ijaz for their valuable time in making this happen.
My prayers and good wishes to this energetic and compassionate team for doing such great work.
Some comments from the team members:
It was such a pleasure meeting you and sharing time with you. Your hospitality is greatly appreciated. I feel I have met a new friend that I will share for life. We all share one humanity and as stewards of this planet, we must love one another and take care of one another. I look forward to returning on a yearly basis, God willing. My kind regards to your family." - Bruce Jones
"Asslam allaikum. This is Dr Yasir. Thank you again for a wonderful evening and the hospitality. Wonderful to meet philanthropists like yourself." - Yasir Akhtar
"Thank for the welcome and your kind words and hospitality. I have the warmth of God ever since I arrived." - Scott Frazier
By Ulfat Hussein
I would equate my ‘life concoction’ to a chilled glass of non-alcoholic pina colada drink: a continental drink commonly-served at beach hotel bars for those who wish to have feel of coconut cream in their mouth.
My mother is the coconut cream representing coastal Afro-Arab origins from Yemen and my father is that staple food common in Africa, including Kenya: the ugali, a meal of sifted maize made into a soft-to-eat paste.
My paternal side is fully Christian and they played a big role in my childhood to teenage life and to my mid-adulthood.
I married a non-Muslim and had two kids. At first it was jolly, full of fun till my now ex-husband started raising issues of Islam being a religion for terrorists. He asked how he could allow his kids follow that path. I was accused of radicalization in my own home.
This was a serious accusation, especially since it was made by a life partner of over 10 years. I was not only shocked but disappointed when his entire clan proposed that I should revert and assume our Islamic marriage under the kadhi’s court of Kenya and adapt to Christianity under duress. African culture stipulates that a woman must submit to his husband and must attend the same house of worship the husband goes to.
This was so antagonizing, not just to me as it demeaned my fundamental human rights of freedom of belief as a woman, but also to the kids. This was because wherever their dad was away, I would perform my five prayers with my girl who was four by then and then, voila on Sunday the dad would take them to church claiming they need strong spiritual guidelines for their foundation. What confusion for toddlers!
My life took a drastic turn from the drive gear to reverse because there seemed to be no direction in my marriage. I kept on asking myself questions that could not be answered to the point that I fell into depression. After all, how could my husband brand me a terrorist?
Africans would never just divorce on peaceful agreements and co-parent but instead, mess with ones’ character. I got devastated, stressed and emotionally drained. Those was what I submitted to my court application; that I felt emotionally abused with my then life partner.
I went through serious psychological trauma until I picked up my pieces in 2017 when I resumed formal employment and chose peace and security programmes. Furthermore, writing articles serves as therapy to me.
My childhood was pure bliss due to the fact that in the early 80s in Africa, terrorist attacks were uncommon, at least before 1998 when the KICC Building as well as the US embassy in Nairobi were attacked with bombs. I socialized with my Christian classmates and neighbours and never put in mind about our different faiths. I guess it was the same love I felt for my late dad Patrick that made me easily see my co-parent as human and not Christian and decided to share life with.
I salute the women of Tunisia for their victory in obtaining the freedom to choose their spouse. If the same rights were existent in Kenya, my kids would benefit from them by getting parental love from both parents of different faiths. Hence, they would learn to coexist with other faiths and cultures at a very early age up to adulthood, who knows!
Ulfat Hussein is a Kenyan motivational speaker.
This is a story of a boy who came into this world after creating a lot of trouble and drama in the womb. He made sure to be an only child. Being the precious baby he was to his parents, they loved him in their own way, and kept him protected, and sheltered inside the house. Books became the boys friends.
At the age of 4 he was diagnosed with epilepsy and had multiple fits. He was taken to and from one city to another for his treatments and finally recovered from epilepsy at the age of 9. But how could his life be simple, just like that? Epilepsy triggered suppressed diabetic genes and our little prince became diabetic at the age of 11. Diabetes type 1 was a nightmare for the boy and his family. Insulin based treatment and the constant struggle to maintain hissugar was always a challenge, but he did not give up. This boy kept himself busy with maths and computers and literature and did exceptionally well in his studies and dreamt of becoming a scientist.
As time passed, the boy sprouted this mouse tail mustache, or rather a moustache, and started reading philosophy. At the end of his high school years, his dream of becoming a scientist become more firm. But, being the only child with health issues. His father dictated “ You will only become a doctor.That's the only option you have. He cried, plead to his mother who stood by his father’s side, reminding the boy that his grandfather was a doctor, your father is a doctor, and so must you become a doctor. Shattered, isolated and cornered, the boy got into the medical school. One of the prestigious ones in the country.
He tried to adapt and adjust in the group of people he never belonged with. Over the course of the academic year he went into aspiral of silence. Depths of depression suffocated in him. He stayed alone and aloof. During this time, books were his only exposure to the outer world.
Time passed and became more challenging. But he found the ray of hope in the form of a class fellow who shared his love of good literature. And eventually friendship became love.
Unfortunately, if you are born in a desi family, and are the only and lonely son of very possessive parents, you have no right to make your own decisions. Love? Out of question! The boy’s father, and his now girlfriend’s parents were colleagues. All of them taught in the same institute, and office politics and professional rivalries were galore. The star crossed lovers were doomed from the start. Their families made sure that their blossoming romance was nipped in the bud. Ultimately, the boylost his war to the darkness, and his beloved was married off.
The shattered boy left his home and medical school. Spent days and nights in libraries. Taught himself his dream subjects which he was not allowed to study formally. He landed himself a job in an international company, and moved away. But, he could not distance himself from emotional exploitation, so his mental health continued to suffer. After extensive therapy sessions his efforts to collect himself bore fruit. He came back and tried to pass his remaining year and get an undergrad degree for pursuing higher education abroad. Hefinally passed the MBBS exam, got himself involved in a local book club and started looking for opportunities for higher education in the subjects of his choice.
Among all this hassle and fast life Ali met anew girl in book club. Definitely hated her for having all the opportunities in life without any of the struggles that he had to go through. He spent the next two sessions talking about her to his therapist, who finally told him to talk to her and get to know her more instead of judging her.
At the next reading, they both had hot arguments about Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. By the end of the meeting, while the girl was busy hating him for his argumentative nature and inability to let anyone else talk, he had the guts to ask her out for coffee.
That’s how things started to take a interesting turn in both their lives. He applied to a program in Bioinformatics at the University. He helped her with her first publication in a national newspaper. Within a month they were engaged. The following month he got anemail from Bowling Green University accepting him into its masters program with a scholarship.
Since the boy’s life is inspired from series of unfortunate events, how could things suddenly seem so picture perfect? It wasn’t meant to be. His father made him choose between his fiance and his scholarship. Hurt but not broken, the boy opted for his fiance with a promise to himself that he will pursue his dreams without any barriers with his partner.
They got married last year and together they both are working hard to take control of their lives.
By Ilmu Seks
Women in Malaysia have been taught since birth that they can’t say no to their partners’ request for sex even if it means risking their lives. This often leads to abusive and toxic relationships.
Everyday, Ilmu Seks (Malay for ‘Sex Education’) receives hundreds of questions via the Curiouscat platform. Young women write in saying they have trouble saying no to their partner’s pressure to have sex to the point that these women just want to get it done with. It doesn't stop there: They also have to deal with their partners refusing to wear protection while having sex.
These young women, therefore, are concerned when they have their, period late, an anxiety that comes from having unprotected sex. Many people do not know that a woman can get pregnant even if her partner ejaculates outside her vagina, as the cum still contains sperm, even though the risk is slim.
There are 50 cases of teen pregnancies reported everyday in Malaysia. Most of these cases are swept under the rug: These women are married off by their parents or they resort to illegal abortion. Some even commit suicide due to the pressure. All of these could be prevented if only young women are informed of their choices and body authority.
The problem with unprotected sex doesn’t just lead to unwanted pregnancies, but also an increased risk of getting sexually-transmitted diseases (STD). Many men in Malaysia complain that they are too shy to buy condoms or that condoms are expensive. This shows that they are not being responsible in planning to have sex and do not consider the risk of having unprotected sex.
The treatment for STD is much harder in Malaysia, where youths are scared to go to healthcare providers when they sense some symptoms. Often, healthcare providers are judgmental and dismissive towards unmarried women who have pre-marital sex. The women are given the unnecessary advice to practice abstinence to avoid STD. This situation is heartbreaking.
Universal healthcare is a part of human rights and therefore health providers should treat patients without prejudice and discrimination. The stigma that lingers around STD and HIV/AIDS cause many young women to shun away from going to hospitals and clinics, therefore leaving the diseases that they have untreated.
Malaysia, more than ever, needs to start structuring specific sex education for youths so they do not suffer from medical conditions that could be prevented way much earlier.
Ilmu Seks is supported by five non-governmental organizations: Reproductive Rights Advocacy Alliance Malaysia, PT Foundation, Malaysian AIDS Council, All Women’s Action Society, and the Federation of Reproductive Health Associations.
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