كل نكبة وأنتم أنكب

كل نكبة وأنتم أنكب

Beyond Compromise - الثَّوابِت

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في حديث النكبة (1)

كل نكبة وأنتم “أنكب”!

لا أخاطبكم هذه المرة باسم الشعب المهجر، فأنا لست ابنة النكبة، ولم يحدثني أجدادي يوما عن هجرة أرعبتهم وفرقتهم وقصَّت طريق المحبة والشمل كي تقصه، ولا عن مفتاح حملته جدتي في صدرها تدفئه وتخاف عليه الصدأ، ولن أحكي أبدا عن قصة الولد الذي ضاع بين المشاة، فهذا الولد لم يكبر ليصبح أبي أو عمي أو حتى والد أحد أصدقائي، كما لن أحدثكم عن الرضيعة المعلقة على شجرة الزيتون في بيارات يافا والتي تذكرها أهلها عند المجدل فعادوا مشاة كي يجدوها غارقة في شرنقتها على وشك أن تتحول إلى مومياء، لا فراشة، فهذه البنت أيضا شاهدت قصتها في فيلم قصير طويل على شاشة سينما في مكان ما، ولا تمت لي بصلة!

ولن أحكي لكم عن لقائي الأول بقرية مهجرة من بنات النكبة، تحولت أرضها من بيارات إلى مرتع لروث البقر والبعوض وما تيسر من حشرات وقوارض، ولن آتي على ذكر أنين الحجارة من…

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To the land I will never know..

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To the land I will never know ….
I think I know you through abstract pictures I have drawn in my mind about you. I pictured the birds singing over the old Jerusalem city. I felt the breeze over your beaches in Yaffa and Haifa, I touched the sand in my hands. I smelt the trees spread all over Akka. I walked through your countless masajed and churches. I walked through the crowded streets of Gaza. I breathed your air. I stopped breathing when I saw your breathtaking god-given beauty.

To the land I will never know ….
I think I know you when I hear fayrooz singing ‘zahrat al ma’athen’. When she says ‘our eyes travel to you everyday’, I feel  myself walking through Jerusalem and then praying in masjed Al Aqsa.
I think I know you through Mahmoud Darwish’s poetry. There’s on this land what is worth living, the lady of lands. the mother of the beginnings and the ends. It was called Palestine, its name later became Palestine. My lady, I deserve, since you’re my lady. I deserve life. Through his words, I picture a beautiful land that has been deprived of happiness, deprived of love, deprived of her beauty.

To the land I will never know ….
I think I know you when I see a picture of the handala drawn by Naji Al-Ali, the refugee child. A picture so simple yet describes much of the struggle of the Palestinian people for justice and self determination.
I think I know you through some traditional things we held unto with our dear life. The beautiful toob I wear and the Koofiah I keep in my closet. I think I know you when I eat zeet and zaatar in the morning and I eat msakhan for lunch. I think I know you when I see a picture of Yaser Arafat and when I watch your news on Al Jazeera.

But the truth is; my human right to know you  has been stolen from me. I will never know you, I will never know how it feels to touch your land, to breath your air or smell your trees. I will forever know you in my heart, my mind and my soul through abstract thoughts I have created for myself so I feel like I know you, my beloved Falasteen.

 

 

 

On this Land, there’s what’s worth living – Mahmoud darwish

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There’s on this land

what is worth living,

The recurring of April,

the smell of bread at dawn,

A woman’s amulet for men ,

Aeschylus’s writings,

the beginning of love,

Grass on a stone,

mothers standing on the thread of a flute,

and the invaders fear of memories.

There’s on this land what is worth living,

The end of September,

A lady leaving the forties

with all its apricot,

The hour of sunlight in prison,

Clouds imitating a flock of creatures,

A people’s cheers for those going up

to their doom, smiling

and the tyrants fear of songs.

There’s on this land what is worth living,

There’s on this land,

the lady of lands,

the mother of the beginnings

and of the ends.

It was called Palestine

Its name later became Palestine

My lady: I deserve,

since you’re my lady,

I deserve life

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There’s gotta be more to life ….

We are often so consumed in our own lives, trying so hard to make a living for ourselves. We grow up, we go to school, get a job, maybe get married and maybe have a child, or two or three, maybe some more. We spend hours at a job that we might not even enjoy, but hey it pays the bills and puts food on the table.

Routine day in and day out is the story of most of our lives. Routine often makes us forget to be thankful for the countless blessings we’ve been blessed with. The education that enlightened us, the job that provided, the food that’s served on our tables, the roof that protects us, the beds we sleep on so comfortably, the blankets that keep us warm, the children that give us joy, the friends we share wonderful memories with.

Unfortunately what we most often forget are those less fortunate than us, we forget that there’s more to life than ourselves, our family and our friends. We forget that there are people that sleep alone at night waiting for the sun to rise, there are people on the side of the road shivering their heart out in below zero weather, there are people that collect food out of garbage cans just to survive to the next day, there are people that have been deprived of love, of peace, of a smile from a child.

Where are we from all this? Have we forgotten that charity in Islam is not merely giving money once a year? Have we forgotten that there are countless ways to give charity, countless ways to help. Charity is giving food, giving clothing, providing shelter, providing guidance; even smiling is an act of charity in Islam.

I refuse to live my life feeling that I have not contributed; I have not made a difference. I refuse to turn a blind eye to the poor and needy and to those suffering.  There’s gotta be more to life, there’s gotta be a reason why some are forced to suffer while others are given the chance to enjoy every aspect of living. How will we ever learn what compassion is, what empathy is, what true love is without extending a helping hand to someone that needs it? How will we ever learn about suffering without witnessing someone who has suffered?

Through VON (Victorian Order of Nurses) I volunteer to visit a senior citizen every week to keep her company through her lonely days

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There’s so much potential in all of us to make a change in the life of a helpless person. There’s so much I want to do, so much I wish for. I wish and god is my witness that I can feed every starving child in Alyarmook refugee camp just like I feed my own children. I wish I can visit every displaced Syrian shivering to death under tents on the borders and cover them with warm blankets. I wish I can provide hope and love to a mother who has lost all her children in a battle she has nothing to do with.  I wish I can cover the ears of children so they don’t hear the bombs falling.

But since my dreams are much bigger than what I can realistically do, I start here, I make a change here. I wish I can encourage everyone to dig deep inside and find that bit of compassion in their heart to make a difference. I pray that I can one day look back at my life and know that I have wiped someone’s tears of pain and put a smile on their face instead, that I have given someone hope for tomorrow and that I have contributed to a positive change in the world. Because really, there’s nothing more valuable than knowing that you have put a smile on someone’s face even if it were just for moments.

 

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Feed the streets: An initiative to feed the homeless in Toronto.

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Clothes collection for Syria

Clothes collection for Syria

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Food drive for Eden Food Bank in Mississauga

Food drive for Eden Food Bank in Mississauga

 

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As a healthcare worker, I wish to see the most vulnerable healthy and disease free. Through World Vision, I can contribute to this..

As a healthcare worker, I wish to see the most vulnerable healthy and disease free. Through World Vision, I can contribute to this..

 

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I dream of a place in the middle east…

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When we were once the empires of civilization, science and inventions, today we are light years away from that. We have become the empires of violence, rage and corruption. Poison has spilt all over the Arab world, it has poisoned our lands, our identity, our consciousness. We let this poison divide us into sects and sects of sects. We let this poison kill the very essence of our existence. We let this poison weaken and break apart every inch of our identity.

While the west has landed on the moon, built every means of transport and found the cures for disease, we in the Arab world are still stuck behind shameless dictators who have divided this part of the world and made us enemies of one another. We have merely become followers of different slogans and divisions. We no longer tolerate our differences, we no longer respect one another’s beliefs. We have been silent for far too long and now rage and hate has filled the very heart of the Arab world from the far east to the far west.

My heart aches watching the news, the lands that once created such individuals as Salah Eldeen AlAyoobi and Khaled Ibn Alwalid, the lands that once held the pioneers of modern day medicine, math and philosophy has been torn into divisions fighting and killing one another. It aches my heart to see how cheap human life has become, the countless lives that have been lost in cost for politicians sitting comfortably on their golden thrones. What have we become? Who have we become? And how did we let ourselves come this far? How can we possibly be among the richest and most resourceful nations in the world, yet have children starving to death on the very same land? What’s more ironic is that these children are starving because they have been deprived of medical and nutritional aid. And by who? By their very own people. How and why have we become so heartless and bitter.

I dream of a place in the middle east so beautiful, so peaceful. A place where my nationality, my religious background and my political views don’t get me imprisoned. A place where I can practice my Muslim faith freely and my Christian neighbour can go to her church and practice her Christian faith just as freely. A place where people are not categorized into sects and races and are treated equally as human beings. A place where human dignity and human life is valued and cherished.

I dream of a place in the middle east where the leader is not merely a pet for the more powerful, where the leader puts his nation before anyone else, where the leader values human life. A place where the poor is the priority, not the other way around. Where the children are taught the value of being useful members of society, where the children are taught the value of community work.

I dream of a place in the middle east where our mother tongue is not the second language and is the language we speak at home, at school and in the workplace. A place where our Arabic traditions and customs and our Islamic heritage is the norm, not the backward, old school and outdated practices that we are made to believe. A place where western pop culture is left for the west and our Arabic culture is so highly respected and honored.

I dream of a place in the middle east where everyone has equal rights to basic human needs like food, shelter, safety and education regardless of race or religion. A place where education, research and inventions are re-established once again on Arab lands. A place where education and credentials are the only key to success, not any other factors. A place where my South East Asian housekeeper is just as worthy and human as my family doctor from Britain.

Will this place ever exist? Will the Arab world ever rise above all the divisions, faiths, sects and political differences? Will we once again become the land of civilization?

I can only dream….

Inspired ……..

People that have been through hardships, lived through poverty and crisis and were able to rise on their feet, change themselves and make a positive change in the world have always inspired me. We live in a world filled with heartbreaking stories, a world filled with corrupt leaders and dying consciousness. A world where the strong steps on the weak and the weak are only drowning more and more in their weakness, loneliness and poverty. Yet in the midst of all this chaos, we see these special, blessed individuals that are able to jump over the obstacles, rise above and are able to send a message of hope, love and peace all over the world despite the kind of difficult life they have faced. These are the kind of individuals that we should honor and recognize and they are the kind of individuals that should be on top of our hierarchy of role models.

While walking through the bookstore last summer at college, I came across a book called ‘I shall not hate’. I am not going to lie, the first thing that caught my eye was ‘ A Gaza doctor’s journey’. I immediately bought it and immediately started reading it. This book was a true inspiration from cover to cover. It was the kind of book that gave you goose bumps and made you wonder how on earth can some people be so strong and so resilient.

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Doctor Izzeldin Abuelaish is a Palestinian Obstetrician and Gyneacologist who specialized in infertility. He has worked in several regions of the world including Gaza and Israel. He was born and raised in Jabliyah refugee camp where he witnessed the transformation of this camp from tents into apartments and has witnessed much suffering, wars and poverty in this region. Doctor Abuelaish describes the harsh and humiliating conditions that Palestinians face as he was one of the people that lived there and crossed the checkpoints countless times to get to work in Israel. Yet despite all this humiliation, he continued to use his profession to work in Israeli hospitals, to treat Israeli patients and build bonds with Israelis, which he believes is the only way to reach a peaceful resolution in the region.

After decades of service, during the 2008/2009 22 days of war on Gaza, Israeli military launched shells on his apartment where three of his daughters and his niece were shredded into pieces. One would think that after this horrific event this man would fall into anger, hate and despair, but no, he was able to turn this tragic event into yet another reason to fight for peace and love in the region. Doctor Abuelaish has won numerous awards for peace and survivorship. In honor of his daughters he founded the daughters for life foundation, a foundation for advancing the health and education of young women in the middle east. He is now an associate professor in global health at the University of Toronto, where he resides with his family. He is a man of faith, strong will and an ability to make a positive change and awareness in the world.

I had the great pleasure of meeting Doctor Abuelaish, where I was able to talk to him about his book and about Palestine. I was able to see pictures of his blessed family and talk to him about his journey to Canada. He is a very talented, knowledgeable and educated man and I am grateful to have met such an incredible and inspiring individual.
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