Thursday, December 31, 2009

LIFE LESSONS FOR '2010' FROM AN ICE SKATING 6 YR OLD - 'IT'S OKAY TO FALL'

  First I want to thank you all for taking your time to read my entries despite the many grammatical errors and my non formal way of writing.  I have a 10 hour job working with youth age 5-18 at a neighborhood center in Portland Maine.   during this winter break we did something different with each group we went to the movies with one group to see Alvin and the chipmonks, we had a non-formal hot chcolate social with another and today we went Ice skating with the  youngest group, an elementary and some middle school kids. I was late so my supervisor went with the kids and I took the bus to caught up with them. By the time I got there they were already skating so I went and collected a pair of skating shoes ,put them on and just when I was ready to go every one was asked to go  on a break so the arena can be cleaned that was when My heart beat went fast and I look at my supervisor on the face and said I don't know how to skate and he said, 'we should have had this conversation before coming here'.( I am in trouble). I said I think I can  help. when the arena was cleared he went back in with the kids and asked me to wait for two others who were in the bathroom.
   Now there is this  6 year old that doesn't know how to skate lets call her 'N'.  When N came out of the bathroom, I was standing there contemplating if I should  go into the ice rink or just wait, she walked up to me and look at me and said , 'Pious can you hold my hand so we can skate ?' I responded and said 'am, eem I am waiting here ' N said, no come with me I am scare,

                                              ME: I am scared too
                                              N:Scared of what you are an adult ( her trust in me)
                                              ME: I don't know how to skate, I am scared I might fall
 N look at me with a smile on her face and  said 'Its okay to fall Pious'. with that at the back of her mind she entere the rink and started skating she fell and fell but kept getting up and continued skating despite her imperfection. At the end of the day when I asked her how was her day she said' My body hurt but I had fun' I on the other hand let my fear of falling stopped me from having fun that afternoon and as we were walking in the snow back to the center I kept hearing her little voice saying to me, 'its okay to fall Pious' .... and I said to myself yes its okay to fall N.
  As the year comes to an end and we are entering into another  year and a decade,   Happy New Year to you and your loved ones and please remember that 'its okay to fall'...

Quote of the day:

“It's not how many times you fall that matters, it's how many time you get back up




  

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A LONG COLD NIGHT & AWAY FROM HOME !!!

Last night, Monday December 21st, 2009, was the longest night of the year and probably the coldest to many people around our  dear Country, from one State to another. Here in Portland  Maine, The Preble Street  Resource Center celebrates this night by organizing a vigil to raise awareness and create empathy on issues affecting our homeless people. I think homelessness is one of the issues that is hard to analyze because of its many causes, but irrespective of how a person ends up being homeless, as an act of kindness, we as a community need to  help our fellow humans who unfortunately happened to become Homeless, especially if they are Teenagers.
 Homeless  Teenagers in most cases don't play any role on how they end up on the streets. They are victims of circumstances or decisions beyond their control and yet, sometimes we treat them as if they had a choice and they chose to be on the streets.  I think homelessness is not  just a political issue but  a moral one as well and, we should just treat it as such. Let us join hands together  to fight it as we do with racism, sexism and many other social issues we have in our communities.

Please, I will invite you to join me and the Youth  of the Maine Interfaith Youth Alliance when we start our year long Campaign to raise awareness on Teen homelessness in Maine. you don't have to be in Maine to support our efforts, you and  your friends can help us in many ways to combat  Teen homelessness and Juvenal Social Justice.  I will send you the links to the web site in January. As you are celebrating during this holidays please remember how blessed you are and also think of those who are not that fortunate and share some of the glory with them.

Quote of the day:
"Shelters and soup kitchens are not the answer, Collectively, we need to develop a more thoughtful and humane response to homelessness."
Mark Swann, Preble Street's Director,

Thursday, November 26, 2009

CHANGE THE WORLD , TOUCH A HEART......

Today is very significant to many people for many reasons. To an estimate 2.5 million Muslims who are in Mecca to perform 'hajj' one of five pillars of Islam, its the day of Arafah, the peak of all the rituals they are performing. And to Americans from all walk of life its the Thanksgiving 2009, a day set aside to feast and be thankful for all the blessings God have bestowed on us, as Americans and also a day to kick off the holiday season.. but one event that dominates our TV sets tonight is 'CNN Hero of the Year' awards' live telecast. I think it is important that somebody says thank you to those wonderful people from all walks of lives across the world who are making the world a better place to live. They help change lives, dreams realized and hopes restored, not because they will be paid but because someone have to do it. to some of them the only thing that get them going is the smile they put other people's faces, the love they spread and the positive options they bring to young people across the world.
My dear friends, all this Heroes need our support, lets support them with what we can, lets volunteer, lets donate our time ,talent and all we can. We are all heroes one way or he other.. and together we can make our world a much better place for the future generations to come, my dear friend you are a hero too.

Quote of the day:

' And then a hero comes along With the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside And you know you can survive So when you feel like hope is gone Look inside you and be strong And you'll finally see the truth That a hero lies in you ' ~Mariah Carey~


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

FROM 'COSTUMELAND WITH LOVE'

Its been almost a month since I last bloged, it doesn't mean I was doing nothing, you know for sure I wasn't on vacation. I have been hired by PROP ( people regional opportunity program) a community service providing program that have a lot of awesome programs in more than three 'Cities' in southern Maine. My new part time job (10 hrs a week), is fun because I work with young adolescents who live in a neighborhood call Parkside. They a very diverse in age and ethnicity etc. that is what is new except that for the first time since I have been in this country I went to a Halloween party.......

Halloween for Charity?

I was invited by my a friend to come out on Halloween after I voiced it out allowed that apart from going trick or treating with my kids I have never done or been to any Halloween party. So I was invited to this party at a community space call the 'space gallery' its a non -profit non space that host presentations, dialogues and many other events. I believed the Halloween party was a fund raiser. Any way I went and the place was maxed up. but the guys at the gate did me a favor, collected my ID and ten dollars so I can go look for my friends. I spent close to 5 minutes with out luck because every one was wearing a costume. so i gave up and left and that was the beginning of my night and 'tour'
See Portland Maine have this area call the old port, i am not good at maths so I am not going to go into what its size is, but its a sizable place where people go for parties.Its full of many different clubs and it doesn't matter what kind of music or drink or life style you are into, there is somewhere for you to go. I think it is diversity in action.
I head towards the old port and it looked like it was new year's eve, there was a lot of people in many different costumes. I went from one place to the other I couldn't get into any club because they were all full so I wondered around feeling like ' a tourist in costume land' for a couple of hours before I decided to go home. As I always do, I started reflecting and thinking of how to use such a vibrant occasion to benefit others. I am going to ask a couple of organizations in Portland to join hands and organize an all day long costume competition where people will pay to watch and compete and raise money for a good cause.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Mixed feelings

So as expected the last day of Ramadan was last Saturday September 25Th, and I had a big turn out at the soup kitchen. On Sunday morning, I went to Eid,( the big after Ramadan community prayer) with my daughter and spend the rest of the day visiting a couple of friends. It was interesting the number of Muslims that call Portland Maine home now. I counted close to a thousand two hundred...
Unfortunately for me that Saturday was not just the last day of Ramadan 09, it was also the last day for an 18 year, young man who to me represents what I have always believed ' most young people are not bad they just make bad choices' and with the right resources and support , they can turn their lives around'
I met Guy Kitoko when I was working for PROP'S (People Regional Opportunity Program) Peer Leader Program at Riverton Park, one of Portland Maine's so called 'not so good' neighborhoods' . The program is one of three 'youth resiliency project' that PROP provided to youth in low income neighborhoods who the system have tagged as 'At Risk Youth'
Guy(ghee) was one of many teen boys that I was very close to, I will go to their schools and make enquiries about their progress or otherwise, go to their homes and check in with their parents on how they were doing and of course they thought I was a 'pain' but we did had a kind of mutual respect. Our relationship have had its ups and downs in the course of the years that I was there. Guy was one of the kids that I find very interested and challenging because he was very reserved and quite.Any time there is a problem , he was the one that was hard for me to get any information out of, because he will not 'snitch'. The only information I can get out of him is about Him, if he knew or took part in whatever it was and its not much of a problem most of the time. Its either someone took the keys to the food closet whiles I was not looking to go and bring out some snack I was saving for another day, or something silly happened at school and I was trying to get to the bottom of it, it doesn't matter if the issue is small or big, Guy will not tell on anyone.
In June 2008 the program was closed after 25 years of service to young people, that did not stop the relationship we had with the youth we were serving. Below is a newspaper story on him.. Rest in Peace My friend..
http://www.pressherald.mainetoday.com/story.php?id=285031&ac=PHnws

my quote for the day is ;

'We are not here forever, Treat Each day,Each friendship,and Each person in your life like a gift from the Heavens, Share your Heart and your Passion with the world'.... pious ali

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Beauty of America.


On Friday afternoon I had the privilege of hanging out with a group of kids from an after school program in Portland I was invited by the staff to come and be part of adults who are sharing their traditional holidays with the kids. Not only did I shared but I also learn from others. Some are similar to mine others are very different but at the end of the day, I left there reflecting on how the Beauty of this country lies in its diverse nature.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

IT's GONNA BE A LONG FAITHFULL COMPASSIONATE WEEKEND....

I hope that this time of year empowers us to involve ourselves in acts of social justice, tolerance , acceptance and taking care for the ‘other’, this week is one of the most spiritual and cultural diverse week of the year. I pray that we will take another step towards getting to know each other and accept others for who they are, I hope we will join our neighbors, friends co workers in celebrating their holidays and ours as well.
If you are reading this and you are celebrating any of the holidays that will be listed please feel free to comment and share the importance of the holiday with us all. That way we all get to learn from each other. If there is any holiday missing from the list please feel free to add it.
Monday Sept 14 was ' Holy cross day ( Christians remember the death of Christ on the cross)
Today is lailat Kadr, or Islamic Night of Destiny

Saturday -Sunday RushHashanah, (Jewish New Year)

Sunday /Monday Eid al Fitr (end of Ramadan feast)
Its going to be a long weekend of festivities and prayer and service .... as you embark on this long festive weekend please remember those who have less than you and share what you can with them...



Monday, September 14, 2009

A call to action....

SUNDAY SEPT 13
6:30 AM
My phone rung at 6:am and the voice at the other end said 'hey we are on our way' it was my friend Jonathan Sherman who lives about 45-60 min South of Portland calling to let me know that he is on his way to come joined us at the soup kitchen, where I have been volunteering on weekends with a group of young people mostly Muslims as part of their service in the month of Ramadan , but this morning I have a different group of young people they are very diverse , they are here to join their Muslims friends as they perform a religious and community service.
All the youth I am volunteering with today have one thing in common, they have all been to the Seeds of Peace camp except two . We spent the next hour prepping and cooking breakfast for the homeless population who are waiting outside for the soup kitchen to be open.The Youth were excited about the whole process and were giving it their best, for me it is an experiment in bringing this young people from different faith and culture background with the passion to serve others, together under one roof working side by side. I am going to continue this after Ramadan, it will be a monthly process after which we will have debriefing moments and see how I can work with this young people in translating this process into working with each other to help our community solve the current tension that is going on between the youth and the police. Ramadan ends in a couple of days we have another week end reserved for us to volunteer. I have a meeting with the NAACP youth council I m going to invite them to join us and the youth from another organisation, the Root Cellar, a christian non-profit in Portland Maine that serves very diverse group. I hope we have a big turn out next Saturday which will be the last time we will be volunteering this Month. I am hoping to turn this into a coalitions of young people who are ready and willing to change our community...
















I had a very fulfilling weekend, I and a group of young people from different backgrounds went to the preble street wayside soup kitchen and had fun prepping, making and serving breakfast.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A NEW WORLD WAS BORN....... LET PEACE PREVAIL.

Eight years ago at exactly 9-11 am , this country's path was redirected and the history of the world was change, a change that will be a catalyst to many more changes that affected every one in the world who was alive and every person that will be born for many generations to come. But for me one of the change is the fact that it did prompted a lot of people to actually reach out to others and to engage each other, not only in this country but through out the world than ever before.
For me today is a day that I will continue saying good morning to the stranger I will meet in the elevator, at the post office or simply on the street. Today represent taking the time to ask the homeless person sitting on the bench how their day is going ? or ask the the young person I will sit next to in the bus about their day at school.. Today is a day I will pray for a peaceful world where people are treated just because of who they are, irrespective of their social status, age, faith , race,education or sexual orientation. Today I pray for all the victims of 9-11 dead or alive May you have peace.

today's quote is:
O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). Quran 4:23

Friday, September 4, 2009

An Opportunity to Serve Others.....

Its been almost 2 weeks since Ramadan began, for the past 3 Ramadans , Myself and a group of Muslims youth from Portland go to the soup kitchen every Saturday to volunteer , to give back to this community that have given so much to us as immigrants. Islam requires us as members of our community to volunteer especially in Ramadan. I remember when I was growing up my grandfather will always ask me and my cousins to go around homes of older people and others who are less fortunate than us to pass bags of provisions ( milk, sugar and bread) it is a tradition that have been in my family for generations and anytime we show sign of being tired , he will say ' this is an opportunity for you to learn how to serve others don't let it pass by' that is the kind of giving that shaped my perception of community as I was growing up.
I am very fortunate to have equally determined young friends who are willing to give their time in the service of others in Ramadan. This year due to the high volume of volunteers (as a lot of people have lost their jobs) we are able secure only two Saturdays the 5Th and the the 19Th of September.
I also did ask my friends on FB to donate one lunch to a soup kitchen during the month of Ramadan and I did get response from close to 25 people from across the world saying they did or will donate more than one lunch. I don't think any one should go hungry because they cant afford to buy food. Ramadan ends in two weeks please if you haven't yet, there is more food in the world now than ever, Please donate one lunch to a soup kitchen near you before September 19TH.

Todays quote
"Give to the near of kin his due, and also to the needy and the wayfarers. Do not squander your wealth wastefully; for those who squander wastefully are Satan's brothers, and Satan is ever ungrateful to his Lord." (Qur'an 17:26 - 27)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

SIDE WALK ART...


It is hot already, and its only 9am, we will be having a hot day, so the weather man said and there is going to be rain/thunder/ something storm later in the day I am happy about that so far as nobody gets hurt or if it happens after I have returned from the WCSH 6 side walk art show . The art shows covered almost 9 blocks of Portland's congress street. There er artist from as far as Philly. But the one artist that made me feel like I am part of the art not just an observer is a gentleman who have travel through Africa taking pictures of everyday people from the country side. I saw beautiful black and white pictures from many African Countries. The event attracted many artists including many street performers whose presence added another artistic touch to the beautiful day.

Friday, August 21, 2009

RAMADHAN 101.....

Today is the beginning of the Month of Ramadhan , which is the Ninth of the Islamic Lunar calendar It is the Islamic month in which participating Muslims fast by refraining from eating, drinking, sexual conduct, smoking, and indulging in anything that is in excess or ill-natured; Fasting is meant to teach patience, modesty and spirituality. Ramadhan is a time to fast for the sake of Allah (God) and to offer more prayer than usual. Muslims also believed through good actions, they get rewarded seventy times as much as they normally can achieve. During Ramaḍān, Muslims ask forgiveness for past sins, pray for guidance and help in refraining from everyday evils, and try to purify themselves through self-restraint and good deeds. Ramadhan was the month in which the first verses of the Muslim holy book the Quran were revealed to Muslim prophet Muhammad.
For the next 30 days starting from tomorrow as a Muslim, I will be fasting from dawn to sunset which means i have to give up coffee or bagel or my favorite el grey tea at the north Star cafe or any where for that matter. It is also a time for those that have a lot to feel how the most vulnerable members of our society feel when they cant afford to have three square meals. Islam teaches us to be very giving to take care of the poor amongst us
Fasting is one of the pillars of Islam. It has been an integral part of all major religions. The Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) fasted for forty days before he was called to prophethood (Matthew 4:2). Similarly Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) fasted for forty days and nights before he was given the Law (Exodus 24:18).

For more information on this topic please check the following websites.
http://www.islamicfinder.org
http://www.islamicity.com

Quote of the day:
O who believe, fasting is decreed for you
as it was decreed for those before you;
perchance you will guard yourselves.
hanging out with Rahmat on Twitpic
...
The month of Ramadan is the month
in which the Koran was sent down,
a guidance for the people,
and clear verses of guidance and
criterion.

[Quran: Chapter 2, 183]

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

GO JENNA !GO JENNA!! GO!!!






My good friend Jenna Vendil invited me to the launching of her campaign for the school committee. Jenna is a community activist, she has a long list of working on many issues in Maine that had led to change. She has the kind of values we need in our school committee. The gathering have a sample of Portland's diverse community and there were other people collecting signatures for either upcoming issues or other people who will be standing for election in November. I wonder how many issues will be on this year's midterm elections and how many times I am going be asked to sign a petition. Its a long way to November and a long way for my friend hopefully she is going to win.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

PORTLAND IS NOT JUST ABOUT LAW SUIT..... THERE IS CELEBRATION





In the middle of a sunny day, on East end's North street in the middle of the dog park a group of people are creating their own world, a reel world at least for the next 48 hours, they are a part of a group of independent movie makers who are competing to make short movies within the next 48 hours. I think this is one of many arts oriented events taking place this weekend.
The Museum of African Culture is a land mark in Portland It was started eleven years ago by Oscar Mokeme a Nigerian from the Igbo tribe , to day he is having a party to celebrate the community that have supported the museum all this while. Even though it was supposed to be an African event, the line up of the performance include a Balkan belly dancing duo that entertained the group and get some members of the audience to join them. There African art and craft food . I had a lot of fan watching all the performances in a hot sunny summer day... along side Portland's diversity crowd.

Friday, August 14, 2009

MCLU, THE CITY AND THE ZONING OF 'HOLY GROUNDS'


I have received a couple of emails from some friends asking for my opinion on the on going law suit filed by the Maine Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the Afghan Muslim community against the City of Portland. After reading some of the comments on Portland Press herald's website I decided to share my opinion.
Almost a year or more ago the the MCLU and the greater Portland's faith community came out in numbers to support Rabbi Moshe Wilinsky when he was forced into the lime light over same zoning issues. The City of Portland prides itself to the most diverse in the State of Maine and one of the most diverse in the country. I think some of the challenges that comes with diversity or growth is Change, which is difficult to do. I have heard some people say 'when in Rome do what Romans do' .I totally agree with that on certain issues but when it comes to a person's freedom to worship , irrespective of what faith it is we need to look at it. I don't know how city hall operates but my suggestion will be for the city's zoning board to amend some of its rules and meet the demand of the growing city, It doesn't have to change all the rules. From what I read in Portland press Herald, some members of the Afghan Community went around the neighborhood to meet their neighbors and one of the residents actually said she doesn't think it s a problem having the mosque there. the city of Portland's spokes person was also quoted as saying that they are still having dialogue with the Afghan community I think that is great they should continue on that path. It is possible to come to some sort of compromise on both sides....

Quote of he day:
"They are very nice people. We have no troubles with a mosque," . "I'd rather have them than a bar." Amelia Waterhouse Resident of Washington Ave neighborhood for more than 20 years.

* photo courtesy of Fox23 Portland. online.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

GOING HOME IS THE FIRST STEP TOWARDS CHANGE

I was at the counselors' lounge with my lap top thinking of how am I going to transition back to my everyday day life .. when I fell asleep
At 1 am I herd the bell rung a couple of times, and I was wondering what was going on, why is Wil Smith ringing the bell at this hour?(some campers were trying to be ridiculous) . I thought everyone is supposed to be sleeping? I was wrong, I am awake and so are others, We might be thinking of the same thing how are we going to transition back into our everyday life.. for me an adult it might be easy to adjust but for the young campers who just went through vigorous co-existence, respect, team work and what have you in three weeks, might be harder. Across from where I was sitting are two friends one a delegation leader and the other a Seeds Of Peace employee from the region, the employee shook my hand and said she was leaving she was catching an early morning flight , we said the normal 'its nice meting you' blah blah blah as she was leaving to go get ready it dawned on me I will be going through this process all day as the campers and some staff members start leaving in about 4 hours, It was 4 am....
The first bus drove through the camp grounds and parked between where we always line up and the 'filed' people were all over the place hugging, kissing, taking pictures and sharing memorable and priceless moments that happened within the past three weeks, the same spot was busting with music and drumming when the campers were arriving three weeks ago and now its a different story because we have to say good bye..
by the time the last bus left the camp grounds it was around noon and I have tried over and over to hold back my tears either because I saw two campers crying or I got hugged by a camper. I was hugged by this camper who I think is the youngest camper. He came to my notice one day at line up when he was trying to jump over the head rest of a bench he was sitting on, his counselor was asking him to stop and he was smiling . I was sitting right behind him and in my head I was thinking ' gee this kid looks like trouble' as if he was reading my mind he smiled and said ' what is your name' ? I said I will only tell you my name if we will become friends, he agreed and I mentioned my name .. he responded by saying 'my name is 'Z'. since then we have been friends at camp. Today I was avoiding walking into him, but its a camp ground not New York City, it was only a matter of minutes before he came to me with that same infectious smile and gave me hug, I saw his eyes tweaking trying to hold back his tears then my heart gave in, I tried hard to hold back my tears, but the moment was too powerful than me, too meaningful so I let it go, I cried and walked away from the crowd whiles I was processing the moment.

CHANGE

I decided to stay and go home the next day, so that I can come up with my own transitioning plan, back to my everyday life. After dinner I did engaged in bits of chit chats with other staff members before I went to bed early and fell asleep right away.I woke up in the morning and packed all my staff , took a shower and joined others at the same spot we said good bye to the campers the day before, our bus pulled up five of us going to five different places jumped in as the others were hugging us and saying good byes. On our way i started thinking what it means going home for me and for the four others in the bus . One person was going to India, another to western New York, the third to Connecticut the fourth Amman Jordan and the fifth guy I think was going to Boston Mass. I think we are following the steps of the campers as we taking the very first step towards the change we each want to see in our communities, schools and our countries.

Today's quote :

' T
o be the change you want to see in the world, you don't have to be loud. You don't have to be eloquent. You don't have to be elected. You don't even have to be particularly smart or well educated. You do, however, have to be committed.'
~ author unknown'

Monday, August 10, 2009

NECERSSARY GOOD BYES ( Seeds Of Peace Camp)


Monday August 10Th

I don't like good byes,but some times you have to embrace reality no matter how difficult it may be. Today is the last time we will have the Maine Seeds in the dialogue hut as a group.Its the wrap up session, the 'dream is coming to an end'
As I walk down the dialogue alley on my way to our hut I can tell from the looks on the faces of my fellow facilitators that , they wish they have the power to freeze time..

What happens in dialogue stays in dialogue
We have taking a solemn 'oath' to not share a single word of what happens in dialogue, so I cant share what happened during our session, but it was so great that I wish I can share with you, because if you are reading this chances are you might have been following my entries since three weeks ago and have never had the chance to read about what happens inside the 'deer hut'. I think its okay to shed light on some things without being very specific. The Maine Seeds have come a long way this session. Our dialogue came to a stand still a couple of days before camp ends, we were worried of what will happen or how to get the group to move forward.Then out of no where they came back strong not only in dialogue but with other camp activities such as group challenge. In my line of work whether as a mentor or a staff in any program ,I have always believe in any youth I work with, in their capability to do all they can to get to where they are supposed to be. I believe that every young person have the resiliency to redirect their energy towards a good cause if they are giving the right tools and that is what this camp is about. Seeds of Peace have all the tools and support that makes young people believe in themselves and what hey can do as a group or individuals irrespective of who they are or where they come from. Yes its okay for a few of them to not be part of the energy now but I hope that they will re-connect with their peers once they go home and realized how much their lives and perception about everything have changed. Seeds of Peace have layers of support for this young leaders to effect change in their communities, and the world.
Dialogue was heavy today, we did touch on transitioning back to their everyday lives and how to deal with the response they will get from their friends once they start talking about their experiences here. It was difficult having that conversation some were holding back tears as they talk about what the relationships they have built this past three weeks means to them. When I heard the bell for the end of each of the sessions I tried had to hold back my tears.....
The fact that camp officially ends today is hitting us all (campers and staff ) hard, even though we know it was coming from the first day we arrived, but I guess we are just human and we can only control certain things, unfortunately time is not one of those and it does not wait for no one.
After dinner we went to the big hall and watched about an hour long slide of photographs of everything that happened on camp thanks to Bobbie the co-founder of Seeds of Peace and 3 other staff members who were on top of that. Most of the seeds of peace pictures on this blog is coming from Bobbie. I couldn't sleep so I spent time updating this blog. and I am wondering if I will be crying when I saw the last bus drive past the FIELD, or when I start walking back to my cabin and pack to go back home to my every day life...


Below is a quote we share with the group hope you will like it:

Forgive me, God, for remaining aloof when others are in need of my assistance.

Wake me up, God; ignite my passion, fill me with outrage. Remind me that I am responsible for Your world. Don't allow me to stand idly by. Inspire me to act. Teach me to believe that I can repair some corner of this world.

When I despair, fill me with hope. When I doubt my strength, fill me with faith. When I am weary, renew my spirit. When I lose direction, show me the way back to meaning, back to compassion, back to You. Amen.
~2002 Naomi Levy~

Sunday, August 9, 2009

ROW! ROW! ROW! - ROW! ROW! ROW


Sunday Aug 9 Th

After the dawn prayer I decided to take a short nap since there is no line up . A bout an hour or so I started hearing this roaring noise ., ROW ! ROW! ROW! from the back of my cabin, not knowing what it was I woke up ,check on my phone to see what time it was and to make sure I wasn't dreaming, I ran out to the lake front and watched the canoe rowing competition coming to an end and some of the campers running to go take part in another activity. It was 8' o clock in the morning and this dedicated campers are already up and going. Today is the last day of the color games and the competition is getting very hectic. I came back to the cabin and prepared for breakfast. The weather looks great and its going to be a long day. We are going to know which color is the winner of the 3day long mini Olympic (Color Games).

MESSAGE TO 'HAJIMI'


The last part of the competition will be memorizing and delivering a message. the message is a short speech by a historical figure dead or alive, to be memorized by a representative of each color and reciting it to a member of he white team. The time(how fast), and accuracy of delivering this speech determines who is the winner of this part of the games.
The two team started this part of the game by taking part in many chain or relay of activities which ends with the last person being the one that delivers the message. The other non participating members were waiting outside the big hall until the two representatives emerge from the hall and each group run and picked their representatives up high and were singing towards the lake to wait for the official result. After an inspiring speech by Wil and Leslie......... the official result was released and the winner of the 2009 sessions 2 color games is the


GREEN TEAM



The prize for this three day games is they get to go into the pleasant lake first , follow by the Blue team and then the white team and other visitors. The purpose of this game is not for a prize , its part of the leadership training that seeds of peace does to emphasis team work and the campers always get it. During the games the most important thing is the team work .
The rest of us walk into the lake and form a big circle with our hands on top of each others shoulders and started singing the Seeds of Peace theme song.


I am a seed of peace,
seed of peace, a seed of peace
I am a seed, a seed of peace
I am a seed, I am a seed of peace
Peace, peace, peace, peace

People of peace, rejoice, rejoice,
For we have united into one voice
A voice of peace and hate of war
United hands have built a bridge between two shores

We on the shores have torn down the wall
We stand hand in hand as we watch the bricks fall
We've learned from the past and fear not what is ahead
I know I'll not walk alone, but with a friend instead

I am a seed of peace, seed of peace, a seed of peace
I am a seed, a seed of peace
I am a seed, I am a seed of peace
Peace, peace, peace, peace

For me , I think the importance of the games is not about who won or who had more points ,its about the team building and leadership skills gained during the games. The campers did fully participated with the support of their coaches and they all gave it their all and at the end we are all members of one big Seeds of Peace family and one big part of humanity. But together we can make the world a better place.

Memorial Service

Since the Seeds of Peace family is growing over the years, naturally it will also have tragedy along the growth ti night is the memorial service for all the seeds families that have passed and Its always a special memorial for a young Palestinian and a former member of the SOP family, Aseel Asleh , he was shot by the Israel police during the 2000 intifada, he was an innocent bystander. Bobbie shared his legacy of bringing people together and how he started a new serve call Seeds net where former campers will continue dialogue online. Wil Smith also shared some of Aseel's stories and encouraged the campers to live by the principles that they learn the camp. There is a face book in his honor http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=6065701331
The DL are having a farewell dinner so we joined the party and had a taste of Middle Eastern : Jordan, Egypt Israel, Palestine and American food all under one roof.

Quote :
Live your beliefs
And you can turn the world around.
~Henry David Thoreau~

Seeds of peace is one big family......


Friday Aug 7Th

Today is my 'day off' , I decided to accompany a fellow staff member to drop a camper at the Portland Jetport. We left camp after the morning prayer and drove to the airport. I have to escort the camper because he is a minor. The Jet blue airline front desk staff have to do a back ground check on me before she will give me security clearance to escort the young man.So she started asking all sorts of personal questions, she ask young man if he speaks English, she ask me where i live , what I do for living, then she touched the wrong nerve by asking me 'How long have I been in this country ? I responded by saying long enough to be a citizen, then she repeated the question again with some sort of stress in her voice, that was when I ask her if it was part of the security clearing procedure, and if its not I will not answer the question. She handed me a slip with my name on it. I thanked her and escorted the young man to his flight.

Rahmat came to visit

I have arranged to pick up my daughter and bring her to the camp . She was excited to see me and my friend Walid whom she had met before I left for camp. Rahmat is a natural people person, she was all over the place asked a lot of questions . Rahmat made friends and engaged the DLs. She joined us for lunch and I brought Rahmat to the Friday Muslim service with me. she fell asleep during the service. Rahmat spent about 4 hours here before I brought her back home when I went to Portland with my fellow facilitators for sight seeing. We spent about 3 hours in Portland before returning to camp. When I got to camp, there was a preparation for a 'bucket' drumming performance at the delegation leader lounge. I met the drummer and another old friend before i went to my cabin. I fell asleep and wake up at 4 am, waiting for the my old radio/ alarm to go off ,then I heard a knock on the door it is time to pray. and my friend Walid is making sure every one is awake the three of us said our prayers and I went back to sleep.

Saturday August 8Th

There is no line up during color games, I laid in bed and listen to my radio for a while before taking a shower and headed towards the dinning hall for breakfast. There was too many things going on at the same time. I spent most part of the day reading a book titled ' A long way gone' by Ishmael Beah the former child soldier from Sierra Leon and I wonder how it will be like having a program like Seeds of Peace in Ghana(since it is one of the most stable countries in Africa). and then bring kids from waring African countries to spend summer there . I got carried away with this idea and I even started planning which part of Ghana will be ideal and which Government department I will have to lobby, when My cell phone vibrated and I suddenly realized that I was day - dreaming. I continue day dreaming about almost everything for the most part of the day.
In the evening there was the variety show part of the color games... I went and saw many talents on display, (Seeds got talent).The production was perfect, the team work was great. The best part of tonight is that all the campers were here as campers in different colors, no one is referred to by delegation or any other identity except their team colors blue or green. I went to bed feeling great and blessed to be a member of the Seeds family.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Talent show and Color Games

Today is going to be a very busy day.It's the Maine Seeds day, where former Maine Seeds come to visit. Our dialogue groups made a U-turn from slow progress to a fast paced, project ready group. The Maine seeds (campers) are ready to initiate a lot of changes and awareness when they go back home next Tuesday. Camp is busy with many visitors from past campers to parents and some staff members who work in the NY and the Middle Eastern offices.
The Maine Seeds had a guest speaker , who was a seed , she shared her experience on making a change in her community, This young woman raised about 20.000 dollars in one school year when she was in high school and initiated a lot of community action project in the Dexter Maine region. she is one of the many resources available to the current Seeds once they go home.
Tonight is the talent show night which will usher in the Color Games (CG). The color games is a three day intensive Olympic like competition in almost anything you can think of . From sports through intellectual and the arts. The camp is divided into three colors namely: Blue, green and White .The campers and their coaches(counselors) are either blue or green and the rest of the camp is white including visitor.. from Thursday through Sunday we try as much as possible not to wear the green shirts.
Dialogue was intense the campers have started realising how it is going to be over soon and we are all going to go back to our everyday life as before , having gone through this powerful transformation process.....

Color Games Coaches
The process of selecting the coaches is shrouded in secrecy and the counselors look forward to it with hopes that they will be the ones to be picked .No one knows how they get to be selected but every one hopes too be the ones that get to be selected. The rest that don't get selected automatically fall behind the coaches and all hand is on deck for a successful Color games experiences to the campers.The coaches are introduced to the whole camp in a very spectacular, colorful and dramatic way. Leslie and Wil , the two camp directors will mention a coach's name and their short bios, and then the coach will show or appear in a very creative way. Each coach comes with a style of their own and tonight's is as unique as the coaches. The line up shows how much competition lies ahead in the next three days based on how all the coaches entered the stage with style and creativity.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Take me to the game....

Tuesday Aug 4TH



Tolerance and celebration of individual differences
is the fire that fuels lasting love.
- Tom Hannah







The Seeds of Peace have a long tradition of going to the 'game' or to see the local base ball team (Portland Sea Dogs). There is an old story of a camper who was wondering when the game was going to start and to the camper's surprise the game was about to come to an end when she ask that question. Today is Sea dogs day.. on Sea Dogs day , we are all excited to go to Portland Maine to cheer for the local team The Sea Dogs,, which is a good relationship building with the teams. Unfortunately because most of the campers are not Americans we end up cheering after every score irrespective of who is winning. So today we spent a couple of hours at the sea dogs game. We had a lot of fun , ate a lot of food cheered for both teams all night. And drove back to the camp. As I laid on my bed the sea dogs song kept playing in my head repeatedly Until I fell Asleep.
Sea D-o-g-s, clap x2 !! clap x 2!!. Sea Dogs!! Sea Dogs!!..

quote of the Day

' 'If you dont know what you are searching for,
how will you know when you have found it.
Decide what it is you truly desire.
Then work whole-heartedly for it.
No half stepping. You can get it if you really want to''.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

International Dinner and Educators Night Spectacular



Monday Aug 3rd

The whole camp is excited about today . It is the international dinner event, there will be food from almost all the countries that are represented here. The campers will be looking their best.....

We had two dialogues one in the morning and the second in the afternoon after which we had a meeting. The day went by fast. During the dinner event , most of the campers are dressed in the most colorful outfits you can ever imagine. the food is good, and very diverse from Jordan through Israel, Somalia, Thai and America. Music was blurring and people were dancing all over the place I cant help it but go around asking both staff members and campers to take pictures with me whether they have cameras or not. After dinner I went to the Delegation leaders lounge to take part in the educator's night.Its an event where invited educators from different aspects of 'education' tradition or otherwise from communities here and far meet , make friends and network with the delegation leaders. Teachers try to established 'sister and brother classroom relationships with their counterparts across the globe , through the delegation leaders who are themselves educators. The whole event is like a spectacular 'speed date' service. After Daniel, Seeds of Peace Delegation Leader (DL) program director
guests introduce themselves and what they do, yo will have to go and speak with someone you want to network with. At the first round I met a gentleman, he is a Christian minister from Harvard collage, and when I told him that I have a long time dream of meeting a writer ,Diana, L Eck, (A new religious America) He said she is a member of his congregation and that if I get in touch with him he can arrange for me to meet her .

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Signs of the last days


Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek

~BARACK OBAMA, ~




July 28Th

I was schedule to do a presentation to a group of students from the Middle East and North Africa who are here in the US to meet everyday people... and explore how we the people run our lives. They came to the US through a program that is funded by the State Department's Middle Eastern Partnership Initiative which was started by President Bush 43, I spoke to the young group on some of the work I do in the community to empower young people and how I foster relationship with them, and the young people I co-presented with shared how they approach adult allies, when they need support or guidance as youth leaders in their communities. The presentation went well, we had lunch, hugs, hand shakes and said good bye.
On my way to Otisfield Maine, I started toying with the idea of moving out of Portland to some where out there in the woods just for its quite and peaceful environment. The state trooper at the entrance to the camp waived at me as i was about to stop and check in I felt the same feeling of being at a unique place. That evening we had our first guest speaker from , another seeds of peace facilitator who came to do a presentation on Hate crimes, it was a great and the campers enjoyed and I learn a lot from it.

Wednesday July - 29Th

Wednesday was normal a little bit of sunshine and some scattered thunderstorms. I went through a couple of hard moments , I was late for almost 15 minutes to dialogue.,( evening session), my boss Leslie, picked me up in a golf cart on my way to Dialogue, because she was worried about me(thanks boss).

Thursday July 30Th

Being worried, I went to bed early and had a very deep and sound sleep. I woke up early enough to say my morning prayer on time and also listen to the BBC radio world service from an old GE radio which also serves as my alarm clock.. I went to dialogue feeling the same way I was feeling the day before, I bet my co-facilitator might had picked on it , she asked me if I was okay (people really care about each other here). Our two sessions was good. Tomorrow is Maine Seeds Parents'. The parents of the Maine campers came to visit and also met with their kid's new friends.

Friday July 21st

Friday morning was nice the sun was out and we had a lot of visitors. It started raining around noon and the boys' soccer game was cancel. It rained for the rest of the day.


Saturday Aug 1st

Today is moustache competition day where staff members and some campers will compete for the best moustache around this part of town. There was so many kinds of moustache , some real ,some not. The competitors were asked to and stand facing the campers who will determined the winner by a loud applause any time the referee points at one of them. The procedure was very competitive until we settle for a male and female competitors it was fun to see how all the females rooting for the lady and the males were for the gentleman.
The Maine Seeds had a 'date' with Tim Wilson , he did a presentation on why they are here and how they leadership skills. He informed them of how much support they have in the Seeds of peace family and how they can effectively take advantage of it.He also pointed it out to them how they are the agents for change in their various communities.
In the evening I followed the delegation leaders to the town of Bath for a two hour sailing trip and guess what, I get to sail (drove) a boat for 45 minutes and I loved it.After sailing we joined our hosts for a BBQ and socializing for an hour or so before we headed back to camp. I fell asleep on our way back for most part of the two our drive. We arrived 'home' at around 9:30pm and I was fast asleep by 11:pm. I woke up in at 2 am tossed on my bed for about half and hour went back to sleep again.

Sunday August 2ND

Its beautiful day, sunny and not very hot. The christian service will be this morning and then there will be photo taking session and then dialogue. After the Church service the bell was rang for pictures to be taking first by delegation groups (countries) then dialogue group, then bunk , then table. Then just the facilitators then the the delegation leaders and on and forth. It was such an amazing co-ordination. Seeds of peace have a very perfect way of making sure that each camper at least gets to do something with more than just one kid. Today is the most exciting dialogue sessions for me ever. The group did an excellent job in sharing and being honest with it. I am privilege to be with them all.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Another week at SEEDS OF PEACE...


Friday July 25Th

Today is my day off, I started my day by going to the gym (because I promised a friend I will be going with him) it was a small quite space attached to a private residence, I did ride on an aerobic machine whiles watching TV. It was raining so much that we went straight to breakfast without the regular morning line up. I spent the rest of the morning making phone calls and paying bills on phone. After lunch I went to the main hall for the Muslim Friday service, the prayer was led by a delegation leader from Palestine, whose sermon was perfect for an occasion like this, He challenged the campers to be tolerance of other faith traditions whiles they are learning much about theirs and the rest of the campers were quite in their bunks in respect of the Muslim prayer, same was done for the Jewish and will be done on Sunday for the christian service.
I went out to Freeport , Maine, an out let shopping center, with my fellow facilitators (its our day off) we shop( window shop) and had dinner and just walk around. On our way back we drove through Portland and finally got to camp a little before 10 pm. I stayed awake catching up with my emails and phone calls and went to bed a little after 12 midnight. Thinking of what the next day will be like...


Saturday July 26Th

At six in the morning (Saturday) I took a shower and was saying my morning prayers when the first bell rang , after prayers I waited for the third bell at 7 :25 am before I walk down the road to join the whole camp at line up. Seeds of Peace campers are creative and they show it off at line up after all the ritual line up announcements the counselors are asked if they have any 'special' announcement , this is an opportunity for members of a bunk to challenge campers from another bunk to any thing from songs, pull ups, sit ups and many other things and you can actually mentioned a particular bunk by name and say okay 'last night bunk XZY did 3000 sit ups and we are challenging bunk ABC to beat that record) I think that is my favorite part of the 'special' morning announcements.
Dialogue was intense for some of the Maine Seeds and some of the other campers ,we are getting to the end of the first week and they are transitioning from getting to know each other and creating trust to talking about some of the issues that are affect them as innocent young people in a troubled world. After the evening dialogue I was to chose between going to a local fair, 'Casco-days' which celebrates the founding of the Town of Casco, Maine or go out with a group of friends. I went out with the friends to hung out at a local spot, it was nice to see people socializing in a non-working setting, it felt like a big' human theater' in which I was both an actor and an audience Watching and being watched by others.

Sunday July 26Th

My alarm went off at 5:30 am, I opened my eyes and struggled to get off my bed took a shower said my morning prayers and get ready for line up. When you are here time and day comes to a freeze and you lose track of what day of the week it is. Our dialogue sessions were normal . We introduced a reading ritual where each Maine Seeds will share a quote from , poetry, song or anything that means something to them or that they think have relations or meaning to what We will be talking about each day. I will be sharing those Quotes with you, any time I update the blog at the end I will add a quote that have been read by a Maine Seed. below is one, please enjoy it.


"It is better to light candles
than to curse the darkness.
It is better to plant seeds
than to accuse the earth.
The world needs all of our power
and love and energy,
and each of us has something that we can give.
The trick is to find it and use it,
to find it and give it away.
So there will always be more.
We can be lights for each other,
and through each other's illumination
we will see the way.
Each of us is a seed,
a silent promise,
and it is always spring."
~Merle Shain ~

Monday July 27th

Today is NBA day and there is excitement all over the place, We were already aware that the NBA players are coming to day so the excitement started building up from last night and at line up you can imagine the roar from the campers and staff alike when Wil Smith announced that the players are here.Music was blurring out from stereo in front of the line up and every one was dancing in anticipation of the stars.The local media was there as usual with their big cameras and we are enjoying every bit of it. Then will started introducing them in a creative, way as members of the 2009 Seeds of Peace's all star basket ball team..... and the whole camp roar in welcoming the team..
Because of all that is going around we decided to do the dialogue differently and the seeds did their best to be in the hut with us. Dinner was cook out at the pines. ( the camp's dinning hall is divided into two parts one for the counselors and campers the other for the facilitators and Delegation leaders ).. the cook out is at the Facilitator side of the dinning hall and its call the pines.After dinner I hitched hike with an old friend who was a seed and came to visit the camp . When I got to Portland everything looked different and I wonder if I was away for only a week



below is our second quote please enjoy reading and sharing it.

“You have your way.

I have my way.
As for the right way,
the correct way, and the only way,
it does not exist.”
~ Friedrich Nietzsche~