30 Days of Ramadan GOODness – 2014

•June 29, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Doing GOOD is an idea that many of us hold deeply within us. We all want to go out and spread some happiness – but sometimes just can’t seem to find the time. That’s why for the last couple of years, my family and I have started a GOODness Campaign called ’30 Days of Ramadan GOODness’. During the month of Ramadan we intentionally set out to achieve one GOOD deed every single day, some big and some small – donate some money, lend a helping hand, help the environment, or even just a smile – we have found that there are so many ways to spread GOODness all around us…and the feeling is contagious. Soon you’ll find that the people around you will also start to spread GOODness of their own. Performing GOOD deeds not only makes an impact on the people that are on the receiving end, but we too are changed and grow with every GOOD deed we complete. Take the challenge with us this year and spread ’30 Days of Ramadan GOODness’ throughout your family, friends and community…are you up for the challenge?

Day 1: Dates, nuts and love…oh my!

For the first day of Ramadan GOODness we decided to put together beautiful little mason jars packed with nut filled dates. The kids had a great time putting the jars together and were thrilled with the idea of people thinking about them while opening their fast in the evening. We distributed the jars to family, friends and even some neighbours…spreading some yummy GOODness one jar at a time!   PicsArt_1404081913605

Day 2: Its raining QUARTERS

Have you ever gotten to the grocery store and realized that you don’t have a quarter for the shopping cart? I have, many, many times. And then I am left with two options, either the kids and I end up balancing groceries on our arms up and down the aisles, or we have to walk around trying to get change…both end up being equally embarrassing. So for Day 2 of Ramadan GOODness the kids thought that it would be great idea to fill all the shopping cart slots with quarters so people would get a nice little surprise when their about start their grocery shopping…spreading some GOODness one shopping cart at a time. PicsArt_1404156637102

Day 3: Timmies on us

Wouldn’t you love to pull up to a drive thru window and have them tell you to put your money away, the order has already been paid for? I would! So in honour of Canada Day we went to Canada’s favourite coffee joint, Tim Hortons, and paid for the orders of the three cars behind us. Then we hid around the corner to see some of the reactions. Kids had a blast – Spreading some Canadian GOODness…one coffee at a time! drivethru

Day 4: A rainy day surprise

Have you ever gotten stuck in an sudden rainfall, the kind that comes out of nowhere and takes you by surprise? Well that happened today. It started pouring and people on the street were running about trying to get some shelter. So we decided to quickly get a bunch of umbrellas and hand them out to people rushing about on the street. They are so happy they almost hugged us…an then remembered that they were too wet! So for Day 4 we spread some dry GOODness…one umbrella at a time! umbrellas

Day 5: Spreading some GOODness to a little guy in need

Everyone that is a parent, or is even close to a child in any way, will share how difficult it is to see your child suffer or fall ill. For Day 5 of Ramadan GOODness the kids decided to help out a sweet little boy by the name of Gabriel. Gabriel Ze’ev (Wolf) Benun was born on October 11, 2011. He was diagnosed with Infant Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Ever since then his inspirational family has been in and out of the hospital, while keeping an amazing attitude throughout! The kids have a collection jar where they have been collecting money all year from various events, birthdays and allowances. They have decided to donate this money to little Gabriel and encourage all of you to do the same. Check out more about Gabriel’s inspiring story and help out as much as you can!

http://gogetfunding.com/project/gabriel-s-wolf-pack-fund

Day 6: What parking ticket? 

You know that feeling that you get when you are walking towards your car after a long day and see that bright yellow piece of paper blowing on your windshield. You get a sudden burst of anger and then regret…and then vow never to park in that place ever again. It happens to me often, too often actually. So for Day 6 of Ramadan GOODness the kids decided that it would be great to surprise someone and pay for their parking ticket. We found a car with that scary little yellow piece of paper and stuck an envelope filled with money behind it. Spreading some parking ticket GOODness…on vehicle at a time!

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Day 7: Cleaning up the neighbourhood

My family and I believe strongly in taking care of the environment, and always try to clean up after ourselves as much as possible. This world was given to pure and clean and we should try tour best to leave it as beautiful as possible for our following generations. That is why for Day 7 of Ramadan GOODness we head out into the community, armed with garbage bags and a smile cleaning up the streets and spreading some GOODness at the same time!

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Day 8: A surprise for the mailman

Our mailman in really terrific. Whether it be freezing cold temperatures or blistering heat, he always gets us our mail on time. He even drops by occasionally just to say ‘Hello’ – an all round sweet guy. So for Day 8 of Ramadan GOODness, the kids decided to surprise he mailman with a little gift hidden in our mailbox. Spreading some GOODness…on mailbox at a time!

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Day 9: Some hidden inspiration

Have you ever had one of those days when everything just seems to be going wrong – you feel down and tired, needing a little a boost. wouldn’t it be great to hear some kind words, something to lift you right up! For Day 9 of Ramadan GOODness the kids decided to write inspirational little notes and leave them all over the neighbourhood. They left them on cars, random corners and even at the YMCA. Cheering people up and spreading some inspirational GOODness!

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Day 10: A basket and a smile for someone who really needs it 

Recently a co-worker and good friend of mine lost her father, someone she cherished and misses dearly. For Day 10 of Ramadan GOODness the kids decided that they wanted to make her a ‘cheer you up – care basket’ and filled it with relaxing teas, candles, yummy chocolates, a warm shawl and so much more! They hoped that the basket would bring a smile to her face and some comfort in her heart.

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Day 11: Surprising someone at the gas pump 

Isn’t gas so expensive these days? Makes you wanna cry every time you go to the pump! Thats why for Day 11 of Ramadan GOODness the kids decided to surprise a stranger by paying for their gas! We secretly paid at the register while she stood behind us in line and then watched from our car as she walked out smiling and reading our GOODness card to someone on the phone…GOODness mission accomplished!

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Day 12: Vending machine surprise 

It seems as though every time my family goes out, the kids suddenly get thirsty and MUST have a drink from the vending machine immediately. The only problem is, I never have any change on me! We thought that this might be the problem for many people, so for Day 12 of Ramadan GOODness the kids decided to tape baggies of change to vending machines, spreading some thirst quenching GOODness to the community.

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Day 13:  Prayer bead GOODness 

Prayer beads (Tasbeehs) play a very important role in my family’s life. They remind us to remember God in the hard times and thank him in the good times. Sometimes, even just holding my tasbeeh tight has an instant calming effect. So for Day 13 we decided to wrap up beautiful tasbeehs and distribute them to friends…spreading some calming GOODness!

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Day 14: Bookmarks of inspiration 

My kids love to read and going to the library is always a fun trip for them! For Day 14 the kids decided to spread some GOODness at the library by hand making inspirational bookmarks and hiding them in books all over the library…hoping to bring a smile to an unsuspecting reader!

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Day 15: Cupcakes for our family and neighbours

Ramadan is at the halfway mark and we have been busy spreading some serious GOODness! We have terrific neighbours and family that live close by, so for Day 15 we were busy in the kitchen baking cupcakes for everyone and spreading some yummy GOODness.

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Day 16: Honouring our firefighters 

Firefighters put their life on the line everyday to make sure that we are safe and don’t always get the credit that they deserve! So for Day 16 of Ramadan GOODness we surpised our local Fire Dept with yummy TimHortons treats and they were awesome. They let us sit in the truck, play with the water hose and answered all of our questions…what a blast!

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Day 17: Some ice cold GOODness

Today was a super sunny warm day, the kinda day where the park is packed with laughing, playing kids. The funny thing about kids is that they just keep going, no matter how hot it is or hard they sweat!  So for Day 17 of GOODness, the kids decided to spread some ice cold goodness and give out popsicles at the park.

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Day 18: Volunteering at a Food Bank 

We often think of hunger as a problem that is far away from where we live, but the reality is that there are so many people all around us that don’t have access to food. So for Day 18 of Ramadan GOODness we decided to spend the evening volunteering at the foodbank and we had a blast…kids said that this was their favourite day of GOODness so far! We are super tired, but smiles all around!

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Day 19: The gift of Water 

Fasting has not been too difficult this year, but one thing that has been tough, is not beeing able to drink water in the heat. So for Day 19 of GOODness the kids decided to use some of the money they have saved, to supply water for two kids for an entire year through water.org! Spreading some thirst quenching GOODness! http://www.water.org

Day 20: a scented surprise 

Sometimes it seems as though your day just isn’t going right. You feel kinda down and just need a need any reason to smile. So for today’s GOODness we decided to hand out lots of beautiful single roses to complete strangers! The reaction was so amazing and the kids felt so happy and proud with every rose they gave out…we even surprised a few bikers who couldn’t stop smiling! Success!

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Day 21: Green GOODness with tree planting 

It seems as though the more we learn about the harmful changes in the environment and desperate state the the earth is moving towards, the less people are  paying attention to their roles and impact on the problem. For Day 21 of GOODness we grabbed 15 trees, shovels, soil and a bunch of enthusiastic kids and spent the afternoon planting trees and spreading some ‘Green’ environmental GOODness!

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Day 22: Minty GOODness for charity 

The Khawja Kitchen’s homemade mint chutney is pretty famous in the GTA and we are always distributing it widely. So for Day 22 of GOODness the kids decided to bottle up the minty GOODness and sell it for a good cause. Each bottle is $5 and all proceeds will go to Project Ramadan, a non profit supplying healthy food to those in need! Spreading some minty GOODness and helping provide healthy food to those that need it most! 

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Day 23: Freezer surprise 

For today’s GOODness we teamed up with the variety store owner to deliver a sneaky surprise. We purchased a bunch of water bottles and pop cans, put the reciept and one of our GOODness cards on each one and then hid them back in the store freezer! That way whenever someone would open the freezer to buy a drink, they would find that one was already paid and ready for them…spreading some thirst quenching GOODness!

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Day 24:  “Be a light to the world”

You know that tired feeling you have when you leave your house in the morning? Now imagine opening your door to an early morning surprise that lights you right up! So for Day 24 of GOODness we made pretty little candle packages with an inspirational message, waited until dark and then left them at random doorsteps around the neighbourhood…spreading some light filled GOODness!

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Day 25: Kids write letters for some international GOODness

Today’s GOODness was one filled with kiddie creativity and heart. We spoke to a group of youth and kids about children around the world living countries affected by conflict, and what they would say to them to make them smile or let them know that we were thinking about them all the way over here. The kids then made pictures, created cards and wrote letters to be distributed to these kids. The letters will be dropped off by hand by a relief agency, to kids living in war torn countries…spreading some international GOODness accross the world!

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Day 26: Honouring volunteers 

Ramadan is a very busy time everywhere, but it is especially busy for Masjids! Our Masjid has a lot of dedicated volunteers that give their time and energy to keeping the masjid clean and organized every night, and rarely get even a Thank You…so for Day 26 of GOODness, the kids decided to surprise some volunteers with a sweet card and special little gift!

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Day 27: Toys for Sick Kids Hospital 

Everyone in some way or the other, has been connected to the Sick Kids Hospital… and although its a scary place, the hospital does a great job of making the space warm and comforting. For Day 27 we teamed up with Huma Khawja to make some of the kids hospital stay just a little bit nicer and held a toy drive! We were able to collect SO MANY awesome toys and giftcards, im sure the kids at the hospital will be so excited…spreading some fun GOODness to kids that really need it! A big THANK YOU to all our GOODness peeps that donated, you guys rock!

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Day 28: A united GOODness for an important cause 

There are SO MANY injustices going on in the world today, and sitting half way across the world sometimes makes us feel helpless. For Day 28 of GOODness we grabbed the family and some friends and head out to a rally in support of Palestine at Queens Park. We chanted, marched and stood united with thousands of people from all backgrounds and religions. The kids learned a lot and felt good to help in any little way that they could. They also made lots of Palestine bracelets and distributed them to adults and kids at the rally. Spreading some human GOODness and justice, with thousands who care! “From the river, to the sea, Palestine will be free!”

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Day 29: Some GOOdness for a Women’s Shelter 

For today’s GOODness we decided to focus on the women and children close to home that are victims of abuse and neglect . We have been collecting money and items all month for the Muslim Welfare Centre’s Women’s Shelter/Home in Whitby. With so many peoples generous support we were able purchase and drop off supplies and gifts that are surely to brighten up their spirits. Thank you to the Fancy’s Team for partnering up with us for this GOOD deed and to EVERYONE that contributed…you guys are awesome!

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And with that comes to end another exciting ’30 Days of Ramadan GOODness’ (In case you’re wondering, Ramadan was only 29 days this year). This was the most enjoyable one so far and both the kids, and us adults learned so much about our community and ourselves. We set out to spread a couple of smiles, and as a result kept ourselves smiling and beaming with positivity all month long. This year was especially exciting for us because we able to involve so many of our family and friends and spread some serious GOODness all across the city. The impact that this has had on my family has been greater this year than ever before, and as a result we have decided to continue spreading the GOODness and have challenged ourselves to implement one random act of kindness, big or small, every week going forward. We want to get as many people involved as possible and spread some serious GOODness all year round, Are you up to the challenge?

Too Cultured.

•May 6, 2014 • 5 Comments

Anyone that has known me for more than a second will attest to the fact that I am absolutely obsessed with South Asian Culture. The food, clothes, poetry, history, people and everything in between has fascinated me for as long as I can remember. So why is that I wasn’t able to openly share my love of all things Desi until far into my teenage years, if not later? Was it the fear of being ‘too cultured’ – is that even a thing?

A couple of weeks ago I was at a Bridal Shower, and being my usual competitive self, was nailing all the questions during a wild game of Indian Wedding Jeopardy. It was at that point that a friend turned to me and whispered, “Wow, you’re really cultured, eh?” I smiled (really big), nodded, and then continued on with the shower game madness. But the comment really got me thinking about how far I had come as an individual, and finally being able to feel comfortable being me.

Growing up, my school was in an almost completely white neighbourhood and I always stood out…always. I did everything in my power to fit in with the other kids, and failed miserably at it. The fact that I had the beginnings of a femme stache and 4pm curfew didn’t help matters, but that’s another story all together. I was often teased and tormented, which only pushed me further into denying how much I loved and needed my culture, even to myself. My life at home was very different. My parents always encouraged us to be proud of our heritage and try as much as possible to infuse it into every part of our lives. But every time I stepped out of my house, this felt impossible.    

High school was very different, lots of different cultures and almost half the school seemed to be newcomer Canadians (the terms used back then were not as politically correct). This only complicated things. I was finally given the freedom to express myself and my deep rooted culture, but only to a certain extent. The problem there was not to be so cultured that people would confuse you for a newcomer yourself. Because that would be horrible. *cue sarcastic eye roll* If we’re not going to discriminate against our own people, then who is, right? It was acceptable to identify with my culture, but only in a hip westernized way. So I got my nose pierced, danced to bhangra music and swore in Punjabi…I acted like a brown girl…but within the acceptable Westernized limits.

Then came University…finally. 

The four years that I spent in University changed me completely. My eyes were opened up to a whole new world of people who did whatever they wanted to do, said whatever they wanted to say, and didn’t really care about others opinions of them. I quickly stopped trying to be down with everything pop culture, and accepted that I wasn’t being true to myself. That’s not who I was. I loved black and white Bollywood movies, listened to Ghazals in my car and read Urdu poetry…all the time.  As the years passed, I fell more and more in love with my culture. I became comfortable in my own skin.

I was fortunate enough to find a life partner that also understands the importance of holding on to one’s culture (not as much as me, but I’m working on it) and the role that it plays in our lives. Movie night is often the latest Bollywood release, most family discussions are held in Urdu (okay, maybe not most, but definitely some), and our recent trip to Pakistan had the kids more excited than our trip to Disney World.

In the end, it was important for me to understand that the concept of being ‘too cultured’ is completely external. It is something that was, and still is, imposed by Western Culture and expectations. How we confront and question that internalized racism is completely in our own hands. One of the most important decisions that I have ever made in my life, the one that affected so much of who I am today, was the decision to accept my South Asian roots and build a foundation to keep it thriving within my family. My kids will not be embarrassed of who they are, or try to hide it from others…they will learn to find their own perfect balance of culture (whatever it may be) and take pride in sharing that, and themselves, with the world.  

30 Days of Ramadan ‘GOODness’ – 2013

•July 10, 2013 • 2 Comments

Why do people perform good deeds? Well, there are actually many reasons; faith, kindness, compassion, concern…but whatever the initial reason may be, one thing is for sure, spreading GOODness around your family, friends and community just feels great!

Last year my kids and I started a concept called the ’30 Days of Ramadan GOODness’, where we performed one good deed everyday for the 30 days of Ramadan, and the response was wonderful. Not only were we able to put smiles on the faces of hundreds of people, we felt absolutely incredible doing it!

As the days of GOODness passed, we noticed something extraordinary happening; people around us were starting to do good deeds of their own. So this year we are inviting everyone to take part in the ’30 Days of Ramadan GOODness’- and you don’t have to be Muslim get involved! We’ll be visiting different communities and working with many people to spread some serious GOODness within ourselves and throughout our communities. Are you up for the challenge?

Day 1: Date jars filled with love

For the first day of Ramadan the kids wanted to do something crafty and sweet! We put together individual jars filled with yummy almond filled dates and distributed them to our family, fiends and neighbours. Eating dates is not only Sunnah, it has many health benefits as well…so for our first act of Ramadan, we are spreading some yumminess…one sweet date at a time. Image

Day 2: Inspirational Notes on car windows

Have you ever had one of those days where you just felt like everything is working against you? Between work, kids, family and everything in between, the day can sometimes leave you feeling unmotivated and down. Wouldn’t it be great to come across an inspirational idea, something that will just lift your spirits right up… that’s what Day 2 was all about. For Day 2 of spreading Ramadan GOODness, the kids and I put together inspirational notes and left them on the windows of random cars, spreading some GOOdness…one inspirational note at a time.

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Day 3: Providing a month of food for a family in need

You know that feeling you get when you’re really hungry, the one that makes you get up right away and walk towards the fridge to dig in…now imagine going to that fridge and realizing it is empty. There are so many people in this world that do not have access to food and water, it makes us feel so blessed for everything that we have. For ’30 Days of Ramadan GOODness’ Day 3 we have decided to provide food to a family for the entire month of Ramadan. The kids have been saving up money throughout the year, and with a little top up from us, we were able to spread some healthy GOODness…one meal at a time!

Day 4: Planting Trees

We are always trying to teach our kids the importance of respecting nature and appreciating the natural beauty that God has surrounded us with. These days we hear so much about trees being cut down and our forests being destroyed, but very little is being done about it. There are many reasons why trees are important to our existence; they clean the air, provide oxygen, are used as animal habitats, and so much more. So for our ’30 Days of Ramadan GOODness’ Day 4, we decided to team up with our family and plant some trees…spreading some green GOODness with our tiny little friends.
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Day 5: Your order is on us!

If your like my family, you use the drive thru a lot (mostly for Tim Hortons, yum). Now imagine getting to the window and having them tell you to put your wallet away, your order has already been paid…how great would that be! For Day 5 of Ramadan GOODness we decided to spread some GOODness at the drive thru window. We went through the drive thrus and payed for the car behind us, then asked the associate to hand the car a card that read “Your Order Is On US!” , so much fun! Spreading some Ramadan GOODness…one drive thru at a time!
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Day 6: Bringing peace to hearts with Dhikr Chains/Tasbeehs

Life can sometimes feel like a roller coaster ride, with ups, downs and often…complete turn you upside loops! The one thing that I have found to always bring peace to my heart and mind, is remembering Allah and all that he has blessed me with. It is said that when someone opens their soul to their lord, he finds an increase of strength, faith and conviction. On Day 6 of spreading Ramadan GOODness, we are distributing Dhikr chains/Tasbeehs with the hopes that people will be encouraged to turn to Allah in both good times and bad. Spreading some Ramadan GOODness …by purifying hearts and souls through Dhikr!tasbeehs PicsArt_1373922958737

Day 7: Donating to a Food Bank 

Donating items to a Food Bank is quite an easy thing to do and spreads some serious GOOD at the same time. Donating items can make a difference for individuals struggling to make ends meet by helping to stock their fridges and cupboards with nutritious food…something that everyone should have access to. So for Day 7 of Ramadan GOODness, we are collecting canned food items, and asking our friends, family and neighbours to do the same. Spreading some very important GOODness to those who need it the most!

Day 8: Honouring our local Fire Department

You know those sirens that race pass you on the road, other than moving to one side, have you have stopped and wondered where they are headed? What dangerous situation they are about engage in? How many people’s lives they are about to save? For Day 8 of Ramadan GOODness, we decided to bring a yummy chocolate surprise to a group of people that are spreading some serious GOODness of their own, by saving lives and keeping our communities safe…our fearless heroes…our community firefighters!

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Day 9: Helping a local flood victim; Ken Hills 

Going through the daily news stories, my sister in law came across an article about a local Mississauga community that got hit pretty hard by the recent flooding. The story focused on one man, Ken Hills, that was renting a basement apartment in the area, who was hit pretty bad. The man was unemployed, with no family when the flooding pushed him out of his home and into a tent in a neighbours backyard. The article had reached out to readers to do whatever they could to help out, food, clothes, money…anything. So for Day 9 of Ramadan GOODness we surprised Ken with bags of nutritious food, water, and some basic necessities. Spreading some GOODness to a local flood victim.

Day 10: Baked goods for our neighbours! 

My family believes strongly in not only respecting our neighbours, but also going out of our way to ensure that we have positive and friendly relationships with them. Being kind to your neighbours is more than just the morally appropriate thing to do, it also outlined clearly in most religions. So for Day 10 of Ramadan GOODness we decided to spread some yummy GOODness for our neighbours…one cupcake at a time!

Day 11: Collecting toys for the Sick Kids Hospital 

No matter how strong a person is, no one can bear to see a an ill child…it breaks the toughest of hearts. My sister in law does an annual toy drive, where she collects money and toys for children at the Sick Kids Hospital, and it has been quite successful in the past. For Day 11 of our Ramadan GOODness, we have teamed up with her and have both donated toys, as well as collected from friends and family to donate as well. We are spreading some serious GOODness with this one…to tiny little hearts that need it the most!

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Day 12: Cleaning up our community

I am a strong believer that we were intended to leave this world as we entered it, however if you look around it is quite obvious that this is not the case. We live in a beautiful residential neighbourhood, lots of great people and breath-taking nature…but through time people have littered the community, taking away from its natural beauty. For Day 12 of Ramadan GOODness we are grabbing the family, a few big garbage bags and a pair gloves…we’re going to head out into the community and pick up any litter that we can see. Beautifying our world, one community at a time!
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Day 13: Vending Machine Surprise! 

You know when you really need to get a drink or something to snack on, but don’t have enough change for the vending machine…it is the plastic card generation you know! Well, for Day 13 of Ramadan GOODness, we decided to surprise people at vending machines with Tooonies taped above the coin slot in little plastic bags…imagine something like that happening to you, it would definitely make me smile ear to ear! Spreading some GOODness…one refreshing drink at a time!

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Day 14: Inspirational little gifts at your doorstep

Everybody could use a little inspiration in their lives, especially after a long day at work or running around completing errands. For Day 14 of Ramadan GOODness we decided to purchase inspirational little candle holders, wrap them up nice and pretty, and secretly leave them on the doorsteps of random houses…hoping to bring a smile to someones face and shine a little light into their lives.

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Day 15: Visiting with Seniors!

I have always believed in the importance of learning from and respecting our seniors. Unfortunately, it seems that society has slowly started ignoring that aspect of our population…seniors homes are filled with residents that have been forgotten by their families and left alone. Today we decided to team up with our cousins and spread some GOODness in a seniors residence. We hung out with the residents and handed out roses to everyone we met, spreading some happiness to the wisest members of our community!

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Day 16: Hand painted birdhouses 

We live in a community with lots of beautiful birds chirping away their merry songs all day long. For Day 16 of Ramadan GOODness, we decided to hand paint some cute little birdhouses and hang them on trees throughout the neighbourhood. There is a park down the street that was hit pretty hard by the storm two weeks ago, we decided to focus on those trees…beautifying our community park and bringing some yummy GOODness to our little feathered friends at the same time!
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Day 17: Putting a smile on a commuters face

Have you ever looked around while pumping gas, everyone looks so sad, my theory; Gasoline is too expensive! But regardless of how high the prices soar, people are always going to need to fill up, surviving without a car is becoming just way too difficult. So for Day 17 of Ramadan GOODness, we decided to put a smile on a commuters face by anonymously paying for their gasoline fill. We handed the cashier a card that said this gas was on us, payed for the fill and literally ran out the door so as not to be spotted…spreading some GOODness, one commuter at a time!

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Day 18: Some rainy day GOODness

I love the rain, listening to it while I sleep, watching it through the window, even the smell makes me happy…but one thing that I do not like, is being stuck running around it! For Day 18 of Ramadan GOODness, we drove around in the pouring rain and handed out umbrellas to pedestrians caught in the down pour. We came to the wet rescue…with some good old fashion umbrellas!

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Day 19: A GOODness basket 

The passing of someone close can leave a person feeling empty and alone, with the healing process taking months or years. For Day 19 of Ramadan GOODness, we decided to put together a GOODness basket with yummy treats and healing teas for someone we know that is going through this difficult healing process. And although a basket of goodies isn’t much in comparison to the grave loss, we’re hoping that this little bit of GOODness will brighten her day!

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Day 20: A surprise for the mailman

Have you ever been waiting for something to arrive in the mail? A letter from a loved one, an acceptance letter, that package you have been awaiting…it is the mailman that assures that all those important documents get to you on time. No matter the weather, our mailman has always delivered our mail on time and with an extreme amount of care. That is why, for Day 20 of Ramadan GOODness we decided to surprise our mailman with some yummy chocolates…yummy GOODness!

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Day 21: Some SMILE inspiration!

I am a strong believer in the power of smiling, it not only cheers you up, but is also highly contagious…before you know it, everyone around you will be smiling too! The only problem is, people these days are walking around with so much in their minds. Balancing busy schedules, family, work and all the ups and downs that are guaranteed with life, people are forgetting to smile and be grateful for everything that they have been been blessed with. For Day 21 of Ramadan GOODness, we decided to inspire some smiles with a nice thought and hand made bracelets…hoping to spread some GOODness, one smile at a time!
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Day 22: GOODness at a Women’s Shelter

For Day 22 of Ramadan GOODness, we decided to team up with our family and spread some GOODness to a Muslim Women’s Shelter. We purchased some staple items that they requested such as towels, bed sheets, and lots of toiletries. We drove down to the shelter and personally dropped off the donations…which was such a humbling experience. We were able to tour and learn about the facilities, see some of the residents and discuss in more detail what the shelter could need in assistance for the future. We were able to teach the kids about a seriously important component of our society and learn about the importance of being grateful for everything we have…spreading some GOODness and helping some wonderful women at the same time!
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Day 23: Frosty cold freezies for the neighbourhood kids 

Do you remember those days when all the kids on the street used to play together? I do…hide and go seek, kick the can and jump rope used to be my favourites! These days its seems that communities are pulling a part, you could be living around people for years without actually engaging with them. Well, for Day 23 of Ramadan GOODness we decided to gather the neighbourhood’s kids, if only for a few minutes. Our neighbourhood park is always jam packed with laughing kids, running around and having a blast, especially in the summer. We surprised them all with a cooler filled yummy
cold freezies! Spreading some chilled GOODness in the summer heat.
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Day 24: The Gift of Water

This day of Ramadan GOODness was a very important one. Did you know that there are over a billion people in this world that do not have access to clean water or sanitation. The worst part is that the water is available…its just not reaching the people that so desperately need it. That is why for Day 24 we decided to give someone across the world the gift of WATER. We used http://www.water.org as our donation source, we have used them in the past and they are doing some great work to help people that need it the most…spreading some GOODness, one drop at a time!

Day 25: Volunteering with Project Ramadan 

For Day 25 the kids decided to volunteer their time with a local initiative called Project Ramadan. Project Ramadan creates packages full of nutritious food and distributes it to those in need. Ever since this initiative started a couple years back, I have been mesmerized by the great work that they do. The kids had a great time helping out and were able to spend the day with their aunt as well…double the GOODness!
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Day 26: Treats for our local Police Department

Today we decided to honour another one of our local community heroes…those that keep us safe and create order in this hectic world, our local Police Department. We kids surprised the officers with one our favourite treats Tim Hortons Donuts  (I know, how cliché of us). The officers were really surprised and loved the treats, they even gave the kids little souvenirs as well! Spreading some GOODness to those that keep our communities safe!
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Day 27: Cheering up our local commuters 

Have you ever noticed how unhappy our city’s drivers look? Being struck in rush hour, endless red lights and inconsiderate commuters sharing the road, will definitely leave anyone with a feeling of anger or anxiety, For day 27 of Ramadan GOODness, we decided to add some inspiration for our local commuters by putting up a motivational sign at one of our busiest intersections…hoping to bring some happiness to an everyday route!
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Day 28: Visiting with someone who is sick 

How horrible does it feel to be sick? You are at home, bored, possibly in pain and cut of from the beautiful summer sun…and if its an unfortunate situation with longer recovery time, every day just seems endless. For Day 28 of Ramadan GOODness, we decided to visit with someone that has just had surgery, bring her some pretty flowers and cheer her up as best we can…spreading some much needed GOODness to someones day!

Day 29: Eid cookies for the whole family 

We have a really big family, which makes Eid celebrations so much fun! In anticipation for Eid tomorrow, we have decided to bake a big (huge) batch of Eid Mubarak cookies. The process in it self spread some serious GOODness, as we brought the family together for many hours preparing, baking and decorating the cookies. We made moons, starts, lanterns and tiny little mosques to share some yummy GOODness with our extended family on this very special day…spreading some GOODness one cookie cutter at time!

After 29 days of running around spreading GOODness to our community, family and friends, it is a little sad to finally bid farewell to Ramadan. Throughout the month, our family was able to learn so much about community, social issues, and the power of making others smile…and because of this, we actually ended up learning a great deal about ourselves. I believe strongly that every GOOD deed, no matter how small, has a big impact in the universe. I pray that throughout this month, my family and I were able to touch people, if even in a little way, and spread some smiles to those that needed it the most. The whole month went by so quickly, and the kids are already thinking about exciting ideas for next year…until then, we are still challenging ourselves to  spread some serious GOODness whenever possible…are you up to the challenge?

 

Ageing Parents and the Inevitable

•April 22, 2013 • 2 Comments

Last night I came to a sharp realization; My parents are getting old. Not a completely new realization of course, it’s something that I have been thinking about for some time now, but it wasn’t until this cold quiet night that it really hit home. My father sat wrapped in a comforter half asleep in front of the television, while my mother slowly sipped away at her tea, lowering the warm cup to sooth her sore throat every few minutes. I kept going back and forth between the two, I just couldn’t pull myself away.

I’m not sure exactly what I was feeling or how to describe it…but it felt heavy in my chest and I could barely choke back my tears. Parents get old and with age comes the inevitable; this is the natural circle of life, but knowing that doesn’t make it any easier to accept.

My parents have always been like heroes to me. Like many immigrants, they left their family, friends and everything that they held dear to come to Canada and start a new life for themselves. They worked hard…really hard…to provide us with everything that we could possibly desire. And it’s not just the financial aspect, any parent could have done that, it was and still is, the unconditional love and support that really stands out. They were there through every difficult time, stayed up with me during long sick nights, encouraged and supported many of my wild adventures and were always there…always.

As they get older, the tables are slowly starting to turn, and I am finally being given the opportunity to do something for them. These are small things, nothing that could ever amount to all that they did for me, but let me tell you, it feels great…feels right.

I often hear people talking about what little time they have to visit their parents, their lives are just too busy to take the kids over to play or drop by for a family dinner. Seriously? After spending their entire adult lives caring for us, our parents are finally at a place where they need us-and we don’t have time for them? And let’s just put time aside, many of us don’t even have the patience to have a conversation with our parents. We are easily annoyed, refuse to repeat a thought more than once, and often end off with a disrespectful dismissal of the whole discussion. Situations like this hurt me the most…how quickly we forget who we are and how we got here.

We need to start showing our parents the respect, appreciation and time that they deserve, they will not be here forever…the inevitable is just around the corner. Not taking this opportunity to connect, will leave us with nothing but regret and empty desires for what should have been.

Pakistan: Don’t give up on her now

•February 25, 2013 • 1 Comment

Like many people, I have grown up balancing many different identities. I was born and raised in Canada, follow the Muslim faith and have Pakistani roots…all have been very important to me, however,  it seems that my Pakistani origin has dominated in shaping me into the person I am today.

My obsession with Pakistan started very young, and to this day people are often confused by my degree of patriotism.  I wasn’t born there, have never lived there and only visit every couple of years…but still, there’s something about her that keeps pulling me in.

 However, I have recently begun to feel like a minority amongst other Pakistanis; people just don’t feel the same love for Pakistan as they used to. Conflict, politics and popular media tend to bring the worst out in people- Usually it doesn’t bother me much, I figure everyone’s entitled to their opinion, but the recent attacks on Pakistan have left me more than just a little disturbed. Whether it’s due to the growing violence, political corruption, or overhyped media delivery, it is important now more than ever that we don’t give up on Pakistan.

 How can so many people have turned on their own country so quickly? I hear them all the time, sitting around talking about how horrible Pakistan has become, and how glad they are to be out of that place. Some even go as far as to say that they’re disgusted by the country and would never go back. Seriously? The country that gave birth to you, where you started your families and have buried your elders. A country rich in culture, history and good old fashion jazba, now disgusts you?

The thing that amuses me the most is that these people still want to be associated with the culture; they wear the beautiful clothes, eat the delicious food and speak the poetic language…they want to be associated with everything Pakistani…just not with Pakistan. Hypocrisy at its finest.

Don’t get me wrong, I am the first to admit that Pakistan has problems…lots of them…but how is cutting your ties going to help? Until we are united as a people, both inside Pakistan and around the world, we will never be able to see the change in the country that is so desperately needed. The recent events in Pakistan have shown the government, and the world that the time for change is now. It will not happen overnight, and definitely will not be easy, but together we can help Pakistan achieve the dream that Jinnah had envisioned for her…don’t give up on her now. 

The Thoughts of a Liberated Woman

•January 26, 2013 • Leave a Comment

This is a post by Guest Blogger Anila Qasim. Anila is currently completing an Undergraduate Degree in Forensic Anthropology at the University of Toronto.  

The Thoughts of a Liberated Woman  

“You’re liberated; you can do anything you want.”

“Because I’m not married and you are?”

“No, because you wear hijab.”

That conversation – that up there, that you just read – actually happened. It wasn’t in as serious a tone as it seems here on paper. My cousin and I were just putting together a day bed, and I was just saying that I was capable of constructing things despite my inability to do “masculine” things, as per my little brother. But she said that to me, nonchalantly, in the middle of the prayer room at her house: she told me I was a liberated woman.

Those words she said to me meant nothing that moment in time, but they have since triggered a great deal of thought. I, Anila Qasim, am a liberated woman.

Indeed, my liberation is ostensible. It is merely a cloth, this liberation of mine – sometimes matte and sparkly, sometimes brightly coloured and patterned. Perhaps it is of a paradoxical nature. In isolating my physical self, I liberate my physical and spiritual being. To some, I may seem like a fool swaddled in cloth in the August heat. (Just like that man at the SuperStore, who told my mom she was crazy, wearing her hijab and aa’baya when it was 30 degrees outside.) But I don’t know, it’s amazing, subhan’Allah, what some hidden locks can do for you.

It’s one thing to say you’re a Muslimah and another to embody your faith. It’s another thing to stand in a crowd and have someone know immediately what you are and what you stand for, and another to have someone look at you and pass you off as a “regular girl”. That being said, wearing a hijab does not make a woman better or more pious than another. Allah knows best whose intentions are purer and whose actions are more righteous. Wearing Islam on my head is a reminder to me of what I am. My hijab is for me, for me to remember that Allah is watching my every move.

I am a Muslim, Alhumdulillah.

I stand for piety, peace and submission to Allah. When I look into the mirror or a puddle or a window, I see a girl with deen on the outside, and that motivates me more than ever to strengthen the ima’an that is within. Before I say something, I think: is this what I need to be saying, is this what I need to be doing? Is this how I should behave being a symbol of Islam? Am I just going to fuel the misconceptions that the media has about my deen by acting against the tenets of my faith? What do I need to do, to demonstrate to others that Islam is really the religion of truth?

If there are things out there, rumors in the Western world that label us as oppressed beings, why don’t we awaken the world to the truth? I cover myself, because I belong to me and Allah. No one else. My body is mine. It is unassailed. Not physically, not visually. I’m a mystery aren’t I? And why should you, who has no right over me and what Allah has granted me, be able to see what does not concern you?

I, I am not oppressed. But yes, I was forced to wear hijab. YOU, the one with a narrow mind, forced me to free myself from the highly sexualised society that we’re both a part of. And now I am oppressed because I choose to stand out and deviate from the societal norm? I am oppressed, because I refuse to show you how beautiful Allah has made me? I am oppressed because I refuse to be an object of desire, the subject of your discussion and I choose to let Islam permeate every aspect of my life?

Now you may say that Islam enslaves me, enslaves me. But I ask you, are you not enslaved by the lungs and the heart that helps sustain you? Would you not do everything in your power to maintain them, to keep the blood coursing through your veins and the air entering and leaving your body?

My faith in Allah is the only thing I need to survive in this world, the only thing that will bring me contentment in this dunya and success in the hereafter, insha’Allah.

What this piece of cloth does is tell the world that there is more to you than the curvature of your hips or the pout of your lips. You are a woman, and you demand respect. And that’s what the hijab does.

Being hijabi in public is proof:

One winter’s evening, around 6pm, I got on the TTC. It was a snowy day. The bus was wet and packed. A number of people were standing, I amongst them. I was slipping and sliding about, with the weight of my bag making me unbalanced. This guy got off his seat, and told me to sit down. I said it’s alright but he prodded. Through this whole exchange, another woman was glaring at me, perhaps because the guy wasn’t making eye contact with me as he spoke. I sat, nevertheless, and when I got to my stop, he said “Allah Hafiz” and that was the last I saw of him.

Where that brother is now, I don’t know. I don’t think I could even recognize him, but I will always believe that he gave me his seat because I was a Muslimah. Or maybe he was just a Good Samaritan. Maybe he just picked me to be kind too.

I never really got to thank him, but I guess this is it. Wherever he is, may Allah reward him, jazak’Allah khairun.

Maybe getting a seat on public transit isn’t the greatest motivation for donning the hijab but I must say, it might just be the icing on the cake, no?  I remind myself before I remind anyone else, and I ask Allah to guide me and those in my vicinity, insha’Allah. I do not intend to offend. This is just how I see it.

These are the thoughts of a liberated woman.

You can follow Anila Qasim on twitter: www.Twitter.com/AnilaQasim

A New Year’s Resolution to keep

•December 4, 2012 • 3 Comments

Every year around this time, people start to reflect on the year that has passed and the one to come…the successes and failures of the past 12 months, along with the expectations of the next 12. This is also the time of year when celebrations are had and New Year’s resolutions are set…something that I encourage everyone to do.

Growing up I always set out New Year’s resolutions for myself (actually, they were more like challenges), and as with many people, they were very short lived and quickly became a joke. Losing weight (a popular one with many), exercising more and being more social were all past resolutions of mine that flopped mid way through February (if even that long).  I would come down hard on myself (as would my mom, weight loss is no joke in the South Asian community), and I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t have the motivation to keep my challenge going.

After years of flopped resolutions, I finally figured it out. I needed a resolution that was not centred selfishly around myself, I needed a challenge that would have a greater impact. This passed year was the first time that I was able to keep my resolution…I challenged myself to spread some serious GOOD to my friends, family and community. Throughout the year I have been doing random acts of GOOD, giving charity and trying to make a difference…one small good deed at a time. Many people have been skeptical of my challenge; how are little deeds going to change anything? But that’s where they are wrong… a year of smiling at strangers, opening doors and leaving random notes of inspiration has taught me that changing the world is not the goal…making the world seem better for even one person, for even one moment is what truly matters.

Throughout the year I started to notice all the other people spreading GOOD in their communities, people that had been doing it for so long, I just never paid attention to it until now. My sister in law held many short campaigns for different causes throughout the year, she had always been doing it, but I had never noticed. People at work, family, friends and even my kids had been spreading some serious GOOD all year round…I was finally doing my part. And it wasn’t just the impact that it had externally, it completely changed me and the way I see the world. I started interacting with people differently and felt truly grateful for everything in my life. 

This year as you sit down to think about your New Year’s resolution, think about challenging yourself to do something that will inspire you and the people around you…don’t get me wrong, weight loss is a great challenge…but what are you going to do mid February onwards…

 

 
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