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Girl Rising: I am Change

28 Mar

mujer13 girls under 18 were married in the last 30 seconds.
38 thousand will be married today.
14 million will be married this year.
These are just some of the statistics I heard during the screening of “Girl Rising” yesterday. The screening is part of the Houston Library’s World Café forum aimed at highlighting global issues and raise awareness of their impact in our community.
Girl Rising is a powerful film everyone should watch. The film tells the stories of 9 girls from different part of the world that faces challenges and overcome heart breaking injustices. After you watch the film you become aware about issues like child arranged marriages, child slavery, and other unspeakable acts these girls survive. All of their stories were touching, beautifully presented and narrated by renowned actresses like Meryl Streep, Salma Hayek and Anne Hathaway.  Each story is beautifully written by renowned writers from each girl’s country. They are all powerful but the writing in the last story of the film was particularly memorable to me. 
It is the story of Amina a 9 year old Afghan girl who is forced to marry a man who is much older than her. More than 50% of Afghan girls are married or engaged by 10. Women activists say up to 80 percent of marriages in poor rural areas are either forced or arranged. Like Amina, most girls marry far older men — some in their 60s — whom they meet for the first time at their wedding. Amina is one of the lucky girls in Afghanistan who survived child birth. More women die giving birth in Afghanistan than any other place in the world. Amina is just one of the many girls who want change.

There are so many girls in the world who are not wanted and are treated poorly. The violence girl’s face around the world is unthinkable. One of the girls in this film is sold and the money was used to buy her brother a pickup truck. The goal of this film is not only to create awareness but a call to action. It is important we invest on girls. Girls can break the cycles of poverty by being educated. Educated girls stand up for their rights, marry and have children later, educate their own children. Girls are the future and we have to stop treating them less than boys.
The last half of the story I believe summarizes the struggle of all the 9 girls in the film. They simply want to prevail. They want more. They want change. If you have a chance, please watch the film and show it to the girls and boys in your life. You can watch a short version of the stories here. I think the film gives a great opportunity to discuss with our children their own privileges and the limitations other children around the world face. I look forward to the day I’m able to speak to Gael about these kinds of issues and make him aware of what happens in other parts of the word.
The following it is beautifully written. It is powerful and hopeful.
(Amina after giving birth to her son)
As I suckled his innocence on my breast, cupped his tiny feet in my hands
I vowed that night not only to find a way to endure but to prevail.

All I felt was impatience. Impatience because we are poor.
Because we are silenced.
Disenfranchised. Beaten. Cut. Married as children. Sold. Raped
When we seek freedom we are burned
When we speak the truth we are stoned
When we go to school we are bombed, poisoned, shot
Don’t tell me it simply has been so
I can’t believe in your resignation
I refused ignorance long ago
Don’t tell me you are on my side
Your silence has already spoken for you
Do not tell me blame lies within my religion. In my culture. In my tradition.
 
I have not forgotten my vow
Change is coming
I will read. I will learn. I will study. I will return to school
I dare you to tell me it is a waste of time
If you try to stop me I will just try harder
Put me in a pit, I will climb out
If you kill me there will be other girls who will rise up and take my place.
I will find a way to endure. To prevail
The future of men lies in me
And this is the future I see
I am the beginning of a different story in Afghanistan
Do you see it now? Look into my eyes. I AM CHANGE

#NaPhoPoMo 2013 Day 23: Lunch alone

27 Nov

imageToday I had lunch by myself.  This is a rarity for me nowadays. I used to do this all the time. Times have changed.  When you are a parent eating becomes a rushed activity even more so when you are doing the single parent thing.  I love eating with my little guy but I also love eating alone. It felt nice to sit back and observe my surroundings while listening to music, and slowly chewing my food. The last part becomes a luxury when you have an active 10 month old.   It felt nice to write somewhere else other than in my bed. It felt nice to do it during normal hours, with daylight. It felt nice to look up at the pretty lamps in the ceiling, the décor around in the restaurant and the couple across the room having a glass of wine. It all felt nice. 

This photograph was taken as part of #NaPhoPoMo (National Photo Posting Month) – a shot a day for the month of November.

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#naphopomo 2013, Day 17: Dinner en nuestro hogar

21 Nov

imageTonight Gael and I hosted a dinner for a small group of friends at home. This was a first for me. I’ve never really had more than one friend come over for dinner. It was really nice. It’s was our usual sunday breakfast bunch- Rafa, Pau and Ale. I managed to cook a pretty decent meal without burning the place down.  No body got sick as of yet so I think that’s a good sign.

I never really had friends come over prior to Gael because I was hardly ever there. I was always on the go and my apartment didn’t look anything like it does today. One of the things I did while pregnant was transform my apartment into a home. I knew I would have to spend more time at home once Gael arrived so my goal was to make it as cozy as possible. I’ve always wanted a place that felt like home- a place that is welcoming and comfortable.  My apartment is not just an apartment anymore, it has become a home thanks to my little guy.This is probably why I feel more comfortable inviting friends. So much has changed with Gael arrival and I’m really thankful for it.  It never ceases to amaze me how this kid has managed to transform so much about my life in such a wonderful way. He has brought me back to the basics and makes me cherish what’s really important in life.

Our friends felt at home tonight and that makes me happy. For the the first time in my life I can say I have a place I can call home– nuestro hogar (our home). 

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This photograph was taken as part of #NaPhoPoMo (National Photo Posting Month) – a shot a day for the month of November.

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#naphopomo 2013, Day 16: Meet Mike

21 Nov

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I met Mike Segal this morning during a visit at Ben Taub Hospital with my Mom. He came into the waiting area and said, “at 11am I’m going to have a support group in this room. I would like to tell you my story.” My initial thought was, “oh great, what’s this guy going to talk about.”  

Mike came back at 11am and shared that in 1981 he was shot in the head execution style during a robbery at a convenience story in Austin. Mike stopped by the convenience store to get $2 of gas with his girlfriend Sharon who stayed in the car while he went inside the store to pay. They were both students at UT and just finished a long night of studying. Mike survived but his doctors didn’t give him much hope to his quality of life. One of his doctors told him it was best not to focus on returning to college and to set “more realistic goals.” In 1986, Mike graduated with the highest honors from UT. He says he is a very determined and stubborn person.

Mike’s story is remarkable and truly inspiring. One of my favorite things he said during his talk is that in order to see the beauty in life you have to experience some unpleasantness. I couldn’t agree more. This week I’ve been reminded of this several times. Mike is inspiring because he survived against all odds and never gave up. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for him to complete his degree while still going through therapy three to five days a week but he did it. He didn’t make any excuses for himself and was determined. Listening to his story was a breathe of fresh air on a day that didn’t turned out the way I expected.  He brought different things into perspective and reminded me how important it is living each day to it’s fullest. I was humbled to hear story and can only wish others take the time to really listen to him. 

At the end of the talk he asked he we had any questions and of course I did. I wanted to know what happened with Sharon. Mike shared Sharon never left his side and have been married for more than 20 years. They have one daughter who recently graduated from College. Mike says Sharon taught him the definition of true love. Mike describes Sharon as his Miracle, a diamond in a world filled with problems, hurt and pain. 

Thank you Mike for sharing your story every wednesday in that hospital room. Thank you for sharing your wonderful spirit and positive outlook in life. Thank you for reminding me beauty can be found in the most unexpected places, and that we should always keep faith and hope alive.

This photograph was taken as part of #NaPhoPoMo (National Photo Posting Month) – a shot a day for the month of November.

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#naphopomo 2013, Day 15: Out of the ordinary

19 Nov

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Today I decided to do something out of the ordinary  while Gael spent time with Dad. I took a dance class for the first time in a very long time. If you know me well, you know I love to dance. I wanted to be a dancer when I grew up… I still do! The class was not only a great workout but also a reminder of how much I love moving and expressing myself through dancing. I haven’t moved like that in a good while and it made me feel so alive.  I’m trying to make this a self care activity a weekly practice. I think it’s important for Mom’s to do something on their own every chance they get. It is healthy and necessary. This is also one of my personal goals to get out of the routine and do something different. Lately, I’ve doing a lot of this!  I encourage you to try it. Try doing something out of the ordinary every chance you get, even if it’s just taking a different route to work. Get out of your comfort zone and explore something new. Life can become much more interesting when we get out of our box!

This photograph was taken as part of #NaPhoPoMo (National Photo Posting Month) – a shot a day for the month of November.

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#naphopomo 2013, Day 14: The art of design

18 Nov

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I’m always impressed with people that are able to create beauty with their hands. Tonight I attended the Taste of the Texans event where HCC had a booth displaying design work by one of the professors along with delicious sweets. The photos below show you a before and after.  It was great watching the designer create the display from beginning to end. The display was voted BEST display of the night.

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This photograph was taken as part of #NaPhoPoMo (National Photo Posting Month) – a shot a day for the month of November.

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#naphopomo 2013, Day 13: Domingos con Tota

17 Nov

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Gael gets excited when we visit Tota on sundays. She tries to sing to him and he just stares. I love watching them interact because I never thought she would get to see one of my kids. She used to say, “You need to hurry up and have a baby before I die.” She got her wish!! My wish is that Gael gets to have some memories of her. I hope he remembers moments like the one above- when she caresses his big cheeks and calls him, “mi gordito.” I hope!

This photograph was taken as part of #NaPhoPoMo (National Photo Posting Month) – a shot a day for the month of November.

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