Aunt Nasty with the Cherry Red Lipstick

25 06 2009

This post is for the ladies who have had to be hospitable to their nasty aunt with the cherry red lipstick.  She visits once a month, twelve months a year for at least forty-five years of your life.  Sometimes her visits are an unexpected surprise and sometimes you long for her to appear at your door.  Most of the time, you wish she wasn’t related to you. 

Gentlemen.  There are some things in life that you will simply never understand (or feel, for that matter).  But wait, before you run off in intolerant anger, be patient and read on.  


Bloody, painful and sticky periods.  

Having said that, I’m sure the gentlemen are intrigued and eager to read on.  Some in an attempt to identify with their feminine side, some out of curiosity, and a few who just wish they had ovaries and a colorful variety of pads and tampons to choose from.  It really doesn’t matter what your agenda is, as long as I get the painful message across to each and every one of you (ladies included).

Don’t worry, I won’t delve into too much detail about the first time I had to throw away my favorite pair of Victoria’s Secret underwear.  I just want to talk about the emotions that were flowing through me on that special day (no pun intended, I swear).  I remember running to my stepmother in a fury of mixed emotions.  I was always told that I would become a woman one day, but I was never told how messy it could get. 

“Mama, Mama, I’m bleeding!”

She scanned my body looking for my frequent nosebleed or a bloody scrape from my rough play in the garden.  Embarrassed and discomfited, I pointed to my tight fitting denims.  She grinned in comprehension and walked over to her bedroom, returning a few minutes later with a cheaply wrapped gift.  I tore the pastel green wrap into bits, unfolding the cotton-like fabric within.  My family rejoiced my passage into womanhood in elegant silence.

That is a pretty emblematic reflection on a teenager’s first glimpse of blood, don’t you think?  Not so much for a young girl named Zoala.

When Zoala’s best friend pointed out the bloodstain on the back of her raggedy and faded brown pants, they both became tense and exchanged a gaze of anguish and despair.  They had witnessed their friend Natek’s passage into womanhood and the wealth that it had brought to her family, but the handful of silver shillings didn’t seem to be worth the excruciating pain. 

“Don’t tell anyone, Lamok.  If you don’t tell, I won’t tell.”

Lamok pondered the thought for a long minute and then nodded her head in agreement as she whispered a comforting promise in Zoala’s ear.  They exchanged their secret handshake and walked back to their village hand in hand. 

Their playful bickering and childlike giggles were interrupted by Natek’s stern gaze.

She was standing outside of her mud hut, with her arms on her hips, looking to start trouble.  Ever since she married the old man who sells the rotten mangoes, she had begun to rot as well.  She dropped out of school and started to resent all the girls in the blue and white checkered uniforms.  It was obvious that Natek was miserable and probably still in pain from the circumcision.

“Is that blood I see?” asked Natek, as she wiggled her index finger from side to side.

“No, I tripped on a rock on my way back from school,” said Zoala, impressed with her swift response.

Natek bent over to take a closer look, hoping to transport the pain below her waist onto the two innocent little girls standing before her.  Zoala and Natek quickly shuffled their bare feet across the mocha colored sand, looking for a place to hide.  They sat under the village’s acacia tree, holding hands and breaths, waiting for the ripe days of their childhood freedom to come to an end.

Aren’t you glad that your first experience – as horrific as it may have seemed at the time – doesn’t even compare to the fear and pain that these little girls in Africa must feel?

Genital mutilation, more commonly known as female circumcision, is a problem that still persists in many African nations (Sudan, Kenya, etc.).  Village girls are taught that circumcision will make them feel grown up and their bride price will help the family alleviate some of their poverty.  Female circumcision is also thought to prepare girls for responsible and happy marital lives.

There are alternatives and solutions to this issue.  First and foremost, we must work together to educate the young and give them the power to say “no”.  When educated, girls can withstand the taunting and the pressure from family, friends and schoolmates.  Female circumcision is not a subject that people discuss openly, but when the facts are brought to the people’s attention, a public debate can take place, putting the girls in a position that allows them to make their own choice. 

It’s the 21st century, people!  This should not still be happening.  Educate your mind and the minds of people you know.  If you want to take it a step further, here are a few organizations you can get involved with:

World Health Organization

World Organization for Human Rights

If you come across any other good sources, please share them with me!


Custom Carpet and Water Purifiers

24 06 2009

The Masland Carpet representative came into our office this afternoon to drop off a custom sample I had requested for a Mexican restaurant remodel that I’m working on.  Our conversation drifted from types of carpet construction to bosses to “milking cows” – Dana’s type of cow – and I started rambling about my trip to Kenya, AGAIN!  I think I’m starting to annoy myself, really!  Anyway, we talked about Safari’s, which somehow lead to game hunting and trekking, and he suggested that I buy this nifty, and undeniably phallic looking device. 

It’s a portable water purifier that destroys waterborne microbes using an ultraviolet tube light.  Not quite as impressive as the LifeStraw, but good enough for hotel tap water I guess.


SteriPEN® is the only portable water purifier that uses ultraviolet (UV) light to destroy waterborne microbes.Whether your source is a woodland brook or an overseas hotel tap, SteriPEN purifies clear water by destroying viruses, bacteria and protozoa—including Giardia and Cryptosporidium—in seconds. Carry a SteriPEN to disinfect water wherever you travel, hike, camp or trek. It’s the fastest route to pure, safe drinking water anywhere.

“Stop Milking this Cow!”

23 06 2009

In 9 days I’m going to board Phoenix and fly to London (via Toronto), hangout at Heathrow for 8 hours and anxiously wait for my flight to Mombasa (via Nairobi).  Yes, I’ll be in 3 continents in 1 day!  I can hardly contain my excitement… 

Preparing for this trip has been stressful, to say the least.  I guess I’m just used to Baba’s well planned summer vacations.  I’m also used to Kuwait’s free vaccinations and being able to ask Joe to drop off my passport at the Kenyan Consulate.  Here, there is no easy way out – I’ve got to do all the work, and pay for it too.

But I’m not complaining because I have had the honor to be surrounded by the most beautiful people on this planet.  Living through my first year of financial (and emotional) independence has taken a toll on me, but good friends and family have lessened the burden and opened my eyes to the kindness and unselfishness that continues to live in this cruel and nasty world.  When I’m sitting in my ten story office building overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, pushing papers to try to get the construction team to complete the Love Lina Orphanage Center in Malawi on schedule, I will look back and think of three people who have made it possible.  Airabin, Anna and Sal might not realize the impact of their generosity, but I treasure it and will forever be grateful.

I’m coming to the end of my post and you are probably wondering who’s cow I’m milking.  I was in Vegas this past weekend, visiting my cousins Dana and Ahmed, when Dana (with a little help from Fuzzy Navel and Scooby Snack) told me to stop milking this cow – the cow being my trip to Kenya with K4K (Kuwait for Kenya).  I guess I do talk about it quite a bit, and I’m sure it gets very annoying, but I’m excited and I can’t help it!  Dana then began to refer to her charitable trip to Costa Rica as C4C, Crack Heads for Costa Rica.  Good times, good times…

Stay posted… I will be documenting my adventures very soon.

Peace. Love. Hapiness.

Summer Reading…

12 06 2009

I’m looking for a really good book to read during my summer vacation.

Angels and Deamons

I remember reading Angels and Demons by Dan Brown when I was in Rome in the summer of 2005, studying design.  It’s not the best book, by any means, but it was extremely creepy and exciting to read a chapter, and coincidentally visit the site the very next day.  My point is… I’ll be in Vegas, London and Mombasa in the next couple of weeks and I need a good book that’s set in either one of those places.  Or even a book about the things I’ll be doing (Vegas – what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas kind of thing, London – visiting my beautiful grandmother, Mombasa – teaching and building an extension to a primary school). 

Any recommendations? 

No cheesy love stories, shopaholic series, vampire tales or New York bestsellters PAH-LEEZ!

Off to Vegas in an hour…

Where on earth is The Republic of Benin?

10 06 2009

No matter how many times I’ve looked at a map of Africa, I always seem to come across a country I’ve never heard of before.  I need to get my map game on… that’s fo sho!

Go ahead… find The Republic of Benin.


R.I.P Omar Bongo

8 06 2009

From BBC News…

Omar Bongo

Africa’s longest serving leader -Gabonese President Omar Bongo – has died aged 73.

His death was confirmed by Prime Minister Jean Eyeghe Ndong in a written statement.

There had been conflicting reports earlier on Monday about whether Mr Bongo, who had led Gabon since 1967, had died in a Spanish clinic.

In his statement, Mr Ndong said Mr Bongo had died of a heart attack shortly before 1230 GMT.

He said Gabon would observe 30 days of mourning, and called on the Gabonese people to “stand together in contemplation and dignity”.

The defence ministry said it was closing Gabon’s air, land and sea borders.

The ministry, which is headed by Mr Bongo’s son, Ali-Ben Bongo, also said in a statement on national television that “all components of the defence forces were put in place across the territory”, and that sensitive buildings were being secured.

The Power of Networking

7 06 2009

Last night I was invited to a Congressman’s Ball.  To be honest, I had no idea who the congressman was or why he was having a ball, but the invite said open bar, so you know I was there in a heartbeat!

Turns out the ball was a networking affair, organized by High Society Events (480.232.6799), out of Phoenix, Arizona.  HSE brought together the entrepreneurs of the valley to indulge in delectable  hors d’oeuvres and sip on refreshing Mojito’s (omg, almost too refreshing).  The atmosphere was informal and everybody was extremely friendly and down to earth, making it really easy for Airabin and I to network our butts off!  We met the owner of Rosewood Resorts from Vancouver, an up and coming film director, writer and producer, the vice president of research for a video gaming corporation and (drum roll please) my golden key to even more sources, a networking specialist.  Austin Feldman, from “Who’s Who”, holds an event every Tuesday at Barcelona’s VIP room, for business owners, entrepreneurs, principles,presidents and partners to mix and mingle in a business casual atmosphere.  I’ll be there next Tuesday if you want to join the party!  They have fresh raw oysters on their menu…yummy!

I used this opportunity to talk to absolutely everybody about my project.  I explained that my thesis exhibition would eventually turn into my lifetime career, in which I’d take one developing country at a time and provide them with design services that would contribute to the repression of poverty.  Everyone I spoke to seemed so intrigued.  Now I need to find someone to fund it.  Give me a few years to put an awesome proposal together and I swear you’re going to see me on the front page of every African newspaper. I’m going to be on the Oprah show too…

Speaking of which, my friend James, an awesome graphic designer located in Scottsdale, AZ is going to take some time out of his busy schedule to provide me with a logo for Project World/Project Kenya 2011.  Check him out HERE.