The Power of Education

For 13 years, I have been championing the fight against the abuse and exploitation of children in Canada and globally, and have learned through my experience w/ some of the most marginalized children, that education is our most powerful preventative weapon.  It is cross-cutting, leading to eco growth and the eradication of poverty; improving health and gender equality; and promoting inclusion and social cohesion; participatory citizenship and leadership; and sustainable peace. Yet, 58 M children of primary school age and 69 M children of secondary school age are out of school, and 130 M cannot read/write a single sentence after four years in school.

My First Advocacy Win Part II

My success with Air Canada sparked Canada’s CST movement, and was also the influencing factor for the government, nonprofits, airport authorities, consulates, the travel/tourism industry, and law enforcement to collaborate for the first time in 2010, to initiate the first-ever multifaceted nation-wide campaign against CST. In pursuance, OneChild collaborated with child protection actors such as UNICEF Canada, the International Bureau for Children’s Rights, Plan Canada and the Government of Canada in conceptualizing, planning, and executing the campaign. As the lead for OneChild, I worked diligently with them to reach out to the travel/ tourism industry and host forums across Canada to sensitize them to the issue and increase inter-sectoral coordination; held consultations with youth; developed billboards, brochures, magazine inserts, and met with airlines, airports, tour operators, travel agencies, consulates, travel clinics, and tourism schools to ensure direct dissemination of the campaign material, which reached millions.

“Eid Mubarak” from California State.

What is this Eid?
In most of the Muslim world today, the faithful are celebrating Eid al-Adha, the second of two major holidays in Islam.
The day begins with morning prayers. The celebrations continue with visits to friends and family, exchange of gifts and feasts.
Those who can afford it also slaughter an animal, like a cow or sheep, and share the meat with the less fortunate.

We Need to Stand By Tunisian Women

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi’s call for full equality between men and women has been received mostly with applause in Tunisia, but with more mixed feelings from Muslims elsewhere in the region. During his speech on August 13 for Tunisian National Women’s Day, which commemorates the abolition of polygamy in 1956, Essebsi called for legalizing Muslim women’s marriage to non-Muslims and ensuring equality in inheritance. While the overwhelming atrocities in the region from anti-revolutionary fronts may shape views towards the Arab Spring, let us not forget that there’s a small North African country that is making different strides in the region.

10 Hacks to Survive Depression & Cultural Shock like a Boss!

If you’re an international fellow, then I know the struggle my friend!

Leaving your home country, family, and friends can be challenging. These practical tips may sound like common sense to someone who’s never experienced crippling sadness, but for those of us who know what it feels like to be hanging on by a thread, hopefully my list can help you survive the way it’s helped me.

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  1. Cook some Love!

Whenever I’m depressed I lose my appetite, but cooking had the power to change that!

Is social innovation the answer to Morocco’s challenges?

Our world is constantly changing, in fact, it is driven by change. The only way to keep up is to keep changing with it, finding new, better ways of performing usual tasks, in other words, innovating. There is no doubt that innovation is essential to progress and prosperity of the humankind. Last year, the United Nations included innovation in their global initiative, Sustainable Development Goals (Goal #9 is to ““Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation”). For the majority of people sustainability and decent quality of life are of high importance. However in many countries, including Morocco, acceptable living standards is still unattainable for a significant part of the population. According to recent statistical data, in Morocco the rate of people living in multidimensional poverty is 15,6% (UNDP Morocco), and the unemployment rate is 9,2% (World Bank). For Morocco, with its total population steadily approaching 35 million people, this means that over 5 million people are living in poverty, and over 3 million people at the age of 15 and older are unemployed. Can innovation help Morocco overcome such challenges as poverty and unemployment? Perhaps, if this innovation is of the social kind.
What does social innovation mean particularly for Morocco? Adnane Addioui, the president of the Moroccan Center for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship (Moroccan CISE), defines social innovation as “finding alternative ways to fix social issues, understanding the complexity behind them and thinking of quick and simple ways to provide answers and solutions needed by communities”. Therefore, social innovation has to originate from deep understanding of the Moroccan society and its needs. Further rethinking of traditional approaches to managing those needs can pave the way for innovation and change in the social sphere.
Is Morocco ready for social innovation? Social change in this country comes with its complexities. Last year, Bloomberg included Morocco in the Top-50 index of the world’s most innovative economies, which is already a good sign. On the other hand, Morocco is still a country with deeply-rooted traditions which influence the minds of many of its citizens. Moroccan people have a very unique way of dealing with social issues such as poverty. They have a strong culture of giving to the poor, and take this responsibility seriously and personally. However such traditional thinking sometimes can hinder the progress and close the door to new innovative solutions. Adnane Addioui calls some of Moroccan communities “innovation averse” (analogy of risk averse), and mentions that it is not always easy to change the preset ways and to defend new ideas.
Fostering social innovation and change in Morocco is challenging. Organizations dedicated to promoting social innovation are quite few. For instance, the Moroccan Center for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship facilitates social innovation through finding entrepreneurial solutions to social issues in Morocco. Under the Center’s guidance, several social startups work on tackling specific societal issues (like poverty) and improving livelihoods of disadvantaged people. In fact, social entrepreneurship is one of the best examples of social innovation in practice. The work that social startups do often aligns with the work of numerous NGOs and foundations, however it is innovation that gives entrepreneurs the edge. Startups have the potential to create numerous jobs in local communities and actively participate in the local economy.
There are many ways how socially innovative solutions can improve lives in Morocco and around the world. Social innovation can open borders, bring tolerance and acceptance of new ways and methods. Most importantly innovation can act as a driver of social change. Social innovation will not entirely solve all social issues that exist in Morocco, but it can certainly facilitate the process. In the end, innovation is not just a tool, it is a way of thinking, a philosophy, perhaps, the new philosophy of the XXI century.

Price for responding to Disasters?

We often ask ourselves why would international nonprofit organizations take the job of responding to international disasters on their hand. In fact, they race and compete to raise money after disasters but what does that means for those affected communities?

Many scandals has happened and continues to happen with each time a disaster strikes of big organizations soliciting funding to respond to certain disasters and never meets donors or disaster survivors needs.

Breaking News: India & Pakistan tying the “KNOT”

Pictured here is Disha, an Atlas Corps Fellow from India and my mother Qamar Tariq from Pakistan. I remember sitting on my couch looking at my mother help Disha out with her saree ( A traditional Indian outfit) and thinking to myself isn’t this what “Building Bridges” is all about?

Growing up studying history, we were always exposed to the differences between the Hindu and Muslim culture and how most Indians hate Pakistanis. They do- but only on the cricket field 🙂

The Power of Watching & Listening

It never stops. Respond to this message. Sign this campaign. Update your LinkedIn. Post about your life. The 24/7 media cycle and social media has infiltrated every aspect of our lives and it appears modern society always has a mic on us. We’re always being asked for our opinions and we’re expected to know the answers.

 

 

But the world is big, and with so much happening, and so many perspectives and life experiences out there, one of the most invaluable practices is to watch and listen. We’re only ever going one life experience and lived-perspective – the world becomes so much more interesting when we build bridges across life experiences, use our imagination and step into the shoes of others.

The Duality of Blessings: A Farewell Letter to Bread

Dear Bread,

A year has gone by already. Where did the time go fam? The uncertainty of in-betweens – like the in-between of ending one journey and starting another – can be scary, but, if there is one thing I’m certain of, is that this year spent with the warm and caring people at 7th Street Northwest and Good Hope Road Southeast has been an unforgettable experience. Young unapologetically-black gay boys from the global south need more opportunities like this to slay, and slay I have. Thank you Bread for the City for making that happen. There must have been some point in the preparation for this Fellowship when you all thought, ‘This could go bad’ but you stuck it through and for that also I thank you, with the hope that you and Atlas Corps continue to build bridges and give young unapologetically-themselves people from the global south more experiences like this.