Where I Am

Have you ever reached a place where everything seemed completely fruitless? Where you found yourself questioning every effort and whether there was a point to continuing? Where all you wanted to do was shut the door, pull the drapes, and forget about the world outside?

That’s where I am right now. Even writing has become a struggle to find words to express what’s going on inside my head.

There are the events happening in Syria and Egypt, places I’ve been intently invested in for the last couple of years. The thought of inflicting more pain and suffering to those in Syria is almost too much to bear, but what is the right thing to do: send in the troops, or attempt again to find a peaceful solution whilst Syrians are still suffering? And with the turn of events in Egypt it seems their dreams of Eish, Hurriya, Karama Ensaneyya — Bread, Freedom, Human Dignity – are slipping away, replaced by the same things they fought to break down two years ago.

Global warming and pollution melted the polar ice fields so much that this year the North Pole was actually a lake. There has been an increase in poaching of endangered species worldwide, to the point that elephants and rhinos may be completely gone from the wild in five years. Habitat for some species has all but disappeared, leaving the survival of animals such as the orangutans at risk, and the destruction of wilderness continues daily. Governments are selling their natural resources to the highest bidders, and lying to their citizens about the potential damages. There is growing evidence of animal cruelty in every country on the planet.

It feels as if we’re losing ground. Something needs to be done, but what? Better minds than mine are heavily involved in these issues and even some of them feel the futility at times. I feel ineffective. The small actions I take to “help” seem pathetically useless against such daunting challenges and I am in no way educated enough in the areas of politics and human rights to be able to make a more significant contribution and that frustrates me.

In reality the global issues are out of my control, and I can but contribute my single drops of water to the global fire. The personal issues should be easier to sort, but somehow they feel just as daunting.

Years ago when I was still in high school I remember my parents received notice that the farm status on the property might be removed. That would have resulted in an immediate tax hike. My mother was very upset and didn’t know what to do as we weren’t using the place as a farming business but rather milk from the goats and eggs from our chickens was for our health issues. I wrote a letter to the government explaining all this, about the allergies and the need to raise our own food etc. We were able to keep the status.

This month I received a notice that our farm status may be removed, a result of the property being changed from my parent’s names to our names. If I can’t come up with a good enough response for the government, we will lose the farm status and our taxes will go up 25%. I am struggling to figure out what to say, by end of September.

Other small issues have cropped up recently which has made me miss my parents more than usual. I keep thinking of the things that still need to be done, and how Dad was going to talk me through doing them, as he wouldn’t have been strong enough after the cancer treatments. Sadly he didn’t survive, and now I am trying to fumble my way through the tasks.

I am reminded of the things Dad built here and now they are old and needing repairs. Looking at things like the barn doors that Dad made fills me with sadness that I will have to change them because I can’t make them as he did. It seems so stupid to place such emotional attachment to things like pieces of equipment that only Dad used, or the hay wagon that Dad built, or the barn doors… they shouldn’t matter as much as they do right now. They aren’t Dad, but they are all we have left of him.

As well as dealing with Bubba’s illness (am focusing on him being healed), I’ve also been struggling to figure out what my next steps should be. I need to find additional creative work but am at a loss for what to do. It feels as if any creative inspiration has flown the coup, never to return. Whilst I am grateful to have my part-time job, I need more, financially and creatively. But what that might be escapes me.

Although I’ve no reason to bemoan my lot in life, I feel overwhelmed, battered and exhausted. Withdrawing from life isn’t an option but sometimes one must step back, lick the emotional wounds, and try to regenerate the inner strength.

So for those who have wondered, now you know where I am.

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This Is Why

This!

This is why!

Read it!

Read it, and weep, as I am doing right now.

Read it, and realize that your children, your grandchildren, will never know many of the beautiful animals that you have seen in your lifetime.

Why?

BECAUSE OF MAN!

Because humanity can’t seem to comprehend that what we are doing is killing this planet, killing lives that co-exist with us. It is killing us, in increments, slowly, over time, and in ways we can’t visually see until it’s too late.

Can’t you feel it?

Can’t you feel the anger? That white blind rage of anger when people are too fucking stupid to care about the elephants and rhinos murdered for their tusks… not for survival of man, but for vanity and greed.

Can’t you feel the fear? That paralyzing deep-in-your-bones fear that makes you gasp and struggle to breathe as you watch the bulldozers crashing into the jungles, destroying the homes of the orangutans, even as they stand by, clinging to each other, watching their world destroyed in front of them, picking through the burned out remains of what was their home, and now with nowhere to go.

Do you feel the earth, crying out in agony as man drills into her core, siphoning out the black gold that is part of her life? Do you feel her shudders as the fracking riddles her body, trying to extract every ounce of oil, to fuel man’s greed?

Doesn’t it make you seethe with rage, and weep with despair, and desperately want to beg for the survival of this planet and the animals and life species that are being systematically eradicated?

It does me.

Add to all this the never-ending abuse heaped on animals worldwide by humans. Animals being sodemized, brutalized, tortured, ripped apart mentally and physically, all by people. This isn’t a war they are embroiled in. This is simply a fact of life. Animals are not as important as people. That has been the belief for as long as man has been here, supported by religion apparently, in that man was created after the animals and in God’s image.

Jesus wept! What the hell is wrong with our species? How could we have gotten it so very wrong?

More importantly, what can we do to stop it, to save this planet before it’s too late?

There are those who don’t believe things are as bad as all that. Their little brains cannot fathom that this world could be destroyed if we stay on our current path. And men of money swear they have a handle on things. Mighty oil companies swear their processes are safe… oh, and they have a contingency plan if anything should go wrong.

If their processes were safe they wouldn’t need a fucking contingency plan! But they don’t get that.

The last couple of weeks I’ve been feeling quite shattered, unable to focus. My words, which have always been my one steady means of expressing the chaos in my head, simply would not flow. I was trapped inside myself, listening to the cacophany of thoughts and emotions. Until today.

I read the Daily Kos post. As I scrolled down the page, reading each word, the pain trapped within me poured out through the tears streaming down my cheeks. As I wept, I read, all the way down to the bottom of the page, to the story of the hummingbird.

“Don’t bother, it is too much, you are too little, your wings will burn, your beak is too tiny, it’s only a drop, you can’t put out this fire.”

I felt that despair this past few weeks, as if everything we do, the posts we make, the information we share, the photos and videos we view and pass on, is all just too little, too late.  And not just when it comes to animal and wildlife issues but all of it — the human rights atrocities, the wars, the struggles for freedom, the eons-old battle for equality and basic human dignity — all these issues seem insurmountable.

I am not a big brain, I don’t have the answers, and often struggle to keep up with the issues, but surely some of what I was doing was useful? The past few weeks I’ve felt more useless than useful. Each article I read, photo and video I viewed, drove me deeper into despair. I stopped posting, reading, and hid away, unwilling, and unable, to take in any more.

The article was almost too unbearable to read. But like all posts and articles that shed light on these issues, it had to be read. It must be shared. We must keep talking about it, shouting about it, demanding it change. If we don’t, if we just stand on the sidelines, watching it happen, pretending everything will be fine, all the while seeing it slipping away, we are just as complicit as those who kill, brutalize, rape, exploit, destroy. Our silence makes us partners in crime.

This article was a message to me, although I’m not sure yet what I will do. The fact is I must do something… we all must DO something.

To refuse to surrender to the apathy of denialism and fatalism.
To be fierce in our defense of the Earth.
To continue to fight in the face of overwhelming odds.
And always, always, to do what we can.

This planet and all the life-forms that co-exist with us are in danger. We need to get angry and get doing something about it. This is a battle for our survival and the survival of every living species on this planet.

Yalla!

Posted in Animal Welfare, Crisis, Egypt, Humanitarian Aid, Politics, Revolution, Syria, Uncategorized, Wildlife, World | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Syrian Humanitarian Crisis

The Syria crisis worsens daily. Massive humanitarian aid is needed and that need increases daily. Whilst the world’s governments play their political games, Syrians are desperately in need both in, and out, of Syria. The following list is charities that are already involved in the humanitarian aid. If there are other charities, once they are verified, I will add them. Please circulate this list as the need is great. We are a global community and must step up to help our Syrian brothers and sisters.

MEDICAL AND HUMANITARIAN AID ORGANIZATIONS FOR SYRIAN RELIEF

From The Guardian UK: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/datablog/2013/jul/25/aid-funding-syria-humanitarian-crisis-data

Syrian Red Crescent Organization (part of International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies – IFRC)

Information: http://www.ifrc.org/en/noticias/noticias/middle-east-and-north-africa/syria/

To donate: http://www.ifrc.org/en/get-involved/donate/

You may donate either to the National Society in your country, or to the IFRC directly.

You may choose to donate to one of our major field operations, or to make a general “unearmarked” donation.

Unicef  (United Nations Children’s Fund)

Information: www.unicef.ca/Syria

To donate: https://secure3.unicef.ca/site/Donation2?df_id=2008&2008.donation=form1&s_locale=en_CA&s_src=13DMPSSYR&gclid=CKXyp9-UrrkCFcme4Aoddh0A_A

United Nations World Food Program

Information: http://www.wfp.org/crisis/syria

To donate: https://www.wfp.org/donate/fillthecup

Specify Syria

Red Cross Canada

Information: http://www.redcross.ca/who-we-are/red-cross-stories/2013/emergency-field-hospital-arrives-in-jordan-s-capital

To donate: http://www.redcross.ca/donate/donate-online/donate-to-the-syria-crisis-fund

Oxfam

Information: http://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/syria-crisis

To donate: https://secure.oxfam.ca/?project=Syrian+Refugee+Cris

Save The Children

Information: http://www.savethechildren.org/site/c.8rKLIXMGIpI4E/b.7998857/k.D075/Syria.htm

To donate: https://secure.savethechildren.org/site/c.8rKLIXMGIpI4E/b.7998763/k.FEA/Donate_to_the_Syria_Children_in_Crisis_Fund/apps/ka/sd/donor.asp

Care Canada

Information: http://care.ca/our-work/what-we-do/emergency-relief/response-syrian-crisis&utm_source=hmbnr&utm_campaign=Syria

To donate: https://secure3.convio.net/careca/site/Donation2?df_id=1764&1764.donation=form1&JServSessionIdr004=4tkhv1jvd1.app337a

World Vision

Information: http://www.worldvision.org/news-stories-videos/faqs-war-syria-children-and-refugee-crisis

To donate: http://donate.worldvision.org/OA_HTML/xxwv2ibeCCtpItmDspRte.jsp?funnel=dn&item=2035030&go=item&section=10339&

United Church of Canada

Information: http://www.united-church.ca/communications/news/response/130905

Working through ACT Alliance: http://www.actalliance.org/where-we-work/syria

Donations can be made via any UC of C church, by marking your envelope “Syria Relief”.

Catholic Relief Services

Information: http://emergencies.crs.org/syria-crisis-nostalgia-amid-need/

To donate: https://secure.crs.org/site/Donation2?idb=581894314&df_id=4755&4755.donation=form1&s_src=emergencies

(unrestricted donation)

CARE International

Information: http://www.care-international.org/search.aspx?keyword=syria

(a listing of many postings about Syrian relief)

To donate: http://www.care-international.org/donate-now.aspx

Doctors Without Borders

Information: https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/news/allcontent.cfm?id=219

(a listing of all articles on Syria)

To donate: https://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/donate/onetime.cfm?

(unearmarked donation)

World Health Organization

Information: http://www.emro.who.int/syria-crisis/

To donate: http://www.emro.who.int/about-who/donors-funding/donate.html

Mennonite Central Committee

Information: http://www.mcc.org/category/taxonomycountriesxml/syria

To donate: https://donate.mcc.org/project/where-needed-most

Syrian American Medical Society

Information: http://sams-usa.net/

To donate: https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/weblink.aspx?name=E162284&id=39

Posted in Charity, Crisis, Humanitarian Aid, Syria, World | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Travesty of Justice

For 18 days Egyptians protested in Tahrir Square to bring down Hosni Mubarak. From a quick google search 846 people died, 6467 were injured, and over 12000 were arrested.

Today BBC World News reported that the court has ordered the release of Mubarak, supposedly on Thursday.

Where is the justice for all those people who died trying to free their country from a dictator? The families of those murdered by the Mubarak regime must be devastated at this news.

Whilst some people are saying that Mubarak won’t be released, it appears at this point it is a done deal. If/when this happens it will be a sad day, indeed, for Egyptians who fought so hard for freedom.

Posted in Egypt, Politics, Revolution | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

World Lets Egypt Down?

Over the last few months I have kept relatively quiet about issues ongoing in Egypt  because I am not Egyptian and therefore my opinion really is irrelevant. I have Egyptian friends with varying political views and I try not to disrespect their viewpoints, even if I don’t share some of those views. Occasionally I have posted comments and shared stories that particularly moved me. I came across the following article and felt very disturbed as I think the story is misleading.

The world, or at least those people I know in the world, is not against Egypt. Global friends have expressed great sadness at the violence and loss of life, on both sides, and this is where the problem arises.  Seems if you’re not absolutely on board the side of the military against the Muslim Brotherhood, then you are against Egypt. There have been a lot of mistakes made, on both sides, since June 30, 2013, but stating that to some Egyptians results in being accused of supporting terrorists.

Morsi was an elected president and there is a democratic process for removing a president. The military, and whoever gave the go-ahead for action, made the wrong, undemocratic decision when they deposed Morsi. So MB members do have a valid argument, as he was their elected choice.

That said, Morsi’s election was questionable, legally, with evidence of ballot box stuffing, destruction of ballots, coercion of voters etc. Morsi won with 51.7% of the votes to Shafik’s 48.3%, a result which would have demanded numerous recounts in the west. After a year of what can loosely be called governing, it is easy to see why many Egyptians were calling for his resignation. And that might have happened, given enough time. After all it took 18 days before Mubarak got the message and stepped down. But four days into the protests the military removed Morsi from power which resulted in the MB  taking to the streets in protest.

And this is where things get really messy. There are reports from MB supporters, and reports from military supporters, that show evidence of extreme violence against citizens on both sides. There have been deaths on both sides, approximately 600 people killed in six days!  Egyptians are killing their fellow citizens, and it’s heartbreaking.

I won’t begin to speak for governments as I don’t know whether they have/don’t have agendas. But as a global citizen, I know that people hate to see this kind of violence in Egypt. We believed in the peaceful revolution of January 2011, and over the last two years we have prayed and watched with waning hope as that peaceful revolution morphed into the confusion we see today.

Comments from friends in Egypt, who were on the streets during the first revolution, express similar feelings about the recent violence and events as I do. The following article shows the depth of despair and disappointment felt by some revolutionaries. It clearly shows not every Egyptian is cheering the killings of their MB fellow citizens. Another Egyptian friend recently expressed his concern that Egyptians may be losing their humanity, after the events of this week’s massacre.

It is very difficult to support a military that uses force against its citizens, especially when we remember, with sadness, the actions of SCAF just two years ago, and remember the faces of the martyrs of that time. It is difficult to show support for a military-run country that oppresses one segment of society.

In equal measure, it is difficult to support the MB too, hearing their comments about turning this into a holy war, and the video evidence showing MB members using weapons against people and the military. We remember the thugs that took to the streets to try and destroy the revolution and we wonder if that is happening now amongst the MB supporters, so the public will be convinced that military rule is needed to protect them from the “terrorists”. If not the thugs, is it extremists who are using this opportunity to forward their own agendas?  Regardless of who is firing the weapons and killing people, on both sides, the reality is that innocent Egyptians are dying.

The word ‘terrorist’ is becoming the go-to word around the world. It was the word used to motivate support for invading a country to find weapons of mass destruction that never materialized. The word terrorist motivated the acceptance of killing innocent people, because they were collateral damage in the war against terrorists. The word terrorist motivates normally decent people to utter such vile and hateful comments at those who may be far removed from any terrorist activities, all because they are a member of a Muslim faith, or a Muslim Brotherhood group. Some of the recent comments from friends supporting the violence towards MB members have been very cruel and shocking. How can anyone applaud the death of a young girl, the daughter of a MB member?  Putting all MB members into the category of ‘terrorist’ is akin to Americans blaming all Muslims for 9/11. It is fear-mongering, and wrong.

I can only speak for myself so, for the record, please understand that I am still on your side Egypt, still praying for the new life that will hopefully rise out of all the pain and suffering, leading to a democratic process uniquely Egyptian, where all citizens will share the goals of Eish, Hurriyah, Karama Ensaneyyah – Bread, Freedom, Human Dignity – equally, regardless of who they are or whatever their affiliations.

I will always speak against the killing of people who were unarmed, were peacefully protesting, and those too young to be a threat to anyone. I will still be moved when a grown man, with tears of grief in his eyes, says “You can’t kill your own people!”  I will still shed tears at the images of injured and dead, on both sides. I will still keep asking – no, begging – for those in control to find peaceful means to solve the issues in Egypt.

What I will not do is turn away from Egypt. I will not stop caring, or weeping, or praying that this country that I’ve never been to will find peace and prosperity in the near future.  I will not stop sharing information with friends, reading their comments, grieving with them, and empathizing with them as they try to retain the ideals of the first revolution.

I will not agree with views I cannot support just to retain friendships. That said, I will not stop friends from sharing their views with me, even if I don’t share those views. That is what freedom of speech is all about, and it applies to those whose ideas both mirror and differ from mine. I may not agree with everything happening in Egypt, but I am still standing on the sidelines, heart in hand, tissues at the ready, praying for God to lead Egyptians away from the violence to a new life.

Salam, Masr, salam (Peace, Egypt, peace). Allah yehfazek (Allah/God protect you).

Posted in Egypt, Politics, Revolution, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Moment

as I sat in the quiet of night
talking to my Creator
asking my asks
wanting my wants
I began to sense a sadness
an overwhelming sadness
that stopped my words

the sadness hovered
not over me
but beside me
not touching
but there nonetheless

for a brief moment I thought
“God is sad
so many wants and asks”
I paused
then continued with my conversation

the sadness remained
just off to the side
as I came to the end
of my nightly tradition
a new thought formed
refusing to leave

I almost didn’t
but then I did
in the quiet darkness of my room
I said
“I love you, God”

the sadness went away.

Posted in Creative Writing, Personal, Poetry, Spiritual | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

ESMA Needs Donation ASAP

I volunteer time with an Egyptian no-kill animal shelter, Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals (ESMA), and have been following their good works for two and a half years. With the continued strife in the country, ESMA is facing a dire situation. They won’t have enough funds to continue their work.

ESMA, a registered charity, began in late 2007, when a group of Egyptians and Expatriates joined together after the government’s horrific shooting spree of street dogs. Since then ESMA has rescued and cared for more animals than they can count. As well as providing medical aid and food, ESMA looks for forever homes for animals, including adoption outside of Egypt. They have a careful screening process to ensure that the animals who leave ESMA go to safe and loving homes. Today they care for 1000 animals in two shelters

When I first discovered ESMA online they were caring for 500 cats and dogs, as well as feeding and treating wounds of the working horses in Giza. Their dedication to the animals was so inspiring and in tune with my own ideals. I was hooked and began sharing the great work they were doing with everyone who would listen.

Due to lack of funds they were forced to discontinue the horse feeding and treating days. But the stray animals needing their help continued to rise. Today they have 1000 animals at their two shelters, and have had to stop taking in strays. There simply isn’t enough space, volunteers, or funds to take in any more.

As in most countries there are too many people who abandon animals without care, who allow their pets to go unaltered and breed uncontrolled, then abandon the offspring like so much trash. Some countries have laws about animal care, but too many people still get away with being irresponsible pet owners. Even in North America it can be difficult implementing spay/neuter programs in some communities because of lack of funding.

The situation has become very dire at ESMA. Even today, as we were explaining to people that we desperately need funding, we were also receiving requests from others to take in the strays that they found on the streets. The need is so great, and the funds are so low. ESMA needs help.

ESMA needs Our Help!

I am posting this on my blog with the hope that my good readers will reach out to an animal shelter far away in Egypt that has dedicated the past seven years to caring for the animals that no one wanted, animals that were broken, damaged, and unloved. Please make a donation. It is easy to do. Go to this page for details. All the funds go directly to ESMA for the 1000 animals in their care. I am afraid of what will happen to these animals if ESMA cannot stay open due to lack of funding.

I realize there are many charities in the world, all asking for our hard-earned money, so why ESMA? Because it is a grassroots organization, started by a motivated group of people as a result of a terrible situation for street animals. They don’t have a fancy office or corporate sponsorship. They rely on the goodness of others for funds, and the hard work of volunteers. They are seeing a need, and filling it. Let’s help them to keep doing this.

Please feel free to share this page with others. The more who know about this need, the more we will raise to help them. Thanks very much.

esma-01 resized

ESMA Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/esma.egypt

ESMA Group Page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/8389501011/?bookmark_t=group

ESMA Adoption Page: https://www.facebook.com/esma.egypt.adoption

ESMA Donation Information: https://www.facebook.com/esma.egypt/app_167969729896883

Posted in Animal Welfare, Egypt, ESMA | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment