Monday, February 28, 2011

Happy Ayyam-i-Ha

My husband and I hosted an Ayyam-i-Ha potluck dinner last night. Ayyam-i-Ha is a 4 day celebration (5 days during leap year) in preparation for the 19-day fast that begins March 2 (click here for more details).

It was the first party/dinner we've had in our new and bigger Brooklyn apartment. Lots of good food and conversations....
Food: Peanut thai noodles, sweet potatoes and quinoa, boxtie pasta, salad, squash, 9-sided star vegan sugar cookies and banana bread. A mix of backgrounds: 2 med school students, 4 people who work in education, 1 law school student, 1 public relations person, 4 RPCV (returned peace corp volunteers), 6 Baha'is, 3 Christians, 2 Muslims and 1 Buddhist.

My husband had the idea to have everyone paint what happiness is to them. The painting came out much better than I expected. And it's a nice summary of the spirit of Ayyam-i-Ha.

It behoveth the people of Baha, throughout these days, to provide good cheer for themselves, their kindred and, beyond them, the poor and needy, and with joy and exultation to hail and glorify their Lord, to sing His praise and magnify His Name. ~ Baha'u'llah

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pray the Devil Back to Hell

Juzi (the day before yesterday in Swahili) I watched Pray the Devil Back to Hell. Going into it I was expecting your average African movie that leaves me depressed with teary red eyes and angry at the injustices in the world. However, I got much more than that.....I got inspired. I was left feeling the amazing power of women and peaceful protest. Sure, I still had the teary red eyes and sadness/anger around the violence/murder/rape during the Liberian civil war....But instead of the empty void of "these problems are too big" I was motivated to immediately do some web browsing to see how I could help too.

Reading through partner org Women for Women led me to Run For Congo Women. I've heard about Run For Congo Women before but never really considered doing it myself. Not anymore, I've decided to raise money for a undecided cause while training for my first marathon this year. To redefine what I'm running for..... Now I just have to decide if I will be raising money for a war torn country, a Tanzania ngo or US one. Once I decide I will set it up using's fund raising platform.

"Pray the Devil Back to Hell chronicles the remarkable story of the courageous Liberian women who came together to end a bloody civil war and bring peace to their shattered country.

Thousands of women — ordinary mothers, grandmothers, aunts and daughters, both Christian and Muslim — came together to pray for peace and then staged a silent protest outside of the Presidential Palace. Armed only with white T-shirts and the courage of their convictions, they demanded a resolution to the country’s civil war. Their actions were a critical element in bringing about a agreement during the stalled peace talks.

Their demonstrations culminated in the exile of Charles Taylor and the election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa's first female head of state, and marked the vanguard of a new wave of women taking control of their political destiny around the world."

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A baby saves the day

My loving, gentle and sweet Grandma has been in a hospital or rehab center for the past 6 weeks. She has cancer of the liver. She will start chemo on Tuesday. I went to visit her at the new hospital she was moved to yesterday. It was quite depressing in the beginning. Her roommate is expected to die at any moment; Forcing the doctors to talk with the roommate's son about DNR orders. And then down the hall a woman is screaming constantly. I asked the nurses why and they just said she's sick and has a disorder where she can't all she does is scream to communicate her pain. As you can image this creates quite a somber and depressing mood.

Then this adorable smiling baby walks in with his father trailing behind. The baby had just learned to walk and is so proud of himself. I think my mom or me reminded him of someone he knows because he was instantly attached to us. He kept smiling and showing off his walking skills. Then he started to dance to the silent music in a baby's heart. And everyone is the room is happy, you can feel the shift in spirits. My grandma is smiling along. (To the right is a picture of my Godson who lives in Tanzania)

Before I left, we held hands and I said the short healing prayer. My mom and grandma aren't Baha'is but they are extremely religious/spiritual. Afterwords, my mom commented on how nice the healing prayer was.

I wish I got a picture of that moment. The baby was the cutest thing ever and I have him to thank for making my grandma happy. It reminds me of the 2.25 years I spent in Tanzania. The children there always gave me so much joy. Without fail whenever I was having a bad day I would play with the neighbor's kids and all with ok. To the left is a picture of the neighbor's niece that they were raising as their own. In the picture she's in my backyard with a sunflower I had planted. That girl made her way into my heart and has never left.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Quinoa for breakfast

I discovered Quinoa 3 years ago but my appreciation for this protein packed grain has increased after trying to follow more of a vegan diet. Normally I use quinoa as a replace for rice or starch to go along with my lunch/dinner items. But now I've extended it to breakfast use as well ;)

Quinoa porridge
3/4 cup soy milk
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup quinoa
fresh or dried fruit to add in (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-2 teaspoons turbinado (natural brown) sugar

Combine milk, water and quinoa in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low
Cover and simmer 15 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Turn off heat
Let stand covered 5 minutes.
Stir in fruit, sugar and cinnamon.

Serves 1-2