Wonderful people who make this blog worth updating

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Somali Women Flogged for Not Wearing Socks?

More lovely Al-Shabaab nonsense out of Mogadishu:

(CNN) -- Militants who control parts of Somalia's capital city are beating women in broad daylight for violating their radical brand of Islamic law, according to local officials and witnesses in Mogadishu.

"Just today, Al-Shabaab dispatched men with whips to the streets around Bakara market and they are flogging any woman who is found not wearing socks," according to a female maize trader at the Mogadishu market, who spoke Thursday.

She did not want to be named for security reasons.

In the past two days, more than 130 people, including women who were not wearing headscarves and men chewing dried khat leaves, have been detained for violating Al-Shabaab's interpretation of sharia, or Islamic law, according to witnesses and officials.

Hooded Al-Shabaab gunmen rounded up 50 women on Wednesday from Mogadishu's Bakara market for not wearing the veil that is required for women under some interpretations of Islamic law, according to the maize trader.

"Most of these women were vegetable traders, so they are poor and can't afford to buy veils for 600,000 shillings [about $23 U.S.]," she said.

Does anyone know how much money $23 US is for a Somali in Mogadishu? You can feed a whole family for a month on less than $100. Do they thing the women can afford these? Being forced to wear socks? Socks aren't really practical or affordable for most of the year in Somalia. Most people can only afford sandals or flip-flops, so not such a good combo with socks.

I am so frustrated just reading this...

Women are the backbone of the Somali economy. If these pathetic so-called fighters would get off their lazy rears and fix their country, maybe their mothers and sisters wouldn't be selling vegetables and khat in the market for a pittance.

Their actions remind me of these words of Jesus:

"Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness". 

These guys see no problem with beating and shaming women and public executions, yet I'm sure they are quick to run into the masjid when its time to pray. If fact, they also have flogged people for not praying on time. 

These guys are mostly young men who have seen and been scarred by a lot of bad things in their childhood.They are following misguided leaders and have their priorities really screwed up.

Pray for the peace of Somalia.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Potty Training Progress!

The closest thing to a pic of my husband that I can get away with

I am so happy to say that Layla is almost potty trained!

For the last few days she has been having very few accidents, and most of those have been while we were out. Yesterday I started to realize that she was having a breakthrough. While we were at preschool  she said "potty pants" a couple times and I told her to wait a few minutes until I could change her. You see, usually when she would say something, that meant that she had already had an accident.
I laid her down to change her, and realized that she was still dry. She went inside and used the bathroom, but then wet her pants on the way back home. Last night about an hour after I put her to bed she woke up saying "momma, potty pants," so I took her and she went to the bathroom. She did go in her diaper again during the night, but hasn't had a single accident all day.

I think we're gonna be completely done within another month and she just turned 2 on the 14th!

So here's the basic plan I used to train her:

1. We started putting her on the potty whenever she had a dry diaper after an hour or two when she was about 14 mos. old. Sometimes she would go on the potty and be surprised at the result.

2. After we moved to Portland and were a little settled in, we stared really working on the training. I would put her in either cloth training pants or a cloth diaper when she was at home, and try to take her at least about each hour when she was awake. She got to the point where she could empty her bladder when it had something in it. We also introduced the reward of giving her a date whenever she went. This worked really well for awhile, but then the novelty wore off. She still kept going on the potty most of the time though.

If I lost track of the time or she had a lot to drink though, she would just go in her pants. This is why cloth is more useful for training. They feel the moisture more in the cloth more than with a disposable diaper or trainer, so they realize that the wet feeling isn't a good thing.

3. The final stage is your baby being able to realize the feeling of a full bladder, or the feeling that they need to poop. The poop is actually easier because you usually see them straining and hiding in the corner somewhere :-0

We are just seeing the beginning of this stage now, like yesterday when Layla actually asked to go at school before she wet her pants.

The last step of this stage is night-training. This is the hardest because they will have a hard time waking up fully during the night to ask for the bathroom. I am totally fine with Layla sleeping in it for now .

Why is early training better? Babies seem to be less stubborn about learning than older toddlers. Plus, you will save tons of time and money not buying diapers and washing loads of them.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Evil that is Al-Shabaab


 Is this style of long khimaar not modest enough? 

The links provided lets you access the full article

"MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somalia's hardline Islamist group al Shabaab has publicly whipped women for wearing bras they say violate Islam by constituting a deception, north Mogadishu residents said Friday.
The insurgent group, which seeks to impose a strict form of sharia Islamic law throughout Somalia, amputated a foot and a hand each from two young men accused of robbery earlier this month. They have also banned movies, musical ringtones, dancing at wedding ceremonies and playing or watching soccer."

So apparently it is ok to touch an unrelated woman to forcibly remove her undergarments because they constitute a "deception" by making her breasts firm. Personally, I don't think they should have been looking that closely at women's chests in the first place. Anyone ever heard of lowering the gaze?

Now we have another article demonstrating Al-Shabaab's increasingly perverted view of religion.

"KISMAYU, Somalia (Reuters) - The 17-year-old winner of a Koran recital and general knowledge competition organised by al Shabaab rebels in Southern Somalia got an AK-47 gun, two hand grenades, a computer and an anti-tank mine as prizes."

The greatest impediment to Somalia ever experiencing peace and safety again isn't a force outside of Somalia, it is Somalis being recruited to this so-called Islamist movement. They used the presence of Ethiopian troops inside Somalia to recruit young men into their ranks. Now they are encroaching further into the interior of the country. They even have huge amounts of supporters in Europe and the U.S. 

East Africa has been in the midst of major drought for several years now. Is Al-Shabaab working to bring relief supplies into the country? Are they providing medical care in the villages? Are they bringing useful health training to young Somalis? The answer to all these questions is an emphatic No. They are wasting time punishing people for playing soccer, listening to music, not having beards, wearing bras,  and having the wrong type or color of khimaars.

They are promoting evil in their agenda and do not reflect the values of the Kingdom of God.

I am going to suggest something radical though, let's pray for them.
Only God himself can change the human heart from reflecting something dark and evil to reflecting his light.

In the words of Jesus,

You have heard it said: Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. However, I say to you: Love your enemies and pray for those who abuse you. (Matthew 5:44)

Oh God, change the hearts and minds of the men and women of Al-Shabaab who support this evil agenda that is destroying their people.I know that you love each human being that you created, please reveal yourself to them, show them that they are not following the path that leads to Jannah. Bring peace back to Somalia in our lifetime.

Amiin, InshaAllah

Soomaalieey waan idiin jeclahay.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Chicken Korma Recipe

I got a facebook request to post this, so here it is! 

This is a recipe that I make fairly often at home. It is really easy and is pretty fool-proof. You can vary the spiciness by adding more red chili powder and ginger. The garbanzo beans are not a part of an authentic korma recipe, but I think they add a nice texture and some fiber. I usually serve this with rice and chapatti. You can make your own chapatti pretty easily, or another option I use is toasting some plain flour tortillas in butter on a skillet. If the sauce needs thickened you can always add 1 or 2 tbsp. or cornstarch mixed in cold water.

1 1/2 pound boneless chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces.
1 cup of yogurt
1 finely chopped onion
1 clove of garlic, chopped finely or ground
1 tsp grated ginger
1 can coconut milk
1 can or 16 oz. cooked garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
1 tsp Garam Masala
1 tsp sweet yellow curry powder
2 tsp hot red chili powder, or to taste
tsp ground coriander powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cardamom
salt to taste
oil for sauteing 

1. Marinate the chicken with one cup of yogurt for at least an hour or two.

2. In a big frying pan heat oil, then fry the onions until they turn golden brown.

3. Now add the garlic paste and ginger paste. After a minute or so add the cardamom powder, stir and then add the cumin powder, red chili powder, garam masala powder, salt and the coriander powder.

4.Add the chicken and yogurt mixture and stir-fry the until it has become fairly dry and the chicken is cooked through
5. Add the coconut milk and garbanzo beans, reduce heat, cover and simmer until the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened. If the sauce is not thick enough, add a 1 or 2 tbsp. of cornstarch mixed with cold water while the curry is still boiling.

Serve with naan, chapatis, or basmati rice.
You can also garnish the curry with some fresh cilantro.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

East Essence Abaya

I was desparately in need of a decent abaya after giving all of mine away last year. I saw this recent post by NoortheNinjabi about her obsession with abaya shopping, so I decided to trust her opinion. I placed an order for this abaya from East Essence.

Here is my actual abaya that I received yesterday. I love it!  I placed the order on Oct 4th and received confirmation that my order had been completed on Thursday the 15th. I got the package from DHL the following day. I think that they custom make each order before shipping, and this is why it takes a few days. I still think its really fast considering that the items come from India.

As for the sizing and quality, I am really impressed with both. I ordered the longest standard length, which is a 57. My only complaint is that the sleeves could be a tad longer, but I have ridiculously long skinny arms. I think they use standard size charts, so if you know your measurements it will be a really accurate fit. Pre-made garments usually fit me really well because I am about 5'6"/7 (170cm) and thin with a small chest and hips. If you look at their size chart before ordering you can decide whether you want a looser fit based on the size as well as if you need a custom length.

I wore it out today (in the rain too) and was really happy with the fabric. It is pretty light, but not stiff like some lower cost abayas that I have owned. It was comparable to some that I had bought at Somali shops for around $40, but I think this one has nicer detail stitching. It also has buttons at the top where the top layer closes. They don't allow it to be opened all the way for nursing, but it could be easily altered on the underneath layer. I think the snaps are there so that if the fabric is pulled it will unsnap rather than rip at the seam.

It also came with a hijab to match the tan layer of the abaya. It has the same black thread stitching going around 2 sides. I think it was also a good deal for $7. I plan on ordering from them again in the future for sure. I would even love to open a little place and sell them, but I don't think we have the collateral for something like that at the moment.

Let me know if anyone else decides to order from them and how your experience goes!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Birthday Girl!

Well, I knew it would happen someday, but its hard to believe that Layla is 2 already. Her actual birthday isn't until tomorrow, but we had the party on Sunday. It was great! My friend Amanda and I picked out her gaudy outfit and accessories, and we ordered this cake from Coldstone creamery.


It was chocolate chip ice cream with chocolate cake and a chocolate ganache topping.
Definitely a huge hit!

We also got some of the cupcakes so Layla could have one all to herself! She had a great time.

Her favorite gifts were her block set from our neighbor downstairs and her rocking horse. Don't tell her, but we got it used on Craigslist! Its neighs and wags its tail when you press its ears.
The Hello Kitty pajamas were a mail-in gift from my mom in Illinois.

I was just excited that we actually know enough people now to even have a party!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

DIY Khaleeji Flower Clip

So today I had a brilliant idea. After seeing other bloggers post about the flower clips that are available in the UAE and elsewhere, I started to want one.
My hair doesn't hold scarves on really well because its pretty slick. Plus, I like the way a hijab looks with a little more lift in back.

I thought about going to a craft store to get some flowers, but then I remembered that they had flowers and clips at the $1 store right by my house. The flowers were pretty easy to take apart and each one had a hole with a little piece of plastic running through the middle. I don't have a hot glue gun, so I planned to use the gorilla glue you see in the first picture.However, I didn't do that and ended up first stringing the flowers together 3 by 3 on some wire twist-ties, then used yarn to tie them onto the clip. You can't see the yarn or the twist-ties on the finished product.

Here is how the clip looked in my hair after I took the hijab off.

And here is my pashmina with a little lift:

And there is Layla in her pyjamas in the background :)

I think I'll wear it tomorrow when I volunteer for the ESL class.

Where has the time gone?!

As some have noticed, I've been pretty lazy with posting lately. We've been more busy, but still not really that busy overall. Its just an excuse!

I did start doing some new volunteer work with some Somalis in the area!! The group I volunteer with does ESL classes and driving lessons that are all covered by donations. They do men's and women's classes for new immigrants on alternating days. There are a decent number of Somalis, but they and the classes are basically on the complete opposite side of the city from me ;-(
That's really the only downside though.

At this point I am only volunteering one day a week because of the distance issue. I helped teach at the preschool during the women's classes, and translated for the Somali women afterward as they set up their driving appointments. Its also great because I get to have Layla with me the whole time. I am really excited about what this may lead to! New friendships, Somalis, helping people. All my favorite things in one place.

One of the main teachers is basically the Swahili-speaking version of me. She is white and American but grew up for a number of years in Kenya and speaks Swahili fluently. Most of the Somalis here are Bajuni, from the Southern coastal area, and so they speak Swahili. They speak Somali too, but the dialect I learned is the northern variety. We can understand each other, but they were telling Jeanette in Swahili that I speak "professional" Somali, as the dialect I speak is the one used in Radio, TV and newspapers for the most part ;-) Its actually the best one to know because everyone understands you and you understand almost everything the others say.

Now that I'm doing this, I am obsessed with Somali everything again at the moment. I am trying to read the BBC Somali news each day and also listen to radio broadcasts, etc just to keep myself learning. You can begin to forget things so quickly when you don't use them.

We're also planning Layla's 2nd Birthday party for Sunday, but I'll leave that for another post.