Thursday, 24 October 2013

Giving Much Thanks!

It’s been a year since I officially created Saving Angel; and there are no words to describe how I feel at this moment. I will say this much – I am thankful; thankful for the love and support that I have received from followers and supporters all around the world. I think about the 505 followers that I have on twitter and I marvel at how just a year ago I started with nothing.

If it’s one thing I’ve learnt from being a part of the twitter family, it is – having followers means that people actually care about what you have to say; that what you say matters to them and affects them in some way or the other.

I know 505 is not a big number as compared to other organizations that have thousands of followers – but 505 is in fact a big number to me. If we are to truly think about it; five hundred and five followers means that we have changed/influenced or altered five hundred and five lives (in some way shape or form). So in saying such, the members of Saving Angel just want to say thank you to each and every member of our family. Your support means more than just a follow on a twitter account – it’s a vote of confidence, a shoulder to stand beside, and voices being heard.
Please continue to show your support and spread the word! Let’s do this together & make it another successful year!

Thursday, 11 April 2013

This is My Story; Our Journey; Our Place

Hey everyone! I wanted to try writing a poem but I'm not very good at writing poems or rhyming. So please don't mind if it's not the best! Nevertheless, I would appreciate any feedback/comments as usual! Much love & respect xoxoxo

This is My Story; Our Journey; Our Place

Whether you believe in evolution or religion;
We were all brought here to find our place.
Each story of victimization is unique in its own way;
But our journeys of survival are one-and-the same.

For as long as we can remember, we have endured hardships;
Though our lips moved, we remained soundless.
For days we suffered at the hands of our abusers;
All the while we were shunned by the voices of our commentators.

Society enforced its traditions and customs;
Forever engrained in our lives they were upon us.
Despite all that we had to experience;
We knew, deep down inside there was a reason.

The reason was to find this place;
A place of hope, of reason of faith.
Each of our journeys led us here;
Where we could connect, communicate and collaborate.

At last we have found our home, our pulse;
Where there are words of support and love.
Together we shall amplify, magnify and empower;
To eliminate the traditions practiced in the name of violence against women.

This is my place;
Where transformations are made.
And this is my place,
Where my friends and I live without fear or shame.

Critics continue to share their words of discouragement;
They continue to threaten the success of advocates.
Nevertheless we are reminded, “that with courage we create possibilities;
And with beauty we innovate”

For years we have walked and suffered alone;
Now, we will march and triumph together.
Collectively we will defy all abusive traditions,
All the while we will respond to the criticisms.

No longer are we just victims and survivors;
For our journeys have turned us into inspirational motivators.
With visions of a brighter future, where women and men are finally equal;
We shall let our voices prevail & empower those who are still victims of horror.

This is my place;
World pulse is our place.
This is my journey;
Our story of survival.

Monday, 8 April 2013

It disgusts me..

It disgusts me..

Yes I’ll admit it. I fight for women’s rights, empowerment and protection. But I also fight for gender equality which includes men’s rights, empowerment and protection; and it disgusts me when I read about men being victimized, and people criticizing and insulting those victims for talking out and seeking assistance in attaining justice for their victimization. Just because they’re men doesn’t make them less worthy or less deserving of attaining justice.

Violence against women occurs so much now that it has become the “norm”; on the other hand, violence against men, happens all around the world and manifests itself in various forms, but it so underreported and shunned upon, that when male victims speak out about their victimized they are further rejected.

Recently, a 19 year old boy was sexually assaulted by 4 women in Toronto. Commentators, criticizers and disrespectful critics spent so much time talking about the weight of the assaulters, their age and the fact that their victim was a 19 year old guy that they completely bypassed what really happened. A 19 year old guy was sexually assaulted – period.  A crime occurred, leaving a man victimized and forever scarred.

Here were some of their unnerving comments:
-          “How’s that assault shouldn’t that be called Heaven RT @CP24: Men sexually assaulted by 4 women after leaving club” - @big_business
-          “@laajonnes: “@CP24: Man sexually assaulted by 4 women after leaving club […] wait, whaaat? :D” his ass was happy as hell” - @_Bugsy
-          “@laajonnes that’s what I’m saying every mans dream…?” - @_DancehallLife
-          “5 foot 4, 200 lbs? I’da screamed rape! My prayers are with this guy. :) - @whoners
-          “Four fat girls sexually assault and rape a guy in Toronto: now every fat girl is pub(l)ic enemy” - @KCxcobra
-          “I aint going to no god damn Toronto Fat bitches rape dudes up there” - @DOUBLERxRAFFY

Ultimately, for a million reasons and more (including the above examples,) I have so much respect for the authors who post some of the most thought provoking and inspirational pieces on the Good Men Project website. Aside from their many goals and purposes, some of their main reasons for having this site (in my belief) are: to redefine what it means to be a male; to redefine the term “masculinity,” and to re-examine how the pre-existing masculine image negatively impacts a growing/adult male’s life experiences (especially when they are victimized – as in this case).

The authors of the Good Men Project, remind us all of so many important factors about male victimization, that we so often (and coincidently) forget, because we’re so blinded by the media’s interpretation of masculinity vs. victimization (vulnerability).

Here are some of those critical reminders:
-          “First and foremost, we’re stuck on the term rape, which is still a very gendered term. Until last year, the federal definition of rape only covered the forcible penetration of a man’s penis in a woman’s vagina [...] We can talk about how sexual violence impacts some worse than others. It’s a lot easier to discuss, debate and become irate about these differences (some of which are important) rather than focusing on how a gendered conversation shuts out the potential to work together to call an end to all types of sexual violence […] Men are victims of sexual violence” – Sarah Beaulieu
-          “Please tell the United Nations that males get HIV/AIDS from being trafficked too” – Cameron Conaway
-          “For a problem to be solved we must first see it for what it is. This applies to anything from fundamental calculus to fiscal cliffs. I can’t pretend to know much about either, but I’ve learned enough in my extensive research into sex trafficking to know this: the sex trafficking of boys is essentially absent from the conversation […] “The public isn’t ready for it,” I’ve been told. Truth is, we only speak about the victimization of boys when it’s forced on us by breaking-news scandals like those of Jerry Sandusky or The Boys Scouts of America. As the news story fades so too does the conversation”

It is so important that we spend critical time redefining these concepts of ‘what it means to be a man’ or what ‘masculinity’ means, so that we can eliminate these horrible criticisms over male victims speaking out and trying to get help. Just because they are men doesn’t make them less deserving of justice. They experience horrific incidents of victimization just as much as women do; and they should have equal right in fighting for their justice, their rights and their protection.

Yes, I fight for women’s rights, empowerment and protection – but, I also fight for men’s rights, empowerment and protection; and I have to thank the Good Men Project for a lot of that.

If you’re reading this – please visit any one of their links for more info on them:

It disgusts me, and I hope it disgusts you too; so please join The Good Men Project & Saving Angel + so many more as well all fight for gender equality, empowerment & protection.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

My Mentor: My Mom

Dear Mom,

Normally I make you a card every year on Mother’s Day with my horrible artistic skills, but this year I want to do something different. I’ve been given the opportunity to let the world know how much your strength and determination for a better life and your unending love and support has impacted me and helped turn me into the woman I am today. I commend you each day of my life for the many compromises, sacrifices and difficult decisions you had to make during your time here in Canada.

It has been 34 years since you came to this ‘foreign land,’ married dad and attempted to begin your new life in hopes of gaining a better future. On many occasions, you remind me of what you left behind in Guyana and what you had to go through; the fact that you used to sell in the market during the hot hours of the morning to make a few dollars and the fact that you had the opportunity to go to school for a short period of time. I could never begin to imagine how hard it was for you to make those very difficult decisions – but you made them, and you stayed strong and determined to turn this into a better life. After you got married you had kids and instead of going to work, you became a stay-at-home mom.

I’ve heard stories about how you were bullied while you used to walk Dee home from school, because we were the only “brown” family in our area. I’ve heard how the children and their parents would throw snow balls at you and tell you to “go back home”, yet not even then did you give up. When I was younger, I took everything for granted and I didn’t realise how much you had to sacrifice to buy me what I wanted. But as I got older, I started realising how much you did have to give up. You gave up your education, you gave up a ‘way of life,’ and more importantly, you gave up gratifying yourself to put a smile on our face. Mom, you never shopped for yourself. You’ve always made do with what you had, and you always remained content. Now I’m 22 and I’m exposed to so many atrocities that are happening against women worldwide, and it makes me think about how blessed I am to have you with me. Children grow up without mothers because their mothers have become victims of violence. They become orphans because their surviving parent chooses to have nothing to do with them, or they get forced into a life of violence and unending pain – they ultimately lack in feeling a mother’s true love.

Mom, you’ve always showered unending love onto me; you’ve always given me so much support and strength when I had to go through my share of struggles; and you always reminded me of how important it is to remain determined when we want to accomplish something. I can never forget the look on your face when I told you I want to start my own non-profit organization to help women who are victims of violence and children who are victims of bullying. I can never forget the look on your face when I told you I wanted to go to India with Aunty, to build homes for underprivileged children and families who have been victimized by violence and forced prostitution. I can never forget the look on your face when I graduated from University. They all had one thing in common – the look of love that was pouring out of your heart. I’m sure you were afraid, but you knew that if I was determined to do those things, there was no stopping me – more importantly, you stuck by my side in my decisions and gave me the support I needed as a woman to make those decisions.

There are no words to describe the ways in which you have helped me – all I can say is, I am the woman I am because of your love and support (ofcourse thanks to you as well Daddy!). My way of repaying you, will be to help as many women and children that I can possibly help in the world. I want to give every child the sense of love and support that you have given to me all these years. I want to give every woman the opportunity to make a better life for themselves the way that you gave me and Dee by coming to Canada. More importantly, I want to share with everyone all that you’ve shared with me – the gift to find their place in the world, because without you mom, I wouldn’t be here.

I love you always mom.

Web 2.0 is Mightier than the Sword!

The most rewarding thing about using Web 2.0, is the fact that it gives women worldwide the platform to connect, communicate and collaborate on the global discussion of women’s empowerment. By using these platforms we are further enabled to raise awareness, address cultural problems and find solutions to prevalent issues that negatively impact the growth of female empowerment.

The ability to connect with other women worldwide, become friends, communicate over mutual interests and collaborate in order to find resolutions to these issues, is such a huge asset to the global women’s empowerment movement. For example, recently I have become friends with Achieng Beatrice Nas, who is an advocate for women’s rights and empowerment in Uganda. Beatrice is not only using her skills and knowledge but she is utilizing Web 2.0 in its many facets as a means of promoting her Mentorship program – Rural Girl Child Mentorship Uganda. She is also a supporter of many other Organizations in Uganda such as Build Africa Uganda. For me Beatrice is one of the many women who represent the positive results of using Web 2.0.

There will be women coming from various educational backgrounds, who have been through a variety of experiences, and who have lived in a multitude of geographical/political and economical developments. As a result, the diversity of life experiences will provide a greater platform for global discussion on the overall issue; as we can tackle the issue from all of those stand points (geographical, political, economical, social, cultural, etc.).

It’s important that we remind ourselves, that as much as we are each victims, we are together survivors; and by using all of the available platforms more frequently, we can empower each other and promote the growth of the global women’s empowerment movement. For me, I see the gift of empowerment that these platforms provide me with on a daily basis. Every day I update my growing network of followers on various social media sites with events, articles, opinionated pieces etc. that are all relevant to the bigger issue of violence against women. I also share my opinion, ask questions and probe for greater conversation with my followers, as it is important to promote the use of these platforms for greater social empowerment. Saving Angel (my non-profit organization) is what it is because of various platforms that Web 2.0 has provided me with. These very platforms have shown me how the pen is truly mightier than the sword; and if we continue to remain persistent in connecting, communicating and collaborating as women and advocates for our protection and rights, then we can definitely promote our protection and rights, as well as the global women’s empowerment movement.

When an opportunity presents itself..

While on worldpulse today, I was lucky to come across the 'Launching Voices of Our Future Training Program 2013' and I decided to submit my application and take this wonderful opportunity up with so much hope. Opportunities like this (sadly) come once in a while despite living in what the world considers a developed nation/first-world country.

As mentioned by @hocinedim: "Just because you're not affected by an issue, this doesn't mean that issue isn't important. That's privilege 101"

There are two important aspects of that quote that I'd like to discuss in terms of this amazing opportunity.

One: Issues of Importance

Majority of people within Canada are not affected by these issues that we as activists (men & women) are trying to raise awareness about. Just like indivduals around the world, they are just trying to get through every day and with economic downfalls/lack of jobs/no stability, its difficult for any individual to take time out of their schedule to consider sharing an article about these issues or even commenting on an article. Not to say that those are excuses - and they're not; but this is just the mindset that many of us live with. For them ultimately, these issues don't affect them, and as a result, mean that the issue isn't important. Through this wonderful program, we can learn the skills and the qualifications to help raise more awareness about these important issues through literature and media (art in all of its facets). I think these amazing opportunities when presented should be something that we all take full advantage of. Learning how to voice our opinions, share our thoughts and connect worldwide is such an essential tool in today's world, especially when considering the government's lack of commitment to addressing these issues, and our ability to use techonology at increasingly vast rates.

Two: Privilege

When I was filling out the Applicant Questionnaire, and I read this question, saw the options and responded - I immediately thought of how privileged I am in comparison to so many others - not only worldwide but even within my own country. The question was:

How often do you access the internet? *
- Every day
- 4-6 times per week
- 1-3 times per week
- Less than 1 time per week
- Other:

My response: Every day. I have an amazing cell phone (aka smartphone) that allows me to post my updates to our Twitter/Facebook page (allowing me to access the internet on the go) & I have interent access at home. How is it that I consider myself so privileged and yet I complain when the internet goes down, or when I didn't have the smartphone? Being privileged is something that so many of us take for granted. We forget how easy it is for us to use various forms of techology, log onto the internet, use Facebook/Twitter - and it's only when we see these types of inspirational opportunities, are we reminded of how privileged we are. This gift of asking questions and learning through this program is such a privilege, that I'm sure so many men and women worldwide would do anything to have. It hurts me to think about all the applicants who had to choose one of the other options, because they aren't as privileged as I am. This aspect of our daily lives that we call technology has created such a huge gap between children and adults of low economic standards/development and the rest of us, who like me have access to the internet at our finger tips.

If you're reading this post, please join and get involved in this amazing opportunity, so that we can collectively raise awareness and share our opinions about issues that matter the most. Here are some of the benefits to joining this program as mentioned by the coordinators:

Benefits of the program include:
- Citizen journalism and digital empowerment training via phone and Internet by renowned experts, including program partners The Global Press Institute and The Op-Ed Project
- Personal coaching sessions and support via phone and Internet from a Vision Mentor
- Opportunities for publication through World Pulse and partner media organizations
- Opportunities to connect with grassroots women leaders from around the globe
- Personal development, including increased self-awareness, confidence, and empowered leadership
- Professional development, including improved skills in citizen journalism, digital empowerment and networking
- Nurturing and collaborative relationships with women, and our allies, across the globe
- Increased visibility for issues and challenges faced by you and your community
- Technology stipend to offset communication costs*
Remember, if you choose to bypass this opportunity, you are choosing to take for granted this amazing privilege that so many are attempting to have. Let our voices be heard & let our opinions be vioced!
#2013EndSlavery #2013EndBullying #2013EndVAW #2013EndRape

Sometimes its Hard to Imagine..

Sometimes its hard to imagine getting through the days ahead of us, much less getting through the present day. And because of such, many people turn to alternative solutions or methods of coping.
For us, during some of the hardest times in our lives, these very inspirational and thought-provoking quotes have given us a sense of reason when nothing else did. To all the victims and survivors, we hope these quotes can do for you what they did for us, and give you all that sense of hope and reason for a brighter and stronger future.