A Letter from a Principal Reminding Us to Look After Our Children and Ourselves in this Dark Time.

A note a principal in Hong Kong sent to his teachers, then forwarded to the parents.

 

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I thought it was really thoughtful to remind everyone that we mustn't forget the emotional state of our children at a dark time like this. I have completely been guilty of it. My son recently asked me "When are protests over? So you don't have to write so much?" 

After a 12 year old was arrested, I told him about it, and ask if he would ever do the same. "Mum, it's not normal to ask your 11 year old if they want to protests, you can get it trouble. I don't want to get hurt," he told me. 

He's come home with his dad when I am upset at what just happened. The most recent, I remember saying, "They arrested eight people," when I opened the door, and very soon I went back to reading the news. 

I know that I have not paid as much attention to him. I knew I had to stop all interactions with Hong Kong news through his birthday weekend in case it affected my mood. 

When I committed to writing for HKFP, I hadn't foreseen so much to happen. That's actually not true. I foresaw a lot, I knew it would only get more violent and confrontational, I knew people would have to make hard decisions about where they stood.

What I hadn't imagined was the absolute resolve the Hong Kong people would have. Both those of the peaceful protesters and the hardcore ones. I didn't know it would happen week after week for months. What I didn't foresee was Carrie Lam, and the Chinese Government would not capitulate. I didn't expect the erosions of all the norms that has since happened. 

Reading what the principal wrote about how some of the children will be having existential crisis because being a police officer is a role many children play, and many would like to grow up to be. 

I realized that maybe there are many unseen changes in each of us ourselves. Not only did I not think it would take up so much time, I hadn't expected that I would go through personal changes as well. I didn't expect that it would raise so many questions for myself. 

Watching my home disintegrate, I have questioned my role while living in the US; my moving to the US; my son being an American; questioning the break I took away from writing; why was I drawing attention to myself when I am safely ensconced, what did the Colonial government mean to me, and my family's role in the Colonial Government and another myriad of questions. 

They are questions that I occasionally think about, but it seemed that these events have brought it all to the forefront. I think I'll use this blog to figure out some of those thoughts. But for now, I must not forget that my mission is to make everyday a happy day for my son and myself.  

 


My Son's Homemade Toucan Costume.

This day and age, for Halloween, children want to be characters. They want to be walking advertising for some franchise from a multi-mega-million-dollar company.

I hate that, therefore my son and I always made his costumes together. Starting at three, he helped me, he picked the colors, placed bits of felt and glued things on. It was a nice tradition until last year when he announced he wanted to be a Star Wars Clone. I whined, I begged him, I tried to bribe him, but there wasn't much choice, as he had to be willing to wear it.

This year, he wanted to be the same, except a different clone. Since "clones" are meant to be all exactly the same, I don't understand the premise that he had a number of choices. We even went to Party City early.

But two days ago, his teacher reminded the class their costumes had to be easy to take off and to put on as they needed to go to the bathroom.

The Red Clone outfit is a one piece! It's really tight! He needed help with tying the back thus he needed another costume! One I can make! Lets make an animal! Lets make a bird! Toucans are fun!

I have to admit, I spent quite a few hours on it, sewing mostly, and trying different ways to make the hat which in the end, I used a bike helmet. 

It's hard to justify that many hours into a project that was to be only worn for one day at school.

But I found sewing so fulfilling (who knew?), so I kept making it more elaborate because I enjoyed the process so much.

On the second day I finished it.

I am so pleased.

My Son's Homemade Toucan Costume.

My Son's Homemade Toucan Costume.

 


Becoming a Chinese Mother

"Then after he was born, something even odder happened. I fell in love with floral patterns and wanted to decorate my home similarly to my mother’s and other older ladies’. I was inexplicably attracted to ugly, furry, dust attracting plush rabbits in supermarket aisles. Every time I saw one, I wanted to hug and buy it, and sometimes I did both. I also started to involuntarily smile at babies and small children for no apparent reason. These behavior confused me, but if I were being honest with myself, I would have had to admit that floral decor, stuffed bunnies, and little people made me happy.”

Most of all, motherhood made me want the best for my baby. My values, my ideas of “the best”, changed. Previously, I wanted my child to be brave, follow his impossible dream, and succeed. However, once he was born, I knew my job was to protect him and as much I could. To make his life as smooth as painless as possible."


There are so many "camo" patterned boy clothing. It struck me that America is "at war," and even fashion encourages boys to don army uniforms starting at 1 week old. Sad.

Girls have peace signs all over their's. I would prefer my son's clothes  have them too. 

Camo might be viewed as fun but truth is, camouflaging oneself is for hand to hand combat and ambush. It's what is needed. After all it is literally what soldiers wear. Male or female. 


My son's first direct action: Making cards for Guantanamo Bay Hunger Strikers

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Dear Friends,

Have you ever doubted the power of a letter? 

If so, read this note Amnesty received from Sami al Haj, who was held at Guantanamo without charge for years and finally transferred home to Sudan in 2008:

I received more than 20,000 letters from members and supporters of Amnesty International during my last two years at Guantánamo Bay. These letters really encouraged me during my very difficult time. They made me feel as though I was not alone and not to give up. Also, I felt and could notice that from all these letters, the Administration of Guantánamo Bay changed and improved towards me, as they knew I was not alone and I had people who cared about me. The guards said to me that they could see I was someone who mattered and must be important because of all the letters–this made them respect me more.”

Today, after 111 days of the hunger strike and 11 years of indefinite detention, messages of hope are more important than ever. Can you spare a moment to write?

It's quick, easy and effective, here's how:

The list below provides names and details of  Guantanamo detainees to whom messages of solidarity--postcards, cards or letters--may be sent.  These have been selected on the basis of 
receiving consent from their lawyers to do so.

Younous Chekkouri, for example, would love pictures of flowers, especially roses, as he enjoys drawing them.

Where we have the information, we have noted that the person is on hunger strike.  Bear in mind that others on the list may also be on hunger strike, but we do not have that information at the present time. We have included details for some detainees where we have it (provided by the attorneys) which you may find useful for your messages.  Where we have included the information "approved for transfer," this is taken from the official US government list of detainees who have been classified as such.
  • Messages should be kept to simple messages of greeting and goodwill.  Do not include political comments.
  • Only send non-religious cards, and avoid referring to religion in your message.  For example: rather than writing "you are in our prayers", write "you are in our thoughts."
  • Include your name and address (including country) in your message.  If you receive a reply, please send a copy to me.
  • Write your message in simple English, unless specifically stated otherwise.

Address to which messages should be sent:

Detainee name and ISN number
Camp Delta
US Naval Guantánamo Bay, Cuba
Washington DC 20355
USA

Please let me know if you were able to write, so that we can keep a tally.
Name
Nationality
Date of birth
Languages for messages
Details
Transferred to GTMO
Umar Abdulayev 
[ISN 257]
Tajik
11 October 1978
Russian, Farsi or simple
English

Approved for transfer
2002
Hisham Sliti 
[ISN 174]
Tunisian
2 December 1966
English, Arabic, French or
Italian

On hunger strike. Approved for transfer
2002
Shaker Aamer 
[ISN 239]
Saudi Arabian (British resident)
12 December 1968
English or Arabic

On hunger strike.
Approved for transfer
Last remaining British resident
Has never seen his youngest son


2002
Ismail Ali Farag al - Bakush
[ISN 708]

Libyan
1 July 1968
English or Arabic
Approved for transfer
2005
Sanad Ali al-Kazimi 
[ISN 1453]
Yemeni

17 February 1970


English or Arabic
On hunger strike
Approved for transfer
2004
Samir Mukbel 
[ISN 43]
Yemeni
1 December 1977
Arabic or English

On hunger strike.  
“I am now 35.  All I want is to see my family again and to start a family of my own…I just hope that because of the pain we are suffering, the eyes of the world will once again look to Guantánamo before it is too late.” 14/04/13


2002
Mohsen Aboassy 
[ISN 91]

Yemeni
1 January 1979
Arabic or English
On hunger strike. Enjoys reading about football
Likes pics of nature, esp from magazines like National Geographic
2002
Said bin Salman 
[ISN 251]

Yemeni
25 April 1975
Arabic or English
On hunger strike.
2002
Adel al Hakeemy 
[ISN 168]

Tunisian
27 March 1965
Arabic or English
On hunger strike. Approved for transfer
Exercises and reads daily, hopes to own a restaurant one day
2002
Younous Chekkouri 
[ISN 197]

Moroccan

5 April 1968
Arabic or English
On hunger strike. Enjoys drawing, esp roses, would love pics of flowers
2002
Abdullatif Nasser 
[ISN 244]

Moroccan
4 March 1965
Arabic or English
On hunger strike.
2002
Nabil Hadjarab
[ISN 238]
Algerian
21 July 1979
French
On hunger strike. Approved for transfer
Dreams of raising a family in France
2002
Ahmed Belbacha 
[ISN 290]

Algerian
13 November 1969
Arabic or English
On hunger strike. Approved for transfer
Likes to play football
2002
Ali al Shaaban 
[ISN 327]

Syrian
6 March 1982
Arabic or English
On hunger strike. Approved for transfer
2002
Jihad Dhiab 
[ISN 722]

Syrian
10 July 1971
Arabic or English
On hunger strike. Approved for transfer
2002
Ahmed Abdulaziz 
[ISN 757]

Mauritanian
24 February 1970
Arabic or English
On hunger strike. Approved for transfer
2002
Saifullah Paracha
[ISN 1094]

Pakistani
17 August 1947
English
On hunger strike. History of multiple health issues, has suffered 3 heart attacks while in GTMO. 
Studied/lived in NY for over a decade
2004
Abdul Sabour 
[ISN 275]

Uighur
1 January 1974
Uighur or basic English
On hunger strike. Approved for transfer, cannot return home for fear of torture
2002
Khalid Ali 
[ISN 280]
Uighur
27 July 1977
Uighur or basic English

On hunger strike. Approved for transfer, cannot return home for fear of torture
2002
Sabir Osman 
[ISN 282]
Uighur
1 January 1974
Uighur or basic English
On hunger strike. Approved for transfer, cannot return home for fear of torture
2002


If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Please also continue to press President Obama to respect the human rights of Guantanamo detainees: sign the petition at www.amnestyusa.org/closeit, write a letter to the White House and call the White House comment line at202.456.1111

Best,

Zeke

Zeke Johnson
Director, Security with Human Rights Campaign
--------------------------------------------------------
Amnesty International USA
5 Penn Plaza, 16th Floor

New York, NY 10001
Desk: 212.633.4256 

Cell: 646.853.9779
www.amnestyusa.org/security
www.facebook.com/swhrcampaign
@ZekeJohnsonAi



Working to protect human rights worldwide
DISCLAIMER
This email has been sent by Amnesty International of the U.S.A., Inc. (a tax-exempt organization registered in the U.S.A., with registered office at 5 Penn Plaza, New York, NY 10001). Internet communications are not secure and therefore Amnesty International U.S.A. does not accept legal responsibility for the contents of this message. If you are not the intended recipient you must not disclose or rely on the information in this e-mail. Any views or opinions presented are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Amnesty International U.S.A. unless specifically stated. Electronic communications including email might be monitored by Amnesty International U.S.A. for operational or business reasons.

Notes from Motherhood..

K: Mummy, I saved this pudding for you.
Y: Awww. It's okay, I will have a bite and you can eat the rest.
K: But, I saved it for you because I don't like it.

--

K: Mummy, stop it, you used the bad word! 
Y: Which word was that? 
K: You said "No," that is a bad word. I don't like it.

--

Wanted to improve K's room. Showed him some spaceship and planets decals. He said, "Why don't we make some instead." My darling boy.. Yes!!


Keeping My Son Behind due to Spending Cuts... sigh.

With all the funding cuts in the schools now and forever, I think I am going to keep my son in pre-school an extra year. Otherwise he will be one of the youngest in class, and his teacher said he's borderline. He could benefit from staying, although, might not be unnecessary. Is it worth taking a risk at this point? How disadvantaged would he be if he is at the bottom of the class, in a system that's struggling to even provide for the best? 

This is so wrong. President Obama won the election, but the Republicans are obstructing, so the country does worse, and they can then blame the democrats for the difficulties we endure, just to gain power. 


And today's mommy news.. Feb 13 2013

*Today is K's snack day. He's the class leader. He gets to be the first to line up, to open the door, to pick which grace, and mommy mixed 9am and 10am up and he was late. I walked in and said to the teacher, "Why are you having snack so early? Isn't it just 9:20?" I looked at the clock, "orrrr. 10:20." I feel bad. 

*I said I would bring cookies for the class Valentine party. I planned to have a lot of fun making them with K. He just told me he prefered to watch TV, and after TV, MAYBE he will help me make cookies.. shall I just buy them?