The Elephant at the Mall

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Crowds pouring into a busy shopping mall, bags touching, people pushing and eyes looking everywhere as people make sure their belongings follow them into the mall. It’s around 2pm and everyone on the trip has been waiting to do a bit of shopping in France ever since we got here a few days ago. Matt walks in front and everyone sort of ends up walking into the store together.

The streets are filled with mini Christmas trees that all lead up to the massive one in the middle of the square. There’s a funfair too which makes me think of the one in London on the south bank. I’d go there with my family and always make mama buy me a ticket to go on the carousel. We would be able to see it from a far distance, as the colours would mingle together with the fastness of the ride. The colours jumbled, and my eyes saw circles of different hues dancing together in the windy winters of London.

Annie is close by and so is Joe, my close friends. I tell joe to find a music store when we go in as I knew they had big headphones in the France music stores where you can listen to Drake’s album there. We pace it to the mall and before entering I notice two security guards who stare at me. One was a black guy, normal height with a big black jacket on. He had a cap on which matched the other security guard’s. But this other guy was slimmer and white. He looked middle aged and bored of working at the doors of the mall, seeing a monotonous cycle of people rushing in to stores. They both fixed their eyes on me, I look down at my top as I thought maybe my stomach was showing from the breeze. I can feel the cold against my skin, the kind of cold the feels like its seeping into your skin by little cuts and scratches. I touch my face briefly, as if I was scratching or moving a few strands of hair away. But there was no hair, and there were no strands. Because I wear a hijab. That’s when I realise, “Joe, I don’t think I can go in, the security guards are looking at me and I think they want to cause trouble”. Joe pretends to listen and says “don’t worry they’re looking at everyone, we all look foreign to them. I momentarily think of Joe’s appearance and think he could pass easily as a French guy. He is white but slightly tanned from his summer trip to Hawaii with his parents. His parents weren’t having a great relationship, so they thought a holiday would help. I still haven’t asked him about that.

I start to think about the guards and we’re closer now to the doors. We approach the glass doors that run so high up, it makes you think how they fit them in so easily. We all walk in together and I immediately jump from the alarms that begin to go off on every door of the entrance. There’s about 4 different doors that go along the mall entrance. The alarms create red lights that go up these beams at the entrance and I look back expecting to see a few teenagers running out of the store after having stolen something. But no, there’s no teenagers there. I look back forward to suddenly see the two security guards in front of me. The black, heavy looking man is so close to me I could touch his shoes with mine. My heart starts to beat faster and all I can think about is what did I do and why are they stopping me. The white security guard acts as back up, he stands behind the jacketed man who stands over me to say “Qu’y a-t-il dans ton sac?”. I go blank and the words escape my brain. I stutter, and nothing comes out so he begins to tug at my coat. The alarms are ringing, and my mind goes silent, it failed me. I’m so flustered I don’t know what to do but say, “rien”, nothing, and the security guard takes my bag. At this point I suddenly remember all the other students have huddled into one corner of the mall’s entrance and Mr Franc tells the security guard to back off and that we are here on a trip.

The security guard throws the bag at me and it drops to my feet. He tells me to “open your bag and take everything out of it”. He begins to speak in English, after probably realising I couldn’t converse in French. I bend over and look at Joe and Annie, who stand there helpless but made me angry that they did nothing. Why did they go silent. Were they scared? Did they think I actually carried anything that would harm them in the slightest? Questions begin to fill my mind and I now have a lump at the back of my throat. I want to let out my frustration, but I can’t. Not in front of them anyway. I begin to poor out my bag and start to regret why I packed so much into my backpack for that day’s trip around France. I always like to have mini things ready in case of anything that could happen. But I don’t think I had anything in my bag that would prepare me for the security guards. Maybe pepper spray would help. I don’t know why I’m thinking that but no. Ok I have to take all this merde out of my bag and show them that I have nothing worth being searched for. Everything comes out, my lunch box, papers from the different museums we were going to, cards, and souvenirs and makeup pencils and lipsticks. They tower over me, as if to say I would hide something from them. But no, I emptied everything out and they stood there. As if disappointed they couldn’t prove that this Muslim woman with a headscarf on didn’t have anything, and was not guilty.

They wanted to arrest me and have a reason to target me. But what did they find, nothing. And they took away my dignity.

People stared as I packed up on my knees, putting an orange back into my bag and I see Joe’s shoes getting closer to where I was kneeling. He knelt down and began to help me put my stuff back into my bag. He put the last sheet into my bag and he said “they’re all a bunch of racists, you’re worth more than both of them combined”.

I smiled and put my rucksack back onto my back, Joe gave me a semi smile, it’s the smile he does when he feels something deeply and has more to add, but he doesn’t. He leaves it at that and we walk into the mall. Off to the music store to listen to Drake.

A mini story.

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A little message on what it takes to be successful

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So – lets break the word up a little bit. ‘Success’ and ‘ful’

Success meaning an accomplishment. A result through arduous work. A triumph.

Full – to me, I see it as a victory, because the success is big, filled with all the hard work a person puts into becoming ‘something’ – through filling their lives with experience.

So that’s the basics of it out of the way.

Let me just put it quite simply. To be successful, you either must be the luckiest person in the world, or you work hard. Being lucky doesn’t happen to everyone, so I would go with constantly working on yourself and who knows, maybe luck and hard work will help you become successful.

There’s also another type of success, where people are just happy with their lives, and grateful. They see the success in their happiness. And that’s a warm feeling.

It’s quite easy sometimes to take the route of comparing ourselves to people and momentarily think they’re lucky to,

“Have that job”

“Have a great complexion”

“Great body, why is mine wobbly?”

“Great friends. Haven’t seen mine in weeks”

But the truth is – success comes within. If you have the drive to want that job, or have that complexion, that great body and friends, it takes some work.

Put some time into ‘you time’ – step away from looking at everyone, and tapping on your phone to like pictures, when you can make your life a reality, however you want it to be.

I’m not going to beat around the bush, I’m in no way perfect, but i’m on my journey of becoming successful. Content on where I want to be and where I want to take me. At 21 I’m always trying to find myself, which means asking myself the same questions of “what do I want to be?” and “Why I am not exercising?” or “I really should apply to that job, but argh, only lucky people get them” and many other questions and statements but – in reality all it takes is for me to stand up and take control of my life.

It’s a work in progress. We’re all on our own levels.

Make a list if it helps.

  • Write down all the possible jobs you could apply to. Including titles of the job and how your skills apply.
  • Start watching exercise videos and do 7 mins morning workout. And build on that. Just grab the yoga matt and mess around if that helps. It gets you going. Make it fun! Exercise encourages the release of endorphins to your brain which makes you want to do more, becoming positive in all you do.
  • Write all the positive things that are happening in your life and act on them.
  • Keep yourself busy. Read, write, paint, draw, create, speak (even speak to yourself if you have to, it’s helpful). You’ll realise that you will remember these moments more the next day because instead of wasting your time, you’re developing yourself and having “me time”.
  • Watch videos and analyse them. Be critical. It’s great to have an opinion.
  • Tell yourself you’re successful. Don’t doubt your abilities because of one downfall. Push through it.

 

These are just a few of my current thoughts and perhaps advice I should be giving myself too. Let me know what makes you get out of bed in the morning? Is it the drive to become successful?

Thanks for reading!

Queen Rania Family and Child Centre

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A spacious centre filled with emotion and the drive to make change. Queen Rania Family and Child Centre, aka one of my favourite places I went to when in Jordan.

It was obvious from my first steps into the centre, that the place was encircled with people who wanted change, a difference for the lives of children in the Middle East.

The centre prioritises a space for children to feel safe, where the words child abuse are combated with programmes that seek to help children and their families become much more aware of child abuse.

The different programmes include ‘Beit sgheer’ meaning ‘my little room’ in Arabic, which is an imitation of a room. It includes loads of small different rooms such as, a living room, a bathroom, a kitchen, feelings room and garden. The programme’s purpose is to encourage children to participate with hands-on activities that will shape their future understanding of what is safe and what is not.

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Queen Rania Family and Child Centre – Beit Sgheer

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The charity aims to educate both parents and children, in making them aware of child abuse and the ways to prevent harm. I found it interesting that a lot of the schools in Jordan have not implemented a ‘no abuse’ tolerance, and instead students are not being guided in the correct, professional ways by teachers or psychologists. At the centre, the workers can be guided by psychologists who come into the centre to talk about the different behavioural indicators that tell whether a child has been abused or not. Personally, I found this to be a great improvement in Jordan and would love to see this carry on within schools.

After the tour around the building, the students were put in to groups where I led some of the sports activities for the girls. We engaged in team building activities using straws to build the highest tower, as well as playing noughts and crosses using hoolahoops.

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I was surprised at how much some of the students could speak English, which was great as it allowed us to communicate a little. The language barrier did not stop any of of the students from using hand gestures, which was great to see!

I thought the centre was extremely inclusive of everyone, especially because it involves the parents. From an Arab background, I know it can be hard for Arab parents to admit to parental issues or behavioural issues with their teenagers. Stereotypically, many Arabs are stubborn, and would not seek help from centres’ like Rania’s family and child centre.

This experience opened my eyes to a new way of living for Arabs, who are being open with their emotions. It made me realise that organisations like Rania’s encourages open mindedness and shows the power of communication.

I hope you liked this little glimpse into the centre. If you want to learn more about the place then check out this video of children engaging in ‘Beit Sgheer’. Thank you!

 

 

JORDAN – EZWITTI

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Hi guys,

Sorry I’ve been away for awhile, and despite not posting anything on here, I do promise I have been writing. Writing for University work, travels and just personal stories. 3 weeks ago I headed to Jordan for 10 days and I have so many stories to tell you about the different organisations we visited and helped. I went with a bunch of amazing students from University as apart of a programme called Alsadi – changing Lives. The programme aims to take University students to Jordan to get an exposure of the middle east, in educating them about the different ways organisations in Jordan are trying to uplift the country, and its citizens. So my first post is on Ezwitti, a non-profit restaurant in downtown Amman. I hope you like it!

Prior to getting there, the group walked around in downtown, passing shops, and snapping shots of the copious amount of buildings that faced us. One thing I noticed was that the roads were packed with cars and the sounds of beeps and yells, and friendly engagements. I had already expected this kind of atmosphere as it reminded me of my childhood memories whilst living in Algeria. The busy streets and the welcoming people really made me feel comfortable and safe. Shop keepers holding their fabrics, and smiling in the shining streets that were filled with battery powered toys that were sold on curbs of roads. The robotic looking toys were hushed by the bustle of peoples chitchats as they walked down the streets of Amman.

We walked up the stairs towards the Ezwitti non-profit restaurant where we noticed street art, that faced book stalls, restaurants and clothing shops. Of course, this was the perfect place to take pictures and engage with the culture. We were told that the artists were given permission to paint on the walls by the government, who have to permit the painting before it is painted. I found this interesting as I momentarily compared it to the western world, where artists do not ask for permission and are much more autonomous in the style of art. I noticed most of the art was on famous quotes or of peoples faces.

We were pleasantly introduced to an American student studying in Jordan, who gave us an overview of the non-profit restaurant. She told us that the organisation is run by volunteers and was founded by two brothers.

Ezwitti which means “my support system” in Arabic, is a ‘social solidarity restaurant’ in Amman that provides free food for the needy and homeless. The charity works by encouraging people to buy an ‘invite’, which provides the means for the restaurant to buy and cook for the homeless. Paying customers write a friendly message that is stuck to a board in the restaurant for the homeless to read. This is said to ‘preserve the dignity’ of the people that go to eat there.

I personally asked if the restaurant was ‘taken advantage of’ as it is open for anyone who does not have the means to buy or make their own food. The restaurant basis it’s work on trust and therefore are trusting of the visitors who come in asking for a meal. We made food in the kitchen of the charity, which was great, however small. The kitchen made me feel appreciative of what I have in London, as these workers are working in a small kitchen for the benefit of society’s poor. As Ezwitti has become so popular, a new restaurant is currently being built in a poorer city in Jordan, where it’s homeless are struggling. This is great news.

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The day was extremely enjoyable because we were able to go in to town and buy the groceries we needed to make the food. This made us engage with local Jordanians, use the currency of dinars effectively, and explore the markets. We were helped by some students from the Middle East University in Jordan, who were an extremely great help with giving us additional information on the culture, the food, the people, and overall life in Jordan. So we’re very thankful for them. Above you can see photos of all the delicious food we made. Much of the food was vegetables and egg and ‘oh my’ it was delectable!

Whilst exploring town, my group were approached by a camera man and his friends from the supposed Aljazeera media network which were filming at the time. They asked me and others to go about our travels as normal, whilst they filmed us, walking, engaging with the Jordanian street vendors. I found this interesting as, despite them not giving us a reason to why they wanted to film us, it was obvious that they wanted to film foreigners in an environment that was filled with Jordanians going about their normal day. It made me realise that I really was a tourist in a place filled with rich culture and history.  After talking to Alex and Hadi, supervisors in Jordan, they told me that the camera men would have needed a release form if they worked for Aljazeera, so now I think that it was a couple of friends just filming. I did not mind this, however, made me realise I need to be aware next time of who approaches me and how to go about it.

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If you want to learn a bit more about the restaurant, Aljazeera covered a story on it. Here’s a direct link to the video:

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/04/ezwitti-jordan-restaurant-helps-feed-homeless-180409104421908.html

And there you have it. My first day in Jordan was pretty amazing. Let me know of any similar restaurants in your home countries that you know of down below. And your thoughts! Thank you! xxx

 

 

Butterfly House – Forest Hill

I recently went to the Horniman Museum and a little, but beautiful butterfly garden in London!

I remember walking through thick plastic curtains and in to the garden where I was faced with a fluttering blue and white butterfly. It was instantaneous and I felt great. All these memories started to flood back in to my existence of when I was a little girl in my big garden. From right-to-left to-left to-left, the little soaring insect fell and took flight, fell and took flight in the air, dancing its precious life through the moist, rain forest like atmosphere. They were all dancing beautiful creatures of their kingdom that I had to explore.

Walking around felt robotic, wishing I could join the fun and chase the butterflies around. The freedom that comes with existence is different for every creation by God. Butterflies are so free, yet their life span is 3 weeks. Whereas humans are born, and we expect a life time of years upon years. To them I suppose 3 weeks is a long time.

Reflections – Take everyday as if it is your last. Do whatever you want now and do not leave it off. Who promised you a tomorrow? No body. We live today.

The world is truly sublime. I took a few photos and I hope you like them 🙂


 

Have you been to a butterfly garden before? if so, where? I want to go to as many as possible! Abroad too. Have a great week!!

17 THINGS I LEARNT IN 2017

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Hi guys,

So, I’ve never been too reflective about my life in the past, and turning 20 in 2017 somehow jolted my mind in to questioning where I am in life and what I’ve learnt. So, I have decided to let you all in to my mind, by giving you 17 things I learnt in 2017.

NUMBER ONE.

Probably the most important for me this year is to be open and share. I always thought sharing content or communicating too much was just pointless and no one would care. But its completely the opposite. Share.

NUMBER TWO:

To try anything that is thrown at me. For some reason in 2017, I started to get stressed about what is next? What will I be doing next year and what do I want to become? So, I just researched a bunch and realised its completely fine that I don’t know yet. I ended up going to multiple interviews and recruitment days, and now I know those sort of companies and jobs are not for me. I am still looking.

NUMBER THREE:

Always be kind. Simple as. I always have been but reminding myself that every little gesture effects the way someone sees you and how God is going to judge you.

NUMBER FOUR:

Stay woke. Not everyone is going to stay your friend and people exit your life for reasons but new people, if you seek it and want to, will flourish in to your existence.

NUMBER FIVE:

Honesty. With your friends, siblings, parents, just be honest. They want the best for you so why create mazes and loop holes when you can walk a straight path.

NUMBER SIX:

Alhamdulillah for health. It can be quite easy to forget about being healthy because you think “its just another day and I feel fine” – But you woke up healthy. Be grateful for that. Many people don’t have that. Also. Exercise! Eat well and do morning stretches and simple exercises to keep you energised.

NUMBER SEVEN:

Be constantly grateful.

NUMBER EIGHT:

Work hard and experiment. The best things are unplanned.

NUMBER NINE:

Always have time for ‘me time’. Reflect on your days positives and perhaps negatives.

NUMBER TEN:

Breath. Take in deep breaths and a great person to watch is Wim Hof on YouTube. He gives amazing techniques on breathing. It relaxes you and makes you feel rejuvenated.

NUMBER ELEVEN:

Be yourself and don’t pretend to be anyone else. I realise this every year but with social media, I can sometimes get side tracked and feel like I’m not good enough. But I am. I am me, and no one can take that away from me.

NUMBER TWELVE:

Just GO for it. Whether it be to travel, a job, a person you like or anything your gut tells you to do. What is there to lose. Try and try again.

NUMBER THIRTEEN:

If you care for people, then try and keep in contact with them all. It can be hard juggling work, school work, university with a social life but keep your loved ones close and tell them you care for them. A simple ‘I appreciate you and I love you’ goes a long way.

NUMBER FOURTEEN:

I realised that 2017 was a year I started to use my phone too much. I started posting more on Instagram and was drawn to always go on it, sometimes without realising what I am doing. Endlessly scrolling through images of people and their daily lives, but what am I really getting out of it? So I’ve learnt to distance myself a little bit.

NUMBER FIFTEEN:

To read and read… and gather information that you find interesting and entertaining. There is always a book out there that you will enjoy, no matter what you like or what you’re in to.

NUMBER SIXTEEN:

It is ok if you are on another level to somebody else. Stop with the constant comparisons of where you are currently in life, what you have or don’t have. Just do you, and you’ll find you’ll be less stressed.

LASTLY, NUMBER SEVENTEEN:

Be determined and aspire. Don’t just stay somewhere because you feel its steady. Stay only if you think you won’t get anywhere else, but if you try, I guarantee you will go places. We have this entire world to explore. Work, live, meet friends, but get out there and try new things. That’s one thing I aim to do within the next few years as a young adult.

Thank you so much for reading, what have you learnt from 2017? Did you have any new year’s resolutions? Let me know!

Until next time.

MY TOP 5 TRAVEL DESTINATIONS

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Whether it be warm, cold or any abnormal weather you can think of, travelling has always been something I’ve wanted to do. I get restricted quite often, as I visit Algeria mostly during the summer and the rest of the year I’m studying. Algeria like many African countries is beautiful but I’d love to explore this world God has created further. I want to step in to a new environment, discover and learn and see and taste and just be, be somewhere new. I want to absorb culture. I don’t know about you, but I find myself constantly daydreaming about being somewhere, engaging with people and seeing smiles and expressions I never thought I’d see. I imagine the scenery and the food, ‘oh myyy the food’ and think, “if I planned my life, and had a strict calendar, I could be doing this”. We all have our fantasies I suppose, and mine normally 90% is about travel.

So! I thought I’d share some of the places I’ve come to love and daydream about from seeing instagramer’s posts and just from research/word of mouth.

INDONESIA –

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I don’t know what it is about this place, but I’m sure that the people and the nature/buildings is what draws me in. I love places like this especially for the sake of photography and experimenting! I heard there is this monkey forest which sounds extremely cool and bizarre, I don’t know whether I have a fear of being close-up to monkeys but we shall see! From the photos I have seen, the place is rich with colour and beauty, I just want to go now seriously.

JAPAN –

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When I think of Japan I think of the colour red and the city, and that’s the first thing I want to explore when I go someday. I’m influenced by movies or TV series I see as they show, in my opinion anyway, a true reality of the country, not just a few extras put in to a scene. They really do act within the city, appreciating every bit of culture. I’d like to consider house sharing in Japan too, perhaps go in a group to mingle and start to learn the Japanese language and scripture.

GREECE – SANTORINI

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For a summerier getaway Santorini sounds perfect. Santorini is one of the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea. The whitewashed houses over look the sea, giving the experience a romantic, peaceful stay. The average temperatures during the summer, so July, is currently at 26C. I don’t like extremely hot weather anyway, so 26-30 degrees is the right summer temperature pour moi! I can also see myself in one of those white and blue apartments on the cliffs, ahh bliss. I always imagine it as a honeymoon destination, who knows… The beaches are said to be made up of red, black and white lava pebbles. This is due to the Volcanic eruption in the 16th century BC, that altered Santorini’s landscape. To me, it looks beautiful, giving it a distinctive and eccentric look. A definite must in the near future.

CZECH REPUBLIC – PRAGUE

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So many people I follow right now go to Prague and oh my, the photos are beautiful. Prague, the largest city in Czech Republic and the capital, is known for its rich history. There are many things to do such as, going to castles, gothic churches and colourful buildings which creates quite a contrast between the history of Prague and the modern day. Tourism there is said to be quite busy which to be frank does put me off sometimes, but wow it’s just too majestic not to go and at least experience it for a few days. Maybe a longer trip will be advised perhaps for a better understanding of culture and ‘the heart of its historic core’.

CANADA –

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There isn’t a specific city I have my eyes on right now as I honestly love the country as a whole. Currently debating whether it’d be an awesome idea to move there, to work/live. It’s just such a positive country, displaying unity and community especially for the minorities. I am also in awe with the landscapes some professional photographers have taken in Canada of the mountains and waters and many many more places. It just looks magical! It just seems to fit in to my ‘ideal’ place to live. I will consider going on holiday for a long period of time, see how I get on there and then decide.

Thanks for reading! Tell me about your ideal holiday destinations!?

A reminder –

“And it is He who sends down rain from the sky, and We produce thereby the growth of all things. We produce from it greenery from which We produce grains arranged in layers. And from the palm trees – of its emerging fruit are clusters hanging low. And [We produce] gardens of grapevines and olives and pomegranates, similar yet varied. Look at [each of] its fruit when it yields and [at] its ripening. Indeed in that are signs for a people who believe.” (Qur’an, 6:99)