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Words to Live By #8

This week’s instalment of Words to Live By is a Dr. Seuss saying – how wonderful that this favourite author from my childhood continues to inspire, motivate, and influence me. I hope you find something delightfully pleasant in the rhyming couplet below.

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Making a difference has never been easier

What if you could make a difference in Asia and Africa with just one click? You wouldn’t have to leave your comfortable chair in front of your computer, let alone the comfort of your home and country. What if just one click raised up to $9 for development initiatives in the areas of health, education, rural and development, community capacity, gender equality, and the environment? Would that be incentive enough to make the click?

Here’s your chance to make a world of difference.

All you need to do is “like” the “World Partnership Walk Edmonton” page on Facebook and you’ll help raise $1 for Asia and Africa. Every dollar we raise locally gets leveraged through partnerships with organizations like the Canadian International Development Agency (aka CIDA). These partner organizations match up to 8x. And just like that — the 10 seconds you took to “like” the WPW Edmonton page means upwards of $9 for Asia and Africa. Pretty good return on investment, eh?

So what are you waiting for…visit World Partnership Walk Edmonton and click “like”. Your generosity will be felt on the other side of the world. Isn’t that a great way to kick off your weekend? I’d say so. And I also say THANK YOU.

Read the document What are you Walking for? for more stories about how we are making a difference one step at a time through the World Partnership Walk.

And if you are inspired to participate in the Walk, which takes place in 10 cities across Canada — and you can even participate in the Virtual Walk if you do not live in one of the cities. You can walk in Toronto, Vancouver, or Victoria on Sunday, May 27, 2012, in London, Montreal, or Regina on Sunday, June 3, 2012, or in Calgary, Edmonton, Kitchener-Waterloo, or Ottawa on Sunday, June 10, 2012.
If you aren’t able to participate in the Walk and want to make a donation instead, you are welcome to sponsor me or donate directly to the Walk. Keep in mind that 100% of your donation goes directly to projects in Asia and Africa; not a single cent is spent on administrative costs. And if you donate online then you will get your tax receipt electronically within a few business days – and there is no minimum donation amount to qualify for a tax receipt. You can donate even if you don’t live in Canada.
And here are some images of my trip to East Africa in 2009. No other place has quite captured my heart in the same way as the African land and the African people. ImageImageImageImage
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Teaching a kid to believe in himself…priceless

I haven’t had a blog entry about my nephews in a while. This week, though, both E&N showed me the value of building confidence in kids (and the flip-side of this is no doubt that confidence is much more easily shattered than it is built and realizing this means that I will try even harder to do my part to empower E&N whenever I can.)

I pick up E from school two or three times a week and when we arrive at Grandma and Grandpa’s, E likes to challenge me to race him to the door. He wins a lot of the time and I win once in a while – sometimes because E lets me. 🙂 And sometimes because I think it’s good for kids to learn that it’s okay to try again another time and to not give up. Well, yesterday E had his hands full with his backpack and some extra homework materials. I had my hands full with his car seat, his coat, my coat, my purse, and my workout bag. E said something about he didn’t want to race this time since he’d probably lose since he had so much stuff.

I thought, TEACHABLE MOMENT! And so I said to E that if he thinks he’s going to lose, he will and that if he thinks he’s going to win, he will. Then I asked him what he thought would happen if we raced. He still said he thought he’d lose. We repeated this dialogue a few times. Finally, I said, well, why don’t we race and see what happens. He agreed. And then he won. So then I asked him what he thought and he said he really wanted to win even though he had a lot of stuff to carry. And when I pointed out to him that he made it happen because he really wanted it and that didn’t he think that it’s a good idea to believe he could win if he really wanted to and believed he could. He agreed somewhat unconvincingly. Then today, as we approached my parents’ house, he declared that he was going to win again today because he had decided that was how the race was going to go today. I asked him if he was sure he’d win and he said, yes, because you said if I think I can win I will. Well, he won again today. Tomorrow might be a different story – I wouldn’t want E to become as cocky as I am just yet…

Now, onto N, who has been really struggling with his spelling in the past few weeks. He and I had a chat yesterday about how smart he is and how quickly and accurately he gets through his homework when he pays attention and focuses. He did a pretty decent job on his spelling words yesterday and I said that he clearly knows how to spell this week’s words and that he could think of it as levels in his Nintendo DS games – each week that he gets his spelling words correct is similar to getting one level higher in a game.

Well, lo and behold, today, N did his list of spelling words in record time (we’re talking maybe two minutes flat for six words) and they were one hundred per cent correct. With only a slight bit of help from me on one word. N was super proud of himself and his face lit up when I high-fived him and told him how proud I am of him. He couldn’t stop telling my parents, E, and me that he got all of his spelling words correct all on his own and that he really is smart. Wow. Then he turned to me and said that he’s going to try to focus whenever we do homework because that means he’s done faster and can get to winning levels on his DS. How cool is that?


Words to Live By #7

I’m having a roller-coaster of an evening and so I’m posting a bit early this week’s Words to Live By. I hope these reminders help you. They are a very good reminder for me.


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Words to Live By #6

This week’s Words to Live By consists of two images, both inspired somewhat as a result of my catching up on Jillian Michaels’ podcasts since the beginning of this year.

The first one is also a good reminder for me with respect to my nephews and is something one of my BFFs has often reminded me of when we talk about the role that I am fortunate enough to play in my nephews’ lives. Juli always reminds me that every kid needs just one person to believe in them, to take an interest in them, to be a role model for them, to encourage them. Then, in the event that I haven’t connected the dots, she says, “You, Narmin, YOU are this person in your nephews’ lives. Got it?”

Jillian Michaels’ discussed this very concept of positive role models in kids’ lives in a podcast in February. And it is absolutely true – kids need role models. They need someone to believe in them. They need someone to encourage them. To inspire them. To motivate them. To help them achieve their potential.

The first of today’s images for this week’s Words to Live By is a Maya Angelou quote and it is one I love.


The second of today’s images for this week’s Words to Live By is another topic that Jillian Michaels covered in a podcast this year – it’s about the concept of forgiveness and the toll it takes on an individual who opts out of forgiveness. This really takes its toll and lessons the happiness that we can enjoy. It isn’t always easy to forgive. Doing so frees us of the anger and hurt that takes away from the happiness we allow into our lives. And if that isn’t motivation to learn our lessons and move forward then I don’t know what is.


Two very different images for today and I couldn’t choose between them so I included them both. So talk to me. Are you a role model for someone? And is it easy for you to forgive?

And now I’ll just admit that these two topics are related. I know how high my expectations are of my nephews and I am always balancing that with my desire to give them unconditional love no matter what happens. Laura, I can see your face as you read this last paragraph. 🙂

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The world is calling…

The World Partnership Walk is my main philanthropic effort each year. It is an initiative of the Aga Khan Foundation Canada (AKFC), a non-profit international agency that has a remarkable track record for successful global development efforts in Asia and Africa. As a member agency of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), AKFC works to address the root causes of poverty with a particular focus in the areas of health, education, rural development, and capacity building. Every project also factors in gender equity and protection of the environment.

Although His Highness the Aga Khan, the founder and chairman of AKDN, is the 49th hereditary Imam (spiritual leader) of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, AKDN projects and initiatives aim to improve living conditions and opportunities for people regardless of their particular religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. His Highness the Aga Khan has made a commitment to help improve the quality of life of those living in some of the poorest parts of the world and he has dedicated more than 50 years of his life to development efforts.

For more information about His Highness the Aga Khan, the AKDN, and AKFC, please click here, here, and here.

I truly believe that changing the world for the better forever starts wtih just one step. For me, walking the talk means participating in the World Partnership Walk and helping to educate my family, friends, and colleagues about how we can make an impact in some of the poorest and most beautiful and inspiring places in the world. We never even have to leave the comfort of our lives in Canada in order to do so, although I personally think that seeing is believing and it wasn’t until I started traveling to places like India, SE Asia, and Africa that I realized the incredible impact I could make simply through compassion and education and awareness.

I have learned so much from people who previously would have had my pity. The developing world is full of bright, capable, beautiful people. They have taught me about gratitude. About hope. About faith. About resiliency. I no longer have pity for those in the developing world. I have a deep sense of respect and awe for them. They make do with far less than I can ever imagine and despite the common images of helplessness of people in developing societies, the vast majority of my experiences have been of people who are enterprising and who are creative and who want the same things that I do – a better life for our families and a chance to make the world a better place no matter how far reaching our impact.

It is only by chance that I was born in Canada. My parents left Uganda as refugees 40 years ago. It has meant a world of difference for me. Until the past 10 years, I didn’t realize that mine was a privileged upbringing if only because there was always food on the table, a roof over my head, parents who loved me, access to education and health care, and security that was my birthright. It is so very easy for me to imagine now that my life may have been very different if it weren’t for the politics of East Africa in the late 60s and early 70s. It wasn’t until I went to East Africa in the fall of 2009 that I truly realized how strong a calling it is for me to do what I can to help the people who very easily could have been my fellow countrymen and women.

Over the past 10 years it has become clear to me that the way to better the world is by recognizing one another’s humanity and working together to deal with the root causes that limit the potential of people everywhere. Nowhere is this easier to do than in the developing world for there is so much that we can do and it won’t require too much time or money – we are so lucky that our western currencies go such a long way in places like Asia and Africa (and if you’ve ever traveled to these continents you know what I mean – $10 allows you to live and eat like a rich person) and the people in these places are incredibly motivated to contribute the hard work and dedication that will result in their kids having access to education, clean water, and basic health care. That’s actually one of the things I love about projects supported by the Walk – they take into account the needs of the communities by consulting with the people and getting them to join in the development effort. The people in these communities may not have monetary resources but they have a limitless supply of innovation and gumption.

We really are blessed to live in a country where strong and free is not only part of our national anthem but it is also part of every aspect of our existence. Here’s our chance to ignite the spark of hope for people who only want some of what we take for granted. Let’s make the world a better place one step at a time. Join me in supporting the World Partnership Walk. You’ll make a lifetime of difference with just one click.

You can sponsor me here.

Some added incentives are the facts that 100% of your donation will go directly to projects in Asia and Africa (not a single cent is spent on administration), you will get your tax receipt by email within a few business days of making your online contribution, and partner agencies like the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) match funds at a ratio as high as 8:1. What an incredible way to make your dollar go the distance in the developing world.

If our animosities are born out of fear, then confident generosity is born out of hope. One of the central lessons I have learned after a half century of working in the developing world is that the replacement of fear by hope is probably the single most powerful trampoline of progress.
~ Aga Khan IV


Words to Live By #5

A bit late out of the gate with this week’s Words to Live By. Better late than never, though. 🙂

The past few days I have been thinking about the people in my life. I’m grateful to have had people from all walks of life influence who I am today. Some of those people are still a big part of my life – they are my forever friends. We can count on each other no matter the physical distance between us or where life has taken us. Life may get in the way of us having regular contact yet when we catch up, whether on the phone or in person or by email or Facebook – we simply pick up where we left off and it’s as though time has stood still for us.

I realize not everyone comes into my life to become a forever friend and yet, the ones who stayed for a while, wether long or short, have had an impact on me. They have taught me something, or left me with fun memories, or have influenced me in some way to become the next best version of myself. These are the season and reason friends and I am grateful for the role they played in my life.

“People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.”
~ Unknown

So yay for the reason and season friends. Not only do they get gratitude for whatever impact they’ve made on their own, but a double yay for them for making me ever more grateful for the forever friends who have become woven into the fabric of my life. And as I do my spring cleaning, along with the clothes and books and “stuff” I am cleaning out, I am allowing myself to let go of relationships that have concluded their reason or season and I’m rejoicing about the lifetime friends that grace my world and brighten my life.

Click here to read a full excerpt on the quote above.

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Words to Live By #4

This week’s instalment of Words to Live By contains excellent advice for me to practice following more consistently.

I tend to be the type of person who is happiest when busy. As of late I have found myself taking on projects and responsibilities because I haven’t had the heart to say no even if my heart isn’t 100% committed.

The saying “If you want something done, ask a busy person.” is very true for me and I realize it doesn’t have to be this way.

I am looking forward to saying no in order to say yes to the things that are most fulfilling, that make me happy, that allow me to maintain balance and harmony in my life and home, and that are part of my life’s purpose.

Do you have any examples of how you have done what I am  setting out to do? If you have any tips or advice, I’d love to hear from you.


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