A Perfect Pair

Snail mail: What a novelty! Last week I had the joy of getting a card in the mail from my dear friend Yolanda who has been serving for a few years in Burundi.

The minute I saw the card, I knew two things: it was handmade, and it was definitely for/about Varun and I. Inside, Yolanda had written, “When I first saw this card, you immediately popped into mind, and I thought back to many of the stories and reflections you’ve shared on your blog”. Interestingly, Yolanda goes on to explain that after this card was shown to focus groups in North America and the UK, it received negative feedback because the socks are not, in fact, a ‘perfect pair’. I chuckle to think of survey-takers adamant and annoyed that the socks do. not. match.

This beautiful card was handmade in Rwanda on recycled paper by a lovely company called Cards from Africa. Young people who have lost their parents to ‘conflict or disease’ work to carefully craft these whimsical cards and are given education, healthcare, food and shelter. As I browsed their website, I got so excited to buy my Christmas cards from Cards from Africa! While they cost a bit more than Hallmark, I’m know my money is going toward fair trade, recycled and proudly made cards.

I love my Perfect Pair card. It’s sitting on my bedside table to remind me of Yolanda, to remind me of my perfectly different-from-me husband, and to remind me to take life a little less seriously. And yes, to remind me to write someone a letter and actually put it in the mail.

P.S. Cards from Africa did not promote this post or sponsor it in any way. I just love what they’re doing and love their cards.

P.P.S. Check out this post by American Punjabi Pi in response to my post, Racial Privilege.

Toilet Paper Whoas

(The title of this post is 100% plagiarized from an email from my big brother, John.)

For some reason, I seem to have a lot of conversations about:

-using the washroom in developing countries

-(not) using toilet paper in developing countries

-squatty potties

-falling into sewage

I would like to think that everyone experiences this phenomenon. (If this is not the case, don’t burst my bubble.) On a related note, two things happened this week.

1. I received the following email from my brother who is currently living in Ecuador:

Hi Amelia, Have you ever had to put a coin into a Toilet paper dispenser? I know humans commonly dispense [it] in India, but even there, is it objectively rationed as a machine might? If so, do you have any recollection of how many squares come in a portion? There’s a blog topic swirling around my mind…is thurs. good for you to talk?

A blog topic swirling around in his mind–BAHAHA! Now you see where I get my creative genius and stunning wit.

Apparently, John had to purchase a package of toilet paper (for $1 USD).

Toilet paper packages, finger shown for scale

The contents of a dispensed toilet paper package: 12 squares.

John, as much as we feel for you and would strongly advise you to invest in a whole entire roll, we have one very important question: which direction do the toilets flush? Does it vary within the country depending on which side of the Equator you’re on? Please advise.

2. The second thing that happened was that we had our first small group/home church/Bible study of the year. For a warm-up, Varun and I decided to play Two Truths and A Lie, just to keep things holy. Here’s what I wrote:

-I have eaten rattlesnake

-I have fallen into sewage

-I have met Obama

Apparently, this caused serious confusion. Some people didn’t think I was brave enough to eat rattlesnake. Some people felt it unlikely that I’ve met Obama. And then there was my lovely friend C, who happily proclaimed, “But guys, think about it! If any of my friends is likely to have fallen in poo, it’s Amelia. She’s like a magnet to awful situations!”

Ummm…thanks? I struggled to keep a straight face as I laughed on the inside.

C was right: I am a bit of a catastrophe magnet, and I have fallen into poo. Like, submerged in it.


On to more polite conversation: have you ever had toilet paper rationed? If so, what was the given amount? Have you ever used a toilet paper dispenser? How much did it cost?

We Do Not Hate

Good Morning!

Today’s post is a message and link from my brother Mark. Please read the following and join us in showing love to our Muslim brothers and sisters!

The last eight days have been for all of us a lesson in the power of hate and the power of social media. A spiteful American has sent a message of hate across the internet. In multiple Muslim countries around the world, people have had their very identities denigrated, and they feel hurt. Citizens, governments, and armed groups have incited protests that are damaging to life, property, and long term relationships. Newsweek responded by attributing the problem to “Muslim Rage”. A French magazine is publishing cartoons denigrating Islam and Judaism.

Just as one may have a right to spread hate, we have a right to counter that. I, for one, won’t have the country that I love represented by hatred abroad. Last week, residents of Benghazi, Libya, demonstrated in the streets to show their support for the American people. They realize that perceptions matter, and so they took the time to make sure that we understand that they do not hate us. Where is our response to them? 

I’ve created a blog called We Do Not Hate, made for one purpose alone: to send a message to Muslims around the world that we do not hate them. The blog is simply a collection of photographs of people expressing their rejection of anti-Muslim hatred. No political discussions, no polemics. Just a simple message. My hope is that people – especially Muslim people – who have been hurt in the last week will see these photos and be reassured that they do indeed have friends in America. 

If you support this message, please do three things:

1. Take a photograph of yourself and post it to the blog

2. Share the link to the blog on facebook with your friends and encourage them to share it too

3. If you have friends throughout the Muslim world who would benefit from seeing this, please share it with them [http://we-do-not-hate.tumblr.com/]

The people of Benghazi last week left their work and their leisure to spend time in the streets holding signs. What will you do?
While that video made me incredibly sad, I am quite proud of Mark and his initiative. Will you join us?
If you do post a picture, come share the link in the comments section so we can all see it!

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