Rewards for Recycling

I like recycling. It hurts my heart to think of all the waste we produce, where it goes to, how it’s taking over the planet. I try to do my bit and aim to do more but for now, I’d like to share one thing that I do that could probably encourage you guys to do the same.

There’s this machine we have here in Dubai called ReVa that was initiated by Averda, a recycling company. This machine basically rewards you for dropping your recyclables (plastic bottles and cans) with points collected through Air Miles, which is absolutely cool!

We’re only 3 in my team but we go through approximately 20 small bottles a week. For every recyclable item, you get 2 air mile points. Et voila!

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2 medium-sized bags with 20 small bottles each.

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The attractive ReVa machine right next to my office (how convenient).

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The receipt with the serial number.

I mean I know it’s going to take forever to get something super valuable out of these points but I think it makes for a huge incentive.

So yay recycling!

HUMANSOFNY

Read not as Hyu-man-zofny but as Humans of NY or New York.

I’m sure many have heard of this but I will give a brief background anyway. Humans of New York started out as a page on Facebook by (then) amateur photographer Brandon Stanton when he lost his job, moved to New York City and began photographing people on the streets. That was back in 2010. Today, his website www.humansofnewyork.com is a beautiful archive of even more beautiful and colorful people he has met from around the world during the last five years. Mr. Stanton shares a write up on the people he meets where a snippet from their conversation together gives away the story from their whole life.

From the streets of New York City (2015). Image screenshot from www.humansofnewyork.com

From the streets of New York City (2015). Image screenshot from http://www.humansofnewyork.com

When I was introduced to his work on Instagram (@humansofny), he had just started his journey to Pakistan where he revealed telling stories and the dire situation there. Basically, everything that Mr. Stanton photographs and documents is deeply moving, even the good stories water our eyes. After every country he visits, he goes back to NYC and shares the pictures from there and it’s just amazing to see how much the situations around us can be different but how much we are alike as people. We hurt for the same reasons and have the same worries. We care and love in similar ways.

From his trip to Pakistan (2015). Image screenshot from www.humansofnewyork.com

From his trip to Pakistan (2015). Image screenshot from http://www.humansofnewyork.com

The colors of our skin and our surroundings might differ and it’s so evident just by looking at these photos from these different cultures and countries but ultimately the person staring right back at us is made out of the same components as us. These are captivating photos of humanity that can move, inspire and create awareness using photography and our interpersonal skills to make simple conversation.

From his trips to Jordan and Turkey where he covered the Syrian refugee situation.

From his trips to Jordan and Turkey where he covered the Syrian refugee crisis (2015). Image screenshot from http://www.humansofnewyork.com

Unfortunately, many of us are born into disadvantages and coming out of them can be burdensome and dangerous. Of course, I was so happy to see his documentation of the Syrian refugee crisis (I am Syrian) where he shared the Syrian people’s stories and brought to our attention details that are hidden away from us. Stories of the journey across the sea, stories of the volunteers who were assisting, stories of horrible losses and to a handful, an amazing end to their plight.

Brandon Stanton is not a photo-journalist. He is a History graduate and worked in Trade.

Let’s all aspire to be great people.

Faith in humanity: 1

Evil dudes: 0

Neighborly

I wanted to share some small-time goodness that took place on the corner of my house this morning. As I was leaving to walk Mr. Sparty (my crazy dog), I heard a loud bang and screeching wheels. Accident! So I went to inspect the wreckage as a nosy bystander in my uneventful life and saw that a woman had rammed her car into an unknown something (a phantom car). The labor workers from a nearby construction site gathered around and there appeared to be some sort of a curious case. Apparently, the mysterious car came out of the corner too fast and caused the collision and then escaped. But what the driver did was go around the block to see what happened only to drive off again. The workers helped point out the car, locate it and take a shot of the plate number. When the cops came, the driver and his passenger were casually walking in the neighborhood, casually passing by me, and were brought in for identification. I was asked to leave at that point so not sure what happened next.

But another neighbor came to offer the woman some water, he even told her that his wife would be home if she needed anything. Another bystander joined in solving the drama and talking to the cops.

Also, Mr. Sparty patiently waited like a good, well-behaved dog while we calmed madam lady.

All in all it was a good start to the day.

Hope back in humanity: 1

Evil men: 0

Where Do You Stand?

While away on a trip to Amman, Jordan, visiting the city’s most popular artsy scenes, we stumbled upon a lovely, authentic café serving tea. And there, on our way out, we were stopped by 3 young individuals who asked if we wanted to take part in their campaign. They had white paper signs scattered on a square table with Arabic writing and cross marks and circles. On a closer look we made out what the words said and what the marks were for and immediately accepted.

The were campaigning for women by picking a few old and traditional Arabic sayings that targeted women and rephrasing them so they read in a modern, empowering way.

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The phrases in the above pictures read (from left):

“The woman, even if she went to Mars, at the end of the day she belongs in the kitchen”

The corrected phrase is:

“The woman has been to Mars and has engineered rockets”

“The girl’s degree is her kitchen (cooking)”

The correct phrase is:

“The girl’s degree is her knowledge and work”

Note: In Arabic the ending words rhyme.

On a closer look at their website Aynanaqef.com I come to realise who they really are. Ayna Naqef? or Where Do We Stand? is a movement, an on-going campaign, started by a few volunteers in Jordan who in a matter of months have doubled and tripled. The campaign supports all women’s causes by interacting with the public, getting petitions signed, individually saving lives of many women and asking the profound question ‘where do you stand?’

Where do we stand in this when we’re faced with a situation that’s so alarmingly wrong, unjust, harmful, outdated, dangerous, and fatal? Many of the campaigners have personal stories they’ve shared on the website and there are many more stories that are left untold about the truth in women’s rights in so many parts of the world just like Jordan where honour killings still take place to this day! There are almost no rights for women here and sadly it’s the people closest to these women who cause the biggest injustices. They’re the fathers, brothers and husbands. It’s through these stories that the volunteers have asked themselves the question ‘where do I stand?’ and have made a promise to campaign, support and help end age-old, extreme traditions and thoughts that are simply wrong.

An even more terrible fact that I’ve come to notice in many women is their own view on their rights. Dear women, I urge you to recognise that you do have a right in this world, an equal one to the man. Society, religion and culture will not give you the right nor will they protect you or stand by you. It’s up to you to fully believe and commit to stating your right and campaigning for it in any and every way possible. Dear woman, you’re the only one who can make the change and end this discrimination and the first step is your refusal to accept these standards because you are a human and your life has a worth. And these words may seem like feathers comparing to the grim reality but the brain washing, the fear, the acceptance, the silence has got to stop. And we have to find a way to end it.

This is a plea to the community here to do the same, the men before the women and the women before the men. Where do you stand?

Follow the campaign on Facebook.com/aynanqef

Good wishes and thoughts to all!