Saturday, December 31, 2011

Thoughts While Sleepwalking: On 2012

A new year. What of the one passing? I cannot help but reflect on our tumultuous 2011. Through the utilization of technology, the world provided the world, quite simply, a view of itself.

In my experience, I were able to meet and speak to utterly brave people who endured grave sacrifice in order to make this world a better place.

I am humbled by such things.

From Tunisia to America, and every nation between, uprisings have been the headlines of every newspaper, broadcast, article and discussion. It is not through any major network I found truth, more so through the mouths of those living in each situation as it occurred.

Five days after the Tunisian Revolt, I met and interviewed a brave young woman, who, for the first time was able to speak freely, no longer ruled beneath the regime of Ben Ali. I met her in New York in 2011.

I watched news feeds from Abbottabad, Pakistan as the death of Osama bin Laden was about to occur before the world knew. Live in front of my eyes, one man told the world what he was seeing and hearing.

In Yemen, sustainable goods such as food, water and basic needs was made possible from reputable organizations wishing to give, not knowing how to connect. Through the tireless work of countless streams of activists that responded to a simple message:  "I have orgs wishing to aid Yemen, please reply" -  aid reached those who needed it.

Bahrain provided me with the honor of translating an essential video, an apology from a mainstream journalist. All I did was respond to the message I had seen: "Need help translating this video." So I did.

Egypt. I sat here and cried watching death occur before my eyes, not being able to do anything but tell others what I were seeing. The courage of people left to themselves to be brutalized twice by police and military caused me to be grateful for all that I have. The words of one of my brothers will stay with me forever:  "Do not worry about me, I would rather die in honor than live a slave."

Palestine. Oh, Palestine. I can write volumes on this. The numerous boats to Gaza, the intifadas online and globally scattered individuals joining hands to support such a heinous abomination of one people was and is downright righteous. The murder of Vittorio Angiolini was absolutely horrendous, beyond evil, and leaves a deep chasm inside of my heart.

America. Occupy Together, Occupy Wall Street. I sat on my porch and thought:  "I need to be a part of this, it began in my state. New York" - just to see that Occupy Buffalo had already begun in my own city. This movement has spread internationally. It is by far the most horrific and tremendous action to occur in America since the Civil Rights Movements in the 1960's.

Pakistan. Far too much has occurred to write of this evening, yet through the people of Pakistan, and I do mean throughout the entire nation; medical aid for dengue and financial aid for those still affected by the 2010 floods [food, water and tents] reached its destinations. Again, through people who cared enough to respond and act. The murder of investigative journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad caused me to write about why he were no longer here. That led me to Afghanistan where I were translated to Dari.

Afghanistan led me to where I am today.

Looking at 2012.

I write this last evening of 2011 not to say:  "I did this" or "They did that" or to not include any nation or its people, rather to give everyone reading this short note a simple reminder:

You do and can make a difference. You do not need to leave your home. You do not need to leave your city or town. You do not have to be rich nor do you have to travel to any nation. You need not win any award, speak at any conference or be a global ambassador to the world.

All you need is a heart, a little bit of courage to be yourself and to believe wholeheartedly in what you are doing.

That to me is success. You see, it begins within and spreads throughout.

Every single one of us have the same tools.

How are you going to utilize yours in 2012?



Sunday, December 18, 2011

A wish from me to you.


© Susan Marie 2011

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Worldwide Pray for Peace between India and Pakistan

From Indian actor Nandita Das in Mumbai, to peace groups and individuals all over India and Pakistan, and in countries as far away as Korea, Australia, Canada and America, thousands are supporting Pray for Peace Between India and Pakistan Day on Sunday, Dec 18, 2011.

Inspired by the idea of the power of collective prayer or meditation, Toronto-based Swati Sharan randomly picked the date several months ago. 

“These prayers can be done from anywhere on the globe by any one, of any nationality… the more people pray for something at a given time, the greater the difference it can make,” she wrote in an initial article in May explaining the idea, published by Aman ki Asha, an ongoing peace campaign launched by the two largest media groups of India and Pakistan, the Times of India and the Jang Group of Pakistan on Jan 1, 2010. 

“India and Pakistan could be like Canada and the US, which share the Niagara Falls as a common border,” she wrote in a follow-up piece.

The articles provided her email address. Among those who responded was Athar Aamir, a volunteer with the Youth Parliament of Pakistan. Together, they created a facebook page and event.

“All we are asking people to do, where ever they are in the world, is to take out thirty seconds of their time that day to Pray for Peace Between India and Pakistan,” says Sharan.

Susan Marie, a journalist and human rights advocate in Buffalo, New York with a special interest in Pakistan (one of her blogs is Pakistan: A 3DPerspective) has volunteered her time and media contacts to project the cause. She has sent the event information to media outlets and peace groups around the world.

“It is important for the world to understand both sides, from Pakistan and India,” she says. “The only ethical way to do that from America is to learn directly from and through those living in and through such experiences.”

Nandita Das: Advocates hopeful and constructive action. Photo by Marjolein

Prominent Indian actor Nandita Das also fully supports the initiative. “Too many lives and resources and too much time has been lost in the mindless perception of animosity between India and Pakistan,” she wrote in an email message from Mumbai. 

“We the people of both countries want peace and calm. For our own well being we need to actively participate in a positive action that is both hopeful and constructive.”

The initiative received support from within India and Pakistan even before the facebook page was activated. In India, the Pentecostal Church in Bihar and Jharkhand, with a membership of 20-30,000 people pledged to participate, as did Youth for People, an NGO against corruption. 

In Pakistan the prestigious Lahore School of Economics is providing a free space for its students and their friends to gather and pray for peace day. 

Pakistan Youth Alliance and Khudi Pakistan, headed by Ali Abbas Zaidi, have fully endorsed the initiative, as have peace groups in Faisalabad, Sahiwal, Jhang, Gojra and Toba Tek Singh, spearheaded by the peace activist and educationist Ashfaq Fateh.

Also on board is Sally Fisher in New York, who co-produced Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues. Fisher, who blogs at Don’t Just Stand There, Do Something posted on the facebook event: “It is my privilege to pray with others around the world, our world which is so in need of peace.”

Since the facebook event was created, many other expressions of support have poured in from around the world.

“Hope two neighbours find ultimate peace and love each other… Fight leaves nothing but a tragedy and unforgettable painful memories for longer than two generations. Believe me… I know what I am talking about,” wrote Tony Lee from Korea.

“Will be praying for peace between India and Pakistan. Much love from Australia,” posted Diane Taylor.

“Peace between India and Pakistan would mean more attention towards the real problems of the region, like poverty, ill health, illiteracy, ignorance, and women issues. There is no other way to prosperity,” says Ilmana Fasih, an Indian-born doctor married to a Pakistani.

For thousands of cross-border families and couples like Dr Fasih and her husband, who find it difficult to visit relatives in each other’s countries due to the difficulties obtaining visas, better relations between India and Pakistan would literally mean their prayers being answered.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pray for Peace Day: Dec. 18

 On December 18, wherever you are in the world, take out just thirty seconds to Pray for Peace Between India and Pakistan.

"Peace between India and Pakistan has been stubbornly elusive and yet tantalizingly inevitable. This vast subcontinent senses the bounties a peace dividend can deliver to its people yet it recoils from claiming a share. 

The natural impulse would be to break out of the straitjacket of stated positions and embrace an ideal that promises sustained prosperity to the region, yet there is hesitation. 

There is a collective paralysis of the will, induced by the trauma of birth, amplified by false starts, mistrust, periodic outbreaks of violence, suspicion, misplaced jingoism and diplomatic doublespeak. 

Hypnotized by their own mantra, the two states are reluctant to move towards normalization until certain terms and certain promises are kept."  - Jang Group & Times of India  

Swati Sharan introduced the idea 
"Pray for Peace Day" through Aman ki Asha.

Aman ki Asha is a campaign for peace between India and Pakistan, between the Jang Group of Pakistan and The Times of India. 

'Aman ki Asha" means "hope for peace." Aman is an Urdu word meaning peace, Asha is a Hindi word meaning hope. 

The objective is to create a dialogue between governments and to encourage people to people contact to contribute to bring peace to Pakistan and India.

Five ideas to share and work on:

  • Make and display a sign in different languages saying "Pray for Peace Day!"
  • Tell ten people you know about this initiative, family, friends, neighbors, co-workers.
  • Create ways artistically to show your perception of how and where Indo-Pak relations are and need to be.
  • On Dec 18, or before, as part of awareness raising, include a yoga, pranayam, meditation.  
  • Talk to NGOS, teachers, parents and get children to do arts and crafts to show their support. They might like to do drawings, origami. Any kind of creative expression is welcome.

Those who are not participating through an organized group are encouraged to join. 

Everyone is welcome. 

Some expressions of support for this initiative include:

Send feedback to the Aman ki Asha.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Read to Succeed Buffalo: Free Book Delivery [Birth -5 in 14215 zip]

A love of reading begins at home. Reading aloud to a young child is a critical building block in their development, enhancing their vocabulary and building the skills. Access to books at home can be a luxury to families who strugge during tough economic times. 

Through a donation from The Rotary Club of Buffalo, 501c(3) charitable trust, Read to Succeed Buffalo and the Literacy Coalition launched a new program, "Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library", to provide a new, age appropriate book every month to every child under the age of five in Buffalo’s 14215 zip code, Buffalo's East Side, the RTSB Literacy Zone. 

Any child from birth through age five who resides in the zip code is eligible to register and participate in the program.

In Syracuse, New York, where the program has been in operation for 18 months, nearly 70 percent of families are reporting that they are reading at least three times per week with their child and 21 percent report that they are reading once or twice per week.

Ed Meyer, Buffalo Rotary Foundation President added, “Sometimes the simplest act can have a profound impact, such as igniting the imagination of a child through a brand new book."  

To register a child, 716-843-8895, visit the website

To register a child, contact Literacy Coalition Members: 
  • 211 WNY
  • AIDS Family Services
  • American Red Cross
  • Barbara's Babies Day Care
  • Bethel Head Start
  • Boy & Girls Clubs of Buffalo
  • BPS #39-MLK School
  • Budding Roses
  • Buffalo & Erie County Public Library
  • Buffalo Prenatal-Perinatal Network Inc
  • Buffalo Promise Neighborhood
  • Buffalo Public Schools
  • Buffalo Urban League

  • CAO of Erie County Inc
  • Head Start/Early Head Start
  • Cleveland Hill Elementary
  • Colorful World Day Care
  • Community School #53-PTA
  • Cyn's Heavenly Angels Quality Child Care

  • Delavan Grider Community Center
  • Dr. George Blackman School of Excellence #54
  • Early Childhood Direction Center
    Education Opportunity Center
  • EPIC/BVS: Ready, Set, Parent Program
  • Evangelistic Temple Community Church
  • Families in Transition Parenting (EPIC)
  • Gerard Place Transitional
  • God's Ministry of Deliverance Church
  • Grandma's Child Care #1 and #2
  • Growing in Grace Child Care

  • Home Away from Home Child Care
  • Independent Health
  • Just for Teens (EPIC)
  • Kid's Time GFDC
  • King Urban Life Center
  • Martha Mitchell Community Center
  • Masten District Common Council Member Demone Smith
  • Matt Urban Hope Center
  • Miracles Day Care
  • Mt. Olivie Baptist Church
  • My Precious Angels

  • Scott's Garden Child Care
  • Something Special
  • St. John Christian Academy
    The Adult Education
  • The New Testament Revival Cathedral
  • True Bethel Baptist Church
  • United Way of Buffalo & Erie County
  • WNED

Deborah Porter
Community Outreach
Read to Succeed Buffalo, Inc.
392 Pearl St.
Buffalo, New York 14202
(716) 843-8895 (OF)
(716) 843-8899 (F)
(716) 308-2582 (C)

Press Contact:

Anne Ryan

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

FoodBank WNY: Rock in the Holidays: Babeville: Dec 14

"Rock in the Holidays" with tunes4food on Wed, Dec. 14, 7pm, featuring Grace Stumberg, Pete Mroz and Free Henry, at the Ninth Ward in Babeville, 341 Delaware Ave, to benefit the Food Bank of Western New York.

In collaboration with Music is Art, WAM Buffalo, and The Good Neighborhood, tunes4food will provide 10 meals to families with the purchase of every $8 ticket to the show.

Grace states: “I believe in using music in a bigger way then just getting up there performing and getting off the stage. 

I feel music should be used for social causes, to bring people together and provide all an opportunity to give back to the community."