International Women’s Day

I had no idea there was a day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, clearly I have been hiding under a rock. I am lucky to know some amazing women who challenge me, encourage me and love me. I am also grateful for the courage and determination of all the women who came before me.

I have seen some chatter on social media from people getting angry about why there is even an International Women’s Day and mocking liberals for coming up with another holiday (I am staying above the line). In case you wondered it is a collective day so we can celebrate women, unity, advocacy and action. It is also a day to promote gender parity. Women make up half of the world’s population and therefore deserve equal access to health, education, economic participation, earning potential, and political decision-making power. World Economic Forum states “Ensuring the healthy development and appropriate use of half of the world’s total talent pool has a vast bearing on the growth, competitiveness and future-readiness of economies and businesses worldwide”.

As activist, feminist and journalist Gloria Steinem said “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights”

 

 

Nystagmus Network

A short and sweet post to share this gem of a booklet produced by the Nystagmus Network: nystagmus-booklet-for-teachers-january-2017.  The Nystagmus Network is committed to distributing information about nystagmus, supporting the research into a potential treatment and raising awareness of the condition. I have learned more about Nystagmus in the past few months since I connected with this organization than I thought possible. The release of this booklet couldn’t have come at a better time for us considering we made the decision to start Nash at a preschool in the summer. The booklet will be a great resource for the teachers at his school who know little or nothing about Nystagmus. It can be really hard to explain to people just what is going on with Nash’s vision and what difficulties it can cause. If you’re a teacher, take the time to read it and if you are not well it is a pretty interesting read if you want to learn more about this type of visual impairment.

Have a happy Friday!

Featured image – Black and white image of Nash sitting at a table, sleeves rolled up, using his right hand to hide his face away from the camera.

New technology for the visually impaired and blind.

I can’t believe it is almost the end of February already. We made it though Valentines day unscathed and feeling happy. Life, children, marriage, puppies (gah!) are never perfect or easy, but I have been a pretty lucky lady this far. March brings us closer to Nash’s second birthday, where has the time gone? It feels like yesterday I was freaking out about his vision and unsure about what the future held. Well, I can tell you despite everything the future looks bright. Nash was lucky enough to be born in a time where great leaps are made everyday in the medical field and in technology.

Aipoly vision is one of these leaps it is an app that was created by a team of engineers and entrepreneurs who are building scalable vision intelligence. Aipoly vision is there to help the blind and visually impaired quickly identify objects in their everyday life. The app can identify several hundreds of objects right away, without any training and it can identify colors. For more information you can click this link. Unfortunately, it has not been launched yet on google play, but if you have an iPhone you can download it. I am curious to see it in action. If anyone wants to try it out and give me some feedback I would be incredibly grateful.

Featured image – left hand holding phone that is running the Aipoly app, the picture on App is a black cup in foreground and white pot in background. Image was taken from google images.

 

 

 

‘Merica behold the splendor.

A lot has happened since New Year and today January 20th, 2017. Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States of America, for half of the population living here, I am sure this was a huge celebration. If you are like me I am frightened, not necessarily frightened of our new president but of how his victory has uncovered this deep divide in the country.

I am still stumbling through the dark trying to figure out how this country works, between talking with friends, my husband, reading news articles and entering silly searches such as “how does the American Government work” into Google I think I am making headway. I need to learn more so I can figure out how to make a difference and where to put my efforts. I am against privatization of our schools, dialing back the clock on women’s reproductive rights, guns in every part of our lives, racial or religious discrimination, and I am definitely against building walls. I actually feel like I have been transported into V for Vendetta where it becomes apparent the British Government used ‘terror attacks’ or in this case the fear of terror to control the masses and implement laws that take away basic freedoms. I have watched far too many movies but anythings possible!

On the few vacations we took here before our move my husband would say something like “‘Merica behold the splendor” they may not be his exact words but something to that effect. It always made me chuckle, America is full of splendor yet I can’t help thinking that we are all getting it wrong. It is clear that this divide has been here a while simmering beneath the surface it just took a man like Donald Trump to bring it boiling over. Didn’t Jesus say something about loving your neighbor as yourself. I know I shouldn’t quote Jesus when I myself are not religious but he has a point. Approximately 75% of America claim to be Christian yet I don’t see a lot of love going on. And even if you aren’t I believe those are words to live by.

It would be futile to try to convince people that Mexicans aren’t stealing American jobs, Muslims aren’t terrorists, reproductive rights for women are a good thing, public schools should be a priority, the threat of terrorism isn’t as great as the threat guns pose to you and your children, healthcare should be for all people and that at the end of the day we are all the same. What I will do though is march and peacefully protest, I will continue to educate myself and stay informed from the right sources, I will call my senator and state reps and turn up to their offices and let them know that I do not agree, and most importantly I will teach my children how to love their neighbor. I will teach those boys that all though equality for all may not be something we will achieve in this lifetime we are all equal. They will learn kindness, tolerance, love and they will definitely learn more about how this country works so that when their turn comes they know what to do.

Featured image – people holding up signs whilst walking around the Texas State Capitol building in Austin, TX.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year folks 2017 is finally here, hurrah!

I hate to wish away the days or years but as a parent I find myself doing that. Really I just count down the hours until bedtime. I know in 18 years I’ll regret it once the kids are all grown and I can’t get back the time I lost. For me and I am sure for most 2016 was a long wacky year. Personally, the year was a little crazy for me and on a non-personal level, I felt like the world went a little bit crazy. I won’t provide a list of all the events of the past year that felt a little wrong, January can be pretty depressing anyway depending on what hemisphere you live (lack of sunlight is a real problem). Luckily January and February are my favorite months here in Houston, it is just about the only time it is cold out.

I leave you with this Chinese proverb quote “When the wind of change blows, some people build walls and others build windmills”. I am going to spend 2017 flying kites with my kids and building windmills. I hope you join me, the flying kites is optional!

Featured image – 3 kids in the foreground running around flying an orange squid kite at the park.

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Game therapy helping the visually impaired

Game therapy helping one albinism kid at a time, okay I don’t actually know that but this video from Extra Credits on YouTube called Because Games Matter is pretty interesting. It is about a girl with Ocular Albinism who was encouraged by her ophthalmologist to play more video games. Game therapy over time helped her brain make sense of the images processed by her eyes.

If you didn’t know or hadn’t read my previous posts albinism is defined by severely impaired sharpness of vision (visual acuity) and problems with combining vision from both eyes to perceive depth (stereoscopic vision). Other eye abnormalities associated with this condition include rapid, involuntary eye movements (nystagmus); eyes that do not look in the same direction (strabismus); and increased sensitivity to light (photophobia). Many individuals also have abnormalities involving the optic nerves, which carry visual information from the eye to the brain.

I wouldn’t normally be an advocate of video games I think there has to be a better way to wile away your teenage years, not that I didn’t partake in the odd game of Donkey Kong or Sonic. In saying that I really would do anything to help Nash so he can get the most out of his life.  Next time we head to the Ophthalmologist I am going to do a little more research on this and see what I can find out. Well until then Merry Christmas all and stay warm. It is finally cold in Houston, yippee!

Featured image – a close-up of the bottom of a Nintendo’s screen.

Petition to Malawian President

Thousands of people with albinism are at huge risk of being abducted and killed in Sub-Saharan African communities, especially among East Africans. Malawi is one such country whose superstitious beliefs are perpetuating attacks on people with albinism. Many people believe that the body parts of a person with albinism are thought to transmit magical powers. These beliefs are exploited by witch doctors and others who use the parts as ingredients for rituals, concoctions, and potions, with the claim that ‘the magic’ will bring prosperity to the user.

The perpetrators of these attacks/killings go unpunished and the rise of the attacks appear to be on the increase. Amnesty International is calling on the president of Malawi Peter Mutharika to:

  • Protect people with albinism from attacks.
  • Give the police force resources to adequately investigate crimes related to albinism.
  • Bring the perpetrators to justice.
  • Tackle the superstitious beliefs that bring about attacks on people with albinism

Below are two examples copied and pasted directly from amnestyinternational.org.uk describing such attacks:

Nine-year-old Harry snatched from his family

Harry Mokoshini was abducted on the night of 26 February when a gang of men broke into the family home in Moto Village, Machinga district. They took Harry from his mother, threatening and injuring her as they kidnapped her son before her eyes.

Police found Harry’s severed head in a neighbouring village on 3 March.

Harry’s uncle has since been arrested in connection with the boy’s abduction and murder, along with another man who has an existing conviction for possessing the bones of someone with albinism. He had been fined the equivalent of $30 USD for the crime in 2015.

Baby Whitney taken from her home

Two-year-old Whitney Chilumpha disappeared on the night of 3 April from her home in Chiziya village, Kasungu District. Whitney’s mum alerted the neighbours and they set about searching for the toddler, but Whitney was nowhere to be seen. The mother reported her missing daughter to the police.

On 15 April, baby Whitney’s skull, teeth and the clothes she had been wearing were discovered in a nearby village.

Police are keeping Whitney’s father and another man in custody over her disappearance and murder.

Please take a minute to click this link Take action and sign this petition to make our voices heard.

 

#GivingTuesday

#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving moved by the power of social media and collaboration. It is a day to celebrate and encourage the idea of giving back. I will support NOAH this #GivingTuesday by donating some money on behalf of the Campbell family. I will also continue to write about albinism in the hopes I can continue to spread awareness.  NOAH’s mission is to act as a conduit for accurate and authoritative information about all aspects of living with albinism and to provide a place where people with albinism and their families, in the United States and Canada, can find acceptance, support, and fellowship. My husband and I were so grateful to have found NOAH, knowing there was somewhere we could go to connect and find information automatically took away a lot of the anxiety we were feeling about Nash’s diagnosis.

The idea of giving back is simple and has a BIG impact, donate or volunteer and then tell others about how you are giving back. Here is a link to the Giving Tuesday website for those who are interested in Giving Back. They have provided a directory of organizations, events, charities and you can search by your location.

NOAH has asked we take a pic, tag it #UNSELFIE & #GivingTuesday and share it with you all. So not to disappoint Nash and I took a ‘beautiful’ selfie this morning to share with the world, enjoy!

Something to be thankful for

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, this holiday doesn’t hold much meaning to me being a Brit by birth. I do however enjoy taking time out to be thankful, so despite my misgiving about celebrating this day, it is still a day that stands out. It is a day where I can intentionally take a breath, be aware and be grateful for all the love and family I have in my life.

I was talking to my brother on the long drive back from seeing a friend the other day, we talked politics, his life, my life, my kids, religion, economics, and probably many more topics.  One of the most important things we talked about was being the change you want to see. When I moved to Houston and into our neighborhood a position opened up on the HOA for a safety chair committee member. I gladly put myself up for it, firstly because I felt like people from my age group needed to be involved in our community and secondly I just wanted to help and get to know more people. People don’t end up where they end up by starting big, most people start small. So if this thanksgiving you feel discontent with the way the world is, look at your community, your neighbors, local organizations and see how you can help and how you can get involved.

I am so thankful for this wonderful community I live in, I know a large percentage of my neighbors, the kids in the neighborhood and the dogs for that matter. I have had a neighbor give away a piano to us, help jump-start my car, offer to watch my kids and organize a way for the neighborhood to participate in the Houston food bank drive, to name a few things. Just the other day a bunch of us were gathered spontaneously on the street with the kids. Nash was trying to catch up with the big kids and nearly face planted the steps several times (good old depth perception issues); however, he didn’t as there was always one of my neighbors ready to help me. For the first time in my adult life, I finally understand what community is about and I am incredibly thankful for that. This new-found knowledge couldn’t have found me at a better time.

Happy Thanksgiving fellow residents of America and for the non-residents well happy Thursday when it comes, your one day closer to the weekend.

(Featured image – Jack in red embracing Nash in Blue.)

Election Day

 

It is election day today, it is the day you get to voice your opinions about those in power and choose a candidate who speaks to you.

Many people my age or younger are abstaining from voting as they don’t like the candidates or they don’t think it will make a difference.  I looked at many articles trying to find out why voting is important besides the obvious. Some talked about self-interest being the only purpose, that the most important part of voting was that your friends and family could see you voting. Others said that one vote doesn’t make a difference, forever the idealist I refuse to believe that we as individuals cannot make a difference. I did find this article from the Huffington Post that sums up 7 reasons you should vote. The most powerful point for me is point six “Voting is a right generation of Americans struggled to win ― and people in other countries are still fighting for.” I, unfortunately, do not get to vote, I am just a lowly green card holder.

This election has me seriously debating whether to go through with the process of gaining citizenship. I had been considering citizenship for a while as I want all the members of my family to have at least one country we are all citizens of, traveling is a pain in the ass with multiple passport holders. I am torn though, I am of mixed race with half my family living in Asia, that half are Muslim. There are many things I love about America but the animosity to other religions and cultures right now is not one of them.  Ideally one day soon I would like my mum to come here permanently to be closer to her grandkids and yet I can’t help wondering what this country will look like then.

I will be sitting on the edge of my seat hoping that the people of this country chose love not hate.