CANADA: Campaigning For Change

CANADA: Campaigning For Change

It seems that there is no place on earth that is immune to bigotry. Not even Canada, which has been regarded by many as one of the world’s last bastions of sanity. After a campaign that was eerily similar to the Trump-vs-Hillary battle, Ontario elected as its Premier a man who is eerily similar to Trump.

Since this provincial government took office about a month ago, the following has happened:

* The cap-and-trade program, meant to benefit the environment and combat climate change, has been scrapped.

*$100M dollars that had been budgeted for school repairs has been taken away. The school repair backlog in Ontario currently sits at about $15B.

* A basic income pilot program, which was enabling low-income people to do things like put a roof over their head and food on their table, has been canceled.

* Prescription drug coverage for people under the age of 21 has been removed.

* A budgeted increase in funding for people with disabilities has been cut in half.

* Money that had been slated for mental health supports has been taken away.

* With spectacular disregard for democracy, the Premier has decided to slash the size of Toronto City Council in the middle of a municipal election campaign.

* An updated health and physical education curriculum has been repealed. The sex ed component of this curriculum was teaching kids about consent, bodily autonomy, online and physical safety, and respect for members of the LGBT community.

The education system is in for a rough few years. A lot is going to change in the school boards. Funding is going to be taken away or redistributed. Curriculums are going to be replaced with older, outdated versions that are not relevant to today’s world. Teaching conditions are going to become more challenging, and students are going to emerge from high school without all of the tools they need to cope with the big bad world.

The time for me to sit back and complain about the government is over. I have decided that I need to be proactive in advocating for kids – not only my own kids, but all of the kids in my community. And so I have thrown my name into the hat for the role of school board trustee. If I am elected, I will be throwing all of my energy into ensuring that during this political upheaval in our province, the voices of the kids are not drowned out. I will do whatever it takes to ensure the wellbeing of students in my neighbourhood. I will join committees, go to meetings, propose new policies and defend our kids against attacks on their education.

Of course, I first have to convince voters that I am a better person for the job than the eight people I’m running against. Knocking on doors and talking to complete strangers is not my idea of a fun time. But if it gets me into a position where I can make a difference, it’ll be worth it.

Have you ever run for an elected office? What is the education system like where you are?

This is an original post for World Moms Network by Kirsten Doyle of Toronto, Canada. To follow Kirsten on the campaign trail, visit www.votekirstendoyle.ca, or follow her on Twitter @kirstendoyle_to, or Instagram @votekirstendoyle.

 Photo credit: Peter Gabany

Kirsten Doyle (Canada)

Kirsten Doyle was born in South Africa. After completing university, she drifted for a while and finally washed up in Canada in 2000. She is Mom to two boys who have reached the stage of eating everything in sight (but still remaining skinny). Kirsten was a computer programmer for a while before migrating into I.T. project management. Eventually she tossed in the corporate life entirely in order to be a self-employed writer and editor. When Kirsten is not wrestling with her kids or writing up a storm, she can be seen on Toronto's streets putting many miles onto her running shoes. Every year, she runs a half-marathon to benefit children with autism, inspired by her older son who lives life on the autism spectrum. Final piece of information: Kirsten is lucky enough to be married to the funniest guy in the world. Connect with her on Facebook and on Twitter @running4autism. Be sure to check out her personal blog, Running for Autism!

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World Voice: Listening With a Willingness to be Changed

World Voice: Listening With a Willingness to be Changed

us-election-signThe election of the next President of the United States is drawing near with just two weeks to go. Many Americans (and I suspect many non-Americans as well) have been counting down the days to the end of what has been a brutal campaign. Like many parents I’ve struggled with just how, exactly, to talk to my kids about this election.

Earlier this year, I started to see articles popping up about how to talk to children about Donald Trump, specifically. But I wonder, too, about how to talk to children about the extraordinary thing they are witnessing in this election cycle: the breakdown of mutual agreements – spoken and unspoken – about how political discourse happens in an open and free democracy with peaceful transitions of power.

To be sure, American politics have always been contentious. Heated debates and party divisions are not new. What feels new to me, though, is the unwillingness on all sides to truly listen with a willingness to be changed by what we hear.

It is this type of listening that I try to model and teach my children. It is this type of listening that helps me to experience being seen and understood. And I think it is this type of listening that can and will ultimately create healing if we are willing to step into it.

Listening is one of my greatest challenges as a parent. In the hustle of day-to-day life – school, work, meals, nap, laundry, dishes – I can sometimes become so focused on what needs to happen (according to me) that I don’t always stop and listen with a willingness to be changed when my kids try to express something to me. I might stop and look at them and pay attention as they speak. I may even silently congratulate myself for being so patient.

But if I’m just trying to make them feel heard rather than actually listening and taking in what they are saying, willing to adjust course based on what they express, am I really modeling how I hope they will show up in the world?

As adults, whether we mean to or not, we are constantly setting an example for the children of the world. They see and pay attention and learn from us, for better or for worse. It is for this reason that conversations about Donald Trump are essential. And it is also for this reason that I think we would all do well to consider whether we are confusing polite waiting for true listening. Are we sitting quietly while our fellow citizens express their frustrations and fears, congratulating ourselves on being so cool-headed, while we simply wait for them to finish so we can respond with whatever preloaded retort applies? Or are we truly listening with a willingness to be changed, to consider the other side, and to wonder, together, how we can address and ensure our common well-being?

How open are you to changing your position after listening to someone’s point of view? Has this ever happened to you?

This is an original post to World Moms Network by Ms. V of South Korea. Photo credit: Jay Phagan. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.

Ms. V. (South Korea)

Ms. V returned from a 3-year stint in Seoul, South Korea and is now living in the US in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her partner, their two kids, three ferocious felines, and a dog named Avon Barksdale. She grew up all over the US, mostly along the east coast, but lived in New York City longer than anywhere else, so considers NYC “home.” Her love of travel has taken her all over the world and to all but four of the 50 states. Ms. V is contemplative and sacred activist, exploring the intersection of yoga, new monasticism, feminism and social change. She is the co-director and co-founder of Samdhana-Karana Yoga: A Healing Arts Center, a non-profit yoga studio and the spiritual director for Hab Community. While not marveling at her beautiful children, she enjoys reading, cooking, and has dreams of one day sleeping again.

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USA: Voting from Abroad

Voting from Abroad

There are an estimated 2.6 million eligible American voters living abroad, and every one of them has the right to register and vote via absentee ballot. I am proud to count myself among the millions of U.S. citizens voting from abroad. I cast my ballot last week, sending it with a Canadian friend who was traveling to the United States. He sent me an email after dropping my ballot in the mail, saying that he was proud to participate in the American electoral process, and asking to be welcome at our Thanksgiving table in return.

As citizens living abroad, we have not only the right, but also a civic duty to vote in our home elections. Some countries do not offer absentee voting to their citizens, while other countries do not allow expats who have lived abroad for an extended period to vote at all. I’m fortunate that absentee voting is allowed in my country, and I encourage all expats abroad to vote in their home elections.

As a mother, I have taught my children that voting is a way for a group of people to make a decision together. Parents can take the opportunity at election time to introduce our children to the political process in our home countries. My children won’t be able to vote for many years, but they already understand that there is a presidential election in our country this year. They know the two main candidates, which one I am supporting, and why. As future voters, I have tried to teach them the importance of making their voices heard.

A mere 12 percent of American expat voters cast their absentee ballots in the 2012 election, according to the Rothermere American Institute. This year, efforts are being made to get out the expat vote, recognizing the voting power of Americans abroad.

If you’re an American expat, you can use the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) website to register to vote and request your absentee ballot for the November 8th election. If you have questions, just check out the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s FAQs. Voting abroad is easier than you think!

Voting in our home elections is our right, and our duty. Absentee voting is easy – it takes just a few minutes. Make your voice heard on November 8th. Be a proud overseas voter!

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Tara Wambugu

Image credits: “I voted” via Kelley Minars / Flickr, American in Singapore via Erika Behl, American in Pakistan via Kelsey Hoppe, U.S. Ambassador Baur via Instagram, American in Germany via Instagram, American in Switzerland via Instagram, American in Spain via Instagram, Virginia ballot image is the author’s own, American in Zambia via Jessica Menon

Tara Wambugu

Tara Wambugu is a wife, a mother of two, and a Kenya-based lifestyle blogger covering parenting, family life, travel, and more. A former aid worker, Tara has worked in various countries in Europe, Central Asia, Africa, and Central America. She is now a stay-at-home mom living in Nairobi with her husband and their two sassy little girls. You can follow Tara and her family’s adventures on her blog, Mama Mgeni.

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PHILIPPINES: Choosing My Son’s President (Edited)

PHILIPPINES: Choosing My Son’s President (Edited)

I’ll tell you a secret. In the weeks leading up to the Philippine presidential elections, a lot of people asked me who I was voting for. My default answer was always, “It’s a secret. I don’t like talking about it.”

But the truth is I had no idea. I remained undecided until a few days before voting day.

Why? Because I knew that I wasn’t just voting for me.

I knew that whoever would win wasn’t going to be just my president, but my son’s president, too.

He or she would determine what kind of country my son would be living in over the next six years, and these are important, formative years. Within the next six years my boy will become a teenager. Within the next six years he will go through middle- and high-school. Within the next six years he will begin to turn into his own person.

This president is someone that he will remember. This president should be someone he can look up to.

Well, Election Day has come and gone here in the Philippines. The candidate that I have finally chosen did not win. On the upside, none of those whom I was certain not to vote for made it either.

As the dust settles, and we look ahead, I want the best for my country and I will remain optimistic.

This new president is not part of any prominent political family. This is such a welcome change, especially since political dynasties are so common in our country. Will this mean a greater potential for actual change? Time will tell.

While my son knows that the new president wasn’t my first choice, I have explained that he was chosen by our countrymen and that I will give him a chance. I tell my child that no matter what, I hope that the new government can make this country a better place.

I love this country, and it was never an option to leave, no matter who assumed the presidency. But I love my son, too, and I want for him to live in a country that he can fall in love with, flaws and all, the way that I have.

Here’s hoping that the new president, even though he wasn’t exactly the one I chose to be my son’s leader, turns out to put the people of the Philippines first. Here’s hoping that the country that I love so dearly has chosen well. Here’s looking towards a better future for us all.

Tell us some things about the leader of your country. How is he/she like? And how is this leader suited for the kids/teenagers and adolescents in your country?

Post Edited 11:04pm EST May 18, 2016.

This is an original post by World Moms Blog contributor, Mrs. C. of the Philippines.

Photo credit to the author.

Patricia Cuyugan (Philippines)

Patricia Cuyugan is a freelance writer and the resident mom blogger at www.mrspcuyugan.com. She is a WAHM, domestic diva in training, real housewife of Ayala Alabang, and mommy to an 8-year-old boy who is known online as Little MrC. When stressed, she turns to crochet, chocolates and hugs for comfort.

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SOUTH AFRICA: Surviving the Turmoil

SOUTH AFRICA: Surviving the Turmoil

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I recently read a very thought-provoking post by a fellow #WorldMom with the title of My Frame World. In it, she wrote,

The manageable reality is my reference, a framework to enable me to keep functioning. It enables me to get up at a quarter past seven to cut some pieces of imported mango for my precious children. To sigh when looking at overflowing laundry baskets. To nag about an energy-devouring meeting that took longer than expected. It’s the framework that’s keeping me whole. The Frame World.

She ended her post with the question: “How do you deal with the discrepancy between your own private life and the tragedies around it? Does your Frame World help keeping you sane or is it rather keeping you from acting?”

I’ve been sitting with the abovementioned questions for a while, because they deserve a serious answer. It made me think about how we’re all first and foremost mothers. As such, our first duty is to protect our own children to the best of our ability, and to raise them to become contributing members of our society . My late grandfather always said; “Charity begins at home”.

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I was born in Rome, Italy. My family emigrated to Cape Town, South Africa, when I was 8 years old. My husband’s family emigrated here when he was 5 years old. Both of our families were thinking that Italy was doomed, and that South Africa was the “Promised Land”. We grew up here, met and married here, and raised our children in “The Mother City”. 

I love this country and this city, but lately the tragedies have hit very close to home. South Africa is currently in turmoil.

Municipal elections will be held this year and (like every other election year) the violent protests have become so commonplace that they’re not even really considered “newsworthy” any more, which is sad. The violence makes many people afraid to speak out. From my experience, caucasians are afraid to speak out against the ethnic majority, when it comes to any government issue, in fear of being labeled racist.

The wounds of Apartheid are still very raw in our country, and inequality still exists. Even though the ethnic majority and ruling party have been in power for over 20 years, the road to repair the wrongs of the past is long and winding, and the ride is bumpy. We are experiencing the growing pains of bringing South Africa to a true equality. The weight of a pendulum swings from side to side until it achieves equilibrium. I can’t help but feel that South Africa is still a swinging pendulum as it seeks equality for all of its people.

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So how do I deal with the discrepancy between my own private life and the tragedies around it? The same way that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.

I have learnt that I need to pace myself because if I burn myself out, it doesn’t help anyone. There’s a reason why air hostesses always say that you need to secure your own oxygen mask first, before trying to assist anyone else!

I also make constant use of The Serenity Prayer (God, please grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the Courage to change the things I can and the Wisdom to know the difference). I’m not always wise, but I know that I am doing the best that I can, and that must be enough, because nobody can do more than their best!

Mother Teresa has been quoted as saying; “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

That is how I deal with the fact that the needs of the world are so immense, that they can become completely overwhelming, if you let them. Like the little boy throwing starfish back into the ocean – he made a difference to that one, and that is good enough.

So I pick small things that I can do with great love, and I do that. I also decided to concentrate all my fundraising efforts to one charity that is very close to my heart: www.cupcakesofhope.org. We raise awareness of the early warning signs of childhood cancer. The money raised is used to help the families affected by childhood cancer with whatever they might need.

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In the end, though, I survive the turmoil by being grateful.

Grateful to be part of this amazing community of World Moms, who have become my Soul Sisters around the world. Grateful for my 19 year old daughter and 23 year old son who make me so proud. Grateful for my husband of over 25 years who takes such good care of me and our family when I’m not able to, due to my health issues. Grateful that I have a roof over my head and food to spare. Grateful for every “good day” that follows a “bad pain day.” I could go on and on. You see, I’ve learnt that nothing can make you feel better than feeling grateful for even the smallest thing.

When you start noticing how many things you actually have to be grateful for, it gives you the strength to deal with anything life throws at you!

What are you grateful for? What helps you deal with turmoil in your life?

This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Mamma Simona from Cape Town, South Africa.

Photo credits: Image of inked thumb courtesy of Darryn van der Walt / Flickr. Image of Nelson Mandela statue courtesy of Everyman Films / Flickr. Image of Cape Town via David Stanley / Flickr. Image of South African flag courtesy of flowcomm / Flickr

Mamma Simona (South Africa)

Mamma Simona was born in Rome (Italy) but has lived in Cape Town (South Africa) since she was 8 years old. She studied French at school but says she’s forgotten most of it! She speaks Italian, English and Afrikaans. Even though Italian is the first language she learned, she considers English her "home" language as it's the language she's most comfortable in. She is happily married and the proud mother of 2 terrific teenagers! She also shares her home with 2 cats and 2 dogs ... all rescues. Mamma Simona has worked in such diverse fields as Childcare, Tourism, Library Services, Optometry, Sales and Admin! (With stints of SAHM in-between). She’s really looking forward to the day she can give up her current Admin job and devote herself entirely to blogging and (eventually) being a full-time grandmother!

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INDONESIA: The Rise of Women in Politics

INDONESIA: The Rise of Women in Politics

Susi Pudjiastuti

Susi Pudjiastuti, Minister of Maritime and Fisheries

Big changes are taking place in Indonesia lately with the new President Joko Widodo (or as we Indonesians lovingly call him, Jokowi) taking office last month.

Six days after he took office, Jokowi announced his cabinet lineup to the public. Eight women out of a total of 34 have been elected as ministers. It was the highest number of female cabinet ministers that has ever been elected in our country’s history and demonstrates Jokowi’s courage in giving women an opportunity.

Gender equality opportunity seems to have a brighter future with this cabinet lineup.

One of the women ministers that has been elected is Susi Pudjiastuti. She was elected as Minister of Maritime and Fisheries.

The media have been talking about Susi all of a sudden. She even became a trending topic on Twitter. Her election as a minister created a big controversy here.

She was not someone that came from any political affiliate. She is a bit different compared with some other women in world politics, like Hillary Clinton or Angela Merkel; she is a business woman. She smokes, she doesn’t have a PhD or any prestigious titles lined up behind her name – she actually dropped out of high school and unlike some others, she didn’t drop out of school because she was poor, it was actually because she felt she wasn’t happy even when she was reportedly a bright student. She decided to follow her own path at the tender age of 17.

With roughly $75, she started her first entrepreneurship in Pangandaran, Central Java with a fishery business. In 1996 she formed her own company called PT. ASI Pudjiastuti Marine Product. After her business expanded throughout Asia and America, she realized she needed a fast and reliable way to transport the seafood products to the buyers. Then Susi Air was born. She built her own aviation company even obtaining her own pilot license. Her airline now serves publicly in many remote parts of Indonesia.

Sadly, the media coverage she received was not because of her achievements or the many awards she has received over the years. The media coverage arose because she has tattoos, because she smokes, is a social drinker and a single mom, formerly married to Caucasian men twice.

Her detractors started judging her personal life, discrediting her ability to hold her role as a minister while she jumped head first into her new job in the government and making the necessary changes.

Among the negative comments however there also has been a lot of support for Susi. I am one of those big supporters.

In my eyes, I see a strong woman, someone very capable and who seems to have a strong character and is very intelligent despite her lack of a college education. Being a successful, independent single mother will really inspire other single mothers in Indonesia. We now have the first single mother minister in the history of Indonesia.

For the Indonesian patriarchy system, this feels like a big breakthrough and already she is busy working hard to fix the maritime and fisheries industry. Jokowi believes in her and that she has what it takes to get the job done and to create breakthroughs.

Jokowi is leading the way by giving Susi Pudjiastuti and the rest of the women minister an opportunity to take important roles in the government.

I salute all of these women and wish them all the best in their new roles.

There are many women involved in politics worldwide these days. Do any female politicians inspire you? What do you think of the increased number of women’s involved in politics?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our writer and mother of one in Indonesia, Maureen.

The image used in this post is from Susi Pudjiastuti’s public Facebook page. You can view more images of the politician here.

Maureen

Founder of Single Moms Indonesia, community leader and builder. Deeply passionate about women empowerment.

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