Week 34. This one was extra special because it was the annual group walk! Normally I do it in Toronto but this year it was in Ottawa since I’ve been back at home for the last few weeks. I awoke feeling excited/anxious, and prepared the few words I was going to say at the start of the walk. The year before in Toronto, I remember looking into Yarina’s eyes as I spoke and how she really got it and was there with me. It’s an amazing thing to know that you are supported by your friends in doing the things you truly care about. As I got ready in my room, I watched a short video documentary about Melissa Fung, one of my heroes, who was kidnapped in  2008 in Afghanistan for 28 days while reporting on the refugee crisis there. In this documentary, she returns there for the first time and meets with fellow activists and visits schools and universities. She meets a young boy whose dream is to be an engineer and a girl who is given a scholarship for four years to attend a local university. Melissa talks about the unbelievable progress that has been made over the last 10 years – the number of kids in school in Afghanistan jumped from 1 million to 10 million, 40% of which are girls. I finished watching the documentary and headed downstairs to eat breakfast. If you get a chance, definitely check it out via the link above – it is so inspiring and worth the watch!

I had a yummy cup of tea that either Mom or Dad made, and sat out on the back deck, listening to the sounds of the waterfall and calling Silin who was going to join us (she was sick and couldn’t come, poor thing). My cousins weren’t able to make it either. I was a little disappointed because it would’ve been great to have them by my side. Then I got a message from Rima that she was running a little late and that we could go ahead. But basically her and family were the only ones coming so obviously we were going to wait!  She had apparently rang the doorbell and I didn’t hear it; my Mom came down and said that she was sure she had heard someone come. At last she arrived, her two boys, husband, and sister Tamara in tow. We gathered around the front of the house and I spoke to the group:

I always think I’m going to be polished when I speak but just end up crying!! Oh well, at least I’m being genuine. 🙂 Lately it’s been hard with everyone telling me that I shouldn’t care so much, but I do and I’m committed to this cause. What kind of activist would I be if I wasn’t committed?!

We headed out to the beautiful Beaver Pond just near my house, which I’m convinced is one of the most beautiful places on earth. We walked through the woods and the boys climbed tree stumps, my Mom and Tamara walked ahead while deep in conversation, and Rima and I chatted with her husband about pranks she and my friend Manar used to play on me when we were younger. I used to be so conservative and concerned with what everyone thought of me, and I would get so mad at them for embarrassing me. Ok fine, I guess I’m still the same way! Here are some pics from the walk:

It was a beautiful day for it! We returned home after a couple hours because the kids were getting tired and we were all pretty hungry! Rima’s husband and kids had to leave, and me, Tamara, Rima, my parents and my brother Raju sat down to eat lasagna. My Dad asked Rima if she had a belly ring when she was younger and she vehemently said “No! Are you kidding?!” because she took it to mean fat around her belly which of course would never happen because she is so health conscious and is now a fitness instructor.

Rima, Tamara, and I headed out walking to complete the rest of the 10 km (they came for a bit and then got a ride). I walked through the park where the old historical schoolhouse is (now a community meeting place) and felt a little lost, not knowing which way to go. On Knudson I encountered men on golf carts who smiled and waved to me and said I looked great. I smiled and waved back, then realized I should’ve taken advantage of this opportunity to collect donations! This year the proceeds are going to the Phoolan Devi documentary, about India’s bandit queen. You can donate here if you wish to support this documentary.

I continued on to Chapters where I got a latte and then worked up the courage to talk to two girls who were probably in their early twenties. I said that it was a goal of mine to share my walk with people I didn’t know, and asked whether they were interested in listening. To my delight, they said that they were and I told them about CARE Canada and Walk in Her Shoes and how I’d been doing it for five years and also told them the entire Phoolan story. I love story-telling!! They were actually quite interested and promised to check out the site. Phew! Goal accomplished.

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Meeting new friends, Chapters Kanata

After that I had some time to browse through books and there was one that caught my eye that I read for a bit:

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It’s about a young, determined girl Harriet who is eleven and very mature for her age. She has to deal with adults who try and tell her what to do, a boy who she loves but also causes her pain, and throughout it all she maintains a sense of humour. Kind of reminds me of myself! The review says the book is ‘mordantly’ funny (had to look that one up – it means biting or having a critical quality, especially when it comes to humour). Must add this book to my never-ending list.

Overall a wonderful day. Looking forward to next year!!

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