News and Views from the world wanderings of Pj Kwong.  Finally!  A place for all of the things I write and think about!

Posted By SkatingPj

...and I'll cry if I want to?  Naww...that's not right! Truth be told - it was my birthday - yesterday - and we did have a party. Did I cry? I didn't want to.

My family wanted to know what I "wanted" for my birthday. Truth is, I want for very little. I have a family, great friends, no visible roots (this week), my health and new orthotics (so my feet don't hurt as much.) You see the situation - I have no complaints.

I decided that what I 'wanted' for my birthday is enough time left to be able to make a difference.

Where to start? I know I am not much of a joiner. I am also a person who prefers to target projects directly than through a national or international organization.

My younger daughter arrived back home from 2 months in Kenya, on April Fool's day, where she volunteered at a program called the Tusemezane ("Let's Talk" in Swahili) program. In this program, disadvantaged children have the chance to go to school. In Kenya, school from Grade 1 to Grade 8 is free - BUT- in order to get into school a child has to go through pre-school which isn't free. In this program, run by 3 women, children of any age get the chance to go through pre-school so that they might enter "free" school in the Fall.

Before Amanda left, my oldest friend (she is much older than I) Debbie brought letters from children in 2 suburban Toronto schools to be distributed to the children in this program. At my party, Debbie collected the letters that the Kenyan children had written back. Many of the letters included carefully drawn pictures on paper Amanda bought with crayons and pencils I had sent from Canada.

I know it's small - but for these children this school represents a chance that they wouldn't have otherwise to enter into education, not to mention a safe place where they can spend their days. This program will close if they can't come up with enough money to build a toilet.

Amanda told me about this program over the phone during one of our many conversations while she was away and the passion that I hear in her voice about wanting to help is my real birthday gift. I told her I wanted to write about the love and the charity of these three women in their own community. I am truly humbled by the efforts of Anne, Maggie and Lucy.

I am starting by pledging the fee from one lesson from every one of my skaters in the Spring to the Tusemezane program.  I will offer my skaters' parents the chance to match my one lesson fee donation with one of their own.

My reason for sharing this story is I want to challenge my readers to come up with one simple act of kindness or charity this week. There doesn't need to be a tax receipt to do the right thing and I think everyone gets to choose how to make the world a better place.

I would love to hear via the comments below what one thing you were able to do in your part of the world to make it a better place and I will keep you posted about this program in Kenya.


In the meantime - people in Japan are still struggling - if you want to help - here are a couple of places to check out:


Artistry Skin Care and Cosmetics Canada has set up a link through their parent company Amway, where they are matching donations: Here is the link to check it out:


Posted By SkatingPj

South Africa is front and foremost in my mind for a couple of reasons:  The FIFA World Cup and my daughter Amanda who arrived there a week or so ago to help a family out with childcare. 

First up:  the FIFA World Cup - I am watching the games out of the corner of my eye with my son Peter and am really impressed by the features and the stories that are presented on TV about the player and the places. Makes me think I would like to go there one day.

I am trying to make the World Cup a total "mother/son bonding experience".   What Pete and I have talked about is maybe cris-crossing Toronto during the tournament; going from eating/drinking establishment to eating/drinking establishment along the lines of teams that are playing. So, Korea won their game today against Greece, so maybe next stop is Korea Town to watch their next game.  Am secretly hoping that either Spain (Peter's favourite) or Italy make the final - there are some really good eating/drinking establishments in this town devoted to yummy Tapas or Pasta, either of which makes soccer a lot more interesting!

Secondly: - South Africa in general -Amanda was originally coming home from Africa at the end of May but has enjoyed her time there so much, that she is staying for a while longer.  We have the chance to be in touch via email and MSN messenger and my new found friend SKYPE.  I am still in total awe of the technology that allows me to be in such close contact with a loved one so far away.

I am a city girl.  I like concrete under my feet and chlorine in my water and conditioning in my air.  I am old enough to no longer have to pretend that I would like to go camping.  I wouldn't.  It is therefore amazing to me to have raised not one but two daughters who are the complete opposite.  Amanda in Africa is having the sort of adventure that I love reading about from the comfort of my kitchen with a coffee. 

I am trying my best to be supportive and encouraging but I have to admit, at times, it isn't easy.  Take her recent email which included three pictures. One picture of her tow friends Jimy and Ben and one of Ben's little sister and brother.  I have to say that she is the subject of a lot of curiousity among many young children that she has met.  Ben's little brother was a typical example.  He cried in fear when he first met her.  To him, she is strange looking - her skin colour is not what he was used to and neither is her long soft light brown hair.  She was able to make friends with the help of a lollipop and the picture shows a happy little boy.  He was hearbroken when she left a few hours later and was sobbing unconsolably in his mother's arms at last sighting.  Apparently Amanda has lots of small children running up to her; shyly touching the skin on her arm or touching her hair.

The third picture is of a lion!??!!!  A LION!!!  I phoned her to ask her just how close she was to the lion.  The reception was very poor  and we got cut off so she sent me a text: "Don't worry abt calling the recep is too bad and I am not allowed to wander outside cuz of rhinos and leopards. I'll talk to you tomorrow or so xo"

This is written with apologies to my own mother who is learning about not only lions but rhinos and leopards for the first time as she reads this.

See what I mean?  Just when you think it can't get more complicated - I want to see the parenting book that prepares you for the lion picture or the leopard/rhino text message not to mention coming together and coping with the World Cup marathon.


Posted By SkatingPj

Hello family!
I am currently sitting at the Covenant Guest House in the outskirts of Nairobi. It is a quaint little place. I have a room to myself, with a mosquitto net, toilet and shower! I'm not sure if it gets better than that.
Anyway, yesterday was a big day, I went out and exchanged some money to Kenyan Dipsies, and got myself a SIM card...then..THEN..I went to the Nairobi City Park (aptly called The Monkey Park), where I fed peanuts to lots of very cute monkeys, except for the one that stole a bag of better believe that one got no special attention after that, greedy bugger. These monkeys are like the squirrels we used to feed in Kew Gardens, they come right up to you and sit on your shoulder...I like to call it the happiest place on earth. Peter, the man that was taking me around, was very friendly and I only had to pay him 15$ for a whole day's excursion!
When I got home last night, there was no I helped Regina the girl who works here make dinner by candle light. It was very romantic. We are BFFs now, in case you were wondering. I made rice, and a bunch of sauteed veggies...she was very impressed with my cooking skills, I told her I was trained at the Cordon Bleu...the joke was lost on her.
I woke up this morning at 5AM with a migraine, not a great way to start the day. I took a bunch of pills and slept most of the day until Regina knocked on my door and asked if I was going to 'take breakfast'...I said sure...even though it was 230. She had made an egg for me in the morning anticipating I would be up. While she was heating up my breakfast I sat in the dining room listening to a rousing rendition of "Satan, You Lose" on "The Christian Music Revival Station"...I have a full arsenal of christian folk songs to take with me on the road now.
I am being picked up later by the guy who drove me from the airport...I'm not really sure why, but my hopes are that he wants to show me around and not sell me into white(ish) slave labour..more on that later.
I think that's it for now. Love and miss you all.




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