We have come a Long Way

President Barack Obama has won a second term in office and this is a great testament to have far we have come as a people when it comes to acceptance and tolerance. It is very refreshing to note that this is the platform and the state of the world that we will be leaving for our children. I still believe that there are some areas where a lot more needs to be done, but all things considered it is a remarkable improvement.

Taken from Google

Taken from Google

Imagine we were brought to this country as slaves. In some parts of the world we elevated from slavery to work as indentured servants. Whatever the terminology, we were always considered to be the “underdogs” and should always be subservient.

There was a time when we could not eat in the same restaurant like everyone else. Had it not been for the likes of Rosa Parks, we may have still been delegated to the back of the bus. Those days are long gone and today we walk among each other, we socialize and laugh and cry at the same triumphs and tragedies in our lives.

What a long journey! But one we should all be proud of. We are now able to respect each other and recognize our similarities and our differences and yet be able to cohabit peacefully. We can be intellectuals together and be proud of each other’s accomplishments.

The fact that the people have voted not once, but twice; for President Barack Obama to head our governing body; speaks volumes to where we were and where we are now. Our people have set aside bigotry and pettiness and are making strides toward building a world where we socialize, be tolerant of our differences and recognize our strengths and weaknesses as a people, not because of color, religion, race, or creed, but based on our abilities to be open and accepting of each other.

All of this would not have been possible if we did not allow ourselves to dream big and to dream of an eventual world peace. In his speech Martin Luther King says:

 “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.”

Taken from Google

Taken from Google

I am so thankful that President Barack Obama was able to dream and dream BIG. If he had told someone when he was growing up that he had a dream to be the President of the United States of America, I am sure they would have laughed at him. BUT he did not give up on his dreams and so should we all. Hold dear to our dreams but work toward fulfilling them. Because: to dream without action is like a boat without a paddle – it will get us nowhere!

I am also glad that I did not give up on my dreams: Of becoming an American citizen and an author. It is a very gratifying feeling when we can accomplish our dreams. I am thrilled that my book “The Green Grass” was completed and published. So I encourage each one to “dare to dream” and follow your dreams, no matter how big or how small.

There are many parts of the world and even still amongst us where narrow minded individuals still hold on to these ignorant ways of thinking. Let us try to educate them and help them to see that we are all children of one universe, our mother earth and our faith should not be from any particular religion but based on “humanity”. To tie this in, please accept a humble quote from the “Desiderata – “You are a child of the Universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”

If we all think like this, and accept the fact that each of us are equal in the eyes of humanity and yet different in our own unique ways, then the world would be less violent and way more peaceful. A world: full of hope and appreciation for each and every one of her inhabitants.

Reflecting on Thanksgiving – What are you Thankful for?

The official “Thanksgiving Holiday” comes around on the fourth Thursday of every November and we all look forward to it with great expectations of feasting with family and friends.

As we sit at the dinner table we are expected to say what we are “thankful” for and at that time we come up with many clichés and sometimes very glib answers. Some of us are shy and we just say something quickly so that we can be away from the spotlight.

What happens during the remainder of the year? Do we ever stop and take the time to really think about life and how thankful we should be for the very air that we breathe?: the life that we have and the miracles that we experience every day?

Image from Google

Where and how do we begin to list all the things that we should be thankful for? If only we can recognize all the bounties that have been bestowed upon us, then we would be much more appreciative. The fact that we have been blessed to be alive for one more day is reason enough to be thankful.

Yet, we take so many things for granted. If only we can look around us and see the suffering of so many all over the world, I am sure our outlook would be greatly improved. If we see someone without hands, then we may appreciate our own hands and all the things that we do with them to help ourselves and our families.

If we see a blind person trying to make their way around, then we will be appreciative of our ability to see and try to make the best of our circumstances. Instead we tend to complain about little inconveniences and we take everything for granted.

We eat three square meals and we complain that it was not cooked properly or that we did not have something special to drink along with our meals. What would we do if we do not get a meal in three or four days?  This is the reality of so many people in famished countries or war torn parts of the world.

Not everyone is equal and for those of us who have many of the amenities of life, we should take the time to be grateful and also take the time to share with those who are less fortunate. We should not only be thankful at the dinner table on Thanksgiving Day, but we should be thankful for everything that we have every day of every year.

Image found on Google

Above all, we should be thankful for family and friends with whom we can enjoy our meals and homes, and we should for ever be looking for ways to help those less fortunate than ourselves. For it is only in sharing that we can truly appreciate what we have been blessed with and be truly thankful.

Education and Empowerment

A famous quote by Mahatma Ghandi on Education:

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever!”

When we educate our women and our youths we are ensuring a better and brighter future and a nation that will succeed through thick and thin.

In the developed countries of the world, many of us take the opportunity to get an education for granted and do not make use of the facilities that are available to us. In some countries, the lives of women are threatened if they try to get an education.

Take for example the fourteen year old girl from Pakistan who was shot in the head and left for dead because she dared to speak out and ask for her right to an education. Today she is in one of Britain’s most prestigious hospitals fighting for survival. Why? Just because she wanted an education!

Meanwhile many of our youths cut classes and do not enroll in College when it is so easily accessible.

The phrase that it takes a community to raise is child, is also applicable to educating a child. The five hours that a child spends in school daily should not be the beginning and ending of his or her educational pursuits. The learning should start from home. Please do not get mad at me, when I say this, because many will claim that they are uneducated and cannot read and write especially many immigrants.

Let me relate a little true story. My mother was illiterate. She could see her name in Huge Neon signs and would not know it. But she had a reverence for Education and instilled a love of learning in all eight of her children. If she was having a hard time getting us to brush our teeth, she would say something like:

“Would you like your breath to smell bad when you speak with your teacher?”

As soon as we got home she would ensure that we had a little snack and insisted that we complete our homework.

There was one incident when I was sick with the mumps and had a really high fever. My mother woke me up at 4:00 a.m. sponged me down with warm water and had me dress in my school uniform to take me to the LocalHealthCenter for treatment. Why so early you might ask? So that she could get ahead on line. The place opened until 7:00 a.m. but they used to put out number tags the night before.

We walked along the dark road as the world was still sleeping and I was a little scared as the dogs barked at us waking them from their slumber. When we got there, do you think we got the number one spot? No, there were already three people ahead of us. As soon as the Medec had treated me, my mother made sure I drank something (I could not eat or drink a lot because of my throat) and then she walked with me to get transportation to go to school. She never wanted us to miss school. So, even though she did not have an education she made a lot of sacrifices so that we could get one.

As parents whether single or not, we should try to inculcate a love of learning in our children. Working long hours and coming home to take care of a family is not an easy task, but we should always make our children’s education a priority. In my book “The Green Grass” I talk about “fighting” for the rights of our children. Please, do not get me wrong, I do not mean to “fight” in the literal sense. Do not go into schools and abuse the teachers because they are trying to discipline our children. Instead work with the school and the teachers and help to channel our children’s aptitudes so that they can be challenged to perform to their highest potential.

“You educate a man, you educate a man, you educate a woman you educate a Nation” by Brigham Young

Our children are the future of our nations. Educate them and we will have done our duty. Our women are the mothers of our children and if they are educated they will be able to make better choices and help our children to strive for success. It is a never ending cycle and one which can only lead to a more peaceful, harmonious environment where we can all benefit. Ties in perfectly with the quotes by Brigham Young and Nelson Mandela. 

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world!” by Nelson Mandela.

All Things Are Possible

This has been a remarkable, unforgettable, historical time for all of Americans and especially for those on the Eastern Seaboard.

First of all: Congratulations to the President on being elected for a second term in Office. Unfortunately, it seems as if his re-election has been overshadowed, especially in the Tri State Area by the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and then only a week later, a major Nor’Easter.

Image found on Google Images

Talk about rubbing salt into the wound or adding insult to injury. Besides billions of dollars that it will take to rebuild and regroup, many had to deal with over six inches of snow. Buildings and trees that had been spared miraculously during Hurricane Sandy could not withstand the double whammy and succumbed to the effects of the heavy winds and over laden branches.

To quote one little boy on the news: “It is so unfair!”  This was his reaction to the fact that they had just got back power from the blackout caused by Hurricane Sandy only to lose it again because of the snow and heavy winds from the Nor’Easter. A great reminder that no matter how scientifically advanced mankind has become, we have no answers when it comes to “Mother Nature.”

How do you dig out from these dire situations and what gives you the impetus to do so? As all of us who have ever had to deal with tragedy know, the living has to go on living, and the human spirit is so resilient that we find a way. To the world we may look as if we are moving along quite nicely, whereas inside we may be dead and void of emotions. Whatever the case, we will survive and we have to believe that all things are possible.

With survival as our motivation, we may now be able to turn our attention once again to routine, day to day activities and issues. I hope we never take our minds off of the

Image found on Google Images

Immigration plight of so many of our fellow human beings. Remember if those of us who were US citizens suffered during these natural disasters, how much more would an immigrant struggle? When we cannot work, we will file for unemployment and our medial needs will be taken care of as well. What does an undocumented Immigrant do? It is unimaginable who some people have to endure!!

Let us hope that the positive trend that was started by the present administration: Allowing young people ages 16 to 33 who are in school or have a GED to be granted work permits, driver’s licenses and some basic legal rights (Albeit for two years) will continue and bring lots of relief.

Please understand no one is advocating that it is OK to break the law, but at times even the Gods were willing to “Temper Justice with Mercy!”

What I learned from Hurricane Sandy

As New York and the whole Eastern United States recover from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, those of us who are still around should be grateful and extremely humbled by nature.

The damage is unprecedented in the History of New York and besides many lives and limbs being lost, there are so many who are now homeless, without power and many are cold and hungry. With all of this misery and devastation it is heartwarming to see the outpouring of love and generosity among human beings.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

It is sad that it takes these kinds of disasters to bring out the innate goodness that we as human beings possess, but it is also reassuring. In times of need, we reach out to perfect strangers to lend a helping hand and offer a warm meal or even a bottle of water.

New Yorkers should be highly complimented in the way they are buckling down and trying to pick up the pieces and move on and in so doing being there for those who have lost so much. In such dire circumstances, they have not resorted to looting and rioting in the streets in large numbers.

Instead many neighborhood agencies and church bodies have been rallying to reach out and provide hot meals and some amount of clothing while waiting on the major relief organizations, like Red Cross and FEMA to get to those in need. It is a very daunting task and unlike the “bum rap” that New Yorkers get, we have been extremely patient.

Amidst all the chaos and frustration, can you imagine being an immigrant without a green card? You may be moving from weekend to weekend from one relative to another while working during the week at a live-in job or far away from home. How do your relatives from your home country get information about you? Who do they contact to get word as to whether you are still alive?

During times of crisis and natural disasters, we all suffer tremendously and I can honestly say that if someone is an immigrant without legal rights, their plights are multiplied many times over.

Whoever you are, wherever you are, if you or a loved one has been affected by Hurricane Sandy, my prayers are with you and may you continue to be strong and brave to deal with whatever lies ahead in the recovery process.

Never give up if you want to Survive and Succeed.

WE never know what we are capable of until we are put to the test. I never thought I could survive without my kids, but SURVIVE, I did!  Never give up when the going gets tough … you have to make sacrifices if you want to accomplish anything in life –   when you are faced with hardships in life, you need to dig deep down within and find the resources to propel you forward. It is remarkable that we do not know what we are capable of until we are put to the test.

There will be many times when you feel like you have nothing left and there is no purpose in going on, DO NOT LOSE FOCUS. If you children are the light at the end of your tunnel, then use that as your guiding force. Let that thought and that purpose occupy your mind and your soul – let them be the reason for waking up every day!!

And when they finally join you and you hear one of them say,

“I will not let my mother’s sacrifice be in vain,”

It will all be worth it a million times over. The most rewarding part about all of this is to be able to look back and say, I did this and I survived!!

And Then Comes The Culture Shock

Leaving a very sheltered life where I was surrounded by family and friends to come to America, ALONE was like uprooting a giant oak from its roots and leaving it to flounder at the mercy of the elements.

There was tremendous culture shock with regards to the weather – when I saw the sunshine, I assumed it would be warm only to realize that in that I was no longer in a tropical country. In America, during the winter time, it can be extremely cold even though the sun is shining.

As any immigrant I am sure that it is scary, but as a FEMALE immigrant, it is way more than scary. It is intimidating and downright horrifying. Not only do you have to worry about finding a job and sustaining yourself, you also have to worry about SAFETY… as a single female, who had never lived alone or even been away from home for more than a weekend in the hospital, it was OVERWHELMING.

Below you will find a small excerpt from “The Green Grass” which goes into detail about my first experience with a new culture upon arriving to the USA. 


I was leaving everything that was familiar and safe; and venturing into a great vastness of uncertainties. I felt like a huge oak that was being uprooted and thrown out into a turbulent sea to go as it would wherever the waters took it. This was my mindset as we touched down at JFK International Airport.

There was no more time for moroseness of self-pity. It was time for action! I had to be alert and ready to answer questions from the Immigration Officer. Was I anxious? You bet. I retrieved my suitcase and stood in line to face the man or woman who determine my fate.

My officer was a middle aged, short, semi balding guy who seemed kind enough. He was actually smiling as I approached. He asked me some routine questions as to where I was going and to stay and so on. Did I have anything in my suitcase that I should not have?

“How long do you plan to stay?” He continued.

“One month,” I replied.

“Would you be able to stay away from your family for that long?

“That I am sure about, I may want to run back after a few days.”

I think these were tricky parts in the questioning process and I tried to answer as best as I could. I really felt like I wanted to turn around right there and run back home. Lo and behold, he stamped my passport– he had given me six months to stay in the USA.

I now had to be checked by the customs officer who opened up my suitcase and took away some of the fruit that I had brought. My brother had gone through a whole of trouble to get these special delicacies for his son, unfortunately it was not meant to be.

I was very happy to see my nephew waiting for me beyond the ropes for visitors and as I was walking towards him, I heard someone saying,

“Miss, Miss, wait!”

I looked around and stopped dead in my tracks. The officer who just interviewed me was running after me. Oh my God, what was going to happen now? Was he going to take back the Visa? Was I going to have to go back home and hang my head in shame? He caught up to me and said,

“Oh Miss, you left your $40.00 on my desk.”

You were allowed to bring $40.00 Guyana dollars with you. Phew!! What a relief! But, what a way to enter America. This was the first of many kindnesses that were bestowed on me in this great land of America. There were so many rumors of people being very unkind and rude; that was dispelled in my first day there. This officer was just coming off duty and he realized that I had left my money there. He did not have to, but he took the time and effort to return it to me.


Have you ever experienced Culture Shock? What was it like for you?