As you may already know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, an annual international health campaign to raise awareness and funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and cure.

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As per the National Breast Cancer Foundation,

  • One in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.
  • On average, every 2 minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer and 1 woman will die of breast cancer every 13 minutes.
  • Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.
  • Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women.

Sudio Sweden (@sudiosweden) has been running a campaign in support of this month where 10% of all profits from any of their pink products will be donated to Rosa Bandet, a Swedish Pink Ribbon Foundation.

I’ve worked with Sudio previously in a post here where you can read up on how lovely their quality is, both in aesthetic and sound. These are the REGENT headphones with pink caps (separate attachment) and they’re also wireless so yay!

I don’t think I’ve ever owned an over-the-head set and I’ve always been skeptical of them ruining my hijab or turban haha but these extend far enough over the turban and are uber comfortable and don’t look ridiculous!

They come with the usuals and charge into any usb port for wireless pairing; can also use them via direct cable which is included. I can definitely see these accompanying me on flights and travels as they also fold up into a super convenient size which can be thrown into a backpack easily.

You’ve still got a few days left in October, so help yourself to the 10% by using ‘saira’ upon checkout at sudiosweden.com ! It might be a small contribution , but something towards the greater good is always better than nothing at all init x

If you think about it, kids were the more recent people to hang out with God and so we should respect them, value them, not like smaller adults but more like if they were the best versions of humanity.

                                                                        – Jerome Jarre

totally aware that not all of these are photos of children, but I’m so in love with the aforementioned and find it quite fitting. Still having warm fuzzies about all of it, but there’s always that extra something about the people you meet (and smother with hugs) in certain places. That in-explainable tug at the strings of your heart&soul which concludes with a massive drawn out sigh on my part because I want to go back! Until then though, I hope you fall as in love with these as I have xx

I’ve mentioned Nepal on here a few times, namely because it was my first solo trip at 19, still at uni, had never been away from home or mama for that long etc etc. and it’s always going to hold a really special place in my heart! I went back this April, called it my ‘7 year homecoming’ which I’m still in two minds about sharing on here partly because there’s loads of feels attached, and partly because I want to find the time to sit and write in order to do justice to it all, but we’ll see what happens.

While I was home during the summer, mama and I did a clean out of the shed which uncovered lots of memories and things that really needed to be chucked out, but I found this card she had written me when I went at 19. And it gave me warm fuzzies all over again x (you can probably read her writing, but I rewrote it just incase lol)


Dear Saira,

I hope that this trip/journey that you are taking is going to be your lifetime experience and a memory for years to share (I think she meant years to come haha x) I want you to have a great time. Look, listen, you will indeed be a different person when you come back; who knows you might turn out to be a vegetarian! (just kidding, I know you’re looking forward to that burger on your way back) I have invested my dream in you; something I hoped to do when I was at your tender age, but I don’t mind; I think you’re braver and smarter than I was at that time. I just read the Himalayas book (we have this book on the Himalayas which mama loves and she’s always living her dream of going to Nepal via this book) and envisioned I was there. You. You put it all into an action plan. Good for you! Look after yourself. Make the right choices. Don’t forget who you are. We will be thinking about you all the time. I will miss you! More than you know.

Have fun!

Mama


I just applied to graduate a little while ago, after probably the maddest two years of my life in which so much happened and changed all at once. I remember having WAY too much on my plate this once and ready to quit all of it thinking it was so pointless. Which it might be, but it’s been the one constant (besides God obvs.) which has kept me grounded and given me something to work towards all this time. And I’m kinda sorta proud of meself for getting through it! *pats self on back*

The endless cups of tea made by my work family, the million-and-one hugs, boring people with all the super cool things I had just read and was learning, friends reading my papers or listening to presentations long distance pretending they knew what I was on about, mama reading my policy brief on the ‘lost generation’ of Syrian children who no longer had access to education because of the conflict and thinking I was the smartest girl alive (aren’t mamas the best!), the countless extensions requested and granted by professors so I could juggle work and school and life (and traveling lol) etc. etc. etc……! It’s all finally come to an end!! Alhamdulillah times a million!x

If you’re reading this and you know you’re one of the aforementioned, hugs and thankyous to you from the bottom of my heart because you helped in some form or another and were part of my journey x Even more so because I didn’t have mama and my family physically present with me for a majority of the struggle and I probably relied on y’all a lot more than you realize!x

The reason for this post though is that I was having a scroll through my photos and came across mamas card. and although I’ve messaged her about graduation she hasn’t messaged back yet (she’s at the cottage so I forgive her lol) but I kinda sorta found comfort in reading what she had written 7 years ago to this moment x minus the vegetarian stuff and being smarter lol but experiences, memories, and not forgetting who you are throughout the journey xx thanks for always being my number one fan mama x love you longtime xoxo

So much was accomplished and endured this day to the point where I hardly had a second to realize I was leaving later that night.

Our day began earlier than usual as we had to be at the football stadium for around 9am, and headed to the warehouse to load the final 1500 boxes we’d be distributing. Driving into the lot you’d think it was market day what with cars and pick-up trucks lined on the roads, bikes and wheelbarrows sprawled on the side ready to collect their goods for the day.

Upon entering the stadium (I use the term stadium lightly; an indoor pitch really, so a small stadium?), I felt this massive hot heavy feeling on my heart which made it stop for a second and it wasn’t the crying type of of hotness but just this sudden pang of something. An overwhelming-ness maybe, or my entire being in a state of ‘wow’, but essentially a scene which stops you dead in your tracks to take it all in.

People were lined all around the pitch, men on the right, women and children on the left, waiting for us. Once we were sorted, a system was established where half of us would be told how many boxes each person was to receive, we’d walk them out of the stadium, let someone on the truck know, he’d pass the boxes to the second group, we’d pass the person onto the box-bearer who’d then carry the load to either a parked car or taxi or to the end of the road where some waited in the blistering heat for a ride to come collect them. Many of the men were physically able to carry their own, but many women had come with strollers and children and just had too much to handle on top of finding armspace to carry this heavy box someplace.

 

Extra hands were required and I guess it’s one of those moments where you don’t know what you’re truly capable of until you’re placed in a certain situation. Wallahi I tried to lift those boxes before for more than 10 seconds and I know the limitations of my own strength which is pretty much non-existent, but there was also no way I was going to watch another woman struggle with this load and her crying baby, so I had a go at it. Honestly the worst that happened is me being super sore the next day and receiving hugs and kisses and prayers, which is a freaking no brainer and I’m a tad proud of pushing myself beyond what I thought I couldn’t do.

Word had got round that we were in the area which resulted in so many unregistered people trying to make their way inside and pleading with each of us for a box or some food, showing us ID that they too were Syrians and just as eligible I suppose, but unfortunately there was really nothing we could do for them. They were definitely directed to the SKT Turkey team who gave them more information on how to go about registering etc. but saying no in that moment and having to leave people empty handed who are just as much in need is kind of a shitty feeling. Which isn’t anyone’s fault at all but just ugh.

It was a super special moment though, watching it all unfold before your eyes whilst physically being a part of it all and seeing your work and intentions from day one materialize into the final product, the culmination of it all and you couldn’t help but feel your heart expand with an overwhelming amount of joy and love and satisfaction in that you helped make this happen x

Once we were finished, a football match had been organized between SKT volunteers, both local and overseas, against the local SKT sponsored teams who are coached by the goalkeeper of Syria’s national football team. Fam. Those boys annihilated us. Mashallah mashallah mashallah. We played against both teams, the younger and older boys, and lost both terribly haha but they were all so amazing and talented!

The remainder of our evening was meant to be spent at the SOH where the kiddies had put on a show for us and we got to have dinner together which was super special x prior to that had a quick stroll through one of the markets and creeped on some people as per usual lol

I don’t think I want to get into all the feels of those final hours and moments spent with the kiddies and sneaking upstairs to learn Syrian dabke with the mums and listening to their stories because I’d rather they remain etched in my heart and soul for the time being x but there were lots of tears and hugs and kisses and a blanket of sadness in the air for all of us xx

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I’m sure I’ll get round to a post-deployment posting once all of this has been mentally and emotionally processed and I’m able to wrap my head around it all. Also want to do a portrait series of all the beautiful faces I captured so keep a look out for that. The post on how to go about volunteering with SKT is also in the works, alongside a special debut posting by the real Qes Ahmed himself haha so yea definitely stay tuned inshallah!

I want to thank and hug each and every one of you who’ve followed this deployment with me and have been keeping up-to-date with my blogs and other social media platforms. All the prayers and love and well wishes you sent were sent back your way ten-fold and it makes me so happy that so many of you are interested and wanting to make a difference to help and care about raising awareness about the plight of others for the sake of humanity x A massive thank you and hug to Qes and SKT Welfare for inviting me to join their cause and this deployment and allowing me to showcase the wonderful things they do on the grounds in Reyhanli for the Syrian refugees, and inshallah I hope to head back with them in the future! All of this truly came about after I creeped on Hasnain’s (@torynainz) instagram and then Qes’s (@qes321) whilst they were on deployment last Eid and fell in love with all the goodness they were doing lol definitely didn’t think it would result in my being invited to join so thanks a million and one you two! Xxx

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If you have any comments or questions at all etc. please please feel free to send myself a message or even SKT themselves as either of us would be more than happy to help answer or get you the information you need!

As always, lots of love, light, and endless happiness sent your way inshallah x ma salama xoxo

If you’re ever on any type of deployment or volunteer gig which includes people, human beings, and you’re told not to interact with those people because that’s not what you’re here for, do.not.listen.

You might be someplace to help with infrastructure, deliver medical aid, or work on a conservation project etc., but not hugging or speaking to even one local person is a missed opportunity at creating human connection. How else are you to fathom what someone’s gone through, or what they are in need of? For us to simply enter unknown territory and deliver boxes of food because we want to ‘help’, but don’t want to even attempt to understand how those we’re here to help have come to such a point in their lives to require said ‘help’ is a shittier form of colonialism in my opinion.

To presume that ones physical presence as a result of where you come from (‘First World’) is more than enough and that that alone should speak volumes unto an oppressed or already victimized peoples is probably the massivest load of bollocks I could ever think of. You are present as a result of your privilege. As a result of chance and circumstance. Nothing more, nothing less. As humans its in our nature to feel things, sadness, hurt, anger, love, regardless of where you come from, and that’s the beauty of having a heart isn’t it? Allowing it to feel and permeate into the depths of each others souls without using words. Our hearts speak the same language but more importantly our souls share the same voice x

We visited a few villages today where people who’ve already registered with SKT come to pick up their boxes. Each person is notified beforehand be it via text or word of mouth about the upcoming drop-off where they must bring/show a form of ID alongside an SKT registration card. It’s overwhelming seeing mothers with baby in hand, toddler waddling close behind and trying to balance this pretty heavy box on her head as though it’s no big deal, but you know she hasn’t got a choice because that box literally contains her bread and butter until the next drop-off (fyi some of us did carry them all the way home to help because duh.)

Also saw a different side to the cute ickle kids which I think was a bit of a shock to some of the others lol kids are kids no matter where in the world and will forever go mad over sweets. Even more so when they’re from a foreign land and it ended up being super mob-like with a few tears and lots of pushings etc. but I’d like to think everyone at least got something x

Evening ended with visits to local families who suffer from various illnesses or disabilities as a result of the war whom SKT also provide assistance too. One of the men we met was paralyzed from the waist down and suffers from cancer; his 17-year-old son has had to drop out of school in order to tend to his father. Another family had 4 children between the ages of 24 and 30 more or less in a vegetable state literally sprawled across the room unable to walk, speak, eat on their own, absolutely nothing and completely dependent upon their parents for survival. That was hard to see, and again how does one even attempt to console or see the good in that situation. Of course you well up but what good are my tears. You can’t help but be in awe of and make silent dua for the immense patience instilled in mothers and fathers to both accept an expected fate, and do the best they can within their means for the sake of that love for ones family and children.

One more day left and I’m trying not to think about leaving. I’m taking it all in, every second, every persons face I kiss, every embrace and cuddle, and I don’t want to forget. I don’t want to go back and simply define all of this as an ‘experience’ because it’s so much more than that x