Tag Archive for 'Catholic'

Burning Man in Bangladesh?

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Money Doesn’t Build A School

This isn’t the story of how donations built a school. Donations don’t build school. Watch the video to see what I mean.

 

A Hindu Rave?

A Muslim’s Thoughts on 9/11

As a Muslim, I feel personally ashamed at what happened on September 11th, 2001. I know I shouldn’t be – I wasn’t (nor any Muslim I could possibly personally know) involved in that heinous act.

But Islam emphasizes unity. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Canadian Muslim, Arab Muslim, or a Bangladeshi Muslim. It makes me think: the 9/11 hijackers probably prayed in the direction of Mecca and fasted for Ramadan just like me.

Yet, the first thing that most Muslims around the world did was point out that the perpetrators of 9/11 don’t represent them or Islam. As if distancing ourselves from this minority within a minority makes it all better.

I probably don’t represent many (if any) Muslims when I say this but, pointing out that people who do violent and horrible things in the name of Islam don’t actually represent Islam isn’t enough.

At the same time, 9/11 isn’t something that can be “counter-balanced” through an equally sized positive act. It’s a scar that will live on in history. At least that’s what I feel. Many Muslims reading this are probably rolling their eyes right now.

I think, as a Muslim who feels like I do, all that one can really do is live their lives in the way that best represents one’s most sincere interpretation of the goodness, positivity, and peace-making that is within Islam.

These children in rural Bangladesh currently study in an open field (or, when attendance is lower, a small cramped Church building the size of a parking spot for a car).

It’s that belief that, for me, has brought me to this remote rural village in Bangladesh – where I am potentially the first Muslim to ever build a Christian (Catholic) School. In fact, I was able to come to Bangladesh to do this on a plane ticket paid in part by a Rabbi.

Me with Avraham Berkowitz in Brooklyn prior to flying to Bangladesh – partly on the Rabbi’s dime.

I don’t claim this modest school will change the world. It’s not meant to. Rather, all I want to do is create a tiny piece of the world I’d like to see. It’s a world where people embrace each other for their differences and get strength from diversity.

Bangladesh – in fact any Muslim nation – is better off with strong, protected, and thriving minority groups. This diversity enriches the Muslim world. Only through diversity, can we understand that which is different from us. And those differences curb our own personal extremes.

A Priest with the Catholic Church coordinates with villagers on construction of the school building, funded by people who have supported me and my work. This particular congregation’s approach to aid and development is well respected enough that they are the implementing partner for many major NGOs – including World Vision.

But beyond this village, beyond just Bangladesh, and beyond Islam – fundamentally, we enrich each other in this life not by merely co-existing but by seeing the value in each other’s existence. And, by helping each other grow, thrive, and prosper, we enrich ourselves.

Future students of this school participate in the ground-breaking ceremony. This school will serve Bangladeshi Hindus, Muslims, and Christians. And, given my family’s personal experience with the Catholic School System in Bangladesh, no student will ever be pressured or required to convert to Christianity.

Ultimately, this Catholic School will only serve a small handful of Catholics. It will mostly be helping local Bangladeshi Hindus. As the school teacher put it, “I’m Hindu, I plan to stay Hindu, I just want to teach”. You know what? I want to help her.

And so does the Priest who is helping to build the school.

And so does the Rabbi who sent a Muslim to Bangladesh.

And so does the Muslim who was insane enough to hatch this crazy idea.

And by helping each other, we’ve hopefully helped and enriched ourselves.

I couldn’t think of any other way I’d want to live my life on September 11th.

World Malaria Day

Did you know that one day’s worth of Pentagon spending ($1.5 Billion US Dollars) would be enough to protect every man, woman, and child in Africa from malaria for five years? Don’t take my word for it – Dr. Jeffrey Sachs was the one who did the math on that. We can create a world free from malaria. It is never been easier to achieve and the need has never been more pressing.

In this latest episode I go into further detail about some of the mosquito nets I distributed in episode one. I also show excerpts of my interview with a Catholic Priest who got infected with malaria 38 times (twice of which was cerebral malaria). This is the same footage I was trying to mail out of the country for use by an advocacy organization based in Switzerland. Incidentally, I was finally able to send that footage to Switzerland afterall. I was able to give the tape to one of my uncles who was flying to Singapore. He then mailed it to Switzerland from there. Take that evil Draconian export laws of Bangladesh!

Mosquito Killed by PermaNet

I also go into more detail about the PermaNets donated to me by Vestergaard-Frandsen. I’ve talked about PermaNets before and I can’t recommend them enough. These nets do work. The PermaNet over my bed has scrapped up against splinters and nails – but it hasn’t ripped. These nets are also treated with a long-lasting insecticide which is harmless to humans but kill mosquitos when they come into contact with the net. The reason the insecticide is long-lasting is because it is manufactured into the net in a way that won’t wash away. Rather, it will stay at an effective concentration level for years.

This World Malaria Day why not consider donating a PermaNet? You don’t even need to give me a dime to do so. Just check the recommended charities section of this site for a list of charities that distirbute PermaNets. And, as always, I was not paid or required to endorse any of the companies that I talk about (including Vestergaard-Frandsen).