by Kirsten Doyle (Canada) | Aug 25, 2016 | Culture, Expat Life, Global Citizenship, Identity, International, Living Abroad, Relocating, South Africa, The Americas, Travel, World Motherhood
In 2000, I packed my life into checked baggage and travelled from Johannesburg to Toronto. I left behind my family and friends, my cat, most of my belongings, and everything that I was familiar with. All I had was two suitcases, a job offer, and a street map of a city I knew very little about.
Sixteen years later, Toronto is my home. I am a Canadian citizen with a Canadian husband and Canadian children.
I have made friends, paid taxes and acquired some belongings. I have worked for Canadian employers and started my own business. When I travel, it is with a passport that says “Canada” on the front.
And yet there is a part of me that is still firmly rooted in South Africa. I follow news stories from South Africa and celebrate the victories of its people. I take immense pride in the fact that I was born in the same country as people like Nelson Mandela and Caster Semenya.
You see, even though I made the choice to leave South Africa, and even though I now identify as a Canadian, South Africa will always be the land of my birth and a part of who I am. Although my children have never left the continent of North America, African blood runs through their veins.
When the world looks at South Africa, it sees a deeply troubled country with corrupt politics and a high crime rate. But South Africa is made up of more than its problems. It is unlikely to ever be an economic or political powerhouse on the world stage, but it is great in its own way.
I try to keep these things alive in my children’s lives through stories, pictures and videos. Thanks to the Internet, I can bring parts of South Africa right into my living room in Canada. It is my hope that someday they will get to experience these things in person, just as I did during a visit last year.
Here is my top five list of things that I feel make South Africa a unique and wonderful country.
- The people. When you see news coverage of South Africans trashing city streets and destroying schools, you are seeing the minority. Most South Africans are very nice people. Their friendliness has a spontaneous quality that is not seen in a lot of other places. They don’t hold back on their smiles, and when they say “Have a nice day” they genuinely mean it. South African people are incredibly generous with their good cheer.
- The natural beauty. South Africa is one of the most stunningly beautiful places on earth. Pictures do not do justice to the wildness of the oceans, the harsh beauty of the Karoo desert, the brilliance of Cape Town sunsets, and the majesty of the mountains.
- The weather. OK, Cape Town weather is a little iffy, but you can’t really expect anything else from a city that has mountains on one side and ocean on the other. The weather in Johannesburg, however, is as close to perfect as you can get. Hot dry temperatures in the summer, and mild temperatures in the winter. The summers also include magnificent thunderstorms. I’m not talking about the odd bolt of lightning or rumble of thunder. I’m talking about nature’s own sound and light shows.
- Unity. At times, South Africa is sharply divided along racial lines, with the different ethnic groups all blaming each other for the problems in the country. But during some pivotal moments in South Africa’s history – the release of Nelson Mandela from prison, South Africa’s first democratic election, the rugby World Cup victory and more – the people have come together under the single banner of humanity. It is the kind of unity that is not only seen in pictures, it is felt in the heart. It is during those moments that the country is at its strongest.
- Dance and music. I absolutely love traditional African dance and music. It does not merely entertain, it tells a story. It is powerful and creative, and it beats to the rhythm of your heart. I can’t copy the dance moves or sing along to the music, but I can bask in the emotion and humanity of it.
What are the things you love most about your country? If you are an ex-pat, what do you miss most from home?
This is an original post to World Moms Network by Kirsten Doyle of Toronto, Canada.
Kirsten Doyle was born in South Africa. After completing university, she drifted for a while and finally washed up in Canada in 2000. She is Mom to two boys who have reached the stage of eating everything in sight (but still remaining skinny).
Kirsten was a computer programmer for a while before migrating into I.T. project management. Eventually she tossed in the corporate life entirely in order to be a self-employed writer and editor. She is now living her best life writing about mental health and addictions, and posting videos to two YouTube channels.
When Kirsten is not wrestling with her kids or writing up a storm, she can be seen on Toronto's streets putting many miles onto her running shoes. Every year, she runs a half-marathon to benefit children with autism, inspired by her older son who lives life on the autism spectrum.
Final piece of information: Kirsten is lucky enough to be married to the funniest guy in the world.
Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Be sure to check out her YouTube channels at My Gen X Life and Word Salad With Coffee!
by Elizabeth Atalay | Jan 6, 2015 | 2015, Environment, Global Citizenship, Humanitarian, International, Milestones, Millennium Development Goals, Social Good, Sustainable Development Goals
The 2015 deadline for the eight Millennium Development goals is upon us. As of December 31st 2015 not all of the goals will have been met, but huge progress has been, and continues to be made. If anything the past 15 years showed what is truly possible with concerted effort and proper funding. The MDGs were set in the year 2000 by 189 nations, and the Millennium Goal Declaration was put in place as a step to alleviate extreme poverty around the globe. Negotiations of the Post 2015 development agenda are due to take place early this month, and will build on the progress made thus far through the 8 MDGs.
The next set of 17 sustainable development goals, which have 169 associated targets, are being referred to as the SDGs. The proposed goals are to end poverty, end hunger, achieve healthy lives for all, provide quality education, attain gender equality, empower women, and girls the world over. To ensure clean and sustainable water, sanitation, and sustainable energy for all. Goals include economic growth, resilient infrastructures, reduction of inequality between countries, to make cities safe, create resilient consumption and production cycles, urgently combat climate change, conserve our oceans, protect our ecosystems, create peaceful, inclusive and just societies, and strengthen global partnerships towards sustainable development.
On December 31st UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released his synthesis report of all the suggestions entitled “The Road to Dignity by 2030: Ending Poverty, Transforming All Lives and Protecting the Planet”, and broke the SDGs into what he referred to as 6 essential elements to serve as conceptual guides in the work of outlining the final goals. Here are the six key elements according to a press release issued by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on December 4th of 2014.
The first element is dignity: an essential element for human development, encompassing the fight against poverty and inequality.
Second is people: Millions of people, especially women and children, remain excluded from full participation in society. We must finish the work of the Millennium Development Goals.
Third, prosperity: We must develop a strong, inclusive and transformative global economy.
4. OUR PLANET
Fourth, our planet: We have an urgent duty to address climate changes and protect our ecosystems, for ourselves and our children.
Fifth, justice: to build safe and peaceful societies, and strong institutions.
And finally, partnership: because this agenda will be built on a foundation of global cooperation and solidarity.
These six broad categories provide a much more digestible approach to the 17 goals that will be finalized at the General Assembly in September of 2015. As #WorldMoms it will be our children, the next generation, who will carry through many of these goals, and be the ones help to innovate, execute, and hopefully see the end goal of eradicating extreme poverty by the year 2030.
What do you think of this new proposed set of SDGs?
This is an original post written by Elizabeth Atalay for World Moms Blog. She also writes at documama.org.
Elizabeth Atalay is a Digital Media Producer, Managing Editor at World Moms Network, and a Social Media Manager. She was a 2015 United Nations Foundation Social Good Fellow, and traveled to Ethiopia as an International Reporting Project New Media Fellow to report on newborn health in 2014. On her personal blog, Documama.org, she uses digital media as a new medium for her background as a documentarian. After having worked on Feature Films and Television series for FOX, NBC, MGM, Columbia Pictures, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, and Castle Rock Pictures, she studied documentary filmmaking and anthropology earning a Masters degree in Media Studies from The New School in New York. Since becoming a Digital Media Producer she has worked on social media campaigns for non-profits such as Save The Children, WaterAid, ONE.org, UNICEF, United Nations Foundation, Edesia, World Pulse, American Heart Association, and The Gates Foundation. Her writing has also been featured on ONE.org, Johnson & Johnson’s BabyCenter.com, EnoughProject.org, GaviAlliance.org, and Worldmomsnetwork.com. Elizabeth has traveled to 70 countries around the world, most recently to Haiti with Artisan Business Network to visit artisans in partnership with Macy’s Heart of Haiti line, which provides sustainable income to Haitian artisans. Elizabeth lives in New England with her husband and four children.
by travelladywithbaby | Aug 14, 2012 | Education, Human Rights, Humanity, The Advocates of Human Rights, United Nations, Women's Rights, World Moms Blog, World Voice
This is a little thing I like to call a simple backgrounder. I had the pleasure of working for Canada’s Foreign Affairs on a UN file. I always liked to say that I was always with one foot in two worlds: one international, and the other the domestic (both being intrinsically important to further the other).
The United Nations is actually one of the most complex governing structures in the world. For those of us who have had the opportunity to work for the U.N., we realize just how mind numbingly confusing it can be to explain it. What many seem to forget, is just how very new Human Rights is, and what it consists of, and just how slow the U.N. seems to work, and why. (more…)
Travel Lady with Baby has never had two feet in one city for long, growing up as a diplomatic kid, bouncing around from one country to another became the norm. Born in Canada, but never feeling Canadian, rather a Hodge Podge of cultures and traditions, Mandarin was her first language, not English, and Spanish still comes out of her mouth when trying to speak French.
Travel Lady with Baby declared to her Father that a career in the U.N was her future, but settled for a career at Foreign Affairs on an intense U.N file. After several years of non-stop travel, and having never put up a picture on the wall, she and her husband threw caution to the wind and moved to Vancouver, B.C. to work on an Olympic file.
Vancouver brought, a dog, a baby boy and a life-altering event that changed everything. It was this event that made Travel Lady with Baby and her husband realize that Vancouver had run its course, so, naturally it was time to embark on another adventure.
Packing everything into a small storage space and giving up their condo, they got on a plane for two months to travel with their son. For the first time, they breathed, got perspective, became present as parents and realized what they wanted. Landing back in Vancouver solidified a business plan and a move to a small town in Quebec.
Now running a Sustainable Consulting and Promotions Company with her husband, re-learning French (yes, you do lose it if you don't use it), waking up to a toddler that has more energy than a soccer team, juggling clients, a household, research and marketing, and squeezing in blogging about travel has been nothing but exhilarating.
It is very likely that there is another move and way more travel in the near future, but at least this time, they finally put pictures up on the walls. Check out her personal blog, Travel Lady with Baby.
by World Moms Blog | Apr 28, 2012 | Autism, Eva Fannon, Kids, Life Lesson, Motherhood, Salma, Saturday Sidebar, Tara B., World Motherhood
This week’s Saturday Sidebar Question comes from World Moms Blog writer Multitasking Mumma. She asked our writers,
“How do you explain disabilities and mental illness to your children?”
Check out what some of our World Moms had to say…
Meredith of Nigeria writes:
“I tell my children (ages 4 and 6) that God makes everyone differently with their own special gifts. They see lots of disabilities on the streets of Lagos. I tell them that not everyone can be made the same because the world would be SO boring. In that respect, they accept the people they see. So far, that has worked out pretty well. :)” (more…)
World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children.
World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.