Friday, August 31, 2012

Country Time

Well, it’s Friday and that means time for the lighter side of life. After all, we need some positivity, and lots of smiles and laughter to make it in the anti-human trafficking movement. 

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been spending a lot of time in the last two weeks or so driving through several states to eventually arrive in DC. Most of the states I have covered so far are Southern, such as Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. Even though I have plenty of music to prevent me from falling asleep, I decided to soak in the atmosphere of the many areas I went through and listened to local radio stations. It turned out that was not as bad as I thought it would be. Therefore, I decided to share some of the pearls of wisdom acquired through listening to country songs:)

“Everybody want to go to heaven
But nobody want to go now.”

“To a little bit of chicken fried
Cold beer on a Friday night
A pair of jeans that fit just right
And the radio up”

“Life’s too easy to be so damn complicated.”

“Fearless is living in spite of those things that scare you to death.”

Don’t ask me what songs these excerpts come from or who the artist is. I have no idea. All I know is I heard these songs more than once and just couldn’t help but share the fun knowledge with all of you. Enjoy!

-      Krasi

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Teen Plastic Surgery

For the past several days, I have been on the longest road trip for me so far, driving through several states on the way to DC for what I expect to be an exciting and challenging semester. Such a trip certainly requires hours spent driving and the calmness of the middle-of-nowhere scenery allows me to work my brain and think about some issues that have come to my attention lately. 

For example, recently in the mainstream news outlets there have been several stories on teens resorting to plastic surgery to escape bullying. Well, that’s just the sort of thing to get me riled up and made me stand on my soap box. 

I understand (and know from personal experience) how cruel bullies can be. They are experts at making others feel bad and completely despise everything and anything that makes them unique, that makes them who they are and separates them from the rest. The role of bullies is to ensure that everyone around them is miserable, just as much as they are, with the hope that this will help them be superior in some way. 

Even though a person could potentially be bullied about anything, it is particularly disheartening to see the established notions of beauty providing fodder to emerging bullies in schools and at the same time contributing to the low self-esteem of those bullied. Somehow, the little imperfections that make us who we are and distinguish us from others become signs of “ugliness” and deviations from what is deemed beautiful. Instead of accepting them as examples of how unique and diverse the human race is and absolutely loving them, we are constantly told through various outlets that we need to “take care of them,” and polish them, and make them more acceptable. Is it surprising then that many teen girls resort to plastic surgery to fit that mold of being beautiful? Again, that reminds me of Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies. I truly hope I never have to live in a world where every sixteen-year-old undergoes surgery to make her/him perfect and beautiful. What a boring, full of sameness world that would be. 

One of the reports I read mentioned that following the plastic surgery, the young girl no longer experienced the same level of bullying. It never said that the bullying stopped. It appears that in today’s schools, one is either the bullied or the bully. And a bully will always be able to find reasons to bully, no matter how many surgeries one undergoes. To stand up against bullies, we should not encourage plastic surgery among teens; rather, we should emphasize the importance of uniqueness and being different and demanding that the media stop brainwashing women (and men) by plastering unrealistic images of some ultimate beauty or perfection. 

And just for the record, I have no intention of fixing my imperfect teeth.

-      Krasi

Saturday, August 25, 2012


I love this video!

I feel like in our social and extrovert oriented culture, being alone is underrated and sometimes even pitied (how often have you seen someone eating alone and felt bad or had someone else express that?).

Do you make time to be alone? I know I do but I have to say I've never gone to a movie alone or eaten dinner out alone. Maybe its time I do!

- A

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Mindset List

Just an interesting link I came across today and thought I should share!

 - Krasi

Monday, August 20, 2012

Back to Nature

A summer in Colorado certainly meant one important thing to me: the opportunity to re-connect with nature and explore the great Rocky Mountains. And did I ever? To relax and build up new energy and strength (so that I can continue the fight against human trafficking), I spend time in nature at any opportunity; whether it is hiking, climbing, or camping, just a day in the mountains recharges me immensely. As I often tell my friends, and they subsequently make fun of me for that, the smell of the mountains is the smell of life as far as I am concerned. 

While enjoying the cool, fresh air and the majestic views on several recent hiking and climbing trips, however, I noticed an annoying trend. The current theme of let’s get back to nature apparently means let’s pave roads so everyone can drive to nature and be able to text their friends about it. 

Don’t get me wrong. I am all for more people to explore nature and learn to respect it. I don’t think, however, that paving a road to the top of a 14-er so thousands of people can drive up there is really letting these people experience nature, or really good for nature for that matter. Not to mention that many of those now able to drive up to such a great area don’t even take the time to truly take it in and reflect on the experience; instead, they are too busy texting or twittering. When I see a young person standing at one of the most beautiful views in the world and looking down at his or her phone, I almost have the urge to shake them and say, “Look up!” Further, a lot of these nascent nature-lovers bring with them items that they somehow forget to take on the way back home (read: they throw their cans and bottles and snack wrappers on the ground) and that just drives me nuts.

Personally, I believe that the best part of spending time in the mountains is actually making the effort and taking the hours to hike up the 14-er; as someone much wiser than me has already stated, the journey is far more valuable than the destination itself. If you did not break a sweat to get to the scenic view, can you really grasp the value of nature and truly enjoy it? 

-      Krasi

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cry or Laugh?

I don't think I've spoken much about this but I'm deeply concerned about the state of things in regards to Muslim Americans. I've been watching as crazy allegations, hate crimes and the public discourse on Muslim Americans has gotten uglier.

I'm Muslim. I'm American. I'm tired of this.

That said, I do see the humor in the ridiculous allegations that are brought up. Let me enlighten you:

Terror babies? Six degrees of separation to terrorism? Really? I don't know whether I should laugh or cry!

National security should be a concern for all of us but what we should not tolerate is mud slinging which is what is happening right now. As shown in the video, terror babies allegations and shady logic based on insufficient and incorrect intelligence is inappropriate especially for elected officials. I formed this opinion long ago and Anderson and Rep. Ellison alluded to it: this is about attention, grabbing on to the political/social zeitgeist of the day to further your own need for attention. Well if that's what these people want, they need to leave for Hollywood because the political arena is certainly not the place to do this.

As for me, I'm gonna go and alternate between laughing, crying and organizing against this type of nonsense.

Great resources:

American Civil Liberties Union

Amnesty International: Security with Human Rights

Muslim Profiling and Behavioral Profiling

- A

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Funding Games

This week I happened to observe a discussion on the issue of human trafficking and one of the important topics tackled was the specific needs that should be addressed in order for the anti human trafficking movement to be more effective and successful. The usual suspects, such as quality and quantity of personnel, monetary and other resources, increased cooperation between various systems, were certainly mentioned, but what stood out for me was the statement made by one of the participants about the competition between different non-profit organizations and/or victim service providers in terms of funds. It appears that not only are financial resources limited, but gaining access to those available often results in a battle between diverse providers interested in being able to continue doing their valuable work. 

Now this is what I refer to as a mighty big problem. Those dedicated to serving individuals in need struggle to secure the funds required to achieve that goal and find themselves not only against the many who dismiss the task of providing social services, but also against organizations that actively participate in providing social services. During a time of economic difficulties, then, the term funding games becomes particularly relevant. In the recent recession, for example, while the number of those in need of services has increased, in some cases significantly, the funds available to organizations and agencies providing services have been drastically reduced. According to the Nonprofit Research Collaborative [NRC], a survey of the nonprofit sector reveals the difficulties many organizations, specifically smaller entities, face in 2012 and expect to face in years to come. Further, the NRC’s findings highlight that both government funding and individual donations are declining, a fact that contributes to the already multitude of obstacles faced by the non-profit sphere. To read the report in its entirety, please click here

While the capitalist atmosphere we live in regards competition as healthy and fostering creativity, when it comes to the non-profit sector, competition for funds could easily end up being detrimental to reaching a common goal. A particularly negative impact of the fight for funds could be the emergence of some organizations as the “leaders” and best source available and others as the “not-good-enough” and undeserving of financial assistance. If the “leaders” so happen to be in largely urban and rich in resources areas, then the only significant outcome of the funding games would be the cutback of critical services in areas with limited access to services to begin with. Tough luck, I guess, for those in need and at the wrong geographical location. Survival of those with the funds it is. 

-          Krasi

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Hi everyone!

It has been a while, no? Well not without cause I assure you! For the past month, I've been very lucky to have been traveling. First a visit to Pakistan, then a short jaunt in London and on to Houston. Needless to say, it was quite fun!

More details about my trip soon but I have to say that one thing that I gained from the trip was perspective; particularly in Pakistan. It has been ten years (wow!) since I last visited and now, visiting as an adult, I realize the 'little' things that we take for granted. For example, A/C, my car, the ability to go pretty much anywhere alone and many other things. Then of course there are the bigger things that I try not to take for granted: food, shelter, money, etc.

The last month has challenged me, excited me and most of all left me feeling truly blessed. That's why I love travel so much and recommend it to everyone!

Expect lots of pictures soon!

- A

Monday, August 6, 2012

Domestic Abuse among Immigrant Women

Earlier this past week, I had the unique opportunity to attend a workshop led by Leslye Orloff, the Director of the National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project at American University Washington College of Law. The focus of the presentation was educating the audience on ways to help immigrant survivors of domestic violence. The workshop was very detailed and included a lot of relevant examples, and by the end of the day, my head was bursting with information that I just could not wait to share with everyone I know cares about this issue. 

The focus of this post is the Myths and Realities about the instances of domestic violence among immigrant women. After perusing them, I quickly realized that most of these apply to any case of domestic violence. 

Myth # 1
Domestic violence is a private family business.
Domestic violence is a crime and everyone who experiences it deserves the protection, help, and services afforded to victims of other crimes.

Myth #2
Women are responsible for the abuse they suffer because they provoke it.
Domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors that abusers use to impose their will and control their victims. The abused are not responsible for the abuser’s behavior and do not deserve such treatment by anyone, family member or not.

Myth #3
Domestic violence is a consequence of alcohol and drug abuse.
Many abusers don’t abuse alcohol and drugs and many people who abuse alcohol and drugs are not domestic abusers. Rather, domestic abusers often use drugs and alcohol as an excuse for their violent behavior and refuse to take responsibility for their actions.

Myth #4
If the immigrant woman leaves her abuser, she will lose custody of her children because she does not possess proper documentation.
In general, the judge is interested in protecting the rights of the children and looking after their best interest. The court will consider any evidence of abuse in the outcome of custody cases.

Myth #5
With no immigration papers, there is no right to receive social or legal services.
All immigrant victims of domestic violence, regardless of their immigration status, have the right to emergency services.

Myth #6
If the victim of domestic abuse calls the police, she will face deportation because she is undocumented.
The police have the obligation to protect victims of abuse regardless of their immigration status. Without calling the police, they will not be able to intervene and assist.

*The above information has been obtained from a pamphlet created by Sonia Parras Konrad, Esq. and the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

 - Krasi