Christmas eating-marathon

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

In a non-Christian household, Christmas was all about the delicious food that are only available in this season. It is an excuse - as if we needed any - to enjoy our favourite treats  and, as we are in a different country, to try all the local especialities: drink Finnish Glögi with almonds and raisins, joulutartu and sweet buns with Scottish lemon curd, Swedish mud cake, and our very own homemade Turkish lahmacun. 

Proud of his creation!
Timuç’s special version of mud cake, incremented with strawberries and vanilla sauce

About letters

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

I can hardly imagine the day technology could substitute the pleasure of sending and receiving letters or postcards. No secret I am a big fan of this practice, and facing the lack of adepts among my friends, I ended up joining Postcrossing (which I find a brilliant project!).

Sure Skype does a great job in connecting people, that is indisputable (Skype has in fact been my most frequent companion in the past couple of years). But I feel that the paper brings a more poetic presence of the person missed - and this has nothing to do with the writer linguistic skills. It is about the emotion of finding an envelope when coming home after a long day, those few seconds of anxiety to discover the content while tearing the envelope that feels like ages, the feeling that this piece of paper carries bits of someone and that it travelled all the way, across countries and oceans, only to bring you that message. 

I cry a river whenever I receive letters from my grandparents and my aunt Laiz, from Brazil. The letters are not sad, quite the contrary. Full of love and care, they always comfort me. Choices I have made in life have set us apart, and I miss them everyday. Today I received another letter full or art, as they always are.

with love, from Atibaia

About the day of the imprisoned writer

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Today I attended a very insightful event. The Irish PEN and Front Line Defenders co-hosted this evening to remember the day of the imprisoned writer. Writer Brian Keenan, poet Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill and journalist Justine McCarthy read from the works of writers from different parts of the world who have been jailed because of their courage to speak out. 

Journalist Justine McCarthy
It was simple and brilliant. I was specially touched by the words of the Iranian journalist Jila Baniyaghoob, who is serving a one-year sentence for her work as a journalist and human rights defender, covering the post-elections demonstrations in Iran. Justine McCarthy read a letter written by Jila to her husband, who is also a journalist and also incarcerated.

About my first protest

Saturday, 3 November 2012

There I was, at the entrance of the Iranian embassy in Ireland, when my colleague asked: so, how do you feel in your first protest in Dublin? -  It is actually the my first protest ever! Although I have always admired those who join public demonstrations, for some reason I had never joined any myself. Yesterday we were Iranians and non-Iranians, but we all wanted the same thing - freedom for Nasrin Sotoudeh, an Iranian human rights defender and lawyer, winner of the 2012 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought by the European Parliament, who has been in hunger strike since 17 October in protest for prison conditions and increasing harassment against her and her family.  
A souvenir from yesterday’s vigil for Nasrin Sotoudeh.

Revisiting Poland

Sunday, 2 September 2012

I am sitting in a comfortable train (the Finnish trains are REALLY so nice – I must be getting spoiled!) on my way from Lappeenranta to Helsinki as I write this post. Tonight I am flying to Kraków and I have millions of butterflies in my stomach since I woke up this morning.

This time I visit Poland for a different reason – I am attending the 7th Economic Forum for Young Leaders in Nowy Sącz (I hope to write more about that in the next few days!). When I left Poland in 2009 I could not imagine that a few years later I will be turning back to this country on my own will. The months I spend in Łomża were not as sweet as they seem now and by the time I was leaving that place I would hate everything Polish! I must have repeated several times I would never visit Poland again. But life is full of surprises, and I have been lucky enough to get this chance to attend a very interesting Forum, meet new, smart people from all over, and see a different part of Poland (the most beautiful, as I have been told).

As for the butterflies, I am taking them with me in every trip – it is always so exciting! Even when the trains waiting for me as not as nice as the Finnish ones...

Do widzenia!

A visit to Sejm, the Polish Parliament, August 2009.

Memories from the rainbow nation

Friday, 31 August 2012

How could I know what awaited for me when I learnt that I would spent a semester in South Africa?

As a good friend wisely said once, I went from hell and back and beyond. I travelled to Zimbabwe with four other wonderful researchers, I produced a short film with the most wonderful team mates one can wish, I spent one week with picteists in the Drakensberg, one of the most special places I have had the chance to see. I met wonderful souls, and fostered friendship bonds I know will be carried for life. It was a journey to a part of the world previously unknown to me, but perhaps more importantly, it was also a journey into myself.

I finish these notes with the sweet memory of that sunset by the Great Zimbabwe ruins. I can nearly hear that melody again if I close my eyes.

Local music and dance, Great Zimbabwe ruins, March 2012

Remember child labour

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

On this May day I would like to share my submission to a human rights photo contest; it talks about child labour.

The young banana vendor
31 March 2012, Masvingo, Zimbabwe
Denied the chance to simply be children, they have no opportunity to go to school, they have no time to play.  Child labour has been in rise in Zimbabwe since 2000 and this is often attributed to HIV/AIDS, socio-economic hardships and the breakdown of family support systems. While we promise our children a long list of rights, many of them continue to be denied the most basic ones, and child labour remains to be found on large scale farms, in the peasant sector, tea and coffee estates, mines, in domestic employment and in the streets of the country's urban areas.

About the Drakensberg Mountains

Monday, 30 April 2012

Cathedral Peak/Drakensberg, April 2012
Mountains always have this impact on me. I stare at their majesty. As someone who has spent most of her life in flat lands, I simply cannot get used to their beauty.

While it is true that it does not take much for mountains to impress me, the Drakensberg must have some different magic. It is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. There I met a lovely friend and she taught me the pleasures of bird watching. It was an unforgettable week along the dragon’s spine.

About the Freedom Day

Friday, 27 April 2012

On April 27 South Africans celebrate the Freedom Day. The date marks the first post-apartheid elections held in 1994. It is an opportunity to celebrate democracy, equality, justice, human rights.

I think it is also a day to celebrate South Africa’s history and the courage of the ones who stood up for what they believed was unjust, even when that meant sacrificing their own lives. It is a day to celebrate to example of people like Nelson Mandela, and I would like to share of his quotes I find most inspiring:

It always seems impossible until it is done.