October 2009


Friends, foes, colleagues, lovers and fighters, it is an exciting time in my life as big changes have been happening and continue to happen. Throughout this year I have transitioned from being a full time employee to a community organizer and volunteer whilst I freelance on the side. But alongside that other changes are in the works.

It saddens me that I will be leaving Amman when a lot of the work I am doing is gaining momentum. But the next step is just as exciting. I will be traveling, and soon. These travels will take me to Bahrain and then Lebanon. I don’t know for how long I will be gone, but it will be at least 4- 5 months. I do know I would love to see and interact with you before then. I want to tie any lose ends, see all the wonderful people around me and give everyone a big hug before I go.

Call me, email me for a coffee, a hug, a walk, a chat… and make sure it’s before November 7 otherwise it will be months.

Advertisements

Last month I was asked to do an iReport for CNN about Breast Cancer Awareness. And as I was thinking about what to say it was clear to me that I also had to write and tell my story in a little bit more than 60 seconds! Breast cancer and cancer in general is not a new or strange concept in our worlds. However if you are anything like me, its something that is in the darkest corner of my mind. I know its there I just pretend not to hear its voice saying “Shalabieh, you need to get checked, for your sake just make sure everything is OK and you are healthy.” I ignore the voice because I feel great, I feel fine but cancer doesn’t work like that.

Jordan Breast Cancer Program

Jordan Breast Cancer Program

Last year the voice got out of my head and when into the real world. I first heard about it on the radio, in a cab heading to the office. Then I saw a massive billboard, and flyers everywhere. It was a national campaign in full force: The Jordan Breast Cancer Program was launched. And it was only a matter of time before I responded to all those ads. I called the support line and learned about free breast exams, subsidized mammograms and where I can get them and how much they were and who the participating doctors are and where their clinics are located. I talked to my colleagues about it and my friends. We all knew the importance of getting checked, but we all managed to somehow put it off.

Our breasts, no matter how prominent they are, are often ignored- especially when it comes to their health. But after ignoring the health of my breasts for a long while (20 years of carrying these babies around), I FINALLY went to my gynecologist and asked her to teach me how to do a self breast exam. It was awkward and strange having my doctor play with my boobs, coz that’s what it felt like. But buy the end of those 10 minutes I was cleared and I had gotten a tutorial! I can now do the exams myself and I get an excuse to play with boobs (not that one needs an excuse)! But on a more serious note I got some very good advice which included:
• The self breast exam should be done monthly
• The best time to do it is after a period
• It is best to do the exam standing up in front of a mirror. But If you have large breasts then you may want to do it lying down
• If you have a fast paced life and no time then you can check your breasts when you are in shower and soaping up
I won’t go into how to do the actual exam as I am not qualified to do so, but I will say this: it’s easy, it’s fast and it can save your life.

My aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer and she is a survivor, she was lucky she caught it early and is recovering nicely. You can be lucky too, but you will never know unless you go that first time and learn about this disease, and learn how to catch it in its tracks. Don’t ignore your breasts, go play with your boobs and if you need advice then check the The Jordan Breast Cancer Program’s Website for more information. Be healthy, be safe and spread the word you may save someone else’s life too.

I love this city and I love all it has to offer. I don’t believe I need to spend excessive amounts of money to enjoy myself here. And since I am always asked what should one do in the city – well here are 10 ideas that cost less than 10 JD to enjoy. Some of them even cost less!

1- Take any one of tens of stairs leading downtown from the surrounding Jabals- the ones in Jabal Amman are especially charming.
Cost: Zero

2- Enjoy a meal at any one of these restaurants- they have all been around for ages and are considered institutions amongst Ammannis:
• Hashem, downtown- 24 hour service in the heart of the city
• Al Quds restaurant, downtown- great traditional foods- must try the molokhia, & the crème caramel
• The Orient Bar aka Abu Ahmad, downtown- amazing grilled meats – must try the 3arayes
• Habiba, Downtown- Knafeh, knafeh, knafeh
• Tamriet Omar, Second Circle- Tamrieh and other traditional sweets
• Falafel Al Quds, Rainbow Street- Falafel sandwiches
• Shawerma Reem, Second Circle- Meat Shawerma (I’m not a fan but it’s a must to have had at least one if you live in Amman or are visiting)
Cost: Anywhere between 0.300 JD – 8 JD

3- A walk through Jabal Alweibdeh and its galleries. These include: The National Gallery for Arts, Makan, Darat Al Funun, Dar Al Anda, Darat Al Tasweer, and Mo7taref Al Rimal.
Cost: JD 3 entrance to the National Gallery

4- Making a kite in Jabal Al Qala’a- Befriend one of the kids and have them teach you.
Cost: 2- 3 JD

5- Walk through the Jabal Amman neighborhoods around the first and second circles in the cool summer night and smell the amazing jasmine bushes.
Cost: Zero

6- Sit out on a street café on Rainbow street. I highly recommend Duninde Café for the quiet cozy atmosphere and the hustle and bustle is a lot less on that end of the road.
Cost: A cup of coffee is about 3 JD

7- Sit on the hillside of Jabal Alweibdeh (the side facing Jabal Amman and the road leading downtown) and listen to the call to prayer vibrate and resonate through the valleys. Its so beautiful.
Cost: Zero

8- Find a good look out spot to East Amman in Jabal Amman and watch the day end and sunset reflected on the opposite hills. The colors are magnificent.
Cost: 0 – 5 JD depending on your choice of spot and beverage selection.

9- For an explosion of colors, sounds, smells and tastes walk through the vegetable markets of downtown. There are two a covered one and an outdoor one. Both are fun, noisy loud places.
Cost: Zero if you can resist buying the fresh produce!

10- Joining the Fast Walk on a Sunday or Wednesday evening for a power walk with over 100 people! The walks explore the city with 8 different routes leading you through the back streets of Amman on foot.
Cost: Zero

Feel free to share or start your own lists. I’d love to hear how you enjoy this city. Especially if you can do it for under 10 JD 😉

So after the lull of work in Ramadan and the Eid holiday, October has come and with a vengeance. There is so much going on that I am afraid to loose track! Here are some of the things happening in October and I will try to be on top of things and write more often about these happenings and more.

October is…

• All month long: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

• Oct 2: Hamzet Wasel kite making activity and the Walk for Right to Play

• Oct 9: Municipality of Amman’s Centennial Parade

• Oct 8-21: Follow the Women bike ride for peace

• Oct 15: Blog Action Day 2009: Climate Change

• Oct 17: The Amman International Marathon

• Oct 24: 350.org Action day (Hamzet Wasel will be conducting an action too)

I am sure I’ve missed many important things in October so feel free to add to the list.