TheCramm Award

I was nominated by the incredible Aqsa for this inspiring and slightly different award. It is called the Cramm Award because an amazing young blogger called Liv created this website called theCramm. It’s whole desire is to make current affairs more understandable and interesting for young adults and teens. So a huge thank you to both Aqsa and Liv!

Now, the rules:

  • Include a bit  about who created this award (with a link to the website)
  • Mention the person who nominated you
  • Share three things that motivate you to blog
  • Share three people who inspire you to blog
  • Share one thing you hope to do to improve the world
  • Answer your challenge question
  • Nominate 10+ bloggers and give them a cool challenge question

Here it goes!

Three Things That Motivate Me To Blog

First and foremost, the world. The purpose of A Light In The Darkness is to be a light and help others through my passion: words and stories. There is so much to write about, good and bad. Everything sparks my interest and I try to combine my loves of writing and making the world a better place together to create a recipe for positive change.

Inspiration. Recently I wrote this in one of my many works of fiction:

I am a writer, I feed off of the crazy inspiration that wells up inside me, demanding to be pinned onto paper. So when I can’t write,  I don’t know who I am. I begin to feel like a sort of spirit of a past writer, who wanders with all purpose lost. Who seeks a new identity.

Lastly, it probably has to be the thought of the impact I, an ordinary teen girl, could have on the planet if I keep writing. I hope people read my posts and are inspired, motivated, filled with hope and light. I really want my tiny, humble blog to reach out to people all over our earth, from all races, religions, backgrounds and cultures.

Three People Who Inspire Me To Blog

My Dad. My Dad teaches me and explains things to me. He encourages me, but he also challenges me. My Dad wants to contribute to making a better world and he wants me to help him on his journey. He was the one who came up with the idea of my blog name: A Light In The Darkness. Dad always told me about the people who are like lighthouses, the ones who guide others away from the treacherous rocks and into the safety of the light.  Dad talks to me and makes sure I understand everything in the world. I am so grateful for having him as my chief source of research and also as my biggest supporter. When you read my posts in future, remember that he is always there, behind the scenes…..

My Mum too. She always reads through posts and casts her valuable opinion, whether or not I listen to it is another question! But she’s always right. She always encourages me with my writing and assures me that I have a gift, but she also lets me know when I’m not meeting my potential, which I really appreciate. She plays a lot of the same roles as my Dad, teaching me, answering my never-ending stream of questions and much more. i love her so much.  Mum is another essential member of my ‘behind the scenes’ blogging team.

Then there are all the other people who inspire me in my life, in big and small ways. Whether it’s Malala Yousafzai standing up for girl’s education or just a conversation I have with one of my friends, even the tiniest thing can set off a whole train of thoughts in my mind. I am so glad that the world is full of opportunities to be inspired. I am thankful for each and every thing that captures my attention and forces me to write something to raise awareness and do it justice.

One Thing I Want To Do To Improve The World 

There are so many things in the world that need changing and I often wonder how I can make a difference. Everywhere I look there are problems and tragic situations. It’s so difficult for me to even know where to begin.

One thing that’s always on my mind is how I can make a direct difference to people’s lives. I often feel like blogging about the world isn’t enough to do anything of any real meaning.

I have moments where I’ve been watching the news and I’m ready to board an aeroplane and fly to Africa, but my parents always tell me that I’m 13 and that it would be crazy. I might be able to help a few people, but people need more than just food and water, they need the rest of the world to stop thinking about themselves and start sharing what they have with others.

So I’ll keep writing, hoping that I’m changing attitudes and perspectives for the better. I am doing something that I love and am good at and, bit by bit, I am helping to make the world a much more peaceful and fair place.

All in all, I want to change people’s minds, make them think and hopefully take action. I want to draw people together and show them the truth.

Aqsa’s Challenge Question For Me

If you were to have 3 wishes to change the world, what would you wish for?

Well, first of all I would abolish greed. Greed causes wars and conflicts, destroys people’s lives and relationships. It is a terrible force for evil and it lives within all of us. Greed was the reason people kept slaves, the reason why a person would kill a whole other race of people. Our history is riddled with it and although we can’t erase that, we can learn our lesson and begin again.

Secondly, I would wish for people to suddenly wake up and realise what we are doing to our planet and its people.  Because we can’t change unless we acknowledge that we were wrong.

Lastly I would wish that all people could live without fear, oppression, war, poverty, discrimination and injustice in their lives. That everyone was happy and content. This is my overall wish for the world.

My Challenge Question For My Nominees

If you could team up with someone to create a movement for change, who would it be, why would it be them and what would your movement focus on? 

My Nominees!

Em

Fizzy

Arya and Shruti

Thoughts In Life

Misty

RubixCube

Mintiefreshie

Megan

Asha

Chithra

Elsie L.M.C

If I haven’t tagged you feel free to nominate yourself! Let me know if you do so I can read your answers! If I have nominated and you’d rather not do this award, then no worries. Enjoy……!

 

 

 

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Spreading The Message Of Peace

Today I thought I would share something that I found inspiring. This post was written by my amazing blogging friend Aqsa from Aqsa Says What? Head over to her blog and leave her a comment because her words are completely true. She is a teen trying to make a difference, just like me.

So, without further ado, here is her short, but powerful post:

Hi everyone! Aqsa here, and it’s seriously been a LONG time since I’ve posted a quote rant, so I’ll be posting one today 😊. I hope that this inspires to be positive or motivates you for the day! Keep following your dreams, because I haven’t stopped following mine. Aqsa ❤

via Quote Rant #10 — Aqsa Says What?

Respect For All!

I am a proud member of the St John’s Ambulance Cadets. As well as training to be first aiders, we also learn a lot of life skills. Recently, we have been doing respect. We have talked a lot about diversity, discrimination and equality. I have really enjoyed the project as this blog, A Light In The Darkness, is dedicated to raising awareness and discussing these issues with other kids and young people. To hear other’s opinions and thoughts was so valuable and encouraging for me. It showed me that there are others out there that are passionate about what’s going on in the world.

For the final stage, we were each given a subject to research and write a presentation on. I was given ‘Deafness’.

So here is what I wrote:

Deafness

Being deaf can cut you off from the world, can make you feel lonely, depressed and anxious, but when you realise that deafness isn’t your whole identity, you can be free from that. It is our job, as a deaf person’s friend to include them and value them. Just like we shouldn’t judge people on their appearance or on their beliefs, we should never judge a deaf person on their disability. They have hopes, dreams, ideas, personalities, skills, contributions to our society.

But sometimes it can be difficult for hearing people, like me and you, to truly understand the life of a hearing impaired person and so it is good for them to have others who know how they feel. That’s why BSL, ASL, PSE and other sign languages in different countries are so important. They give a sense of belonging and communication to people who find it hard to connect with the rest of the population.

The history of signing goes back a long way, it has been used by both deaf and hearing people since the middle ages, but was only recognised as an official language in May 2003, just a few months before I was born. And that was only after long, hard struggles and protests by both the deaf and hearing communities.

Many people in the last few years, including myself, have taken up learning to sign to help and embrace deaf friends and friends to be and I hope you and the entire world will continue to do so.

Is there something you really care about? Or something that affects your life? Your thoughts are always valued and I would love to hear them if you’ve got a minute to leave a comment. Also, I want you to know, that this blog is a place where everyone is respected.

The Right To Be A Kid

Young people can be inspirational, empowered, passionate and aware of the world. They can make big differences, but in the end, kids are kids. They are entitled to a happy, safe and enriching childhood. An environment to play and learn and be themselves. But not all kids have this opportunity and it’s not just children that are poor or unprivileged that face this problem, even the richest and most famous of children can be forced to live in this situation.

This story is based on a true event involving Barron Trump and Chelsea Clinton. I found it incredible and it restored some of my faith in humanity.

The Right To Be A Kid by Gracie Chick (me) 

Snap! Snap! The cameras swarm like flies around the boy with the slightly bewildered expression. He is wearing an expensive blue suit and every now and then someone shoves into him, pressing a microphone into his face. His Mother is tall and glamorous beside him. She poses and then takes him by the hand and leads him up the steps, past the huge columns and  through the doorway that’s protected by tough security guards. 

His head is pounding and looks over his shoulder to see the guards closing the door on all the jostling reporters. 

He wanders around the hundreds of rooms that make up the mansion he has to call home. He feels lost. The boy gazes out of a window, watching the kids playing in the street and wishing he could do the same. But every time he steps outside he’s plagued by a cavalcade of paparazzi that descend upon him. Then there’s the fact that he moves school so often and he has no friends. No one. There’s so much pressure on his young shoulders. 

He knows what people think. As much as his parents may try to hide it from him. He knows people judge him on who is father is. He wishes they wouldn’t, he’s just like any other kid. 

The boy logs onto his fancy laptop. His Dad is the hottest topic, every news page has something to say, mostly negative. Social media is brimming with hateful comments, some regarding himself.  He scrolls through them,  each word a stab at his wounded heart.

But then he sees something different, nestled amongst the mocking messages is a glinting nugget of hope. The tweet reads:

‘Barron Trump deserves the chance to be a kid.’ The author is Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of his Father’s old rival to the presidency.

His heart is lifted as he reads through some more. 

‘Whether you support Trump or you don’t, you can’t attack Barron Trump just because of whose son he is.’ 

‘He didn’t run for office, did he? He is ten years old.’

The End.

And in the raging social media battle that ensued, Democrats and Republicans alike, set aside their differences to defend the rights of a child. I am glad that they made the decision to stand up for Barron Trump together and to fight against prejudice.

It just goes to show that there is always one thing that can join us together. Maybe if we find that one thing then the people of the world that are fighting can stop, the people who are taking can give, the people who are lying can tell the truth, the people who are sad can be joyful and the people who are crying can laugh.

I hope you enjoyed this post and I’d love to hear from you! Please let me know what you think, your feedback always means a lot, especially on my more thought-provoking posts.

 

 

 

Show That Love Is Evergreen

I can feel the sway of grasses in my heart.

I can feel the almighty push of a tiny shoot as it comes up through a crack in the pavement, all in my heart.

I can feel the buds in spring spreading out their leaves to soak up the sunshine, in my heart.

I can feel the meadow flowers growing taller in my heart.

I can feel the roots of the trees deep down in my heart.

 For love and my heart are evergreen. 

By Gracie Chick (me)

This Valentines day, show your love for our planet by making and wearing a green heart. Together we can raise awareness for climate change. Watch this beautiful video made by The Climate Coalition for inspiration on how to speak up for the earth. My idea is to write a poem, the subject: green hearts.

Sunrise In The Middle East

I wrote this story about girl’s rights in the Middle East. Hope you enjoy, but any constructive criticism is welcome! I have entered this short story into the Wicked Young Writer’s Awards so wish me luck!

Sunrise In The Middle East

“Greetings People. It’s me, Sunrise, and I’m back with the latest progress on the Girl’s Rights In The Middle East front. As you know…..”

I pause to blow away some of the dust that’s trapped in the gaps between the letters on my keyboard. I smile as the tiny particles are momentarily suspended in a ray of sunlight that’s disturbing my writing session, in a good way. I cup my hands around it and watch them glow with golden light. It reminds me of myself.

“On the morning of your birth, the sun seemed larger than ever before.” my Mother’s sweet, quiet voice echoes in my ears. “ I saw it coming up on the horizon, huge and round and blood-red. It spread its life-giving light all over the earth and eventually it reached you. It seeped in through my window and into the shadowy room. Then it touched your head and you awoke. So I named you Sunrise and hoped you’d be full of life, laughter and most of all, light.”

Image result for sunrise in the middle east

 

I sigh as I pull off a floral-printed headscarf and a cascade of knotty, tangled brown hair tumbles down my back. My amber streaked, hazel eyes that are usually full of humour and curiosity sparkle as my big flashing smile makes an appearance on my smooth olive-skinned face.

I sit back down to read my emails and idly click the first one that pops up.

Dear Sunrise

My name is Aaminah and I am 11 years old. I wanted to tell you how much you inspire me and how, because of you, I go to school and learn how to write beautifully, like you do. Thank you.

You are the Middle East’s best female activist, that is what we say at my school. All the girls are pleased that you spoke up for their education so I write to you on their behalf too.

You are very brave and you have said what our people have all been too scared to say.

Thank you again and may you be blessed.

Every time a child sends me an email like this is warms my heart so much that I click Reply immediately and begin to type.

Dearest Aaminah

I am so glad that you are able to go to school now, I am certain that one day you will be an amazing writer. It was not just me who helped you, there are many girls like myself campaigning for education. When you are a little older perhaps you will be one of them. Perhaps we will even meet one day. I would like that. Say hi to your classmates for me!

Keep safe and may you also be blessed.

Sunrise

I hover over the send button and press it down. I imagine her delight as she reads my message of hope and shows it to her friends. It makes this risky and sometimes dangerous role that I have taken on all worth it. With a contented smile on my playing at my lips, I prepare to read the next piece of mail.

Sunrise Abdullah

This is a warning. Stop your campaigning or you will suffer the consequences. What you are doing is forbidden. We will stop you because you are a disgrace to us all. How could you abandon our ancient ways for the ways of the West? Empowering women is wrong.

I sit back, my face shocked and expressionless, and stare at the screen. I take a deep breath and scroll down to see the sender. Nothing. Email address? Security protected. “Arrghhhh!” my mood changes to angry and confused.

How can people say that? How can they not see that all people should be equal? Education is a chance that all people should have. A chance to escape poverty and oppression. When you’re educated it makes it easier to change the world. And believe me, there are a lot of things that need changing. In my frenzy of mad and blind rage, I hit Reply once again.

To Whom It May Concern

You are wrong.  A rule might be ancient, but that doesn’t make it right. If you truly believe that empowering women is wrong then tell me why. Now. I demand an answer. Because I am, like you, passionate. I won’t give up without a fight. I don’t care for your threats and promises, I am a peace-maker and I make peace through education.

Sunrise Abdullah

Writer and Girl’s Rights Activist

 

 

#CookForSyria

I would like to introduce #CookForSyria.  This amazing idea was created by UNICEF ( an organisation that helps children in need all over the world ), Clerkenwell Boy ( an award-winning food instagrammer ), Serena Guen ( publisher, businesswoman and philanthropist )  and a few top chefs, as a way to fight the terrible humanitarian crisis in Syria.

#CookForSyria is a recipe book full of traditional and modern delicious Syrian, Middle Eastern food. Each recipe is donated by world-class chefs who want to make a difference! Any profits made on the sales of this incredible book are donated to aid the people of Syria affected by the tragic events.

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Food is about sharing and hospitality, we may only have a little for ourselves, but we will give some to you because we are all hungry. Food can form friendships and relationships and is an integral part of a community.  This book aims to capture that and bottle it, to use it to work towards peace.

I have already made four recipes out of his book and I’ve only had it a week and a half! They are so good! But the best one had to be this one:

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Syrian Onion and Parsley Meatballs on Spicy Cous Cous with Roasted Butternut Squash and a Tahini Yoghurt Sauce. 

It was seriously nice. Here’s the recipe for the meatballs, the sauce and the topping if you’d like to have a go:

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1/2 kg of minced beef

1 large onion

a bunch of parsley

1 butternut squash

For The Sauce

2 tbsp tahini

2 tbsp yoghurt

2 tbsp water

juice of one lemon

1 clove of garlic

For The Topping

Handful of pine nuts

Knob of butter

 

Method:

Cut the butternut squash into cubes, season with salt and pepper, drizzle with oil. Roast in the oven until tender. 

Very finely chop the onion and parsley. Put both in a bowl with the mince and season. Mix together with your hands. Form into meatballs the size of ping pong balls and roast in the oven at 180C/356F for 10 minutes. 

Mix the tahini, yoghurt, lemon, water and finely chopped garlic together with some salt until it forms a smooth, runny consistency. If too thick, add a little drop of water. 

Melt some butter in a pan and toast some pine nuts.  

Layer the meatballs and butternut squash in a bowl, drizzle with the sauce and then the pine nut topping.

Serve hot with cous cous, flatbreads, pittas or salad and enjoy……….! 

I encourage you to buy this book, not only shall I tempt you with tales of pomegranate, spices, olives, pistachios, figs, bread, houmous and more, it is also working to change the world and to raise awareness of these people’s plight.

Let’s #CookForSyria to show we care!

 

Sita Brahmachari’s Beautiful Books

 

I love to write, and to use words to weave a web of stories that reveal facts about our world and about what we can do to change it, but I also love to read. I always have. One of my favourite authors is Sita Brahmachari. She writes about real issues and real life whilst still managing to capture a beautiful novel on the paper.

Two of her books are written in diary form, from the point of view of a young girl from London called Mira Levenson. The first, Artichoke Hearts, is about Mira’s Nana, who is an activist and an artist, but is dying of cancer. It is heart-wrenchingly sad, but messages of hope and love are riddled through it and they lift it up and make it one of the best books I’ve ever read. Sita, the author, also talks about bullying and also about Mira’s relationship with a boy in her class who survived the Rwandan Genocide. I learned so much and it really inspired me to try even harder to make a difference.

Image result for artichoke hearts book

The second is called Jasmine Skies and Mira is older in this book. She is of Indian heritage so she decides to fly half way across the world to discover the culture and customs of the country she knows so little about. She is not prepared for the huge amount of poverty, inequality and human rights abuses she will witness, working at her Aunt’s refuge for street kids she realises what she wants to do with her life. This is a quote from the book:

I’ve seen real poverty and homelessness in London, but it’s not on the same scale. When you see it in pictures you don’t appreciate how extreme the difference between rich and poor can be, though they’re living side by side. I feel a heaviness in my gut that I can’t seem to shake off. Every day here someone is tapping on my conscience and saying “Mira Levenson, this is not fair. What are you going to do about it?” and the truth is I don’t know.

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The last book that I have read is Red Leaves, which I was given for my thirteenth birthday just over a week ago. It is a really intriguing and amazing book. It opened my eyes to so much. Homelessness, war, refugees, divorce, religion, journalism, kids who live in care.
Aisha sought refuge in London from war-torn Somalia when she was ten, traumatised and unable to speak, she was alone in the world and missing her family. Now she’s twelve and she lives with her foster carer. She is starting to feel safe and loved again when her carer suggests that she is adopted by a Somalian family. She feels betrayed and runs away to a nearby wood.
Zak is angry and sad and confused. His parents are divorced, his brother won’t speak to him, his Mother is a journalist in conflict zones. When she goes missing, it’s the final straw. He becomes tangled up in a mess of the past and present. Somehow he stumbles into the wood were Aisha is sheltering.
Iona lives on the streets, with her dog. She’s rude and sarcastic and tough, but underneath she’s hurt. She lies about her age and won’t accept help, but she was the victim of a broken family. She too seeks safety and security in the woods.
Elder is seen as a dotty old homeless woman, a free spirit. But she has a story too. She’s not just crazy. She cares about the children and watches over them as they begin to form friendships, forgive and forget, learn about each other.
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I would recommend any of Sita’s books. Not only do they help you understand the world, they fill you with a desire to make it a better place.
Let me know if you’ve read any of these books or if you’d like to! Has there been a book that you’ve read that has really inspired you? If so, why?