Book Review: When Breath Becomes Air

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Paul Kalanithi: A man between Triumphs and Tragedies by Shahid Khan 

Few weeks ago, I came across an extraordinary book titled ‘When Breath Becomes Air’ – a memoir of Dr Paul Kalanithi’s heart- wrenching and moving yet riveting account of his life, love, wisdom, hope and passion for human kind as well as his illustrious journey from being a young brilliant neuro- surgeon/scientist to a decaying patient with lung cancer.

The theme of this book struck me and I read it in two days amid moments of tears and sorrow, pride and praise for this person with whom I felt I have a connection – An inseparable human connection. The book shakes the very being of the reader as it offers a poignant whiff of realism, idealism, and bitter truths of life which we all human beings sooner or later encounter: The fragility of human life against the tick-tock of the clock. It leaves the reader with some optimism about life to pursue dreams but the book also provides an undertone impression of grim realities of life, yet inspiring and mind-blowing in its nature.

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Bangladesh under Blasphemy Law: Witnessing Horror in Father’s Dream Land

By: Rumana Hashem

Waking up at four o’ clock in the morning to the horrific news of appalling murders of freethinkers and culture-minded citizens in the hands of fanatics at home is not a new phenomenon for many Diaspora Bangladeshis for the last few years.  The grim events that began in early 2013 turned out to be a systematic terror attack on all secularists in Bangladesh. Regardless of atheist, non-atheist, activist, blogger, academic, devotee, left and liberal writers, students, University teacher, publisher, harmonious LGBT rights activists, of Muslim and Hindu background, every free thinker and believer of secularism has been living under blasphemy and death threats in a so called independent nation-state, namely Bangladesh. The year 2015 was a nightmare while the year 2016 takes us to even more disturbing episodes of double-murders of harmonious rights activists in residence in a supposedly secular state.

On Saturday the 23rd April, my mobile beeped at four a.m. GMT to wake me up with a shocking message that assailants were able to cut the throat of a peace-loving Professor at broad day light in the publicly accessible street in Rajshahi, a town was previously known as relatively secular and progressive, in north Bangladesh.  Professor Rezaul Karim Siddique was killed one day after Friday when a Hindu-devotee was murdered at Tungipara.  Additionally we have heard about three more brutal murders, including the double-murders of two harmonious LGBT rights activists and a retired prison guard who were killed in similar violent fashion by organised fanatics within two days in the capital city. As if this was not enough, a report in the daily Kaler Kontho revealed that there were nearly 1500 murders in the last four months that went uncovered by national and international media.

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Support Kenyan Slum School

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Right to education is one of the most fundamental human rights. Education promotes individual freedom and empowerment. It has a life changing power which transforms us to be a productive part of the society. It is true to say that education is the mother of all rights. However, sadly enough, millions of children and adults are still deprived of this foundational right even in the 21st century. Global Minorities Alliance believes in the advancement of education as part of our fundamental purpose to fight persecution, injustices and inequalities, which we continue to promote at all levels.

In 2014, Global Minorities Alliance launched its #GMAGiftBox4Kids for Kenyan slum children in Kibera, Kenya, one of the largest urban slums in the world. We launched the campaign and with the help of our local partners in Glasgow we were able to send classroom materials (papers, pens, pencils, notepads, toys etc.) to primary school children in Kibera slum in Nairobi. We received the pictures of a thrilled children with wide smiles on their faces after they received our small donation.

Last year, GMA’s representative in Nairobi, Anne Misiko informed us with the need to build a primary library. It is hard to imagine a school without a library, or students without access to the books. We started a campaign and looked for local partners who could help us raise support. We collected close to 500 primary books to date with the Scotstoun Community Centre and Glasgow Cathedral. We are also thankful to Netherlee Primary School, Renfrewshire, Glasgow for their on-going support who even invited us to present the campaign to their school children. We are thankful to children and parents for their readiness and willingness to bring some hope and smile on these slum children in Kenya. We are also thankful for all those who are helping us spread the message on social media.

This month we launched our online donation page to raise funds to build a library. Once our target of £5000 is achieved GMA will provide books, tables, chairs, shelves and computer so children can access to the books when they need it.

You can help us promote the campaign on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Also, you can be part of our fundraising team. Whether you are a student or businessman, please join hands with GMA and help empower these children with no books. If you can raise the individual gift of just £25 towards our Kenya library Project as an acknowledgement to your contribution, Global Minorities Alliance will send you the GMA Certificate for your participation in the project. Please drop us an email on info@globalminorities.co.uk before/after the donor sends the gift so we can identify the gift with your name. We can then post the certificate to your address. Thank you!

You can also invite a friend or a family member and can simply donate on this page:

#Books4Future – Help building a library in Kenya:  https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/f15lm9/ab/54brp6

GMA’s Charity Appeal Video: https://www.facebook.com/411533358921035/videos/963299467077752/

Providing a book to a child today can help change his/her life. It changed mine. It changed yours. Why not these slum children in Kibera?

Shahid Khan is the vice-chairperson of Global Minorities Alliance (www.globalminorities.co.uk) He tweets @shahidshabaz