Thursday, 26 March 2009

Goodbye Cheetwood!

We moved to a new house yesterday. The sole purpose of moving is for MY survival and mental well being. I cannot manage to go up and down the stairs anymore so we decided to move to an apartment (tak payahla nak pegi jamban pun kena naik tangga).

We lived in Cheetwood for a year and it has been a pleasant year for us. The house and area was lovely, and I'm gonna miss the garden this summer huuhuu....

Even Tokpa, Wanma, Mummy's family, Papayim, Along Izan and Trisya and Uncle Din's family (my in-laws neighbor) had the opportunity to visit us at the house.

And we are also leaving our neighbor, Azah and Affandi who are the tokeh satay and tempe of Manchester! We'll miss you guys..(nanti open house bakar satay jgn lupa jemput kitorang...)

Here are some lovely memories in Cheetwood...

Tuesday, 17 March 2009


I actually have finished reading these 4 chapters many days ago but did not have the time to write the review. I'm happy that my first review has benefited some readers and even the author of the e-book had generously dropped comments, so we all can learn more.

I was thinking what is the best way for me to write the review of these further chapters, because I think they have more substances than the initial introductory ones. I decided to tailor it to best fit a busy working or studying mother, because that is what most of my friends are (who have been loyally reading my blog-thanks people!). I obviously will omit a lot of things so if you think you want to read the whole book you can go to and buy it using paypal-it's very easy. In a couple of months other payment methods will be available too.

Chapters 9-10 are about making learning fun and informal learning (actually you can get chapter 10 free on the website). Obviously very important because we are talking about educating small children, who don't know what they are learning are actually important skills for the future (like maths skills). If you can make learning enjoyable your kids will develop the attitude that learning is not a chore and they will have the willingness and drive to learn independently (ye lah sampai bila pulak kita je nak sorong2 dia suruh belajar)

But first, you yourself have to be interesting-lah! (gaya2 tak siuman yg bebudak suka tu ha ni lah masanya nak gunakan). See the child's feedback, ok..(jangan syok sendiri je). And don't forget to go down to his level.

Some of the author's suggestions are:

1. Use ordinary daily activities to teach him-like when you bake a cake you can talk with him through the chemical reactions involved (aiyyyaa-susahnyaaa sebab sendiri pun tak tauuu!!)- but last week I was cooking when Adam came into the kitchen and asked "are you cooking rice, Mama? can I help you?" (Adam memang suka sibuk2 kat dapur-especially kalau buat donut dia nak main tepung). 2 weeks ago I would have shooed him away, but this time I thought, this is my chance. So I made him scooped out the measurements, stood on a chair by the sink and watched me wash the rice and measure the water and put it on the rice cooker. He enjoyed it because he gets to play the water (which is a big no from his father) and surprisingly after the task is finished he stayed in the kitchen. He sat at the dining table and watched me cook other things and bombarded me all questions about rice and water (penat jugak nak jawab sebab balik2 soalan yg sama je-rasa dah jawab dah tadi).

Since we are all busy parents, you might want to grab any chance of stimulating your child (don't just wait for you to have the time to sit nicely on a table when you or him are not sleepy...) no, do it in the car when you are sending him to the baby-sitter (eg reading road signs or describing pedestrians), when you are cooking (put your baby on a high chair and describe to him your actions), counting the oranges that you just bought etc...

In summary- turn everyday activities into opportunities for learning (I like this one, easy to do, once you start you can never stop- I will stick to this even if I won't remember the rest of the book).

2. Challenge and reward him. Or play learning games or compete with you in a say, spelling game.

3. Involve your older child in your own activities- eg make the shopping list with him, teach him how to find things in the supermarket, compare the prices etc (hey, I think this is a good idea, never thought of this before). Similarly get him involve in planning your holidays / trips.

OK those are the suggestions that I like....

Chapter 11 talks about using holistic approach- basically it says that you cannot only focus on learning activities, your child needs play, good food, enough sleep etc. Your child needs to be generally happy and content-easier to teach!

Chapter 12 is about communicating often-regardless of what you talk about, frequent conversations will benefit both of you. But you need to have constructive conversations (or informal discussions).If you have a very small baby, just keep talking to him even if he does not understand yet because this will develop his language skills. For older children you can discuss about the cartoon episode that he just watched, or if there is thunderstorm outside you can discuss why you see the lightning first before hearing the thunder etc.

Ok will move on to more serious chapters next time (chapters of Fundamental Skills). Hope this review did help!

Monday, 16 March 2009

Rumah Anak Nelayan

This is the house of Nik Nur Madihah, Kelantan's best student who obtained 20As in SPM 2008 (Utusan Online 14/03/2009, Hafiz Johari).

Initially I did not want to post this photo on my blog, but then I thought I need to save it for the future to show it to my sons. Against all odds you can still become successful. (contoh bebelan: ni tengok budak ni punya umah macam mana, pun boleh dapat 20A, awak semua cukup, rumah cantik, makan kenyang, buku bertimbun.....)

How difficult is this anak nelayan's life? aaahhh.....the house says it all...

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Anak Nelayan

I watched Buletin Utama 12 March 2009 on while I was cooking our lunch today.

It is so nice that for once the main news is not political. It was about the SPM result.

The best student in Kelantan is a girl, Nik Nur Madihah from SM Agama Maahad Muhammadi , KB who obtained 20As! (I took 10 subjects, it was hard enough).

Her father is a fisherman. Very humble looking fisherman.

When her father was interviewed, he just said "Saya sangat gembira, saya bersyukur Allah beri kejayaan pada anak saya, yang hanya anak seorang nelayan"

If you look at his face while he was saying this, you wouldn't see a tiny bit of pride or arrogance; just pure humbleness and gratefulness, almost sad maybe. Don't know what was on his mind.

When the girl was interviewed, she said "saya gembira kerana tidak menghampakan harapan ibu bapa dan guru2 saya"....not something like "saya gembira kerana dapat membuktikan kemampuan saya" or "saya gembira kerana berjaya mendapat bilangan A terbanyak di Kelantan dan seterusnya dinobatkan pelajar terbaik"

You can see that although she is only the daughter of a fisherman, she was brought up really well.

Well done parents of Siti Nur Madihah!

Then the news announced that the highest achievers are 3 students who obtained 16A1s. Two of these students were from SMJK Yoke Kuan, Sekinchan, Selangor. But surprisingly the name of the school was only written on the screen, nobody went there to interview the students or teachers. Surely the school deserves more attention now that they have produced two 16 A1s? TV3 went to SMK Taman Melawati instead.

Then I stopped watching the news and listened to Radio Era at DJ Reza was interviewing Mawi. I think Mawi's new song 'Sujud' is quite nice, although it was the first time I heard it. Then Mawi said it was written by KRU, well, no wonder! I'm a big loyal fan of KRU's works.

Speaking of Mawi, I suddenly remembered that I have a new blogger friend that sells 'tudung Ekin' and 'tudung Fareeda' on her blog. They are very very fashionable indeed and I intended to buy 1 (or 2 or 3), but need to see her new collections first. So to all Muslim women of UK, visit Malabiswear Shoppe and see for yourselves! It will be delivered to your door.

Then Adora Svitak (the 10-year-old who is older than me) accepted me as her friend in her Facebook circle.

Then we got a free double bed and mattres from Manchester Freecycle for our new unfurnished home. Quite a nice one, clean modern design (selamat 200 pound!-rezeki baby).

Then I left a comment in the most recent entry of Tun Mahathir's blog on PPSMI.. aaahhh...what an achievement! God bless you Tun!

Thursday, 12 March 2009


Time for another book review!

This time it is an e-book, written by Halimahton Yusof, mother of 4 child prodigies.

Thanks to Anis who introduced me to Halimahton Yusof's website, the official website that sells this e-book.

Maybe it is worth giving a little bit of Halimahton's biodata and the story of her children. She grew up in Muar and had formal education in Malaysia, Singapore and UK. She majored in chemistry but stopped doing her PhD to raise her children. She home-schooled all her 5 children; Sufiah, Iskander, Aisha, Abraham and Zuleikha. Sufiah entered Oxford Univ at age 13 to study maths, Iskander went to Warwick Univ at age 12 (graduated at 15 with first class honors), Aisha entered Warwick Univ at 15 to study maths (now doing her PhD) and Zuleikha received grade A in A-level maths at age 9 (now at age 14 has completed courses from Open University in biology and astronomy). No mention of Abraham, not sure what happen to him.

Chapter 1-8 are basically introduction to teaching your child. To be honest, quite disappointing because generally most of the points are what you already know. Like, you have to know your child and have good bonding with him (of course!), parents have to set good example and be patient and consistent etc. I mean, all good parents know that, and only good parents with enough time to spare (like me) will read the book. I actually had higher expectations from the author. Maybe that is my problem. But maybe it is too early for me to actually say anything, because the book has 28 chapters. So bear in mind, this review is ONLY for chapter 1-8, not the whole book. This series of book review is a present to all my busy friends out there who do not have the time to read yourselves (aku boleh bacakan :D)

The author actually did suggest that some readers may find only a few of the chapters are useful, it really depends on what you are looking for. Well, you cannot satisfy everybody.

Having said that, I actually did learn a few things. I tried really hard to look between the points (memanglaa dah takde keje lain); am I really not getting anything? There must be something in Halimahton that makes her special, that makes her different from any other parent. But before I go into what I managed to learn, I must say that I am actually quite happy with the author's goals for the book- to name 2 of the most important (at least to me):

1. To develop the love of learning in the child that will stay with him throughout his life (I agree, what better tool can you give to your child?).

2. To develop a high attention span and ability to concentrate hard on a single task (I think this is a very important skill indeed-in this world of many distractions, that's why many students sleep in lectures, they can't concentrate enough)

I don't want my children to be supergenius (genius je cukuplah, hehehe)- no, Alhamdulillah if they can become successful people in life and InsyaAllah in the afterlife, but I do hope they posses those 2 qualities above.

So, new info / reminder that I manage to gather from Chapter 1-8 are:

1. Empathize with your child! Try to be in his shoes and imagine him having limited knowledge and understanding of the world around him. I think this is an aspect that many parents take for granted, but many grandparents understand (kan orang tua selalu cakap: alahh..budak memangla macam tu). Parents are usually impatient and cannot understand their children behaviour, but maybe the children are just confused. (patutla Adam selalu tanya; "why? why Mama? why got 2, why not 3? why j has dot above it? why Z has 2 horizontal lines?" ....peningnyaaa nak jawab)

2. Avoid placing restrictions on what you think your child has the potential to learn. Well, have to admit that I do this a lot (budak ni mana tau, dia takkan paham punya..). Maybe this is the BIG difference between me and Halimahton.

3. Removing distractions from the learning environment is more important than it might seem. Only the resources that are relevant to your child's current learning activity should be in his immediate vicinity. Because children are very easily distracted. If a child learns to use a toy or a book one at a time, he will gradually develop a longer attention span. (Kitorang semua benda kat dalam hall yg kecik ni, Adam baca buku tv pun bukak, laptop pun ada je kat sebelah, biskut tak boleh tinggal, Ammar pulak main train).

4. Even a simple toy has numerous characteristics eg colours, textures, shape and the possibility of using it in an imaginative play. So don't disregard a simple toy. If you can explore the possibilities of a simple toy with your child, he will develop the ability to pay attention to details. (aiiyaa..ini memang selalu buat, tak mainla toy2 kodi nih, nak yang canggih je)

OK..that's what I can gather from the earlier chapters. I'm sure there are a lot more that we can learn in the next chapters, well I bought this book because I was attracted to the later chapters, not the earlier ones. But because I'm sooo skema I naturally have to start from the beginning.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Adam's Drawing

When we first sent Adam to school on 24th September 2008, Adam did not know how to write yet. He only did colouring at home, he could recite ABCs but he could not write. He only scribbled aimlessly (main conteng2 aje).

Ok..It was Mama's fault, work and work and work, no time to teach Adam.

Now Mama (and Mickey Mouse) gives intensive reading and writing lessons to Adam (Mama has got nobody else to boss around now).

At home Adam will write and spell whatever Mama ask him to, but he never showed he can draw.

But today Adam brought home from school a precious present for Mama.

This is Adam's house....

This is Adam himself...

Yes, only 3 fingers, a square body and notches for legs, but Mama thinks it is a real landmark for Adam.

Notice the lopsided smile on the face?
Mama asked Adam why the mouth is like that, Adam said "because I like to take pictures 'senget' like that"

As a reference, here are some of Adam's 'senget' photos..

Next is Adam's drawing of Papa. This is quite special as Adam labeled it as Shahril, Adam prefers to use Papa's name because that is his surname (only S.H.A on the same line, other letters are everywhere else).

(gelakkan gambar Papa, jari 2 je belah kiri)

This is Mama (without the A.M.A)

And finally, Ammar...

Notice the blurry face of Ammar? When Mama asked Adam why he scribbled on Ammar's face, Adam said "because Amai likes to cry..."

(Satu budak senget, satu budak cembeng)

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Alfatihah buat Amir Yusuf


Alfatihah buat Arwah Adik Amir Yusuf yang baru saja kembali ke rahmatullah pada 12:51pm waktu Glasgow, 6 Mac 2009.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Hubby's Hobby

Today I want to talk about my hubby's new hobby-photography!

He bought a new camera about 2 months ago (not approved by me, of course-all the books I bought and will buy in the future won't cost more than his camera) and has since practiced his skills daily.


have to admit he do have some talent....

just look at the prettier me! (ekekekekeke)

And the boys are always ready to pose for their Papa....

And some landscapes.....

To appreciate more of his talent, click here My Family or use the link 'Mr Tambo's Family' at the righthand side of this blog.

All the photos used as header in this blog is courtesy of him...

(siapa lagi nak puji kalau bukan bini sendiri...)

Tuesday, 3 March 2009


This book is written by Somaly Mam, a Cambodian humanitarian activist who fights against sexual slavery.

Abandoned as a baby, she was looked after her grandmother until she disappeared. She was then taken into care of a man who claimed to be her 'grandfather', but was treated no better than an unpaid servant. She was raped at 12 (her 'grandfather' sold her virginity to a Chinese man to pay his gambling debts) and was forced to marry at 15. Not long after she was then sold to a brothel in Phnom Penh.

The first half of this book is about her own life, the next half is about her work with AFESIP, an organization she founded to rescue girls who were sold into prostitution.

In Cambodia, because of 30 years under the Khmer Rouge brutal regime, people became egocentric, or only care about themselves. People do not help others simply because they don't trust each other. 3 decades of bombing, genocide and starvation leads to moral bankruptcy. Families who got themselves into debts, will sell their daughters to brothels and the daughters must work in the brothels until the family's debt is paid. But usually the families will get into more debts, so the girls can never leave the brothels. Sometimes the daughters were sold so that their brothers can go to school, or the fathers can gamble, or simply because the family don't have enough to eat. In some cases the family send their daughters to the cities with middle man or agents thinking that they will work in restaurants or as domestic servants.

What these brothels / businesses are like?

They are wooden filthy houses on stilts above water, with rooms separated by sarongs which are run by a 'meebon' (ibu ayam). Toilets are just holes on the floors where all the excrements go straight into the water below. No fresh clean water supply, just buckets of dirty water for the girls to wash themselves. In the same rooms where the girls cook and wash during the day they will be raped and beaten repeatedly (by smelly, drunk, yellow teeth customers) at night. There will also be torture rooms where any girls who are 'difficult' or cause any trouble (eg try to run) will be tied and beaten, and they will be poured with maggots, poisonous insects or snakes. That was during Somaly Mam's younger days (early 1980s) but now they also use electrocutions.

Once she tried to run away, but was caught by the police and put in a cell, where she was raped by the policemen and the next day she was sent back to the brothel.

Who are the clients? Policemen, government officials, soldiers, taxi drivers etc, and even Buddhist monks.

And in Cambodia, there is a believe that if you have sex with virgins you will live longer and it can cure diseases. So the virgins cost more money. And to ensure virginity, brothels usually use small children, age 5-6. Then, to make more money, they will sew back the child's vagina, so they sell them again as virgins. The younger children catch HIV easily, because they tear more. There are AIDS victims due to prostitution as young as 6. What do these kids know? So much evil in this world.

And against all odds Somaly managed to escape prostitution with the help of foreigners and humanitarian workers. She married Pierre, a French man who worked with a French medical aid organization.

She began working in a clinic and she realized that she needs to help other girls. She distributed condoms and gave advices on hygiene and sexually transmitted diseases to the girls in the brothels. Then she began rescuing girls. First she placed them in her house. Then when it gets more crowded she and Pierre started to search for funds to built shelter.

She then set up AFESIP , a french acronym for Acting for Women in Distressing Situations, an organization that combats sexual trade and slavery. See AFESIP website here.

It is not without hardship. They did not have funding at first. The shelter was initially run on Pierre's salary. A lot of the workers are only volunteers, they don't have salaries. Whenever they alerted the police of a minor being held captive in any brothel, they would follow the raid so that the girl would be released into AFESIP care, instead of into the cells. But sometimes the information would leak (because the police are clients themselves, and sometimes even investors). And if the raid is successful, the pimps would be released in few days, because the judges were bribed. The shelters have high walls and need guards, because they received threats and harassed. Somaly's adoptive family's house was even burnt down.

In one of AFESIP trials in court on behalf of an 8-year-old girl who was raped by a group of men in their 50s, the judge was bribed. The men claimed the girl was provocatively dressed (!!!). And the judge's argument was that the girl is young and has enough time to remake her life, but the men were of venerable age to go to prison. So they walked away free.

Once they raid a large brothel that operates with girls in glass boxes (where the clients, whom a lot are foreigners, can choose the girls on display). This brothel was run by mafias. The next day AFESIP shelter was surrounded by armed men and the girls were taken (even the ones who were not from that large brothel). Even the Ministry of Interior advised Somaly to stay out of it because clearly the mafias are above the government. And Somaly's 14 year-old daughter was kidnapped , but luckily, because she has many contacts in the industry, her daughter was found after 4 days, before she could be smuggled into Thailand.

The AFESIP shelters are now in Pnom Penh, Siem Reap, Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) and Sisattanak Province (Laos). The shelters are designed to help the girls reintegrate into society by giving them classes on sewing, cooking, hairdressing and keeping accounts, so that they can open their own business. They have psychologist, nurses, social workers, paralegals, and even investigators (to search for other victims). The younger girls were sent to another special shelter in Thloc Chhroy, a village where they can grow up safely and go to the local school with other children. The villagers protect the children.

Everyday girls are trafficked from Cambodia to nearby countries, including Malaysia. The business itself worth $500 million a year, almost as much as the annual budget of Cambodian government. A lot of people have interest to protect this business. Why Somaly is still standing battling this? Only a victim understands a victim. She still lives with the memories of smells of the brothels and the stinking sperm. She washes herself like a madwoman everyday and keep a cupboard full of perfumes. She cannot erase her past. Only rescuing the girls makes her happy.

If this is where the missing children of Malaysia have been sent to, only God can save them. Don't travel alone and protect your daughters. Don't let them walk to school or shops alone. This business is uglier than the Dark Ages' or 'Zaman Jahiliyah'. You can never find them back or you find them broken.

p/s I just found Somaly's Foundation website if you want to see some photos and news on her work


This entry is about a very lucrative and thriving business, Women and Children Trafficking! I'm no expert in this, but recently I watched a movie 'TAKEN' and I read a book 'THE ROAD OF LOST INNOCENCE' and coincidentally both are about the same issue. Since creating awareness has always been my passion (chewwahh!!)-(I've always preferred giving health education than doing CPR)-so I decided to write what the movie and book are about.

This movie is directed by Pierre Morel (The Transporter). It is an action-pack movie, something like the Bourne saga. Bryan is a retired highly-skilled spy, who went to search for his 18-year old daughter who was kidnapped in Paris. This movie showed how his daughter was taken, then how Bryan used his James Bond + Bourne skills to rescue her.

What I want to share is how his daughter was kidnapped. She traveled with her best friend to Paris for a holiday on their own (just 2 girls, no parents or man accompanying them). They were approached by a young man at the airport, who was posing as another tourist (his job was to target young women traveling alone), and he shared taxi with them to the hotel (to save cost). So the man knew where they were staying and alerted his gang members and later that day the girls were kidnapped. And the kidnappers did not want ransom.

They are women traffickers. They drugged the kidnapped women heavily and sold them to brothels all over Europe. Virgins were not sold to brothels but they were kept for auctions, to be sold to millionaires eg Arab oil merchants. (Now if you don't believe the Arabs do this, then you should read a book titled 'Princess' by Jean Sasson-a true account by a royal Saudi princess). The girls were heavily drugged, so there is no way they can escape or fight themselves. Once you are taken, that is the end of the story. And the worst thing is, these women traffickers are mafias, they bribe government officials and they settle problems with guns. No law is above them.

Women trafficking has been going on for decades, but previously they smuggled Eastern European women who were promised jobs as domestic servants in wealthier countries, but according to the movie, now since smuggling these women are harder and more expensive because of the regulations (as once shown in CSI Miami), they resorted to easier alternatives, lone female tourists. I believe this is not just a Hollywood imagination, there must be some ground for this.

And where exactly is the Young Girls / Children Sex Slaves Heaven? Yesss... South East Asia!! -as told by a Cambodian Humanitarian Activist, Somaly Mam, in her book THE ROAD OF LOST INNOCENCE.

errr.. I think this entry will be too long to include the review of THE ROAD OF LOST INNOCENCE (and the book deserves its own entry), so I will stop here and post another entry on the book.