Life in Pakistan by Safiyah

Here in Pakistan, it’s really dusty and gets to around 50oC in the summers, so you’re sweating even under the fan! You have to turn your air conditioner to freezing so your room is practically a fridge for you to be comfortable.

There’s so much dust in the air that the sky is usually grey, so sometimes when I look out the window I think it’s going to rain (sadly I’m mistaken mostly). If you leave something for just a day or so, you’ll find it covered in dust! Sometimes the only time when the sky’s blue and the grass is green is a little after it rains.

The roads they make here are really, really bad. Well, mostly. They usually make the roads rough and often a bit dangerous, and to add to that, drivers aren’t very good at driving. The speed bumps they make can look really weird, like crooked or sometimes way too big. People often try to overtake you a little too suddenly and you have to slam your breaks on or you’ll bump into them.

Weddings, or shaadis as we call them here, go for 3 days! Well, not straight, but each day goes until really late at night and there’s mostly loud music and dancing and people shouting. If there’s a shaadi in our street, we have to turn the fan up to full so we can’t hear it.

The bride and groom have to sit separate for most of the time, but when they do get to sit together, they’re in a chair at the very front of wherever they are and on a stage. There are other chairs beside theirs so that their family can get pictures with them. The poor bride and groom have to sit still most of the time and live with constant photos.

The brides have to wear so much gold it’s not even funny, and it looks like they’d be so heavy that they can’t even stand up. Somehow they do. Their clothes also have to be really fancy, and they usually wear so much makeup they’re not even recognizable. 3 words: I would die!

Even though I made it sound like Pakistan wouldn’t be a nice place to live in, I’m just exaggerating a bit. I way prefer it to Australia, and that’s really saying something!

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Life in Pakistan by Diyana

In my opinion, Pakistan is quite a strange place. There are poor people almost wherever you go who sometimes are injured, missing a limb, or just pretending. Some of them hang around on the roads cleaning people’s windscreens and windows (usually against the driver’s will), selling coconut and other small snacks, some of them sell stickers, newspapers or pens and some just knock at your window and say, “You’re children will be blessed” or “You will be healthy if you give me money!”, although some just sit quietly.

In Pakistan you see many strange things. For example, when you are driving home on a normal day, you might see someone holding up puppies on the side of the road and selling them, and sometimes they just paint the puppies to look like (for example) German Shepherds, when they might just be a stray dog from the area.

In most shopping areas, there is a butcher. Sometimes a chicken butcher, sometimes a goat or cow butcher. I personally think that the chicken butcher is the worst. The chickens are all white and are mostly given feed to make them grow faster so they can be killed and sold quicker, but occasionally people care for their chickens and give them a happy life. It breaks my heart when we go near the chicken shops. All the chickens in their tiny cages squashed together, squeaking and crying out until one or two gets grabbed by the wings and taken to get killed. But to me, the worst part is when they shove them in cages on the back of trucks, where they are squashed in worse than in the butcher’s place. Sometimes one or two or seven million have half their body stuck in the bars of the cages.

There are also many maids and drivers and gardeners in Pakistan, who are usually poor people. My family has a maid that we call ‘Aunty Shehnaz’. She is a very trustworthy maid and once invited us to her house and got us food. She is our only maid and her husband, ‘Rasheed Chacha” (chacha is like uncle) is our driver. Aunty Shehnaz has four children.

Pakistan is a very crazy country. You have to have nerves of steel to drive here. People drive like crazy people and car accidents are not rare. Once we were in the car and we saw a man driving some old-fashioned car that was rusty and broken.

That is all I can count up at the moment. I’m glad you read this 🙂

Life in Pakistan by SHAMS

Life in Pakistan is crazy.

The traffic is bad and one day coming home from the farm it took us hours and hours to get home. This is because there were riots in the street. That is where people block the road and shout about how they want stuff like gas and electricity.

 

Here the lights go out a lot. Sometimes we have one hour of light and then one hour of no light all day. Sometimes we have no light all day. That is so frustrating because nothing works like the internet and the batteries run out of our laptops. It is so boring and so hot in summer and I almost die.

One of the best times of the year is Eid. In Eid we buy goats and sheep and sometimes cows and on the day we kill them in our front driveway. There is lots of blood everywhere. First they cut their neck with a knife and say Allah hu Akbar 3 times. They are not allowed to cut the spinal cord. Once the animal is dead they keep twitching from the nerves and one time it kicked one of the guys in the leg. They cut the heads off when they are dead and then hang them on the gate so the blood goes out. Then they wash them and peel the skin off. We give the skins away to the poor. Then after all the sheep and goats are dead (we had 4 last year) they start to cut up the pieces with a butcher knife and a big block of wood. My mother has a butcher knife too and it is really fat. The meat is divided into 3. One third goes to the poor. One third goes to family and one third we keep for eating. There are hundreds of beggars who come to the gate on those days to take meat. Last year we had a sheep and we loved it so much. It was for the Prophet Muhammad and it was our favourite. We didn’t want to kill it.

We have chickens. They lay eggs and then after the mother has layed all the eggs, she sits on them for 21 days. Sometimes she sits in the girls bathroom but they do really really stinky poos and the girls hate it because it makes their room smell. After 21 days the eggs start to hatch. Sometimes the chicks can’t get out and we have to open the eggs like mumma is doing here.

We raise the chicks and then they go to the farm. We have taken two lots of chicks and they have grown up to be huge. We still have one batch of chicks here at home but they are not old enough to go to the farm yet.

We love animals in our family. We have a cat (Hercules) and chickens and turtles, a green parrot called Chambeli (which means Jasmine) and an Alexandrine parrot called Zumurrad (which means emerald). We also have lots of fish. On the farm there are peacocks, pigeons for racing, goats, chickens, ducks and lots of baby fruit trees.

 

 

 

The balancing act – homeschooling versus unschooling

This morning my kids are quietly playing Minecraft with their friends while I am writing and drinking tea. It feels wrong.

Usually there are complaints, tantrums, me in a frenzy trying to get all the resources together for the day, looking at the clock to see how late we are getting, more complaints, adapting to the kids who say they don’t want to do what I have proposed and general hassle.

So which of these pictures is wrong? More

Philosophy for Kids

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I love the idea of teaching kids philosophy.

It encourages them to think critically about the world around them and their place in it. It teaches them to ask the big questions. It’s great training for life and learning.

I read a great article in the TED blog about it and it was compelling enough that I started planning right away. Called ‘Why we should teach philosophy to kids’, it said:

“In a study of 105 children, all around 10 years old, teachers spent an hour a week for 16 months teaching lessons based on philosophical inquiry. The philosophy-based lessons encouraged a community approach to “inquiry” in the classroom, with children sharing their views on Socratic questions posed by the teacher.

The result? At the end of 16 months,compared with 72 control children, the philosophy children showed significant improvements on tests of their verbal, numerical and spatial abilities

And two years later, when the philosophy children were tested again, their higher scores persisted — while the lower-scoring control group were, in some cases, declining further.”

Cool hey?

So I found a brilliant site called Teaching Children Philosophy which uses common kids’ books as a basis, and we started with Rainbow Fish. It is a little kids’ book which many of you would have read about how the little fish with the shiny scales doesn’t want to share his prize possessions. Through the book he learns the value of sharing and friendship. I was stunned at the quality of discussion the guidelines from the site yielded. All three kids from Shams (7) to Safiyah (12) really enjoyed discussing the moral values of the story and what they would have done in that scenario.

Motivated by the success of our first foray into philosophy, we moved on to reading ‘The Alchemist’ over the following weeks. It was a bit of a hard slog with Shams particularly, but once again there were some great discussions that came out. Alongside our daily spiritual teachings it was a great accompaniment.

I would highly recommend philosophy for any kids and would love to hear your experiences of it…

 

Minecraft High

It’s been a funny kind of week.

Thanks to Penelope Trunk’s blog, the kids have some new friends this week, and together they have been playing Minecraft. Because my kids are starving for companionship, and it the first time they have played on a Minecraft server, the whole week (and I mean WHOLE week) has been dedicated to Minecraft. Despite my advocacy of computer games as a worthwhile educational tool and Shams’ post about why Minecraft is better than school, I have felt a bit challenged by how much the game has taken over our whole week.

But here we are at the end of it, and I can positively say that it has been totally worth it, for Shams especially.

Our new friends call their school ‘Minecraft High’ and the two boys have been so welcoming and patient with my kids that it’s hard to believe. Shams is just seven and has really only just learned to read and write at a fairly basic level. His typing is not too flash either, and it takes him ages to work out how to spell what he needs to say. Since playing on a server means playing together in the virtual world AND communicating in the chat box at the same time, this has been an incredible challenge. More

Flat Stanley

 

 

A few weeks ago I realised my kids desperately needed to talk to other kids, because we sometimes go for weeks without leaving the house and they drive each other nuts.

In searching around for penpal options, I came across Flat Stanley and we have been Stanley fans ever since. In just a few weeks we have shared Stanleys with kids in New Zealand, America and Canada. Our postal system here harks back to the dark ages, so we are emailing our Stanleys and it’s working out really well. We email our scanned Stanleys (see Safiyah’s above which is actually flat Aisha!) to the other families and schools which connect with us through the site. Then they send theirs, we print them out and we take them on an adventure around where we live in Pakistan, taking photos as we go. We then email back the photos.

It’s lots of fun, and what I love most about it is that the Flat Stanley site uses Google Earth so you can see exactly where your new pals live.

It is a great thing to do for homeschoolers of all ages…

 

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