Sunday, October 08, 2006

Another Onion Skin...

This weekend, thanksgiving, marks the one year anniversary of my buddy's murder. I wasn't friends with Ahmed very long but we became friends quickly due to the closeness and intensity of our work. Ahmed had just returned to Canada from making a documentary about Kenya. More specifically, about children in Kabeira, the largest slums in East Africa. The hope was to turn this documentary into a learning supplement to be viewed by school age children in the western world about the importance of civic engagement or how crucial being involved in the community is to a child's development.

The problem facing the children in Nairobi was because the state didn't fund primary education, children as young as 5 or 6 were already getting in trouble, contracting disease, or what have you because they were basically idle. With no opportunity granted from the state and no supervision provided by the parents (who were off at work themselves) these kids began to devolve into destructive behaviour. So Ahmed started an NGO, he would sell the documentary to school boards, educate kids on the universal benefits of staying active and being involved in your community, then use the money raised to support educational programs in Kenya.

So my part was to help plan/promote the first fund-raiser and run the education simulation that was to hopefully be repeated across Canada. So we worked very closely with Ahmed in preparing for the debut screening of the film. I learned of his love for travel, his sense of adventure and his quite almost reverence for different culture. He had an amazing life, author of five books, shot in the first Gulf War while fighting for the Americans (go figure) and stabbed at Ryerson and subject to numerous death threats. But still he was a free spirit and a unique thinker with no ego or sense of self.

After the premier Ahmed travelled to Europe to help promote the film, but a family emergency and some legal claims led him to the United Arab Emirates. It was from a friend that we received the news through an e-mail in broken English that Ahmed had been poisoned by blow fish. The poison in blow fish basically opens up every receptor in the nervous system so electric impulses fire non stop until you shake your self to death, usually victims die by breaking their own neck. The entire thing reeked of foul play, poor terms with his family, a recent dispute over inheritance and a litany of other things all placed the family as prime suspects.

It was with great relief that during a small gathering of friends, I was informed that Ahmed was alive to see the documentary get picked up by over 70 universities in North America and Europe, and the first cheques were already being sent to Africa, thus fulfilling his dream to make an impact on the lives of others. So congrats to Ahmed, to his vision, to his life, to the huge group of inspired individuals who have ever met him. In many ways I would like to be as effective, capable and as loving as him. And through that one event I was able to develop myself, to refine my abilities, and it started me on a path of questioning that steered me towards my current trend of civic engagement. Something that now a year later, many people would use to define me. So thanks to Ahmed for that.

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I suppose I should add, that 6 months later Ahmed began posting on his blog again...

3 Comments:

At 7:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

well give us his blog! what an inspiring story!

 
At 9:57 PM, Blogger kchan said...

this is a wonderful story, for sure. But I officially want to register my complaint that your blog is getting too emotional. You're going soft. The bombaste, the creativity, the science...it's all gone. And I just have to know, why? are you finally intellectually too intellectually intimidated to continue?

 
At 12:19 AM, Blogger El Chupacabra said...

Soft!?

Who do you know thats fought three guys in the span of one week? Who's taken at least 20 punches in that same time frame?

Nothing to do with intellect bro, or creativity. Everything I write is true. Mars being made out of metal:true. Constitutional crisis in hell: true.

Also true is I get sad sometimes. I'm trying to deal with it. I hope you can too.

 

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