If Only School Were Like Camp…


RaggamuslimsWinter is already here. No snow in these parts, but there is lovely outdoor weather, plenty of sunshine, and winter camp. Recreational centers are promoting their programs during the school break, and I personally think camp is a great experience for homeschooled and unschooled children to tap into.


Z had her first camp experience this past summer and it started out a bit emotional. In the last year she had grown accustomed to me dropping her off for one-hour class sessions. Having Moulay along for the ride, it was no fun for him to sit and watch his big sister karate chop or cartwheel without being able to join in. So, it was easier to drop her off, then take him to the park or to pick up groceries.


But summer camp was different. My unschooled girl would be staying for three hours on her own. She went in confidently but at the end of Day 1, I saw the look that moms know well—the look of your child holding in tears that can be fought no longer.

That longer than usual ride home was painful. Z bawled and sobbed the entire way home. At six and a half, she straddled two age groups, and I encouraged her to stay with the older kids. Being a STEM-based program that would expose her to various engineering disciplines in an interactive, hands-on way, there weren’t many female students (though the staff was primarily female). This didn’t bother me or Z one bit. I myself studied engineering. But Z walked into the older group’s classroom as the only girl and the boys told her that it would be too challenging and difficult for her. My little girl had her first encounter of sexism and it crushed her.


The younger group was welcoming to Z. She had girls to play and learn with, but this wasn’t the solution. We sifted through the sobs and tears to get to the root of what hurt her— the feeling of being unwanted and unwelcomed. Her dad and I sat with her and let her know that returning was her choice. If she wanted to stay with the younger kids, we’d enroll her for a week, since she had already made friends. But, if she was up for the challenge of working with older students who were primarily male, we would enroll her for the entire month and let her counselors know they needed to make that space welcoming for her too.


Z decided to stay and complete engineering camp. Most days were pleasant. Failed experiments or projects left her frustrated, but she persisted and would spend snack breaks with male and female students from both groups. She rejoiced at every new girl who joined the camp and became an unofficial ambassador, welcoming other girls and discouraging the gender rivalries that she couldn’t comprehend. She advocated for mixed teams instead of pitting boys against girls, and we were so proud to see her find her place and voice in the new setting.


After getting into the groove of camp, it started to feel like an ideal education experience (minus the sexism, of course). Z could still start her day leisurely without an alarm clock, rushed meals, or honking school buses. She spent just a few mid-morning hours a day, totally immersed in one subject with a mixed group of peers and teachers who were totally passionate about their field of interest. No homework, no grades; just learning, engagement, and fun. Z is back at engineering camp for the winter, but if she could hop from one camp to another at will, all year-round, it would be my ideal model of a school.



Children’s Public Library: Muscat’s Homeschool Hub

Children's Public Library Muscat

After three years of waiting, the Children’s Public Library is finally open here in Muscat.  It’s located in Qurm, just across the street from the Children’s Museum, another great family resource.  Some moms have been complaining about the soft opening hours of weekdays from 10am to 3pm but guess what?

Children's Public Library Muscat

The hours are perfect for us homeschoolers.  So much so that we’ll be holding our weekly co-op there.  To finally have the numbers and drive to reinstate the homeschooling co-op is quite exciting.  We have committed volunteer teachers who are passionate, available, and willing to make our group thrive.

Children's Public Library Muscat

Interestingly, our current homeschool crew is comprised of about 20 families, representing 17 nationalities and speaking more than 21 languages.  Many members are first-time homeschoolers or have been homeschooling for less than five years.  Hearing the newbie anxieties and curriculum conundrums has us reflecting on our own homeschooling/unschooling philosophy.

Children's Public Library Muscat

As many of you know, Lil’ Z is not so little anymore.  She’s turning seven in December, God willing, and this milestone is significant in the Islamic ethos.  Traditionally, children were left to play for the first seven years of life and formally instructed thereafter.  Similar views are articulated in the highly successful Finnish educational system, the Waldorf philosophy as articulated by Rudolf Steiner, and others.

Children's Public Library Muscat

Some mistakenly interpret this approach to mean that children learn nothing before the age of seven, but as we know firsthand, this is just not true.  Children learn foundational life and character lessons through imitation, play, culture, and daily life.

Children's Public Library Muscat

Lil’ Z’s learning up to this point has been an extension of our family life and lifestyle.  So, now we’re introducing table work time to our daily rhythm where she can choose between copywriting, workbook exercises, or art.  Her weekly media allowance is usually conditional upon cleaning her room and being truthful.  However, we’re also planning to add a checklist of a few other completed academic and household tasks before she enjoys the privilege of watching episodes, playing educational games, or using a tablet.  All of this, supplemented with our weekly co-op classes and recreational activities affirm for us that homeschooling is offering the enriching educational experience that we hoped for and, more importantly, building moral fiber and character, which is our top priority.

Children's Public Library Muscat

If you’re interested in learning more, join our Homeschoolers in Muscat group on Facebook.  And if you’re not local, just feast on these lovely pictures of our new library and imagine you’re here.

Oman Adventures: Dimaniyat Islands

Glass Bottom Boat Tour

Last weekend was definitely a #iheartoman kind of weekend. July 23rd was Renaissance Day and a national holiday in Oman, so there were a number of excursion promotions being offered. What caught our attention was a three-hour glass bottom boat tour to the Dimaniyat Islands, a nature reserve about 45 minutes away from Seeb Port in Muscat. We enlisted a few friends to join us and squeezed into an 8:30am group tour.

Glass Bottom Boat Tour

The sea was so clear that there was no need to stare at the boat’s glass bottom. We could see aqua-colored coral and schools of fish just as clearly by looking overboard. When we finally docked, we were a short swim from one of the coasts in shallow enough water to snorkel and swim. Regretfully, we’re not yet a family of strong swimmers, so we just bobbed along in our life vests. Lil’ Z and Moulay clung to me for dear life, so I didn’t do much snorkeling. However, for the brief moment I did give it a try, it was amazing to peak into a world beyond the surface. Especially after reading about the chronicles of a deep sea-diving traveler here, I know there’s just as much to be explored underwater as there is above ground.

Glass Bottom Boat Tour

Our tour hosts, Beauty of Dymaniyat, were extremely patient with our late arrivals. We set sail promptly and were given more than an hour and a half to enjoy our surroundings. Snorkeling gear, flippers, and life vests were available in several different sizes. To replenish us, bottled water, sodas, fresh fruits, croissants and pastries were offered as well. Our guides didn’t tell us much about the islands, but they were kind and helpful.

Glass Bottom Boat Tour

After zipping back to Seeb Port, we relished in our time at sea and thought of all the visitors we’d like to bring along next time.  Will it be you?

Glass Bottom Boat Tour


Teaching Arabic to Our Homeschooling Community

Dolphin Cruise

Following our camping trip in Dubai, we spent two more days in Abu Dhabi with dear and beloved friends. Coincidentally and serendipitously, I wasn’t the only visitor passing through that weekend. Another dear and beloved friend, who I consider to be more of a mentor than a fellow student, was passing through. Before babies and the Arab Spring, we were students together in Hadhramaut, Yemen. She was the very first person I extended my hand to greet on my very first night in the city. Like the first greeting until our most recent, her humility and sincerity has always moved me to reflect on my own spiritual state.

Al Riyam Park

Unlike some of the other students, this special sister was efficient and focused. She was tenacious in her studies and intentional in her socializing. It was a tremendous blessing to see her and her reflection in her children. We chatted and reminisced but mostly reconnected. Meanwhile, the teacher who hosted our modest welcome gathering in the park spoke to me warmly and liberally in Arabic. She later invited all of the attendees to an evening event and called upon both my reunited friend and myself to speak to the entire audience in Arabic. The entire encounter was surprising, and we quietly chuckled about how we were similarly put on the spot to speak back in Yemen many years ago.

Nakhal Fort

Standing in front of those blessed Yemeni and Emirati faces, I shared a bit about my life and how I came to embrace Islam. But more potent than what I shared was what I received. As much as I doubt myself about this fact, it is true—I can speak Arabic. Perfect? No. Native-like? Never. With mistakes?  Yup. But, all of my years of study produced something. I’m not only understood but I understand and with my former colleagues and teachers gazing at me with their good opinion and lofty expectations, I realize that I have more to give to our little community in Muscat than I thought.

Nakhal Fort

Upon my return, I quit skirting around the issue and stepped up to make myself available. Though I would welcome more capable candidates for the task, until they arrive, I believe it’s my purpose to teach Beginner’s Arabic and Qur’an recitation to the children and mothers in our little homeschooling community. So, by the grace of God, that’s what I’m doing and the more I embrace my role, the more I find great resources and support at my disposal.

Farm in Barka

For the younger students, ages 4-7, we’ve started with basic vocabulary groups like colors, shapes, foods, animals, the weather, etc. At some point we introduced songs like Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes and The Days of the Week in Arabic. I even translated “This is the Way We…” to fit into a lovely set of graded story books that can be downloaded on Scribd. I recently discovered Arabic Seeds and that’s a great resource too!

For the older students, ages 8-13, we’re using the tried and true Madinah Islamic University Curriculum with as many extension activities I can come up with like Pictionary, scavenger hunts, charades, drawing maps, writing stories, etc. The pdf version works well for the mothers that I teach, but the Goodword edition is much more appealing.

For those of you interested in starting an Arabic playgroup or class in your homeschooling community, my best advice is to start where you are and with what you have, learn as you go, and have fun! I’m certainly not the fountain of Arabic language I’d like to be, but I do need to honor what my teachers have poured into me by pouring that knowledge into others.

International Book Festival

Cultivating Community for Homeschooling and Life

OmanA constant theme in our life abroad is the search for community. We were very blessed to experience true bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood once upon a time, but eventually those ties frayed as individuals followed their hearts and purposes elsewhere. Before coming to Muscat, the question crept up again and I’m pleased to report that the pursuit has been promising.


Sunday night, the eve before a national holiday commemorating the birth of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him and his family), three families gathered to remember his life and legacy. We had a vegan-friendly and mostly gluten-free spread while we shared stories, poems, and crafts. Children played, parents chatted and reflected, and it feels like we have a community again—a space where we can share a common aim and respect and be respected for who we are.


Ultimately, we’re more driven to build a community for our children than our own selves. Urbndervish and I have found contentment in each other’s company, but for Lil’ Z and Moulay, we are intentional about seeking out friendships and connections that are enriching, affirming, and nurturing for them. When living abroad, some communities are formed around nationality or faith. For us as a Muslim, Black, Jamaican/American, and homeschooling/unschooling family we intersect a number of expat communities. Most American expatriate families are connected to diplomatic relations, military work, or church. Even within the homeschooling communities, it’s not unusual to find groups exclusively representing one faith, nationality, or language.


Here in Muscat, the gateway to meeting our new friends has been the modest but diverse homeschooling community. Some say we’re only a dozen actively homeschooling families, but regardless of the numbers on Whatsapp groups and Facebook pages, I’m discovering that statistics mean little in this regard. At the end of the day, this elusive concept of community comes down to the people: individuals who participate, connect, and commit to one another again and again. Sometimes I’m nervous. I worry if our children see each other too often, but then again I consider that most children go to school with more or less the same cohort day after day and sometimes year after year.


Right now, the chemistry is good and I’m praying this honeymoon stage won’t end. I’m excited about the friendships we all are developing. We plan gatherings, field trips, classes, co-ops and camping excursions together. I’m filled with so much hope but, also fear that it may fall apart with only the slightest friction. However, like any community, we can only exist by putting one foot before the other by forgiving when we falter, stretching when we grow, and committing to what we’ve created. While few of us are historically rooted in Oman, I believe there are enough of us who want to build a future here and hold space for more families to join our unorthodox path of home education and life abroad.


A Long Way Home

Black Traveling Family

It has been a long hiatus. I have written little for the past three months for three reasons: we were in the US visiting our families, Urbndervish left to start a new job and he had to take our laptop with him. Even if I had the laptop, it’s not likely much writing would’ve gotten done without my partner. I’ve been pouring all of my energy into the children- keeping them calm, engaged, and nourished since exiting Turkey, hopping between homes, and adjusting to life without Baba. However, much has changed in the last three weeks. The said Baba has returned and flew us to our new home—a home we never really wanted to leave in the first place and that took two years to return to–Oman. However, instead of returning to the traditional, provincial Nizwa, we disembarked in Muscat, al hamdu lillah (thanks be to God!).

We slipped out of the Sultanate’s embrace two years ago. Knowing that we had to leave Nizwa to expand Lil’ Z’s homeschooling experience, we tried moving to Muscat. Our top choice employer promised an offer that we didn’t receive until days before our scheduled departure. And with no room for negotiation, we turned down the paltry offer on principle and pushed on. While visiting our family that summer, we received word about a position in Morocco and spent the next eight months there awaiting the arrival of our son. We returned to the US for a pre- and post-birth stay of almost six months until taking up the next job offer in Ankara. Ankara was having a particularly rough year which we decided to wrap up on the night of the coup attempt. The very next morning we started the job search once again, and Urbndervish was offered an interview for the very same job he turned down two years prior. However, the offer was much more reasonable, so he accepted it.

Hanging in Brooklyn

In those two years away, it became clear to us that Muscat is the best destination for us. The safety of the country, the character of the people, and the emerging homeschooling community gave us confidence that we could make a home here for a while. Even though we were disappointed about our temporary separation, we knew it was worth it and made the most of it. I lingered behind with the kids in New York until our family visas were ready nearly two months later. It was a challenge being apart so long, but the children and I had a lot of fun ending the summer and entering fall in New York. We hung out with family, had play dates in Brooklyn, took trips to DC and New Jersey, attended my best friend’s wedding and watched the fall foliage change around us. Thankfully, we snuck out before Election Day and the pending winter.

Fresh Flowers

Urbndervish made a crazy overnight trip just to pick us up and fly us over to Oman on the same night of his arrival. We were finally together again and ready to settle into the nest he had been preparing for us. As we traveled, I felt a stir of emotions–sad to leave family, happy to be reunited, and anxious to see if Oman had changed or wasn’t as great as I remembered. Were my rosy memories omitting the challenges, difficulties, and frustrations we faced? Was I forgetting just how odd we were (and are) as an unschooling, vegan, American Muslim family with “crunchy” tendencies? Did Oman still have the charm that won us over years prior? In only a few days, the anxieties evaporated. Finding peace in the shopping mall’s prayer room, hearing Maher Zain belt “Yaa Nabi, salaam alayka” in the supermarket, and sitting on the beach for our first homeschooling meetup with beautiful moms and children from France, America, Kenya, South Africa, and Sri Lanka have all affirmed for me that we are where we’re supposed to be. Additionally, old friends have extended themselves by helping us find our apartment, selling and giving us great furniture and houseware, lending us our old car “Suzi”, and generally being helpful for our inquiries.

Some of the not-so-rosy moments have also surfaced. Plumbing problems, internet issues, and perpetual dust arose, but they are all manageable. Our children still go to bed with full tummies in one of the safest countries in the world and for this, we are abundantly grateful. There are bumps to be smoothed out and some that may never go away, but in the wise words of Mr. Kendrick Lamar, “We gon’ be alright” and I believe so. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) said it more eloquently in the following translated statement:

Amazing is the affair of the believer; verily his entire affair is good and this is not for one except the believer. When something of good befalls him, he is grateful and that is good for him. When something of harm befalls him, he is patient and that is good for him.

So, it’s really all good, al hamdu lillah.

Review: Star of the Sea Cruise in Muscat

Star of the Sea

When your family crosses the seven seas to visit you abroad, you have to make their time memorably spectacular.  It presents the perfect opportunity to do something unique and special, and this is exactly what our friend did earlier this year.  Her 80-year old mother came to Oman, accompanied by a spunky and active 80-year old couple.  In honor of the special guests, we were invited to a chartered cruise around Muscat.  It was a holiday celebrating Prophet Muhammad’s birth (peace be up0n him) for most, but Urbndervish had to work.  Lil’ Z didn’t like the idea of leaving behind Baba, but she was quickly consoled by the presence of one of her little buddies.

Father and Son

At around 10am, we arrived at Marina Bander Rowdha to meet our traditional dhow boat and its most capable captain, Shaykh Said.  Furnished like an authentic Omani majlis or sitting room, we sat scattered around the deck to balance our weight.  The Star of the Sea can hold up to 40 passengers, but only 10 took to the sea on this day.  Bottles of water, dried dates, fresh fruit, and marble cake made a welcoming spread.  Once we set out, most of us sat frozen, glued to the view of the bright blue ocean and sandy tan mountains.  The little ones anxiously bounced on the cushioned seats and rolled around the carpeted deck.  The adults snapped pictures feverishly.


Leaving the land behind us, we continued around the coast until we slowed down at a shallow point in the ocean suitable for snorkeling, diving, and kayaking.  Once the anchor dropped, one of our 80-year old guests quickly suited up and dove back-first into the water.  A few others followed but the weather was too cool and windy for us to oblige.  We were content to enjoy the view, bundled in our sweatshirt hoodies.  Lil’ Z’s buddy was brave enough to join his dad in the ocean, but his chattering teeth and frigid frame quelled her desire to swim.

Playing on deck

Once everyone returned on board, we turned around and lunch was served.  Much like a typical Omani meal, we were served roasted chicken, seasoned rice, salad, pita bread, and hummus, which was unfortunately covered with ground meat.  Thankfully, I packed a thermos of black-eyed peas for ourselves–a tasty addition to the rice and salad.  The meal quickly became fast food as the boat sped back to the marina.  The majority of the food successfully made it to our mouths, while the rest flew to the ground.  With the meal concluded, we were able to clean off the misplaced food in the boat’s single lavatory.


The familiar sights of forts, castles, and the Royal Palace were pointed out on our return.  It was hard to believe that four hours had passed so quickly and before we knew it, we were back on land at about 2:30pm.  We thanked Captain Said and his sons for a safe journey and steadied our sea legs for the long drive home.

Lil' Z can sail, can you?


An Eid Staycation: Part I

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

One of the many things to love about life in a Muslim country is the recognition and observance of sacred Islamic holidays.  Some get frustrated with the unpredictability of lunar sightings and last-minute holiday announcements but we take it in stride because 1. It’s all paid holiday time 2. This is not our homeland to criticize and 3. We have way more holiday time than we’ve ever had in our working lives.  As usual of Eid observance, Urbndervish had an entire week off from work, Alhamdulillah (praise be to God).  Some of our Omani friends embarked on their religious pilgrimage to Mecca while many of the expats jet-setted to places as far as England or as exotic as Ethiopia.  It was tempting to do some traveling ourselves, even though we just barely shook off our latest bout of jet lag. But this year we had the great honor of introducing Oman to some very dear friends of ours visiting from the UAE.  Even though we met in the US almost nine years ago, this was our first time hosting them and the most time we had ever spent with them.  We rekindled our friendships, renewed our bond as traveling families living abroad, and hopefully recruited another family to Oman.  Even if they don’t decide to move to the south side of the Gulf, we look forward to visiting their neck of the sand dunes very soon.

Day 1

Just as Lil’ Z drifted into her afternoon nap, our friends arrived in Nizwa with their sleepy boys.  With all of the children resting, we embraced and chatted about their journey from Abu Dhabi.  They were anxious about the border crossing but much like we discovered earlier this year, Mazyad is the border of choice from Al Ain to Oman.  A quickly prepared lunch of pumpkin lentil stew, fried plantains and dumplings was ready to be served just as the children were shaking off their sleep and getting reacquainted in the play space.  Lil’ Z had a staunch policy against playing with boys at our earlier meeting in Abu Dhabi, but she’s now learning  to give boys  a chance.  She shared her toys and activities freely and was eager to break bread with them.  After our hearty meal, the sun began to set, and we departed after our evening prayers.

A light rain chased us out of Nizwa en route to Muscat, but precipitation is always welcomed in the desert–especially for our guests who couldn’t recall the last time it rained in Abu Dhabi.  Working our way to Ruwi, our caravan parted to check-in at our respective hotels.  We opted to return to Ruwi Hotel because of their location, service, and buffet breakfast.  Surprisingly, Lil’ Z recognized the hotel room as familiar and instantly felt oriented and comfortable sleeping there.  After making sure that our guests reached their hotel safely, we tucked in for the night and prepared for the next day’s itinerary.

Day 2

After a colorful breakfast buffet of dhal, baked beans, paratha, fresh fruits, and juice, we made our way to Qurm to visit the Children’s Museum.  On the last working day before the start of the Eid holiday, the museum welcomed us with wide open spaces and few visitors.  Our children explored the exhibits freely without having to share or wait their turn.

Hot Air Balloon

In partnership with a sister museum in Ontario, the Children’s Museum offered opportunities for hands-on learning for youth of all ages.  There’s even a small play area for under-five’s who are not as concerned about models of the solar system, making their own cartoons, or testing their grip strength.  At some moments during our visit, it seemed that the adults were more engaged in the exhibitions than the children.  As we approached mid-day, we headed toward Ansab to pray in the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque while the little ones ran freely on the mosque grounds and in the garden.

Stained Glass in Mosque

For lunch, we decided on the Great Kabab Factory, which we hadn’t returned to since our first visit two years ago.  Not because the food wasn’t delectable or the price wasn’t right but simply because we couldn’t recall where it was located.  In the early months of our move to Oman, Muscat was still a maze to us.  Lo and behold, the Great Kebab Factory was only a stone’s throw from my homeopath’s office in al-Khuwair.  Serving both a veg and non-veg menu, the restaurant is a seated buffet, meaning that your servers bring you every available dish and you can ask for additional helpings as much as you like.  Much like our first visit, Urbndervish and I were really impressed by the concept and wondered if the metered access to food results in less overeating and less waste.


Our next stop was Mutrah Corniche and Souq—one of our very favorite spots to take visitors in Muscat.  Hugging the Sultan Qaboos Port, the corniche encompasses a great panoramic view stretching from the docked boats and ferries to the peak of Riyam Park.  In the late afternoon, the salty mist is refreshing on your face while the sun sinks behind the mosques and stores opposite the ocean.  For complete shade, you can enter the covered Mutrah Souq where all kinds of wares are sold to you in almost every language imaginable.

Mutrah Souq

It’s an absolute must to leave the souq either having purchased pure Omani frankincense or leaving with its scent smoked into your clothing.  As you penetrate to the center of the souq, there’s little ventilation and the heat starts to rise.  The children were sweaty and weary after patiently walking the aisles with us and resisting the urge to touch every sparkly and shiny trinket in sight.  We quickly finished our shopping to enjoy some refreshing fresh fruit juices outdoors en route to Riyam Park at the very end of the corniche, heading away from the port.  After some run and tumble time in the grass,  we retired for the evening and rested up for the next day’s journey.

To be continued…

Review: Meknes Cafe in Muscat


When you’ve been fasting all day, buffets are usually quite dangerous. Too much food, too much variety, and usually alot of food wasted in the process. Our preference is homecooked, whole food meals prepared with love and eaten with gratitude. So, when we were invited out to break our fast with a dear friend, we were cautious about departing from our Ramadan groove but didn’t want to turn down the invitation.  Our host wanted us to enjoy a traditional Moroccan meal without the hassle of cooking. The Moroccan community in Oman had been buzzing about the reopening of Meknes Cafe, which had apparently been orphaned for the last two years. We noticed the restaurant since we first arrived to Oman but had no idea it was closed for so long. A large sign advertising their Ramadan buffet was a clear way to broadcast the good news.

Entering the al-Khuwair neighborhood from the Shell Station/McDonald’s entryway, we found Meknes on our right hand side in the direction of Ruwi. The entrance was lit but vacant, with boxes stacked against the wall. Only by seeing a Moroccan family enter without exiting did we know that Meknes was assuredly open for business.  We ascended the staircase to find a long dining room wrapped around three family rooms, appropriately named after three popular Moroccan cities: Agadir, Tangier, and Marrakech. After taking our seats in Marrakech, we heard the call to prayer signal the end of our day’s fast and received cold bottles of water from the staff. A platter with dates, obviously sourced from North Africa, sat beside a fresh fruit display. While it’s our custom to first eat dates and drink water, we found it interesting that most of the Moroccans had soup right alongside their dates to break fast. This soup, as it turns out, is a Moroccan classic called harira. Same say iftar is incomplete without it. The tomato-based soup was thick and comforting to our empty stomachs. Lentils, chickpeas, and rice gave the soup its body, with cilantro and parsley punctuating its flavor.


As for our vegan prospects, we were assured that the harira would suit us but couldn’t guarantee a meat-free couscous. Fortunately for us, the buffet offered a number of non-Moroccan dishes like olive salad, french lentil salad, and tomato and cucumber salad. Between the soup and cold dish offerings, we were satiated but found it hard to resist the couscous.


At the farthest edges of the platter, we found broth-free couscous furthest from the chicken and piled on the zuchinni, carrots, pumpkins, seeking out every last chickpea would could find.


Exchanging bright faces of satiation, we welcomed the sweet Moroccan mint tea reminiscent of the Saharan tea we enjoyed while living in Algeria. Though the salted peanuts were missing, we enjoyed the unroasted almonds in its place. The longer we sat, the smell of sheesha began to permeate the air and warm the dining area. As the families filed out, young men filed in mostly wearing t-shirts and jeans, congregating with friends to play games and smoke. At this point, it felt like we were in the middle of a boy’s club, so we paid for the 6 OMR, nearly $16 USD, per person buffet and ended the night with a traditional Moroccan sweet, chebakia. The fried folded dough, dipped in honey, then sprinkled with sesame seeds rounded out a filling meal and fueled the hour and a half ride back to Nizwa.


Our First Trip to the Homeopath


When someone falls ill in the Raggamuslim household, we rely on whole, plant-based foods, essential oils, and herbal healing,  balanced with plenty of rest, sunshine, and prayer to pull us through.  But there was one ailment nagging at Lil’ Z that we couldn’t quite shake.  It started with an occasional itch, behind the knees and at the elbows and progressed to a mild case of eczema.  Nettle tea kept the itching at bay for a while, with the diligent application of shea butter and coconut oil for itch attacks.  Over time though, it seemed that the nettle was losing its effect and no longer helping.  I found myself making two rounds of nettle tea for Lil’ Z every day, vigilantly keeping her nails short, and policing her diet to remove the most irritating culprits:  oranges and wheat. Even with these foods removed, the eczema progressed to the point of making Lil’ Z’s itchiest skin patches coarse and leathery, with occasional scabs and bruises as well.  Something was at the root of the issue and we wanted  to get to the bottom of it.

In Dr. Neustaedter’s Child Health Guide:  Holistic Pediatrics for Parents, he mentions the great reputation homeopathy has in treating “chronic illnesses such as allergies, asthma, eczema, recurrent respiratory or ear infections, and behavior or attention problems”.  We knew little about the practice but knew of others who had successful experiences.  I asked for a recommended homeopath in Muscat and was referred to Ashling Lupton, a private homeopath operating out of Whispers of Serenity Clinic.  I called her cell phone and asked if she was available to treat my daughter.  Her lilting voice and Irish accent were endearing and I was eager to sit with her, mother-to-mother and sort things out.


Whispers of Serenity Clinic in Adhaiba/Azaiba faces the sea on a quite suburb-like road in an upper-class neighborhood.  The villas in the area are huge and uniquely designed with a seemingly comfortable mix of national and expat residents.  The redundant speed bumps keep the driving speed to a minimum and there’s a great beachside park nearby.  Upon entering, we were invited by the flowing water fountain, aromatherapy infusion, and warm pastel decor.  The clinic is uniquely distinct from any other facility we’ve reluctantly entered in Oman, cost included.  However, you do pay for what you get and the clinic was serene, therapeutic, and professional.


Mrs. Lupton came down to meet us and took us upstairs for our consultation.  Her warmth and friendly nature were comforting and after she brought out the toybox, Lil’ Z saw the consultation as one big playdate.  We sat and talked about the Lil’ Z’s eczema but I was unprepared for the questions that followed.  I offered information about Lil’ Z’s diet, supplements, and daily activities, while Mrs. Lupton inquired about her fears, personality, and the way she sleeps at night.  I didn’t see the correlation but I now understand the broad and detailed profile a homeopath needs to prescribe the most suitable remedy.  The strength in the remedy is its ability to accurately match the person being treated and the remedies are not one size (or type) fits all.

After our conversation consultation, Mrs. Lupton shared her assessment and painted a picture of what the healing process could look like.  The itching may move downward to her lower extremeties, return to its original presentation, or get worse before it gets better.  The latter was what I feared most and that’s exactly what happened.  The first two days of treatment were uneventful but the four following nights, Lil’ Z would wake up itching all over in the night and wouldn’t return to sleep until nearly an hour later.  By Day 5, we decided to add some peppermint and lavender oils to Lil’ Z’s bath for her to get some relief and for me to get some rest.  The following nights she slept sound, even without essential oils in her bath, and the itching that kept me scratching my head has dissipated to an afterthought.  Alhamdulillah (praise be to God), Lil’ Z’s eczema is no longer.  The scabs have healed, the leathery skin patches have returned to baby soft skin, and the frequent calls for shea butter have ceased.  We were certainly skeptical in the beginning but were committed to giving homeopathy a wholehearted try, and it did not let us down.  There was no placebo effect or mind-over-matter games to be had in our case.  Our homeopath advised us to let the healing show itself and that’s exactly what it did.

As many others have said, we’re not sure how homeopathy works but it does.  The little sucrose-sweetened pill remedies are so easy to take, Lil’ Z was often asking for more “re-ma-teez”.  The original active ingredient is so ridicuously diluted, that its ability to retain its effect is counterintuitive.  But, we’re a big proponent of “the proof is in the pudding” and are now believers.

With such a successful experience and a great homeopath as our resource, we are now adding homeopathy to our arsenal of healing and are looking forward to putting it to use.  We’ve ordered our first homeopathic kit and should be receiving it soon, along with a highly recommended book:  The Complete Homeopathy Handbook by Miranda Castro.  The principle of encouraging the body’s self-healing is in line with our DIY style of health care (i.e. avoid doctors at all cost unless absolutely necessary) and we hope to have more success stories in the future to share.