For five years an intrepid team, brought together by Damyanti Biswas and Belinda McGrath Witzenhausen, have shared good news stories in the We Are The World Blogfest #WATWB. Here we are again!
The coronavirus pandemic has led so many of us to take stock in what, and who, really matters to us. Among some of the things, we have become more aware of how we are part of creation. We are connected to the created world: creatures, forests and mulgas, moutains and valleys, rivers and seas. There are people out there creating ways to assist this for us.
But then there is the narration. Jefferson tells us:
Willem Dafoe was filming Spider-Man: No Way Home in Atlanta in 2021 when he used a day off to record narration for an independent Australian documentary, titled River.
River (co-produced by ABC) is a follow-up to 2017’s Mountain, which broke Australian box office records as the highest-grossing homegrown non-IMAX documentary — and was also narrated by Dafoe.
Like Mountain, it blends cinema essay with documentary, to tell the story of one of Earth’s formative features: how they shaped first the planet and then human civilisation — before humans learned how, in turn, to shape them.
It is another way of helping us gain perspective on our lives. We are beautiful and unique, yet small and fleeting, compared to a mountain or river. We are part of it all and those great natural places help grow in us a sense of awe, wonder and respect.
Some would know that I did, with a friend, 240kms of the Portuguese Way (aka #CaminoPortugues) of the pilgrimage walk to Santiago de Compostela back in 2018.
Well here is someone who walked further. And he did it for others. For people looking for a home.
Welcome to the We Are The World Blogfest for November 2021 as we share stories. Thanks to SBS News Australia, I bring you Ivor Houston and his @onfootacrossaustralia (that being his Instagram handle). Here he is below, walking along a 90 mile straight road.
Ivor Houston wanted to make a difference to the lives of refugees, so he packed some essentials and travelled 4,000 km from Perth to Sydney on foot. After six months, he’s now home.
Ivor lived with a family of refugees in the Blue Mountains of NSW (in Eastern Australia). He walked for them. The plight of refugees and asylum seekers has been with humanity for a long time. People seek a safe home.
Wars, genocides, natural disasters and so on, have taken away people’s homes for a long time. Thankfully there are often people who can help. It is an extraordinary time to do so with the Omicron COVID variant on the move, people’s resources stretched from lockdown losses, and countries still housing people from their own internal disasters. In my own country of Australia, some people who lost homes in castrophic fires last summer are still in temporary accommodation.
People like Ivor, and others, can help refugees find houses that become true homes. That is good to hear.
I was truly astonished by the number of causes that appeared in my country of Australia during October this year. My astonishment was how, after the financial challenges of COVID lockdowns, that money would be raised. My other source of astonishment was the sheer generosity of people to ‘have a go’ and give their energy, body, heart, and soul to such causes.
This list is not complete. It’s just the ones I came across.
The Heart Foundation’s MyMarathon for research into heart disease and its treatment.
The Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation’s Frocktober.
I actually did the Black Dog Institute’s One Foot Forward Challenge in memory of my own brother, Joseph, who died by suicide in 1987. My generous sponsors raised $893AUD for my 218kms. On Sunday 31 October I received an email from the organisers saying:
“Our incredible One Foot Forward community has raised an astounding $10,461,065 [AUD] for mental health research.
So… THANK YOU! “
That is one of the causes. It is good news, and a tribute to the generosity of the human spirit to galvanise people and raise funds. I can hardly imagine what scale this kind of volunteerism has reached across the globe.
Has the pandemic made people more aware, compassionate and generous? I don’t know.
What I do know is that the experience of each person is a factor. One friend of mine who did Frocktober is herself a cancer survivor. Another friend who did the One Walk has a family member with diabetes. I did the One Foot Forward for my brother. Relationships shape us and help us to reach out with care.
Speaking of generous volunteers, I BIG shoutout to all the We Are World Blogfest WATWB team. Some carried the load alot this year while others of us were less able to commit. A very hearty thank you to them.
On an even more fun note, I observed, thanks to a friend in Glasgow, that The Wombles have returned as stars at COP26 to help clean up our planet. The 5 year old seventies child that I was revelled in such news.