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.
This tweet, from a journo whom I went to school with, sent me down an internet rabbit hole.
The tweet is very recent. The story a bit older.
It’s a good news story for at least two people. The fine young Ben and for older Ben at least.
So, welcome to the #WATWB We Are The World Blogfest post for September 2021. Please follow other posts with the #WATWB. And…back to the story.
So Ben Farinazzo is a former Australian Army Officer who did tours of duty in the East Timor peacekeeping operation. He has been living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and has recovered from a mountain bike accident causing a spinal injury as well.
I was fighting an internal battle against post -traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety. I then broke my neck and back in a mountain bike accident. It felt like I was walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Three years later I represented Australia in indoor rowing and powerlifting at Invictus Games Sydney 2018 and was fortunate to win two gold medals. Today, I am a proud Australia Day Ambassador and support mental health, veterans and sport.
This is a fabulous story about brokenness, reconnection and resilience. You may also want to check Ben’s Youtube channel for footage the like the screenshot of the one featured here.
They are now set to be resettled in Australia, according to former Socceroo and refugee advocate Craig Foster and a lawyer assisting the efforts.
As the story continues….
Zakia will be the first female Afghan to compete at the Games since 2004 in Athens when she takes part in the women’s K44 -49kg taekwondo event on Thursday.
Hossain will line up in the heats of the men’s 400m T47 athletics event on Friday.
Lawyer Alison Battisson from Human Rights for All was involved in the efforts to evacuate scores of athletes out of Afghanistan.
She told SBS News she worked with an intern lawyer at her firm to assist Zakia and Hossain escape Afghanistan.
“I have this amazing legal intern who works as a plasterer two days a week so he can then work at my firm three days a week, Eric Zhang, he did [Zakia’s] application.
You can play along with more of the story here. Some may argue what about the many, many other Afghanis still trapped? Indeed. Stories like this might inspire other sports and organisations to get involved. That may save some other lives.
Want more good news stories. You which hashtag to follow #WATWB
The pandemic has gone on for a long time now. People are tired. Bone tired. Resilience has run down. Some have lost work or are living in the fear of doing so. Although we know that many of the issues are complex and cannot be solved rapidly or easily, we still lose patience. In addition to our own struggles, we go online only to see the struggles of others. Their frustrations and angst are expressed or even ranted, looking for a home. Some of their angst gets transferred on to the accumulation of our own. While walking I caught this transfer happening to me. Then this happened.
Welcome to another post of the We Are The World Blogfest where I’m just sneaking in before the clock ticks over to July. Please show your support to other #WATWB bloggers.
Australians are entering NAIDOC Week 2021. With the COVID Delta on the move, many Indigenous have opted out of in person and public events. But the memories and still there and the culture and stories are to be told. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are highly vulnerable to exotic viruses and particularly to the Corona virus.
But, there is this news from our state of South Australia:
‘Until recently Ngarrindjeri elder Stephanie Gollan had reservations about getting the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
But her feelings about the shot changed when she joined a program in Adelaide that supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders through the process.