#WATWB May – The Conversations in Train

Welcome to We Are The World Blogfest yet again. Unlike trains, I’m not on time. Did I miss Platform nine and three quarters? Hardly.

But, I’ve grown up in a family that had generations of us on and off the rails, so to speak! Both the paternal and maternal line of our clan (or crew) are loaded with railway people. Not least of these was our late Dad who served the New South Wales rail system for 43years.

So, I’m delighted to share with you the story of Heather. Meanwhile, mind the gap!

Heather in the Cabin. Source: BBC News accessed 31 May 2021.

Heather is a Scottish train driver. As the BBC News tells us:

As Scotland’s only woman freight train driver, Heather Waugh was already a pioneer. Then a tragedy from her past inspired her to take on a new mission – getting men to talk about their mental health.

When it was time to set off, Heather briskly pulled a handle towards her: “Star Trek-style”, she said, deadpan, as though she were Mr Sulu putting the USS Enterprise into warp speed. But this wasn’t a spaceship; it was a British Rail-vintage Class 90 locomotive. Its motors growled, then the train shuddered forward.

Behind her, container wagons stretched down the line for three-quarters of a mile. It wasn’t Heather’s job to know what sort of cargo she was carrying, just how much it all weighed – tonight, a little under 1,500 tonnes – and whether it included anything hazardous. Her task was to drive the lot of it south through the valleys of lowland Scotland and beyond.’

After a time, there was a tragic incident, and Heather found herself in a doctor’s surgery and with a month’s leave. Later she switched from passenger to freight trains and a strange, yet fascinating thing happened.

‘Historically, freight had been widely regarded – inaccurately, Heather quickly discovered – as dirty, heavy, physically draining work, and the workplace was exclusively male as a result. “In this day and age, you don’t expect to be the only woman,” she says. “Even with my background, it was intimidating.”

To her surprise, her new colleagues were overjoyed to have her on the team. They’d look forward to her being on shift – not because they wanted to chat her up, but because they could open up to her about their problems in a way they wouldn’t with other men, Heather found. “I’ve had conversations with colleagues where I know I’m the first person they’ve had that conversation with,” Heather says.’

Heather went and trained in new skills ‘”…teaching staff to recognise what is out of the ordinary,” she says. “As human beings it’s our job to go and take five minutes to speak to somebody and say, ‘Are you OK?'” she says.’

Heather helped men talk about their problems to, literally, lighten one of the loads they were carrying.

Our co-hosts for this month are Susan Scott and Eric Lahti and we are grateful.

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#WATWB April 2021 – Rewilding Scotland

As each month comes along there seems to be a scurrying to find a post. It’s like time is getting away from us. Yet, here we are.

The co-host method has undergone a transformation of sorts and our two generous co-hosts this series are: Belinda Witzenhausen and Sylvia McGrath.

Here is a link for this time around.

Morning sun over Loch Tay, Killin, United Kingdom   –   Copyright  Unsplash via Euronews 26 April 2021

It’s about “rewilding” in Scotland. I know, some of us still think Scotland is a little wild – in a good way! But this is about the natural ecological balance in this beautiful country.

Euronews tells us that:

Rewilding has become an increasingly popular movement in Scotland over the last few years. Politicians are being called on by the Scottish Rewilding Alliance (SWA) to create policies that would see the country become the world’s first “rewilding nation”.’

We find it’s not just the government though.

The Scottish public is behind the idea too. Last year the SWA commissioned a poll across Scotland which found widespread support for the principle of rewilding. More than three-quarters of people who expressed an opinion backed the concept, ten times as many as those who objected to it.

Let’s hope that they have some success. There are also some videos available on Youtube by searching “rewilding Scotland“, such as this one.

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#WATWB January 2021

It’s almost hard to believe that we are in 2021. As Aussies down South (where I am) are coming through a heatwave, those in the North of our world are playing in the snow. We are all trying to do the best we can to both contain COVID and to keep connected.

The We Are The World Blogfest #WATWB is all about connecting us with good news. For the first month of 2021 our co-hosts are:

Sylvia Grath, Shilpa Garg, Mary J. Giese, Belinda Witzenhausen and yours truly.

Living through the fires of Summer 2019-20 and across COVID into 2021 is itself good news. But this week we celebrated Australians of the Year. ‘Australia Day’ itself is being debated. Which is also good news for free speech as people search for the reasons of who we are and what we stand for.

Source: https://www.sbs.com.au/news/an-aboriginal-activist-and-an-advocate-for-migrant-women-are-among-the-2021-australians-of-the-year?fbclid=IwAR0BP-TnG9x831Dzs49sqkNGMjD0Sk9JK1qJ3R5MgIh7SCPjF5lf77u52fs Accessed 29 January 2021.

In the midst of that I present recipients of Australians of the Year under four categories. These are people who shine a light for the way of humanity.

Senior Australian of the Year:

“Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann, an Aboriginal elder from the Nauiyu community in the Katherine region of the Northern Territory, is an artist, activist, writer and public speaker. “

Young Australian of The Year:

“At the age of 18, Isobel Marshall, from Adelaide, and her school friend Eloise Hall set up a social enterprise to end the stigma around menstruation and improve access to female hygiene products.”

Australian Local hero:

“Kenyan-born Rosemary Kariuki, from Oran Park southwest of Sydney, fled family abuse and violence in her home country in 1999. She became a multicultural community liaison officer with Parramatta Police in 2005, helping migrants fleeing domestic violence.”

Australian of the Year:

“Grace Tame was 15 years old when she was first groomed and raped by her 58-year-old maths teacher, who was later found guilty and jailed for his crimes. But while her abuser was able to speak publicly about the case, Ms Tame was gagged by an archaic law in Tasmania that prevents victims of sexual abuse from identifying themselves. With the help of the #LetHerSpeak campaign, Ms Tame applied to the Supreme Court for the right to publicly self-identify – and won.”

Source and for the full story: An Aboriginal activist and an advocate for migrant women are among the 2021 Australians of the Year (sbs.com.au).


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#WATWB August 2019 Book In Some Good News

Welcome to the #WATWB We Are The World Blogfest for August 2019.

Please visit our valiant co-hosts as well.

Susan Scott, Peter Nena, Shilpa Garg, Mary J. Giese and Damyanti Biswas.

This month I’ve gone a bit off the grid.  Neither of these two stories about writers have been generated by news media sources. But they are still good news.  Given all readers of this blogfest are ‘reader-types’ and many of you are also writers, I think they are good news stories of interest.

Josephine Moon.pngJosephine Moon. Picture from Better Reading Podcast, accessed 27 August 2019.

#1. Josephine Moon.  You can read about her here and listen to her on the Better Reading Podcast here.  Josephine became a novelist and tells us that she kept a spreadsheet of her attempted manuscripts. After 100 rejections she finally deleted the spreadsheet. But, wait for it. She persevered with her writing and has been published numerous times. One of the aspects of writing she favours is “uplit”.  Uplit is writing that encourages hope.  Sounds like a WATWB theme to me.  Then there is this:

In 2018, Josephine organised the ‘Authors for Farmers’ appeal, raising money to assist drought-affected farming communities. She is passionate about literacy, and is a proud sponsor of Story Dogs and The Smith Family

As Australia is still in drought, that has a ring of good news.

YBYS-front-cover.jpg Damyanti’s soon to be published novel. Image from her website, accessed 27 August 2019.

#2. Damyanti Biswas. Oh, yes. You’ve come across her before. In fact, she and Belinda McGrath Witzenhausen are the people who got us into this blogfest.  What is also fabulous about this forthcoming novel, #YouBeneathYourSkin, is that some of the proceeds will go to support a great initiative for children called Project Why and to help those afflicted by abominable acid attacks in India.


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#WATWB February 2019 – Animals and Autism

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PHOTO: Jim Brownlie manages the farm south of Perth. (ABC Radio Perth: Kate Leaver)

Welcome to #WATWB for February 2019.  Please visit the posts of our valiant co-hosts
Sylvia McGrath,
Peter Nena,
Shilpa Garg,
Inderpreet Uppal,
and Belinda Witzenhausen.

As with other months, we are here to bring some good news on the final Friday of each month.

So… what about baby animals and autism?  Enter the good news tab that the Australian ABC News network now carries on their website.  There you will find stories like….

Miniature farm animals are being used to provide respite and support to children and teenagers with autism.

INKA respite farm stay at Lake Clifton, 110 kilometres south of Perth, is home to the fun-size animals including pigs, sheep, goats and horses.

Groups of children and teenagers with autism bunk at the homestead and work together to care for each other and the animals.

Let’s also hear from the Farm Manager, Jim Brownlie.

Mr Brownlie said some of the guests were highly autistic and did not cope well in high-pressure environments.

“When we see signs [of difficulty], we try to get them outside, and as soon as we get them down beside the animals, it just seems to calm them down,” he said.

He added that

there had been a high demand for the pigs as pets in recent years and saw them as a suitable alternative to a domestic dog or cat.

“They’re intelligent, they have the IQ of a three-year-old, and they’re very easy to train.

So, you say, what about hearing from a visitor to the farm?

Twenty-year old Tom Lean is autistic and said the farm had become a second home.

“I love it because I’m out of the city,” he said.

“My family has farms so I’ve always been a farm person — I feel more relaxed, I don’t get annoyed as much.

You can read more in the article and watch a short video here.  INKA Respite Farm have their own website and blog too.

 

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PHOTO: A newborn mini-pig at INKA Respite in Lake Clifton, which are sold to make money for the centre. (ABC South West: Michael Black) 

Now, a little from verse about a special animal that floats and soars by Mary Oliver

The Swan: by Mary Oliver

Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air –
An armful of white blossoms,
A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies,
Biting the air with its black beak?
Did you hear it, fluting and whistling
A shrill dark music – like the rain pelting the trees – like a waterfall
Knifing down the black ledges?

More of the poem here.  Many thanks to the late Mary Oliver  (1935-2019).


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#WATWB October We Are The World Who Watch Water

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After having a month off #WATWB it is good to be back. I missed it!

Ever thought of doing an ice bucket challenge

with sand?

Yes? No? 

Or a water fight with flour?

Then read on.

While flying home from the Portuguese Camino I got to binge the in-flight entertainment on Qatar Airways. This included movies and some TED Talks. One of the TED’s that struck me was on saving water by Lana Mazarhreh. Lana grew up in Jordan and knows about being water wise.  Oh, yes… and about that ice bucket challenge too! Her TED talk can be listened to here.

Lana Mazahreh لانا مزاهره

Image: LinkedIn.

Lana begins by talking of the experience of Capetown in South Africa. Afterwards she talks of other countries. She gives some handy hints along the way.  Some may dispute her strategies. This can be tested and we all know that numerous strategies are needed to tackle complex problems.

Many of the countries participating in this #WATWB know cycles of droughts and floods. Some of us know of where there are vast quantities of water that is unsuitable for safe consumption.  I thought it timely that I saw Lana’s TED talk and am glad to offer it in this post.

Thanks to the Poetry Foundation for a poem on water.  The selection is ‘The Water Diviner’ by Dannie Abse.  Full text here.   Excerpt below.

The Water Diviner

Late, I have come to a parched land
doubting my gift, if gift I have,
the inspiration of water
spilt, swallowed in the sand.
To hear once more water trickle,
to stand in a stretch of silence
the divining pen twisting in the hand:
sign of depths alluvial.
Water owns no permanent shape,
sags, is most itself descending;
now, under the shadow of the idol,
dry mouth and dry landscape.
No rain falls with a refreshing sound
to settle tubular in a well,
elliptical in a bowl. No grape
lusciously moulds it round.

 

Our cohosts for this month are Eric Lahti, Inderpreet Uppal, Shilpa Garg, Mary J. Giese and Roshan Radhakrishnan.  Please do visit their posts and join in the sharing of stories.

 

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#WATWB July – The Ring Bearer

The Ring Bearer

A man and woman pose for a selfie for their engagement PHOTO: Ms Daly and her partner Andrew Bevan were only engaged for three days before the ring went missing.(Facebook/Tayla Daly)  

Welcome to the We Are The World Blogfest #WATWB for July 2018. As usual, we have generous co-hosts who are leading this month:
Peter Nena,
Inderpreet Kaur Uppal,
Shilpa Garg
Roshan Radhakrishnan
Sylvia McGrath
and
Belinda Witzenhausen

Please visit their sites and others in the blogfest.

Thanks to social media and a genuine person, a vital ring was found, as ABC News reports:

A Gold Coast woman who lost her engagement ring has been reunited with her diamond after a stranger from social media helped her with the hunt.

After only being engaged for three days, Tayla Daly realised the ring of her dreams had vanished from her finger.

The 25-year-old retraced her trip from work to home, but the ring was nowhere in sight.

“I was bawling my eyes out and just tried to retrace my steps — I’d only just been to the petrol station,” Ms Daly told Channel Nine.

In a last-ditch effort, Ms Daly put a call-out on social media in the hope someone picked it up.

But it was a kind stranger, Jade Austin, who messaged Ms Daly straight away to help.

“I felt really bad for her because six years ago I actually lost mine,” Ms Austin said.

Ms Austin, who is also heavily pregnant, jumped into her car to drive over 20 minutes to search the petrol station, carwash and local pawn shops.

When she arrived at the petrol station, she asked to look at the security footage to see if anyone else found the ring — but no-one had.

Ms Austin was ready to give up when she spotted the missing ring on the ground and messaged the bride-to-be with the good news.

See  ABC News for more details.

And in asking help for finding,

Not just the ring was found,

The story brought reminding,

Of a familiar sound.

The sound of sorrow in the losing,

Of remembering that pain,

It brings a twice-loved pleasure,

When the treasure is found again.

Lo and behold another treasure,

Emerged for a greater end,

For the second lasting pleasure,

Was to make another friend.

Simon C.J. Falk 26 July 2018

 


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Gathering Neighbourhood Goodness for #WATWB June

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Welcome back to #WATWB!

Please check out the notes about joining or co-hosting the blogfest further down this post.

Our generous co-hosts for this month are Lynn Hallbrooks, Michelle Wallace,
Sylvia Stein, Sylvia McGrath and Belinda Witzenhausen. Please visits their blogs while you are online.

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I was thrilled to hear that the Bells of the Borough Market in London would toll for their re-opening.  It is so important to keep sounding that note of hope in our world. Noticing such a story in the daily news feed reminded me of a comment made, somewhere on a social media feed, by Mary J Melange. Her blog is well worth a visit, by the way.

Searching for good news stories makes us more aware of the good news around us, even nearer to our lives, workplaces and homes.

 

Part of my life means visiting people.  In recent months there have been some notable ones.

One included going to the home of an unwell man and hearing of his story as a migrant to my country many years ago.

“I just thought, shit!”  He said.  “What am I gonna do now?”

He had been deposited, all alone,  in a remote part of our country to fix a broken-down truck.  He did fix the truck and drove it back to the nearest town, many kilometres away.

Later in life, one of his children was severely injured in a vehicle accident on a farm.  Spinal injuries meant this young adult was facing quadriplegia.  Not to be left as a victim, the young adult was rehabilitated and, with some assistance, has quite impressive mobility.  This son now teaches in a regular job.

I went visit another couple.  He was dying and had a number of loose ends that he wanted to tie up so that his wife would be in a secure state of life after his death.

A gravely voice, from too many smokes and noisy ballrooms, told the tale. Earlier in his life he had been a boxer and, later had travelled the globe as a dancer.  In both Ballroom and Latin American forms, he and his partners literally had a ball.  Now, as he approaches the last months of his life, he is lovingly putting in place a care plan for his wife.

This month I have not included any flashy pictures or dazzling youtube clips.  I just wanted to highlight something that a number of us have noticed: looking for good news helps us become more aware of the good news right near our own doorsteps.

Do any of these stories ring bells for you?  What is the good news in your family, workplace or local community?

Towards the Final Dance

Eyes bounce
Around the room,

And dart,

From the impending gloom,

Of days ticking away.

Once, his feet

Had bounced on their balls,

As he danced around the ring,

Boxing –

Giving and receiving

Jabs and crosses.

And, those feet,

Fleet and flowing,

Had glided

Along the dance floor,

In days before

The cancer.

Now,

His days are drawing in,

As he lovingly

Lines up

The steps of his departing days,

To leave his wife

In security.

Then, muster up

He does,

His pluck

For the steps

Towards

The final dance,

That

never

ends.

Simon C.J. Falk 30 June 2017

Next month a clean start!  Stay tuned for #WATWB July 28.

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Looking for some stories of hope!

Please SIGN UP for WE ARE THE WORLD BLOGFEST in the linky list below:

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  1.  Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible.
  2. All we ask is you link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month, one that shows love, humanity, and brotherhood. Something like this news, about a man who only fosters terminally ill children.
  3. Join us on the last Friday of each month in sharing news that warms the cockles of our heart. No story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.
  4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends, love and light for all of us.
  5. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.
  6. To signup, add your link in WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List here.

CO-HOSTS. 

As many of you know, keeping a blogfest going needs a pool of positive co-hosts.  We started with 20.  But, with the wear and tear of life on people’s health, we need some assistance with co-hosting.  As Damyanti says:

…five co-hosts leading each month will ensure that none of us are overburdened, and can host every few months. 
Each month needs a minimum of 5 leads, but you’re welcome to sign up for more as well. We’ll keep it flexible— if you have an issue hosting in a particular month, you could exchange with another co-host.
Can you help?  Contact Damyanti on – atozstories at gmail dot com.

 

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