#WATWB August 2021 Afghani Paralympians

Welcome to the We Are The World #WATWB Blogfest for August and thanks to our co-hosts, participants and readers once more. I missed out last month and am delighted to scrape in this time around.

Some of us have watched in horror as the Afghanistan human rights disaster unfolds. But then I saw this story on the Tokyo Paralympics from SBS News Australia:

Zakia Khudadadi and Hossain Rasouli arrived in the Japanese capital after a week-long stay in Paris, where they had been housed after fleeing their homeland following the Taliban takeover.

They are now set to be resettled in Australia, according to former Socceroo and refugee advocate Craig Foster and a lawyer assisting the efforts. 

Source SBS News Australia https://www.sbs.com.au/news/afghan-paralympians-evacuated-to-tokyo-given-australian-humanitarian-visas accessed 30 August 2021

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.

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#WATWB June 2021 – A Place To Vaccinate Indigenous Australians

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:

Watto Purrunna Aboriginal Health Clinic worker Adrian Coulthard getting vaccinated in one of the dedicated bays Source: Supplied. Accessed from SBS News 30 June 2021 9.40pm

‘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.

The Watto Purrunna Aboriginal Primary Health Care Service has reserved two cubicles at a vaccine hub in Playford in Adelaide’s north to create a supportive and culturally appropriate environment for Indigenous Australians.’

As reported by SBS News Australia. You can read more about it here. It is great to know, as we enter NAIDOC Week, that some people are looking out for our vulnerable Indigenous peoples.

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#WATWB March 2021 – On the Bus

Welcome to the We Are The World Blogfest #WATWB. We have been going since March 2017, sharing good news stories. Our c0-hosts this time around are:

Sylvia McGrath, Roshan Radhakrishnan, Shilpa Garg, Eric Lahti, and Belinda Witzenhausen.

Picture from Channel Nine News Canberra, Australia. Accessed 28 March 2021.

To join this post you’ll need to hop on the bus! The Sleep Bus to be more exact. Not far from where I live, a city of Queanbeyan, NSW (Australia) has acquired a Sleep Bus.

Like many parts of the world we have issues here with homelessness. People who cannot find or fit in a home to live. The Sleep Bus movement provides a shower and short-term bunk accommodation for homeless people. A great idea.

You can check out a report from our Channel 9 Network that they posted to their Facebook Page.

You can hear more about Sleep Bus from their website, as their founder, Simon Rowe (what a first name!) talks you through with short video updates.

Simon Rowe in one of the Sleep Buses he and his son are making. From their website. Accessed 28 March 2021.

What a rolling, practical way to give some help to those needing somewhere to sleep.

Here’s an excerpt from a poem by Meghan O’Rourke called “Sleep”. You can read the rest at Poetry Foundation. They may even read it to you.

…In the bedroom the moon is a dented spoon,
cold, getting colder, so hurry sleep,
come creep into bed, let’s get it over with;
lay me down and close my eyes…

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#WATWB November 2020 – Social Media Mental Health and Racism

Well I’m off to a late start again! My biggest good news this week was being able to see a really wonderful friend – and in person too! However, we aren’t here for that purpose.

Our latest #WATWB co-hosts are

Lizbeth Hartz, Inderpreet Uppal, Shilpa Garg, Damyanti Biswas, and Roshan Radhakrishnan.

Please hop on over to their pages.

I have long been interested in people and culture. We have such a vast array of them in our world. At times our “otherness” can lead to competition and conflict. At others we enrich each other in our variety.

Image from ABC News – ABC Life November 2020

So when I saw that the Australian ABC had this story on their ABC Life list, I had to have a look. It can be used for other aspects of social media but they have applied to racism.

There are four suggestions. I’ll provide a taster quote for each one and you can go to the link yourselves at your leisure.

Suggestion One: Setting Firm Boundaries for Yourself

“This can include your engagement on social media, who you deal with and how you deal with them,” says Naarm-based counsellor Tigist Kebede.

She has some simple advice to start with.

“Log off. Especially in times of distress or where you feel overwhelmed, having contained periods where you use social media can be life-changing.” For more.

Suggestion Two: Connection is Key

Whether it’s spending more time with (biological or chosen) family, finding a mentor in your workplace or seeking out online communities, prioritise connections with people who share a base-level understanding of what you’re going through.

“Connection — whether it’s to community, to an individual, to others — is about finding your people,” Ms Kebede says.

“It’s not just because they’re the same colour but because they understand your experiences that you can share the load with them.” More on connection.

Suggestion Three: Give Yourself Space to Feel

Experiencing racism can overwhelm us with anger, anxiety and pain. It can impact us in many ways: mentally, physically and spiritually.

Rather than bury your feelings, “check in with yourself” is Ms Kebede’s advice.

“It’s about holding space, compassion and empathy for yourself and for your needs. If you feel you want more.

Suggestion Four: Reclaim the Narrative

In Professor Carlson’s experience, it’s Indigenous peoples’ ability to see the funny side that often helps them deal with the repetitive trauma of “another day in the colony”, to quote Dr Chelsea Bond.

Deploying humour has become a powerful tool for Indigenous social media users to speak back to racist and non-factual online commentary.

“That’s something I love about our mob, being able to see the irony. You get people saying ‘Australia was colonised peacefully’ — well, you can show just how laughable that is by turning it into a meme like [the Facebook page] Blackfulla Revolution does so well.” More on reclaiming.

There is more to the article than what I have gratuitously cut and paste from ABC Life. The link is in each quote.

As I was preparing this post some other words were forming. Below is an excerpt and link.

Not Just Some Other

I am black

I am white

In restful dark

And shining light.

I am yellow

I am red

I am hard at work

And resting in bed.

More here.


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#WATWB October 2020 One World Learning in a Pandemic

Another month has whisked away and I missed the reminders for #WATWB! But here we are with the We Are the World Blogfest to end October 2020.

Sylvia McGrath, Mary Giese , Shilpa Garg, Sylvia Stein and Belinda Witzenhausen are our co-hosts for this time around. Please head over to their posts as well.

There has been much discussion over time about what this year of disasters has been teaching us. Some are enjoying more time in nature. Some have cherished time in their household working on both relationships and the building of the house itself (perhaps even getting rid of things no longer needed!). Others have learned new skills and new ways of learning.

Self

Daniel Goleman, one of the people who raised our attention to Emotional Intelligence, has continued working and puts out a monthly newsletter. He includes some work he did with a coach on how she used emotional intelligence with her clients. Then he adds these:

When you have strong self-awareness, you:

  • Know what you are feeling, why you feel it, and how it impacts your ability to perform and relate
  • Understand clearly your strengths and limits, leading to a realistic sense of self-confidence 
  • Connect to your values and sense of purpose, allowing you to cultivate a more meaningful life.

A useful check-in for this year we are having.

Self and Others We Are Connected To


Moving from good news to our self to with others, in the latest newsletter on LinkedIn Goleman includes a video of the piece Bolero, by the classical composer Ravel. But it is another one of the virtual concerts, celebrating people from various places joining in to play and dance.

Here is a screenshot and link.

Part of the good news we have learned this year is that we can still be connected to other people, and their great gifts, even in times of isolation and lack of travel.

Self and Others Different From Us

Goleman offers another video. This takes our awareness to peoples from a culture that may be different from us. The video is a song by Jackson Browne and his band.

It tells the story of a people in Haiti and their resilience. There is a screenshot above and here is a link to the clip. It broadens our compassion and our solidarity to be part of such stories.  Thanks to Jackson’s song I need not post a poem this time around either.

Some of the things we have learned this year as we have all lived in a pandemic is to be more aware of ourselves, of others we are connected to, and of peoples in cultures around our world. Perhaps we are coming closer to understanding that we are one world. To me that sounds like good news.

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#WATWB August 2020 – Hope In End of Life Care

If I, or a loved one, were dying from Corona virus, aka, COVID 19, I’d like someone such as Dr Kate Gregorevic on the palliative care team.

Picture: ABC Life accessed 30 August 2020 9.43pm

Before going further, I say that as part of the latest series of #WATWB We Are The World Blogfest Posts. The co-hosts for this month are:

Lizbeth Hartz , Roshan RadhakrishnanShilpa GargPeter Nena and Sylvia Stein. Please hop on over to their pages and any others with the #WATWB that you care to read.

ABC Life, from ABC News Australia, featured Dr Gregorevic recently. She works in palliative care here in Australia. You can read the fuller story. But here are some samples.

Looking after patients at the end of their life can be incredibly rewarding especially being able to bear witness to the joy and love they have created in their life as their family hold vigil to mark their last days.

Dr Gregorevic describes some of her experience.

My work constantly reminds me that life is fragile, precious and finite, and to appreciate all the small, beautiful moments that make a life. Part of what makes the challenges of work manageable is knowing I provided the best care I could at such an important time.

She has a sense of the mutual benefit between the families and her team.

The families I speak to show the most incredible empathy and generosity, expressing sympathy for the work I am doing, saying thank you for the work I am doing. And I cannot express how much this helps me through these days.

It is good to know that medical staff like Dr Gregorevic and her team are helping treat people with COVID-19. Clearly they see the person. They also see the patient’s loved ones. That makes all the difference.

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#WATWB July 2020 Late Edition – Letters from the Lecturer

Well the first bit of good news is that the We Are The World Blogfest #WATWB is back again for another month and has been running for years.  As life changes for some of us it can be a slog, at times, to keep up the momentum. There are months where we struggle to find enough co-hosts.  If you have been with us a while, and may be able to help, contact one of our co-hosts.

Speaking of co-hosts, this month our valiant leaders are:

Eric Lahti – https://ericlahti.wordpress.com

Susan Scott – http://www.gardenofedenblog.com/

Inderpreet Kaur Uppal – http://inderpreetuppal.com/

Shilpa Garg – https://shilpaagarg.com/

Peter Nena – https://drkillpatient01.wordpress.com/

 

Please hop on over to their pages and others on the #WATWB.

Now for a late edition of some other good news.

 

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Dr Murad Jehangir Yusuf Tayebjee.  Image from ABC Life, accessed 2 August 2020.

As the coronavirus aka COVID-19 hit, many schools, universities and other educational centres rapidly moved to a more online presence in all manner of operations. This can be very socially isolating for students and staff so…

Dr Murad Jehangir Yusuf Tayebjee wrote letters to his students. We pick up the report from ABC News Australia in its ‘Life’ team.

Dear students,

As I submit your final grades for this term, I wanted to take a moment to write you a note.

Maybe you made it to university after studying hard in year 12. Maybe this is part of a career change for you, or a return to study after having kids.

Whatever your story — and there are as many stories as there are of you — you certainly didn’t expect to undertake your 2020 undergraduate year in the middle of a global pandemic.

We didn’t expect it either.

He moved on to outline some of the things they may be doing, like getting their hands dirty and building small-scale solar powered cars.

Tayebjee even told them that they inspired him by staying with the course. What an encouraging teacher from the University of New South Wales (Sydney, Australia). You can read more of the story yourselves.

Lock-downs have been really tough for people. This fellow, who admitted that he too, “had to adapt fast”, adapted well. He not only engineered his courses, but innovated the communication needed in order to reach his students.

Those who follow this blog know that I love poetry and also try to share a poem with the story.

Poet, Michael Ryan, writes of letters in an institution. Just like lecturers use their imagination to reach students, so too do poets, like Ryan, explore the world of the imagination. An excerpt is below.  Full text at Poetry Foundation.

Letters from an Institution

The ward beds float like ghost ships
in the darkness, the nightlight
above my bed I pretend is a lighthouse
with a little man inside who wears
a sailor cap and tells good old stories
of the sea. The little man is me.

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#WATWB June 2020 Work for Refugees

It’s that time again already.  The We Are The World Blogfest #WATWB has more stories for you.

Our generous co-hosts for this month are Sylvia McGrath, Susan Scott,  Shilpa Garg, Damyanti Biswas, and Belinda Witzenhausen

I nearly lost the story I was going to post. But I found it again thanks to SBS Australia journalist Jennifer Scherer.  It’s about refugee Bill Ngo who fled conflict and came to Australia. In time he began a business. Sadly, his business is dwindling due to losses in these COVID-19 days. But Bill is undaunted and plans to get going again.  Scherer tells his story on audio (put the sound on!).

The other part of this news is that there is good reason to believe small businesses like this are probably near us too. We can find out where they are and support them.

In a similar vein, back in January 2020, SBS News Australia also told a story of a Sri Lankan Restaurant ‘Colombo Social’ giving refugees and asylum seekers their first jobs. Or, you can check out their Facebook page.

ShaunChristieDavid

Shaun Christie-David. Image: SBS News Australia, 10 January 2020

“Sydney restaurant Colombo Social hires refugees and asylum seekers helping to kickstart their careers in Australia, and it’s run by two friends who met in high school, ”  says SBS News Australia.

What a great pair of stories in these days where we long to create greater harmony between the peoples of our earth and ensure the underprivileged find a home and a way to share their gifts.

And, for a poem…. by Miroslava Odalovis called ‘Silent Refugees’

What are we left with
When years and health are gone
When tents fall down under the roofs
When the shelters no longer shelter

When winters close down frozen and fireless
When summers burn crying for some ice
When springs forget to grow
And autumns die within a leaf

more at PoemHunter.com.

 

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#WATWB May 2020 and Kind20

Sometimes, as we surf the net and scroll the feeds, we absorb cyber-toxins at a rate of knots.  There are days that humiliation, personal attacks, and cynicism are just too much.

So, to counter such a trend, just over three years ago, Belinda Witzenhausen and Damyanti Biswas called together a group of bloggers.  From it came the We Are The World Blogfest or #WATWB.

We’re still here!  This is the latest installment.  We are grateful to the co-hosts. This month they are …..

Susan Scott , Lizbeth Hartz, Shilpa Garg, Mary Giese , and Damyanti Biswas.

At #WATWB we tend to give politics and religion a wide birth.  Not to undermine their function or some of the good they can bring about. No, more to try and get to the heart of kindness in the course of life that can exist in simple human interactions.

The post I share this time may have arisen from a convergence of religious groups. But it is about kindness that goes beyond any of their own statues or rituals.

What I’m talking about is Kind2020.  You can visit their website or Facebook page.

Basically they are suggesting we all do what is in the photo below (From their Facebook page)

If you looked up their “about us” you may find

Express and Inspire

Working to Unite Humanity Through Kindness.

#KIND20 is a global movement for social empathy and worldwide kindness. It is borne of the Coronavirus world crisis and has been created as a unifying platform to turn despair and insecurity into positivity and hope.

We invite citizens of our world to take a video expressing “What Kindness Means to You?” and share on their social media nominating at least 3 others to do the same.

If one person passes it onto just 3 others, and they in turn pass it onto 3 more eventually creating a continuum, where our world will be full of messages of kindness, hope and positivity. These could also include a positive expression or acts of kindness experienced, seen or a personal commitment of change.

By the year-end, we are confident there will be more cases of kindness, than cases of COVID19.

Please do post your stories of kindness too!


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#WATWB April 2020 Agents of Environmental Change

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Image: APNEWS https://apnews.com/726ff63bb43bdca65e41625b1e223040

Change is such a part of life.  This post looks at environmental change. But it sees it as part of an integral ecology, where physical and social environments are aided to a better life for all, indeed a flourishing.

Welcome to #WATWB We Are the World Blogfest April 2020.  Our co-hosts this month are Eric Lahti,
Susan Scott,
Inderpreet Kaur Uppal
Damyanti Biswas,
Dan Antion.

Please visit their posts and others who bear the #WATWB, and share across your social media platforms.

In the Physical or Natural Environment

We did not ask for the problems that COVID-19 (Coronavirus) has visited upon our world. It is a tremendous challenge for all peoples and is bringing out both the best and worst in humanity.  Some good news is what has happened in nature when we slow down heavy industry awhile and stay at home.  AP news reports

As people across the globe stay home to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, the air has cleaned up, albeit temporarily. Smog stopped choking New Delhi, one of the most polluted cities in the world, and India’s getting views of sights not visible in decades. Nitrogen dioxide pollution in the northeastern United States is down 30%. Rome air pollution levels from mid-March to mid-April were down 49% from a year ago. Stars seem more visible at night.

And

In Adelaide, Australia, police shared a video of a kangaroo hopping around a mostly empty downtown, and a pack of jackals occupied an urban park in Tel Aviv, Israel.

We’re not being invaded. The wildlife has always been there, but many animals are shy, Duke’s Pimm says. They come out when humans stay home.

For sea turtles across the globe, humans have made it difficult to nest on sandy beaches. The turtles need to be undisturbed and emerging hatchlings get confused by beachfront lights, says David Godfrey, executive director of the Sea Turtle Conservancy.

But with lights and people away, this year’s sea turtle nesting so far seems much better from India to Costa Rica to Florida, Godfrey says.

“There’s some silver lining for wildlife in what otherwise is a fairly catastrophic time for humans,” he says.

We didn’t ask for this virus and all its repercussions, especially on some of our non-tech savvy elderly who feel doubly isolated.  But while we hibernate it is good to see some of the natural world rejuvenate.

In the Social Environment

An Australian journalist posted the following on her Twitter account after a book release interview with a former Australian Prime Minister.

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“So”, some may say, “that’s a normal day of Twitter at it’s most terrible”.  But, what these posts do is hold up a mirror.  Hopefully it allows us, and the writers engaging in calumny, to see that they are attacking the fabric of a social environment. It is one thing to dislike a review, but another to attack the person and create salacious spin about them.  Calling out nastiness by simply holding it up in a mirror  helps clean up the social environment and is a preparation for further good news. More work in that area can be seen in Ginger Gorman.

That All Life May Flourish

When the good of the natural and social environments is allowed to thrive all may flourish.  This weekend 25-26 April, in my country Australia, and our neighbour, New Zealand, we celebrate Anzac Day, which commemorates losses of valiant lives in Gallipoli, Turkey, 25 April 1915.  It has come to be a day to remember all who have served in conflicts.  In a time where United Nations (UN) agencies are experiencing some moments of scapegoating by some national governments struggling with their stresses, we all remember the work of UN Peacekeeping efforts.

If poems speak to you of the natural environment, then go to the Poetry Foundation for some nature poems, like this one from Mary Oliver, The Waterfall.

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