Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sunday Stills. the Next Challenge: Fruit

From the exotic Tropical king of the fruits, the durian to the ordinary banana, if I was marooned on an island, and offered to choose one side of the island with fruits of the whole world, and the other of meat and poultry. I don't know which I would choose. I will beg to spend time on alternate sites on alternate days, because I love my fruit, I also love my meat.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Shoot out: Hurry! It's our one year birthday

For our first birthday, we are to choose our favourite challenge. For me, it is birds. Birds of the feather kind on Jan 15 by Sritor Senex

My main feature is the goose. When I was really little, precisely five as that was the year before I started school. My sister Margaret was two plus. We lived in the government quarters, Dad was a civil servant, he was a lecturer of the teachers' college.

Mum and Dad kept some geese. We had ducks and chickens as well, But the geese were like princesses like those in the photo among the ducks. One day, the geese went for a walkabout, and Margaret went chasing them to coax them to come back. I was playing happily in the yard, when Mum asked me where she was. Of course, i was so engrossed in my own play that I had no idea.

Mum must have rounded the neighbours to look for her. Eventually they found her with a stick trying to chase the geese home quite a distance away. The more Margaret chased the geese, the further the geese went. I can imagine how frantic Mum was.

Mum and Dad got someone to take a photograph of Margaret and I. Just in case Margaret turned Miss Bo Peep again, and went chasing after the geese. They would then go round the neighbourhood with the photo to ask if anyone has seen this toddler.

This story became our fond memory of the day Margaret took the geese for a walk. My siblings rehash this story when I got everyone to contribute in the book I was writing. We shuddered to think how Margaret could go walk about. We were glad back then, it was a safe environment where everyone was a civil servant.

Oh yes, the geese went to the wok, because Mum didn't want to tempt fate and let Margaret walk them again.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Rare Disease Day 2010 February 28

My friend E sent me this link, both our children had died of this very rare syndrome, Campomelic Dysplasia, This CD, I was told affect 1 in 5 million children. Some are fatal like E's daughter and my son. Some are not so bad, still it is a terrible thing.

I was going to do a post on Celiac disease when I knew someone who suffers so badly from it. I took this photo of gluten free spaghetti. Celiac sufferers are not allowed gluten.

On this day of February, think of those unfortunate people and their families.

Rare Disease Day is an annual, awareness-raising event co-ordinated by EURORDIS at the international level and National Alliances of Patient Organisations at the national level
Who can take part?

Individuals, Patients,Patient Organisations,health professionals, researchers, drug developers, public health authorities - the more, the better!
When is Rare Disease Day?

Rare Disease Day is observed on the last day of February. Awareness raising events will take place in each participating country.

* To find out what is happening in your country, click here.
* To find out what EURORDIS is doing to bring attention to rare diseases on this day, click here.

Why is Rare Disease Day important?

Rare Disease Day is the perfect occasion to inform or remind people that rare diseases need to be paid special attention to, because:

Rare diseases are life-threatening or chronically debilitating diseases with a low prevalence and a high level of complexity. Patients with very rare diseases and their families are particularly isolated and vulnerable. The life expectancy of rare disease patients is significantly reduced and many have disabilities that become a source of discrimination and reduce or destroy educational, professional or social opportunities.

The rare disease patient is the orphan of health systems, often without diagnosis, without treatment, without research, therefore without reason to hope.

The lack of specific health policies and the scarcity of expertise translate into delayed appropriate diagnosis and difficulty of access to care. The national healthcare services for diagnosis, treatment and care of rare disease patients differ significantly in terms of their availability and quality. European citizens have unequal access to healthcare services and to orphan drugs.

Research on rare diseases is scarce

New friends

We have a student from Yakutia, Russia in our beginners class in the ESOL school where I volunteer on Wednesdays at Mt Albert Church. I use non verbal communications during morning tea when I sip my cup of tea with her. Last year before school broke up, I offered to be her friend and not as a teacher as I can't understand Russian, and she was a very new student of English.

This Wednesday, her daughter asked if my offer still stands and I said yes. I arranged to meet with her after work today. I brought with me a little gift which my Chinese tradition called, " JIAN MIEN LI" a little gift for seeing you for the first time. It is indeed a little gift. When I gave it to her, she took it and told me that it is their custom to have a "Jian MIEN LI" as well.

So I took this photo to remember this simple exchange of friendship. I gave her a cheap pottery which I placed a few pieces of chocolate. She gave me a miniature Choroon, A kind of cup when on festivals are used to hold kymys of fermented horse milk.

With the translation of her daughter we got to tell each other our country and our families. Then I told her about my Andrew who had died.

The daughter said, in fact mum has 3 kids, the first one was a still born. We didn't have to talk, I touched my heart and then hers. We are both bereaved mums, our hearts are connected. I asked if she had a funeral for him, and she said no. She said, it's 34 years, but the heart still aches.

She served me Bliny, a Russian pan cake with stuffing of beef and mushroom. It was very delicious.

In the short time we were together, I got to know a lot about Yakutia, and we have similar fates of bereaved mums.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

My World Tuesday: Twins city, GuangZhou and Auckland

About 100 years ago, in 1907, my great grand dad left the village Guang Ning, near to Guangzhou city for Sibu, Sarawak.

In 1978, I left Sibu for Auckland.

In 1989, Guangzhou became a twin city of Auckland. I was very pleased and proud. I have not been to GuangZhou or China, but to be part of this twinning gave me a great sense of pride.

In 1999, the people of Guangzhou presented this statue of five rams to the people of their sister city. When I see it when I visit Myers Park, my chest swells with pride. It makes me want to visit Guangzhou.

Some of my adult ESOL students from Guangzhou ask, "You never been back? You should!"

May be I will, in the near future. The Water Engineer was in Guangzhou last month on work assignment. I like to go, to see my roots.

Guangzhou is the Hangyu pingyin or Mandarin name for what was Canton.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Save the World/Green Thursday: Plant trees and native plants

One of the ways to enhance a sad polluted area, where broken footpaths and overflowing rubbish bins were eye sores, is to have the support of all parties involved.

The Roy Clements Treeway is one fine example. This is a patch of area owned by Mount Albert Grammar School (MAGS) where Sam currently attends, and managed by Auckland City Council. The creek is polluted and has weeds and when it rains heavily, it floods.

Now it is transformed and is a popular public walkway. I found it last year when I walked to see the different paths Sam can take to his new school.

It is used daily by many MAGS pupils to go to and from school. It has been the focus of complaints by the School and local residents. The St Lukes Environmental Protection Society have campaigned to improve this area.

The groups carried out a tree planting program, and also native plants and the regeneration of the wetland area. Now you can see ducks swimming. Landscape experts now encourage people to grow native plants as it is much kinder to the environment.

The St Lukes Environmental Protection Society (STEPS) was incorporated in 2005. Its purpose is to act as a body, giving voice and taking action to protect and enhance the environment and amenities in the St Lukes area.

Meola Creek makeover
The banks of Meola Creek in Mt Albert have a new lease of life with over 6,000 native species being planted by enthusiastic volunteers recently.

The volunteers including several Wai Care groups, Morphum Environmental Ltd, Metrowater staff and members of local care group STEPS, planted both sides of the new boardwalk that runs through the Roy Clement’s Treeway.

The ‘treeway’ is named after Roy Clements, a retired Mt Albert Grammar School teacher, who involved students in environmental work at Meola Creek some years ago. Mr Clements participated in the planting activities and explained why he feels passionate about the revegetation and care of Meola Creek, and the importance of community and student involvement in environmental work.

As a result of Mr Clements’ work, there are already some well established native trees, including a beautiful King Fern that will help protect the newer plants.

Auckland City Wai Care Coordinator Melissa Marler says the new plants will help trap contaminants in an area that regularly floods.

“Native grasses including Carex virgata, Carex lessoniana, Cortederia fulvida (toe toe), Cyperus ustulatis were planted along the stream edge with Baumea Articulata, flax, cabbage trees, and kowhai in the wetter areas,” says Melissa.
“The new plants look great and members of the public have commented how much they are enjoying the new raised boardwalk and the plants. “I’m also encouraged to see people out picking up rubbish between the new plants’” she says.

Sunday stills: Letter G for Garbage.

Sunday Stills, the next challenge: The letter “G”

So here you have it, anything that begins with the letter “G” A simple challenge but could prove to be fun.

As I set out doing this challenge, I was gravitating towards GARBAGE. I am passionate about garbage and it's effect on our environment. I link my environmental post to SMALL FOOTPRINTS and I am actively involved as a rubbish collector while at the same time teaching the public about recycling in our ZERO WASTE program. yes, Ed, this challenge is fun.

Last year, during our Waitangi Day aka New Zealand day and Pasifika festival, I was involved with a group of like minded people during a whole day festival collecting rubbish and at the same time educating people about recycling. Those were tiring days but very meaningful ones.

I went back to school and educated my school as well. My students couldn't believe that I was a garbage collector.

Zero-waste Strategy Management: Here's the Volunteers at work. Dressed in our official crew kowhai/yellow or kikorangi/blue T-shirt and cow boy hat, we trudged our kikorangi/blue and kakariki/green bins to our different stations. This year, we had our buddies so we could have tiny breaks to watch the arrival of the dignitaries from the Waka/ boats and to listen to the bands.
I was lucky that I had C. as my buddy. She is well traveled and while we were standing in the sun and waiting for our customers, we walked about her travels. We educated the public as to which bins they should sort their waste. Towards the end of the day, we went among the crowd to collect their rubbish so as the make the work faster when everyone left.
It was a very hot day with hardly any clouds. The festival was at the beach, but there was hardly any breeze.
***Ngarimu on his red scooter as he went around the grounds to see if we were OK***

Zero-waste Management Strategy:
Here's the collection of the bags by some of the volunteers, including a very young boy. Ka Pai to him. They had to lug the heavy bags to the quad bikes as runners.
The back-end" of the system is the worst of the jobs. Resource Recovery Centre Manager, Chris with some volunteers have the awful job of additionl sorting of bagged waste. When we finished our part at our stations, we helped them out. We had to sort out the three groups of rubbish, and by the time I left at 7.45pm, they were still working.
What I admire about the Maoris is their ability to joke. One uncle I didn't get his name asked if I got enough of being a Maori. I told him I was just very tired with the sun getting into my head. He joked that he had to do this every day, and he should be called a garbatologist. Another joked that we should have diplomas. Some one joked that disposible nappies should be banned.
I did not meet Ivy who liaised with the stall holders, and Te Hira (Chiefy) who sets waste stations with Ngarimu and monitors the effectiveness of the waste plan.
The volunteers are the silent brigades that made the festival a pleasant one for the festival goers. I have been to many countries, and usually at the end of the day, there is a mountain of rubbish. The Orakei park was very clean, free of rubbish at the end of the festival.
Ka Pai to Ngarimu, Te Hira, Chris, and Ivy for all their planning and logistics. Ka Pai to all the volunteers. Ka Pai to everyone in the Marae for letting me stay in the marae. Something I always wanted to do, but never got the chance.

Auckland City Council provides an inorganic collection free of charge for residents to get rid of large items that would normally not fit in our wheelie bins. This is conceptually a good idea. It also encourages recycling. What is one's rubbish is useful to others. Hordes of collectors, some traders scour the neighbourhood to pick up what they can recycle. The only thing that is not so good is some of these people have no social conscience, they remove what they want and treat this as a tip, and rubbish is all over the grass area and even on the road, making this a very unsightly area.