Wednesday, February 20

Ntandire Church/ hall inside

You may recall we held our final fundraiser and Christmas break-up party last year for the Malawi Support Group which is a small volunteer group within our local parish. At that time we sang Carols and were entertained and danced to the wonderful music of the "The Degenerates" who donated their services for the evening.

The funds raised was to be used to complete the flooring. walls and chairs for the new church and hall building in Ntdandire, Malawi. The above pictures indicate some excellant progress to date as a consequence of our last remittance. Funds assisted work undertaken to install flooring and plastering. We were overjoyed to hear the community were very happy in their new church. Work remaining is to paint the walls, install windows, seating and outside tiolets.

Dyson informs us the rainy season for Malawi has brought good falls this year and the crops are doing fine but in some cases the rains have washed away fertilizers and no yield is expected.
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Wednesday, February 13


Today was a very emotional time for Australia for if not an overwhelming than a very substantial majority of its citizens.

In parliament, to a capacity gallery audience spilling over into the grassy surrounds amid sprinklings of indigenous colors proudly waving, to school children listening intently, to News Bulletins, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd addressed the opening of the new parliament to deliver a formal apology to the indigenous peoples of Australia.

This historic moment, a first for an Australian parliament since federation, was to say sorry, for the stolen generation of children separated from families, and for the wrongs and injustices of the past. The occasion was a first in many respects , a gallery normally subdued was encouraged by the speaker to freely show their feelings of great joy in loud warm hearted acclamation , the parliament united in a bipartisan approach, the speech heard in a deafening silence but sincere of tone, by an appreciative audience that included all previous prime Ministers with the one notable exception of John Howard. The apology was emotionally accepted amid grateful tears in spirituall atmoshere that united Australia. The apology meant an awful lot to the aboriginal community who have graciously accepted it and who spoke emotionally of the enormous burden finally lifted from their shoulders, to allow healing to take place.

And the message has really taken root with our schoolchildren throughout the nation. Teachers have encouraged the students in the lead up to talk about what is means to say sorry and engendered philosophical questions along with many in the community who have asked those same questions. How do you say sorry? Why would you say sorry? Is it okay just to be just well-meaning? Is it a good idea to say sorry even if it’s a long time ago and you were not directly responsible? How will it be recorded in history?

To day they all listened intently.

So in essence this is one of those rare times when the words mean far more than the actions, words like spirituality, sorrow, healing, peace and pride start to seem very normal parts of every day news broadcast. People were not afraid to show their emotions including many notable public figures which contributed to this collective overwhelming feeling of goodwill. And for the first time for many indigenous people, they say they are proud to be Australians, teaching us what remarkably generous people they are, beyond our imagination. We are one but many, and thankfully now we can all move forward as one.

But unless theses words are translated into measurable progress to build a comparable future for all of us as one, to eliminate any divide in Housing, Heath and Education outcomes and general wellbeing we risk tragically returning in another 50 years to reconsider it all over again.

What are the prospects? One encouraging aspect is the bipartisan Commission already set upon to work with the leaders of aboriginal communities to provide more resources for housing and pre school resources with an additional 1400 teachers, and other initiates to hopefully quickly follow.

Has Rudd the ticker to make it all work? He’s certainly aware of the need to move forward, citing St Paul words as a reminder that without action words are like clashing symbols.

Cart is a fellow Australia blogger who has also posted comprehensibly on the topic, included he has refernced the full transcript of Rudd’s delivery of the apology which you can read by visiting his blog by clicking here.

Sunday, February 3

A Winters Adventure

Susan has a competition with a random draw ending 14 Feb for a memorable winter story.

Her options as stated are to post a winter story on her blog, as a comment to the post or if you have a longer story, you can opt to post it on your own blog letting her know where to look, as I have done. Here is my winter story.

A Winters Adventure

Winters in Sydney, Australia were mild affairs. Only briefly would you turn on the radiator in the mornings before the sun warmed the day, or later in the evening or at bedtime to switch on an electric blanket. Those seeking a snow experience invariably headed for the Snowy Mountains, immortalized in verse by one of our most famous poets Banjo Patterson with his poem about a heroic stockman who recaptured the Colt from old Regret, who was worth a thousand pounds and had got away.

So when my mate Barrie rang and suggested a weekend away with a group to visit the snowfields I readily accepted and soon our young family was headed off one crisp clear morning in anticipation of a fun filled long weekend mucking around in the snow. We were to stay in a hall, not far from Cooma which was to be our base to travel up to the snowfields.

On the first day the respective families decided to travel together up the mountain in Barrie’s vehicle, encountering our first obstacle half away up when the slippery conditions dictated chains be fitted. But we soon discovered the chains were too large, requiring a reduction of several links and hence turned into a Service Station, waiting on a long queue behind those with a similar problem. Eventually the terrible truth filtered back through the queue of disgruntled travelers, this Proprietor was out to make a “killing”, believing $ 40 a minute was the going rate for the only man with “bolt cutters” in the region. So we reluctantly paid him $40 to have just 2 links removed, in just under one minute and then fitted the chains.

Slowly we inched our way up the mountain as part of giant traffic snarl, to be greeted on arrival by a blizzard with almost zero visibility. By then the children were all very grisly but we did mange to send them out to play in the blizzard for sufficient time so that they forget about their disapointment and begged to return to the nearby Hotel which we had all discovered offered warmth and comfort. Once we returned back to the hall exhaustered it was soon time to turn in for an early night and to enjoy a good night’s sleep.

What should have been obvious but wasn’t before the trip was the inevitable result of a group of friends all sleeping in a large hall, particually after consuming a number of brandies to keep warm beforehand, it was always going to be sweet snores rather than sweet dreams.
In the morning, bleary eyed, tired, yet hopeful I decided to drive separately and hire the chains for my car at Cooma from which point we would both head up the mountain. Unbeknown to us overnight we had experienced the coldest night ever recorded in the district, for the first time ever it had snowed.

I set out for Cooma which was only a short distance away but the conditions soon became rather hazardous, so I pulled over and decided to wait for Barrie. After alighting form from the car half way up a crest, my children and wife pointed out what they thought was an unusual sight. Apparently all that was holding us to the road was our weight; once we alighted, we all watched in horror the car drifting down the road from whence it had come, gathering speed until it finally came to rest in an embankment and was eventually halted by a cushion of snow and a tree.

Eventually help arrived and we fitted borrowed chains and were able to get the car back on the road, laboriously removing them since we decided the most sensible outcome (since all of us including the car were relatively unscathed) was to set out in the opposite direction for the more peaceful and serene surroundings of Canberra, away from any further experiences involving snow and ice. It was rather a pleasant trip back home, unremarkable but pleasing due to a lack of any real dramas.