Wow! It feels strange to be writing in my blog again after so long. I notice I still have an audience and people are regularly looking at my old posts, so I decided I should pull myself out of my reverie and start posting again. The Weekly Photo Challenge had been my main prompt for posting and upon its demise I lost some of my enthusiasm. I also started a new site for my business ‘Perth Emmett and Healing Therapies‘, although I haven’t done many posts on that either!
When I look back to why I started my blog, it was to write. The photos were almost a cop-out, even though they perhaps took almost as much time to take, choose and prepare as the writing did. I still have lots of political rants in me, many photos and thoughts from my more recent travels, and some gentler more exploratory words I’d like to write.
So here’s a little taster …
Reverie or Sleeping Buddha?
Siem Reap, Cambodia
I think I first became aware of this new ‘sport’ earlier this year. What a brilliant idea to combine jogging with tidying up our environment. In Sweden, plogging (the Swedish “plocka”, to pick up, and jogging) became a more organised activity a couple of years ago and more recently, with people’s greater awareness of the plastics problem around the world, so too has the movement spread to other countries.
I already pick up plastics as I walk on the beach every day, albeit with more of a stoop than any ‘gym-like’ movement. I’m no longer a jogger and despite having enthusiastically decided I was going to get fit enough for a Park Run a few months ago, my few days of short runs resulted in my physio telling me running might not be what my body needed nowadays. But walking with a few squats and lunges would surely be okay.
So a few weeks ago I started my new regime. On an empty windswept beach my dog sniffed around in the flotsam and jetsam while I slowed down our regular walking speed to fit in some strengthening exercises. Rather than being random, I decided to attribute different exercises to different pieces of plastic. A piece of nylon rope or string would be three squats, small fragments of plastic would be alternating lunges and other items such as sunglasses could be a slow stoop-like stretch of the hamstrings or a squat if the item was heavier, such as a lobster pot.
I’m not sure if this trend will take off in Western Australia. I have had a few bemused glances from other beach goers, few and far between in winter, and becoming more numerous now the temperature is warming up for summer. Perhaps if I could get some fellow dog-walkers to participate my antics might not seem quite so bizarre? After all, I’m not exactly plogging, it’s more a case of plolking – ‘plocka’ to pick up, and walking.
Singapore is a juxtaposition of old and new, concrete and gardens, hot humidity and freezing aircon…
The kids I work with that come from refugee backgrounds have my full admiration. They are a delight to teach and show strength, flexibility, bravery, enthusiasm and the ability to embrace the country and people that has offered them this chance of a new life.
It amazes me that there is so much negative imagery and messaging about people who have had to flee their homeland. For most of them, there is no going back to the places from where they have escaped in fear of their lives – at least not for many years. If we could really empathise and put ourselves in their shoes (if they have any) then perhaps we might show more compassion.
In 2017, 68.5 million people were forced to flee their homes. Of those, 40 million were internally displaced, 25.4 million were refugees and 3.1 million were asylum seekers. They were forced to flee because of war, persecution, natural disasters, environmental crises and poverty. We see so many people seeking asylum around the world and the so-called ‘first world’ countries are quick to complain that many are simply economic migrants and their status is nothing to do with fear. In a time when money speaks louder than compassion, countries like Australia spend more money on protecting their borders than welcoming refugees. People often believe that their country takes a fair share of refugees; those who arrive through the ‘proper’ channels and are proven to be refugees, a process that can take many years while living in a refugee camp where they can be susceptible to bribery and ‘favours’. Yet it is less affluent countries who are more likely to host refugees.
‘Turkey, Pakistan and Uganda host 31 percent of the world’s refugees. The highest concentration of refugees is in Lebanon, where one in six people is a refugee, primarily from Syria.’ UNHCR 2018.
Those quick to complain that refugees are simply economic migrants, fraudsters and ‘shouldn’t be travelling without documents to prove who they are’, seem indifferent to the circumstances that force someone to flee their home. If your house is burning, guns are firing, women and girls are being raped, or there has been extended drought and you and your family are starving, wouldn’t you flee? Would you pause to make sure you have your documents, even if you actually possessed any? Wouldn’t you use all your money and capacity to move yourself or your family somewhere safe?
It is a complex and political problem. Wars and persecution on the grounds of religion, ethnicity and race will always happen. Drought and internal displacement of people will increase with climate change, and there will always be refugees and migrants. Yet there is an inequality in who is allowed to travel to a country for a new beginning. Why is a doctor from Vietnam lower down the pecking order than one from France or Australia? Is it because their qualification is seen as lesser or are there other factors at play?
If we could support the countries where these so-called economic refugees come from, namely poor developing countries, rather than spending millions on ‘border-control’, surely that would make more economic sense. If their homeland offered prospects for them, micro financing for small businesses, a living wage and safety, wouldn’t they prefer to stay there? Would that be enough to prevent many of the fatalities we are witnessing in the Mediterranean and other seas?
My thoughts go back to the children, the lucky ones who made it to our shores, the lucky ones who escaped violence and war, the lucky ones who weren’t sent to languish on island prisons in the pacific ocean.
Who would be a refugee?
Refugee children in Australia – the ‘lucky’ ones.