Sunday, June 10, 2018

Paris in July...... It's on again - All welcome.

Thanks to some of our usual players, I've decided to host Paris in July 2018, and keep the event alive another year. So what's it going to look like? 
Paris in July is a French themed blogging experience running from the 1st – 31st July this year.
The aim of the month is to celebrate our French experiences through actual visits, or through reading, watching, listening, observing, cooking and eating all things French!  Here's a link to some of my previous reviews.
There will be no rules or targets in terms of how much you need to do or complete in order to be a part of this experience – just blog about anything French and you can join in! Some ideas might include;
  • reading a French themed book – fiction or non-fiction, 
  • watching a French movie, 
  • listening to French music, 
  • cooking French food, 
  • experiencing French, art, architecture and travel
If you are interested in being a part of this experience use the MrLinky widget below to add in your details. 
Over the past few years, it's worked out that I've tended to post a new MrLinky each week so we can keep up with our fellow players, and follow each others Paris in July Journey.  NB, when you enter your name, also enter in brackets the theme of your posts ie, Tamara (Book review).....

To get us started, do we have any volunteers to create a themed button...Post your design on your blog and link it in with Mr Linky below


Saturday, April 14, 2018

Thoughts on cultural sensitivity

What does culturally sensitive charity work look like? 

Firstly, on reflection of what I do, I'm not sure I like the word charity. It conjures up   images of 'doing something to or for' another group... I would prefer to consider what I am involved in as a partnership. 'Walking with' my like minded friends on a significant journey, one that aims to provide resources and hold out a hand to others who may be struggling.

So the question on culturally sensitive work for arises when I think about embarking on this journey on another cultures soil. I recognize that I am coming into their space, and in doing that, I am at risk of influencing this space with my values and presence.

So how do I do this in a culturally sensitive way? I remind myself frequently that I am a member of a powerful part of the global community, and the power attributed to me because I am white, educated, rich, and from a democratic society, means I have the power to influence.. but that's not what I want to do, I want to offer my capacity, as a peer and friend, to the cause for change that is meaningful and desired by this community.

I am so lucky to have found local friends, in the NGO ODAM , with whom I share similar values. We gave developed a relationship where i believe we bounce ideas off each other. I  bring my limited experience in community development, and my lifetime of Englisher and working with stakeholders. My partners bring their intimate knowledge of the life of the women of south India. They know the political and economic environment we are are working in, they know what wont work and what might work.

I think whats most important in culturally sensitive aid work is to remember I am not an expert here, i am a student. In my work, i bring ideas, i ask questions, and i participate in conversations equally.

Prior to coming to India my friend & i had this idea for a Fairtrade business but I was concerned we had not developed these ideas in a true collaboration  with our friends here in India. So in our first meeting, a very long day of discussions, my friend and I prepared ourselves to frame our idea in a way that allowed, even encouraged, debate and change. To our great surprise, and excitement, our idea fitted exactly what our partners in India wanted to do.. we were on the right track.

The past 10 days have been exciting and eye opening, as we've embarked on a partnership in this business venture. But this comes with nervousness and concern.... we hope we can make it work, and the promise of employment for these rural women will be realized.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Letter from India

Dear Friends and family
My travelling companion Chris and I are now comfortably settling into our room and local community, in a small town near the girls school and hostel. Its  very hot here, an unrelenting 40+degrees.

Yesterday we had an all day meeting with directors of ODAM learning about recent developments, changes in government policies and regulations, and new developments occurring in this region impacting on rural women and girls poverty and empowerment. It's xciting to see that over the past 11 years of our visiting,  many things have come along way forward, still many things appear the same.

It appears that the government is now taking more responsibility for ensuring girls get a complete education through to year 12, and we are hearing about a transition period where NGO's are no longer needing to provide the education support for these girls. ODAM remains very passionate about ensuring safe and appropriate hostel care for girls, and continue to manage their hostel for both high school and tertiary students for now.

Chris at the girls hostel in 2013

We have been delighted to hear that some of 'our girls' have completed science, art and engineering degrees, and some are near completion of their nursing degrees. We have more questions to ask about their transition into meaningful employment as it seems some are not working in their fields yet (not unlike our Australian graduates experiences).

We had very productive talks yesterday about the fair trade business idea, and we feel we have alot of work to do while we're here to support ODAM to develop the proposal further. I'll write more about that soon.

Thanks for all your support over the years, its just delightful to seem what our investments have achieved here.


Friday, March 30, 2018

Reflection.... culturally sensitive charity

What is culturally sensitive charity? And how do I feel about introducing new ideas into an old culture? Why is charity, or more to the point, fund-raising even going to make a difference?

I'm  pondering these questions, and many others, as I am preparing to go back to India, where I have been volunteering for the past 12 years. Each trip, (every 2 or so years), I am challenged with the same questions.... is what I'm  doing making a difference to one girl or one women's life? And how will my interaction with this community change them, either positively or not?
I am without a doubt, changed by my visits and interactions. But it shouldn't stop with me. I am interested in social changes.

This trip my travelling partner had hoped to have more indepth conversations with the NGO directors about a sustainable & fairtrade business model.  The idea being that by providing local women with sewing & tailoring instruction, and providing new patterns and ideas for products appealing to western women, an online market could be established. We feel excited and believe the unique opportunity lies in the beautiful south Indian sarees and textiles.  Yet, as we have been preparing, we've been challenged by our own thoughts.

Is the business going to be profitable? What are the costs of establishing this in India? Will Etsy be the right platform for these transactions, if English is not the local womens first language? What about the customers expectations? How difficult will it be to help the women of and isolated rural district understand the desires of the identified customer base? Will,our three week visit be adequate or just a start?

The big picture and dream, is that through selling beautiful handmade creations to western women, the NGO will be able to firstly provide a fair pay to their craftspeople, and make extra funds to support their girls hostel and education program.

While I believe these ideas are well intentioned, I am concerned that it's our vision not theirs... and that first principle of our practice should be of empowerment. I am hoping we can raise the ideas in a respectful manner and find out if there's some way we can work with the NGO to achieve something sustainable.

Bags commissioned for a womens conference in Sydney were loved by participants. 

Here's a link to our GoFundMe crowdfunding site.... All Welcome

Saturday, March 10, 2018

French Film Festival Sydney

I love french films - I love the way the French make films - I love learning things about the French people through their films... So for many years now I've been going to Sydney to see french films at the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival. This year its running pretty much all of March - soo many movies to choose from.. So I thought I'd mention the first three I have seen - and have enjoyed.

1. The most challenging and also the best movie I've seen so far was 'Beats per Minute' (in english) or 120 Battements par Minute. It's set in Paris, and the members of the advocacy group ACT UP are demanding action by the Government and Pharmaceutical companies to fight the AIDS epidemic in the early 1990s. I was a young  graduate during that era, and this movie has really changed by understanding of the world back then. I would definitely watch this one again. here's a link to the short.

2. Back to Burgundy, set in Burgundy (haha), is a lovely story of adult siblings returning to their family vineyard when Dad dies. They love their vines and their wine but their adults lives have taken them to different places, and staying on the land isn't the only choice they have to make.

3. C'est La Vie was the premiere film of this years festival - and it made us laugh and giggle. It was about Max, a seasoned wedding event organiser and caterer. Today, it’s all hands on deck for Pierre and Héléna’s nuptials in a breathtaking 17th century French chateau.  As per usual, Max has everything precisely organised but, as the celebrations get underway, Murphy’s Law takes over.  we were sitting on the edge of our seats as Max and his team pull together to make Pierre and Héléna’s special day memorable for all the right reasons. 

My thoughts so far -  still love french cinema. I have two more weeks to fit in a few more movies, and I hope to see at least another 5.... I'll be overdosed by the end of the month. If you care to see what's on this season, check it out here.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

What happened to the blogging community?

I recently sent an email to a blogging peer. Nothing unusual really. However the interaction left me pondering. Firstly, blogging isn't really a social media platform is it?  My blogging peer had left a comment on my post. I wanted to acknowledge that and respond, which i did through the comments section on my blog. But I dont have any sight over whether she sees my responsive comment. So I decided to email her to ensure we 'connected' on the subject.

In the era of other social media platforms being instant response, one click comments etc... blogging isn't really about instant communications and connection, its more didactic, and slower, perhaps more considered.

So, the topic of our chat was actually about blogging challenges. Blogging challenges are essentially community engaging. Its about like minded people sharing the experience during the defined time frame. My blogging peer and I essentially agreed that a good blogging challenge will be managed by a community minded host, and thus the host will set up means and processes to encourage participation, sharing and linking (this can be difficult because blogging isnt set up for this well). Some do this very well, others seems distracted or not even present.

My blogging peer noted that its different for different communities ie, boookies, foodies, crafties etc... she may be right.. maybe some topics endear themselves to interactive idea and opinion sharing, or is it about the participant and host?

What do you think? Has the blogging community changed? Have you experienced changes in events ? What makes a good one? What do you like in a good challenge, and what supports your participation?

Food for thought as July is coming sooner than we know.

Monday, February 19, 2018

My very belated Japanese Literature Challenge Reviews

I am a huge fan of this challenge, hosted this year my Mel U @ the reading life and Dolce Bellezza, the 11th Japanese Literature Challenge ran from June 2017 to January 2018... Sadly, I didn't get much read during my University studies, but I did enjoy these two books over the summer. 

Having participated in most of the 11 years of this challenge,  I have read nearly all of Murakami's books, some novels in themselves, but many compilations of short stories. Murakami has a reoccurring set of themes in his stories, and these short stories, in Men without Women, are the same. Music, trains and transport (including train stations), school friends and universities as a period of life, and intersections between relationships. While these short stories are written from a mans perspective, I appreciated the reflective approach of Murakami on life, in the moment, and the people you share it with..  While I haven't finished all of this yet, it hasn't disappointed. 
 I have, again, read others by Banana Yoshimoto (and by the way, I love that name), so this one was definitely on my list. My niece studied Japanese at high school, and the one thing I remember about Japanese language that she taught me (when we had the pleasure of travelling together in Japan), was that Moshi Moshi is what you say when you answer the phone. Its a pleasantry like Hello.

So this book is about telephone calls... between the dead father and the living and grieving daughter. But its much more than that too. Without going into the details of her fathers death (I don't want to spoil anything), the narrator is joined by her mother in grief. This is about both of their coming to terms with their loss, but also finding their new..

I really enjoyed this. Banana introduces new ideas and new themes that weave together the fully story of a young women discovering her place in the world. I can safely say, I'll read more from Banana Yoshimoto..