Sunday, 6 January 2013

What's Your Secret Mission?




Photo courtesy of http://waterwellsforafrica.org/
So it turns out that if you want to keep anything a secret don’t utter even one syllable – and especially don’t ask people NOT to ask you about it because if there’s one sure thing besides death and taxes it’s that they will ask you! After my post on my secret life – mission accomplished after 20 years – the mortal hordes have been asking me, despite being instructed otherwise, what can they do and how they can do it and what’s a good cause anyway?
My number 1 priority is that as close to 100% of the money you put into it must be used for that cause; 2.It must be trackable (you can see what you’ve achieved through your philanthropy); 3. It must be something you feel passionately about (passion is the baking powder of life – it precipitates a change and allows a rise to new levels); 4. Get yourself a partner to work with – remember 1+1=11 specially if your going to challenge yourself to a 20 year project ;-) 5. Decide whether you’re going covert or this is an overt mission because you need the support of friends and colleagues to fundraise. Don’t go overt unless your friends are supportive or you may end up giving up.
Second daughter Skyped from London and asked what she could do when she felt she had no money to spare. I asked if she saw any homeless people when she walked to work. Yes. Did she the same ones regularly? Yes. I suggested she pack an extra nutritious sandwich to take with her on her walk to work once a week and give it someone she thought might be in need of some food. Later on she can work out if she wants to plan a more complex long term secret mission.
Okay, okay, I’m going to share with you what we supported on my 20 year mission – if you’re going covert you’ll want to organise your secret partner (someone fabulous like Occy) or other agent to pass on your anonymous money orders (you take cash in to any bank and ask them for a money order made out to particular organisation not payable to any other party).
My photo of Dr Max Pregers clinic 1990
 In one of my early posts I spoke about working in the Calcutta street clinics of Dr Jack Preger. Jack Preger ran his Middleton Row clinic and sometimes other location clinics when being hounded by the police for 14 years from 1979-1993 when authorities finally granted him registration, his organisation is called  ‘Calcutta Rescue.’ Jack Preger still works today at his clinics at the age of 82! If you want to go and work there voluntarily as I did you can go to the website and click on recruitment or email them info@calcuttarescue.org or just turn up – they’re always grateful for extra hands. If you can’t go there in person they are always desperately in need of funds and there are instructions on how to donate on this same website either directly or through PayPal or the organisation called ‘justgiving’.
 There is also a very biographical site called jackpreger.com with loads of information and pictures if you wish to learn more about Dr Jack Pregers work.

Leprosy Clinic Calcutta
My mission was staged in five year increments to benefit diverse organisations I believed were ethical and worthy - Mother Theresa’s leprosy clinic to purchase medical supplies; Jack Pregers clinic;various water projects in Africa.
Kurt Dahlin Photo courtesy of http://waterwellsforafrica.org/
 Projects currently running that I can recommend are Water Wells for Africa (WWFA) was set up in 1994 by Kurt Dahlin. The really terrific thing is that for every $1 invested a return of $9 is produced! Every $4 – which is the cost of your next latte – will give another fellow mortal clean drinking water for the next 20 years – yes, you did read that right. On the website you can set up your own ‘Wishing Well’ project and donate and have others donate into your wishing well. You can also keep direct tabs on where your money goes and see the wells your efforts produce. To go to the site go to the WWFA website http://sna.etapestry.com/fundraiser/WaterWellsforAfrica/wishingwell/aboutEvent.do
Wishing Well project Photo courtesy of http://waterwellsforafrica.org/
 The Water Project http://www.thewaterproject.org/well_for_sudan.asp partners with Water Harvest International who have built 100 wells since 2008 in southern Sudan and northern Uganda. The Water Project also operates in Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Uganda & Kenya. Each well costs approximately US$5000. On their website you can set up your own ‘My Water Project’ where you will learn how to ‘Take Actions’, get fundraising tips and tools that help build wells and invite and inform friends through a  ‘share’ to Facebook button. You will be able see the impact your work is having through visual graphics so you can track your impact.
The Water project in Burkina Faso Photo courtesy of http://thewaterproject.org
Our friend Marco Mastrorocco recently watched the film ‘Darfur’ and was outraged at the genocide happening there, wondering why more people didn’t know about nor do anything about it, urging people to also watch the film available from video stores. It’s a fiction film made in documentary style. (This may well become his mission) In an effort to help him educate people here is a brief summary. 

Darfur is a drought-prone region of western Sudan (which lies just beneath Egypt in Africa where the Blue and White Nile River runs) divided into 3 states of 6 million people. Darfurians live by subsistence farming and nomadic herding. There are 40-80 ethnic groups speaking Fur, Arabic and Massalit that have coexisted peacefully for centuries.

The conflict in Darfur began in 2003 when 2 Darfuri rebel movements Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) launched attacks against government military installations to highlight political and economic marginalisation of Darfur. The military responded with their militia known as Janjaweed, targeting ethnic groups that were supporting the rebels. 400 villages were annihilated, 300,000 people killed and this has continued to grow. 2.7 million people have been displaced and around 4.7 million have now been affected to date. 

The conflict in Darfur is NOT and Arab versus African conflict. There are Arabs on both sides of the conflict. Neither is it a Muslim versus Christian conflict. 99% of Darfurians are Muslim as are the leaders of the Sudanese government and Janjaweed. It is also not a dispute over oil or water resources though the region does suffer from lack of water. Some of the recruits for the government’s Janjaweed militia were however recruited from drought affected areas.
If you are interested in making a difference but don’t know how the Save Darfur organisation has lots of educational and pro-active tips, not just monetary donations, on their website.
If all this seems too much there’s plenty of school kids that go to school without breakfast, homeless people in need of a sandwich, or elderly people who just need someone to check in on them each day with a visit or phone call so they don’t end up lying dead on the floor of their apartment for seven months because they had no one. If you don’t want anyone to know what you’re about, which can be a good thing, just divert suspicion by acting completely frivolous like me!

The Save Darfur.org http://www.savedarfur.org and endgenocide.org started by a band of students in NYC in 2004 It’s is non-profit organisation with 100 interfaith organisations supporting it. If you would prefer to donate in the old fashioned way via postal mail you can make your donation cheque payable to ‘Save Darfur Coalition/United to End Genocide’ and mail it to:
Save Darfur Coalition/United to End Genocide 
1100 17th St NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036

Guggi & Occy xxx

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Lion Boy – Mane of Style

Lion Boy & Guggi

In which the fourth creature feature offspring is revealed – young son, twin to Monkey Buns Mini Boo – Lion Boy Torsten, Mane of Style. So he has this thing about his hair – it has to be of Lions mane length. Hmm could this be a new psychological condition called the Samson Complex? Other mere mortal students at Lion Boys high school also call it his Lion Mane whilst I’m sure all the teachers wish he’d ‘get a real haircut’. What they need to understand is that this is his snakeskin jacket – it represents a symbol of his individuality, and his belief in personal freedom. Lion Boy loathes anything banally mainstream and stands up for what he believes to be right and just.
In a recent enactment of the film 300 Lion Boy thought it well within his rights as a teenage rite of passage to hold a gathering of 300 Spartans (fellow teenagers) in his house (Occy & I were on the other seaboard). It was a successful evening so he smoked a victory cigar, cognac balloon in hand, at having pulled it off – but…. Nek Minnit…. The police were called by an irate neighbour, the gathering of 300 Spartans evicted. Lion Boy felt it prudent to argue the case with said police officers that it was grossly unjust that those departing weren’t even allowed time to collect their bags and that some of his friends should be allowed to sleepover. Said police officers weren’t impressed. Officer Natalie called me at 1:30am:
‘This is a courtesy call to let you know there’s been a MASSIVE party at your house tonight. We’ve had 10 police officers out here and a squad of sniffers dogs because some of the boys were being, shall we say, obnoxious? BUT… your kids are still alive, the house is still standing, it is trashed but we’re supervising them cleaning it up now’.
Wow, I was so impressed – I didn’t realise they provide supervisory services! And Lion Boy was in so much shit!
Anyways, apart from this teenage glitch, Lion Boy is a Mane of Style. He's bizarrely gifted as a stylist, paying attention to detail like texture and colour and quality that would escape most mortals. As an avid student of History and a keen observer of detail we’ve watched many a film in which the commentary runs something like this:
‘That’s not the correct rifle. The French used that weapon; this is supposed to be Italians.’
‘They haven’t reproduced the flektarn cloth on that German army uniform very well’.
‘That lieutenant has the wrong stripes on his uniform and his buttons aren’t right’.
I mean seriously, who notices that shit anyway?
As a keen explorer he’s planning his gap year with Colorado as the priority. Why? Because there are snow-capped peaks, amazing rock formations and in spring, fields and fields of wildflowers. I can’t actually think of too many 16 year old hankering for fields of wildflowers! He’d also like to do a wine & cheese tour of France (mainly for the cheese) and gorge himself on olives and fetta in Italy & Greece.
In the meantime he’s planning tuxedo gatherings with his friends, Cuban cigars and cognac balloons in hand (yes he actually bought a box of Cubans when we risked our lives in Havana to get them – see post Cuban Cigars?) He has an eclectic taste in music ranging from Metal to Arabic House to symphonic pieces from Lord of the Rings & Halo. At 3 he nearly drove us mad with his OCD obsession with The Wizard of Oz – in fact my mother was staying with us at the time and she declared that if she had to listen to that bloody 'Over the Rainbow' song one more time she would vomit! I suppose three times a day was a bit much… but I suppose it did cement a certain amount of musical awareness into his temporal lobes. As a whippersnapper (4-5) he only needed to hear a few bars of music and would know which movie and scene it was from. These days he's a bit OCD about potential Zombie apocolypses and thinks he'll become a 'prepper' (food storage, survival techniques etc) Lion Boy has a rather inquisitive existentialist intelligence and an avid interest in human evolution. I’m sure if he tied all his talents together he would make a brilliant Anthropologist Stylist with his own YouTube channel in which he can dispense interesting historical snippets along with style advice for Steampunks and other alternate existentialists with a hankering for history.

The Entourage: Mini Boo with Monkey Buns


Monkey Buns Mini Boo & Guggi
Third daughter and twin to young son is that grumpy little monkey & Miss Contrary, Monkey Buns Mini Boo. Like ThinkGeek says sh'e packed with extreme monkey powered awesomeness. I’ve drawn her in her Monkey Buns looking like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth but you see her swishing her monkey tail grumpily. This is because she’s really annoyed that someone not only moved her cheese but would have touched it to do so. This means it’s contaminated and now she can’t possibly eat it like any other normal mortal would.
Mini Boo is a keen cook, and particularly keen on baking cupcakes. She’s also a tiny bit OCD about how things should be done – one misstep and it’s fatal, the whole project could easily end up in the bin! She would probably make a brilliant pharmacist with her exacting measurements and procedures and in fact has always been an A student at math and science, however in a bizzare turn of events it looks as though she won’t be doing any science in her final 2 years choosing instead to do 2 business units (admittedly she always been very interested in business which is a great novelty in our family and as this will probably satisfy her innate need for Supreme Monkey Control is probably a perfect fit) She’s also doing cooking (well technically Home Economics but we'll ignore the minor sewing component) which is just as well because her dream of the monkey moment is to set up a café and bake monkey cakes. She’s recently converted to Paleo eating so she will probably have to invent entirely new recipes for her cupcakes from coconut or banana flour (how appropriate as a monkey!) and maple syrup. She also wants to do Film & Television – she’s very good in front of the camera too - and has started running her own YouTube channel but we – the inner creature feature sanctum – are not allowed to know what it is. Personally I expect her to be the next Nigella Lawson of Paleo Monkey cakes & Monkey Buns. Another thing we're not allowed to view is her online fiction novel she's writing - she's actually an extrordinarily perceptive writer - she posts a hapter every so often, has to date written 8 chapters and had 4000 views! Sneaky little monkey.
Mini Boo thinks of the strangest things. Last night we were watching a Bond film of course, Moonraker, and she said:
‘I’d like to go into space and have a basket of chips (French Fries) that would float in the zero-gravity and then swim through the air catching  them with my mouth’
She has an unusual sense of humour and is very good at doing impersonations. On a recent Kayaking expedition with her twinnie she filmed herself aping Bear Grylls - it was completely hysterical, but that’s what you get with a Mini Boo packed with extreme monkey-powered awesomeness.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

The Entourage: Indi-Pinds

Guggi & Pinds




Pinds
For my second offspring creature feature let me introduce the Cat girl. Second daughter Indi-Pinds is obsessed with Cats. That’s right, you have to give the word a capital just to mark its importance. She even exhibits certain cat-like characteristics: she purrs like a cat, lulling you into a partial somnolence before whipping out her cat-claw sharp wit whilst spouting Grinch quotes. She’s also inclined to pussyfoot around in impossible places just to capture the purfect shot – yes she’s a photographer of ambience and mood. Anything catastrophic, cataclysmic, catatonic or impawtant enough to be catalogued. Pinds is also a bit of Listographer freak. Last year she ran a list project showcasing a photo from each of the 365 days of the year called image365.
At the moment she’s stalking around Europe using London as her base on an extended ‘Gap Year’.  Pinds works in a funky café/bar that plays vinyl records and has themed  60’s, 70’s, & 80’s rooms which is right up her alley-cat. Pinds is very creative in a Ginsberg/Warhol sense so London is  ameowsingly stimulating for her.  She’s share-housing with 13 other mere mortals who have to adjust to the Cat in their midst. As a picnic lover I’m pleased to report she maintains the family tradition of picnicking in old cemeteries – the ancient headstones have such atmosphere and are so interesting to read don’t you think? (Yes we might be slightly influenced by the Addams Family) Sometimes she misses the sunshine of tropical Cairns and declares (think Grinch voice here) that she hate, hate, hate, double hate, loathes entirely the gloominess that can settle over London so I have to remind her it’s not 7.30, time for pity and self-loathing and besides, she has an appointment – dinner with herself, she can’t possibly cancel again!
Well, til tomorrow my sweetlings in which the double-trouble creature feature  makes an appearance – love Princess Snapperhead xxx
 

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

The Entourage: Pookie Chick 'Vee' the Golden Princess

Guggi & Pookie7

 This is  first daughter Vee - first offspring creature feature member. I wrote about Vee in my post title Venus.  As you can see from my sketch above Vee is a Meerkat lover. Sometime ago I sent her a text:
 Me: What's your favourite animal?
Vee: Mia Cat
Me: ?I think you mean Meerkat?
The Meerkat is perfect for Vee - being a sociable animal they hang around in tight knit groups, are intensely loyal, organised and always have one member on 'look-out'. This pretty much describes Vee. As an Events Manager for Colosoul Magazine she is so efficient, loyal and organised at her job and everybody elses that she was recently appointed Director. This pretty much means that between this, Uni and her other job at Vocational Training Services where she does P.A./P.R. her work ethics mean that she ends up working 7 days a week - yep, I suspect the stop at a cafe to get a bit of work done in a congenial setting would be involving the order of a vodka-valium-double-latte - well at least if was her it would ;-)
 Although she rarely has time with her hectic work schedule Vee can be a bit of a 'Book-Muncher' - she eats them for breakfast and by lunchtime she's onto the next one. These days however between Colosoul, Uni and VTS she usually just collapses at the end of the day (read 8pm) to a film and a glass of Proseco (Dulce - for Vee), that bubbly quaffed in Gossip Girl produced in the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions of Italy.
 At any given opportunity Vee turns into a real life Botticeli Venus and heads for the sea. At least living on the western seabord of Australia there are real waves to be had, unlike the fake ones we have in Far North Queensland (FNQ), even if one does have to maintain vigilant shark watch for those bothersome Great Whites or fend off Tiger sharks in hordes as they go wild in a feeding frenzy over a dead porpoise like one poor surfer recently did. Vee like the rest of our family is an advanced diver and though we love nothing better than to dive with sharks, the Great White of Western Australia does have a slight deterrent factor. 
Tomorrow the next member of my creature feature bizzare entourage is unveiled - til then my little sweethearts with love from Princess Snapperhead Guggilaba xxx