Monthly Archives: October 2008

Macaques in the garden

A friend of a friend (on Facebook) wanted “more monkey videos” this is the best I can manage, but it did remind me to upload some more of the superb scenery from Sri Lanka, maybe after the weekend and before the marking 😉

Sri Lanka has three species of macaque, we spotted these guys running wild in the botanic gardens outside Kandy, and another species in the gardens at Haggala (the gardeners were not as pleased – I wish I’d got a shot of the chase 😉

Blog Action Day: Poverty

Since I signed up to participate in Blog Action Day and saw that the topic was “poverty” the global economic meltdown has moved from being a relatively minor blip in the US (and some other’s) economy to what the pundits are comparing to the Great Depression. The banking system has for decades enabled many to act rich as they spend borrowed resources that they have neither grown nor earned.

Banks have achieved this “something for nothing” gift by loaning many, many times more money than they have themselves been loaned. This ensured that saving was not well rewarded, while spending was. Banks and others vied with each other as they woed the borrowers. (When was the last time you saw a TV ad for a banks savings interest rate, how many ads have you seen recently – or at least before the “shame” of governments throwing money at them to “bail them out” – begging you to borrow more? If you pay off your credit card each month you will be used to the company raising your cretit limit higher and higher (Till it becomes a large fraction of your annual pay!) in the hopes of enticing you into accepting a loan.

And now the house of cards has begun to fall.

And now we see real poverty, not among bankers and financiers (they have their Platinum Parachutes, negotiated long ago in the boomtime days) but among those already poor.

  • Watch as the prices of commodities, like coffee, cocao, rubber and the other products poor peasant farmer produce  tumble – more people who cannot afford medical care for sick family members.
  • Listen as charities that feed the refugees, with falling donations, have to cut the meagre allowances of those who cannot grow their own because war-lords and “governments” drive them from their land.

This is what poverty means in the wake of economic crisis, but don’t worry, you will not be troubled (much) by seeing it on your TV or reading dense paragraphs of analysis of their plight in your newspaper. The focus will remain on how to protect the rich from the consequences of greed, not on how to protect the poor from disaster. NZ and the USA have elections at present. Anyone care to guess how often the world’s poorest and most exploited will get a mention as the politicians bid for your votes?

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Visit a Karen village on the Thai-Burma border

Your chance to join us and visit a Karen village on the border in Thailand. We’re planning to spend ten days in a Karen village doing something useful (possibly an English language intensive in a school or Bible school) though a big part of the reason for going is simply to meet people. At the end there would be a few days for either a trek or shopping (in BKK or Chaing Mai). That plan would take up the NZ school holiday in July 2009 (which is also in the NZ University holiday period).

This is the refugee camp, not the vilage we'll visit, but it gives an idea of the beauty of the area!

This is the refugee camp, not the village we'll visit, but it shows the beauty.

The cost will be your airfare plus a share of transport (probably in rented van) from Bangkok to Mae Sot and beyond, a few nights in a cheap hotel or guest house, food during the “holiday” days and a gift for the people who feed and lodge us (hopefully both some small thank you presents and a contribution to the school or Bible school). Several of these costs, most notably the airfare can change quite a bit, currently it looks like around NZ$2,500 as a rough estimate, unless we choose an expensive holiday option 😉

The Thai-Burma border

The Thai-Burma border

Accommodation will be (by Western standards) basic and probably Marae-style, and food will be local (but with “not too much chilli”) nutritious and prepared with love. The main “work” will be sharing with people and getting to know them and their world, but we hope also to achieve something worthwhile as well.

If you are interested in principle, and free on those dates, please let me know (tim at as we can sharpen the ideas and costs when we know better who is likely to be coming! If you are not interested

The Karen and charming people!

The Karen are charming people!

yourself, but know someone else who might be please do pass this link on. (People starting from other places than NZ could arrange to meet up with us in Bangkok.)

The photos attached are just to give you an impression of the beauty of the country and people we’d be visiting – few travel agents can do better, and none at a better price!

Global financial meltdown

Tom Sine’s “Seed Sampler” email included this timely item from Samantha Baker-Evans, InnerCHANGE Cambodia

A few people have asked me recently how Cambodians are dealing with the ‘recession.’ Recognizing their genuine concern and good hearts, I have searched for a diplomatic and non-melodramatic response, but in this case, the truth is just not reassuring. How are Cambodians responding to the recession? They are dying from it, the slow, silent death of old people and small children from malnutrition as rising food prices cause families to eat less with less variety. Crises like these are hard on all of us, but disproportionately affect the poor. Since Cambodia came out of war and oppression in 1991, the people have benefited from  development, and a new middle class has grown, but the last two years have brought high inflation. Families that were finally stabilizing are now falling back into poverty.

Naw Ree Kah prepares food

Naw Ree Kah prepares food

The reminder came as we are planning to send a small sum to the refugee camp to help feed the extra mouths who have retreated there since cyclone Nargis. Already back in April the TBBC had to cut the food ration they give to refugees, then in May Nargis struck, and over the months since more and more unregistered but desperate people have arrived at the camps. So the meagre rations have had to be spread even more thinly.

So if you are in a tizzy over the global financial meltdown, as well as being angry at the bankers whose greed caused it, please also spare a thought and some cash for those who are REALLY hurting.

The photo comes from a fine photo post on Timelight @ Mae La
on “The new arrivals and their food in Mae La Camp”