I'm always amazed at the beautiful photo's I see on the web. I need to do some research I think!
Jack, as ever playing silly beggars
Deal or no Deal?
Jack, as ever playing silly beggars
Deal or no Deal?
this very unflattering pic of me has been nicked from Neil Ford.
I was having a bash on Tim's drums from the Shakes. What a cracking band - as were Slashed Seat Affair and Jimmy Golding.
The folks who attended were wonderful - thanks to the panels of folks - especially CC Chapman, what a top fella, our sponsors, and stall holders.
Loads to talk about, and even more pics on the web to follow.
phew...I need a lie down now.
Here's a picture of the Swazi dancers at the Cultural centre - you'll hear their amazing singing in a podcast tomorrow.
The culture here is so different to the west. You'll hear much more about this tomorrow, in the meantime - while the storms hold out from kicking the internet connection, I'll give you as many pictures as I can muster.
These are typical traditional 'homesteads' made from wattle daub / sticks and cowpat floors. These are lived in at the cultural centre and can be seen dotted around Swaziland, they're certainly still in use, particularly around the more rural areas.
There's a whole system of sleeping arrangements, the grandmoher is the matriachal leader whils the grandfather takes a leadership role. The girls sleep in one hut, the boys in another.
Men have no say and are considered children until they marry. The boys all sleep in one hut and this will include the unmarried men who are still considered children until they marry. These men have no say in the life of the homestead. Boys are considered to young to move to the boys hut until they are six - determined by whether they can touch their right ear with their right arm curled around the top of the head! Until they are six they sleep with mum and dad.
The fathers can take as many wives as he wishes, the cost is 17 cows.
The grandmother takes a huge role in decision making and acts as the one to resolve disputes. It seems unflattering to say, but the grandmother is known as 'The great elephant' essentially demonstrating her power in family life. There is a huge matriarchal society that still remains in Swaziland - the Queen mother is particularly important in governmental affairs and will guide the king, certainly until his 40th birthday, still retaining a key role in state affairs thereafter. It's easy to wonder how this society works if you don't understand it, but trust me, it does. Kids respect their elders, and their king.
The shanty that you see here is perhaps the more typical home you'll see in Swaziland, this will co-exist alongside the homesteads above and more modern buildings that are acually quite palacial. I can't undertsnad the way that abject poverty can live so closely with wealth, but it does.
I've seen so many kids without shoes, I'm already hardened to that, while others drive around in 4 x 4's. Transport here is very costly, people tend to walk everywhere as a result, and, as a result, there seems to be little obesity. A real lesson for our own kids.
Sue spent the day with 77 pre-school kids, many of these orphans or living with aging relatives from all over the place. The children speak little English, speaking the native Siswati tongue. Kids flock here because provision like this is so rare. This work desperately needs supporting, the resources are incredibly limited and Hawane Farm do this for no cost at all but simply act out of passion. It chokes me that these folks have so little yet offer so much. They desperately need support, not patronising.
We would have no idea how to work long term with the Swazi kids, we don't know or understand the culture, they do. They have limited room and even more limited resource. Look at this for resources:
This is the box of toys for the pre-schoolers. I'm sure more will come in, and possibly bought in. Please understand, I'm absolutely not patronising - Hawane is actually here, it's doing things, but provision is finite. Other projects are taking resources - such as the hospice, medication, education. No funding exists apart from the generosity of folks and the incredible self funding work the farm invests in. This place seems to be an amazing success, but they need help to run it.
When I think of what my kids have / have had I feel so priviliged and blessed. These beautiful kids deserve
Here are some of the children eating their porridge by the sandpit - you can see the gift shop logo just in the top right. Every part of the structure is used - the gift shop sells the most amazing curios, ceramics, paintings and suchlike - every rand raised to further the work. This is such an amazing cottage industry and is just an inspiration to see.
So why blog this? Why bother coming out here, what;s the point?
There's a huge point actually. The internet is an awesome source of citizen journalism. I'm literally teary eyed as I'm typing this. WE CAN make a difference. This isn't rhetoric. These kids aren't commodities, they're kids. They're just as precious as our kids back home, in fact, probably moreso, some of these poor mites have no mom, dad, or family - many of these tiny lives have been ravished by the blight of AIDS. They need feeding, stimulating, and most of all, love. The amazing thing is that they're getting it. Right here.
This picture is so precious to me - it represents the trip out last year and the £7,500 raised to build a kids home - 16 more kids can be moved in and cared for as soon as the home is finished. That's why this is so important. What an immediate, incredible and immotive difference the project is doing - hampered only by funds. I feel as though I need to shout this from every roof top as I feel so passionate about it, and, thank God, I can through the use of blogging and podcasting. You have to see this work to believe it, i's so humbling and lifechanging to see this. You really see things in perspective when you're here.
Yet another building - the hospice has just been finished and will sadly be in use - Emma, a nurse from Weston Super-Mare works here full time and is presently away on respite, due back within the next week.
I've so much to say, but I need to rest up - please pass this link to anyone and everyone you can think of. My homepage carries a paypal account with a donate button for Swaziland. Absolutely every single penny raised will go out to Kevin and the team here. Please revisit the site and watch out for more blogs / podcasts over the next week.
I've never been to a place like it before or since I've been desperate to get back there and I'm just so anxious to get back to Hawane farm in Mbabane to see some of the faces that have burnt such a long lasting memory in my mind.
Swaziland is such a place of paradox. Amongst the immense mountainous beauty of the tiny kingdom there is the ravage of AIDS. Swaziland has the highest rate of AIDS in the world. There are all sorts of facts and figures, but those really in the know believe the rate to be to the order of 50%.
I wouldn't blame you for not knowing where Swaziland is. It's virtually in the bottom right hand corner of Africa. Swaziland is a tiny kingdom of just over a million people nestled between Mozambique and South Africa.
The red dot in the picture opposite shows you precisely where Sue and I will be going next week. he journey is a bit of a pig - a few hours drive down to London, an 11 1/2 flight to Johannesburg and a 3 hour drive into the most beautiful place I've ever been.
Those of you who've lisened to me before will know why I'm going - I'm visiting an AIDS orphanage and project. I belong to a church that supports the work there. I'm absolutely delighted and incredibly proud, relieved - I don't really know the word - to say that the folks at the church raised £7,500 in one week to build a children's home - that means that 10 kids lives have been saved.
I will be avidly recording audio and photo's to capture as much as I possibly can for you.
If you've not heard them - please check out podcasts 86 - 90 - you can get them from the right hand side of my page by scrolling down. The podcasts are a real experience - there's some amazing sounds, incredible interviews with folks. I can honestly say that the best ones are those that don't feature much of me. The people I met are amazing - and that's what makes the podcasts stand up on their own.
I can't wait, I really can't!
Speak to you all REALLY soon!
Ross tells me that they can get half a million or so listeners so that sounds excellent news eh?
Net Talk will be aroud at Podcastcon - streaming some bits and pieces (broadband willing) so hopefully many more of you can attend virtually for some bits and pieces.
I'll be doing an hour long talk- related show as well as the podcasts and this made me really think.
I'd love to get your mp3 and email comments on stuff - wherever you're from. You can mail your audio or even use he 'Mychingo' icon on my page at www.podcastpaul.com.
I'm collating some bits and pieces on some topics I want to explore, and I'd love your comments, (no matter how diverse) on the subjects.
I want to look at the below comments - so if you've got some comment, please send ASAP to me either as above, or by mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
topics for discussion:
1. Gadgets - we all have em, when will it all stop? Where will we be in, say 5 years?
2. TV - what is the future? (one for you Adrian). We're lucky here in the UK with the BBC (or are we?) Are the present models sustainable?
3. Travel. Here in the UK, the roads are heaving, congested and incredibly expensive. Tax is on the increase and the only alternative is public transport. How do you get to and from work? Are you satisfied with the costs?
4. Podsafe music. Is it all it's cracked up to be really? Have you purchased something on the back of lisening to a podcast? Do you listen to all podsafe music / mainstream / oldies / mixture?
If you send audio - please aim for about 2 mins max per subject. Comment on one or more of the subjects if you wish. Don't feel as though you need to keep within the perameters of the dsicussion as set out above.
Please do comment - I'd love the show to be as interactive as possible. I'd ideally love a world perspective on stuff too, so, grab a mike, or tap those keys!