Where am I from? It’s not a straightforward answer. I’m Sri Lankan, born in Bahrain, and have lived in New Zealand since I was two – I’m quite a mix of different cultures. This gets interesting when I meet new people here. I often get called Indian or Fijian Indian. When I explain to people that I was born in Bahrain, I receive confused looks – it’s in the Middle East folks. My cultural heritage and ethnicity is important to me, but I’m also very much Kiwi. Is it therefore fair that I’m often treated as different just because I look different? Continue reading
I got to the plethora of sugar options on the shelf and stared.
I picked one up. I put it back. I couldn’t bring myself to buy one.
Why? Not because of all the options before me. It’s because I know that all this sugar in front of me isn’t produced in ways I agree with. I’ve known that for a while, but that day it made me unable to purchase sugar. But I needed sugar. What to do? Driving across Auckland to the TradeAid store to purchase sugar doesn’t seem a great ‘sustainable choice’ either. So I went home with no sugar. But I knew that soon I’d need sugar and be faced with the same dilemma. (Let’s not get into the ‘do you really need sugar’ debate in this one, we’ll save that for another day – and luckily I found out that a different supermarket close-by stocks Fairtrade sugar.)
More than anything what surprised me about this sugar-debacle was myself. I’ve always ‘cared’ about ethical and sustainable consumer choices, but often it becomes idealist with an I’ll-buy-fair-trade-coffee-if-it’s-in-front-of-me thrown in on the side (though this is still a great place to start).
So what’s changed? I’m not exactly sure.
“ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE, ANOTHER WORLD IS NECESSARY, ANOTHER WORLD IS ALREADY HERE.” – Shane Claiborne.
I woke up this morning in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Which is crazy to think about for me. It isn’t everyday you get to hangout over on the other side of the world in a place as beautiful as Cambodia is.
But today wasn’t the most impressive wake up, if I am honest, because I rolled out of bed to the sound of a man testing the loudest loud speaker I’ve ever heard, in the park right across the road from the hostel I’m bunking in. I’m on a trip backpacking all over South East Asia with my twin sister Lydia and our good friend Abi, and for the most part our morning wake ups have been peaceful and serene. I usually wake to the sound of birds in the trees or the subtle hum of a shower a few rooms away.
So this morning was a bit of a weird one for me.
Today, it turns out, is a public holiday. Which isn’t too surprising because around 30 weeks a year in Cambodia have a public holiday.
However, it was very surprising to find out that today is not just any day off. It is International Human Rights Day, and the Khmer people were having a rally. Which is why there was a man in the park across from the hostel I’m bunking in, testing the loudest loud speaker I’ve ever heard.
And, I mean, public holidays are mean and rallies are always a good time, but the idea of a government-endorsed day to celebrate human rights in Cambodia brings me mixed feelings. On one level it irks me, but one another level I have hope.
The government of Cambodia has a long history of violating the rights of its citizens.
In 1975 a crippling dictatorship came into power and ruled until 1979. Under their regime, known as the Khmer Rouge, millions of Khmer people were murdered for an idea, and bad one at that. You were tortured and killed for simple things like wearing glasses or owning a book, or for being educated and working in a job that didn’t involve “using your hands.” Anyone else was sent into the countryside to work the land in terrible conditions.
The Khmer Rouge was replaced by a false democracy led by a man called Hun Sen. He and his officials live in grand houses and drive $100,000 SUV’s, while the majority of Cambodia’s population lives on less than $150 a month. At the last election Hun Sen was voted out but somehow remains in power. Knowing he would lose the election, a few days before it took place he threatened that if the people didn’t vote for him, another Khmer Rouge would happen. When protestors took to the streets after it was announced he was still to remain Prime Minister, 40 people were shot and killed by the police. Earlier in 2014 the government of Cambodia was given $80m to house refugees that Australia is unwilling to look after, but no one knows where the money has gone. And that’s all in the last 18 months.
Cambodia has come a long way since the 1970s, but the rights of the Khmer people are still neglected by its government.
However, I have hope. Continue reading
We’re super excited to welcome Kirstin Cant to our blog! Grace Collective speaker, part of St Margaret’s Church in Hillsborough, and NZCMS Youth Mobiliser, Kirstin loves conversations over a good coffee about sharing together life, community, brokenness, Jesus, world issues, art, and the weather. She and her husband Rowan enjoy fumbling along with God, and she’s sharing with us some of her stories about finding out what it means to respond to the world’s need and God’s gift of life to them.
He was blind.
He needed help with every basic human action: walking, to be put in the wheelchair, eating, using the toilet. He relied on the nurses for his daily life. Some-days I would help him eat, help him drink tea. I tipped the enamel cup to his lips, as some dribbled down his chin he would say ‘Thank you’. It didn’t feel like an act worthy of thanks. I didn’t know what to say. Once we talked of New Zealand. Travel. India. He had a brother living in India and wanted to travel there. With a sense of humour, he asked me to take him with me in June. Continue reading
Upon walking into our young adults service on Sunday night I was greeted by the Indian flag. Everywhere. On every banner hanger and every notice board. Photos of India, the people and the landscape, looped on the main screen at the front of the church. It was Indian night and Church of the Saviour and we don’t do things by halves.
But this wasn’t your tyical cultural night filled with food, music, language and dancing; tonight we were watching the 2004 documentary about Freeset and skyping the man who made the documentary and is now the general manager, Karl Weaich. Continue reading