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Enchanting Gardens

Memories

In this the 25th year of my father’s passing away, I remember the amazing garden he nurtured in Athi River, Kenya, now a million years ago, it seems.  As kids we enjoyed walking through his veggie patch, showing it off to our visitors and seeing the marvel of growing beans, cucumbers, spinach and so much more.  The indelible picture of Papaji tending to the patch of land around our bungalow with gusto, is etched in my memory.

‘Personal’ gardens often come to the fore in our minds, enchanting our present with the love we’ve experienced in the past. 

My Aunt’s garden in Nairobi South, Kenya is another unforgettable childhood memory.  The most beautiful, big, red roses greeted us at the front entrance of Mamiji’s home, whilst a vigorous passion-fruit vine adorned the car port which led to a yard lined with paw paw trees around the back fence.  A garden in which we played ‘house games’ for hours on end whilst our Aunt looked after Mum at the birth of our youngest sibling.

Gardens made so much more enchanting because of the love that flowed out to us from the gardener.  

‘Dadirri’ for Australia Day

Miriam-Rose’s story for ‘Celebrate Australia Day’   reflects on the vast open garden of her hometown in the Daly River region in Northern Territory, Australia and points out the importance of ‘inner deep listening and quiet still awareness’ also known as ‘Dadirri’.

‘When I experience dadirri, I am made whole again. I can sit on the riverbank or walk through the trees; even if someone close to me has passed away, I can find my peace in this silent awareness. There is no need of words. A big part of dadirri is listening.’

I am strong ….

Enchanting, ‘personal’ gardens! – our life-line in the most difficult and isolating times.  

Walking into 2021, a year that spells yet another phase of the pandemic challenge of vaccines, quarantines and lockdowns, may we be filled with the fruits of our chosen ‘enchanted gardens’ – fruits of love, joy and peace.

…. I am strong, when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up to more than I can be

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains

You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas….

lyrics by Josh Groban

To heal, we must remember

President Joe Biden January 2021

2021 – The Year of Vaccines and Variants

Whilst the process of our ‘new-normal’ swirls around us, life keeps on going through its age old ‘normal goalposts’. Births, marriages, buying and selling of houses, work, study and even travel for some, is an endless list, albeit now tinged with masks, registrations, vaccine passports and much more.

Every major scientific laboratory in the world was and is furiously engaged in churning out the solution so desperately needed to primarily safeguard us from the current virus. A ‘cure’ from COVID19 seems to be an ambiguous concept, at this stage.

2021 will go down in history as being the year when all the nations started rolling out these sought after vaccines, after months of furious research, development, testing and manufacture.

Now half-way through the year, variants, Delta being the most prevalent, is the talk of the town. Whilst Australia and New Zealand go hard on keeping their case numbers down to three digits with quick lockdowns and ramping up of vaccine stations, other western countries show positive cases in four digit numbers and far fewer lockdowns.

In the midst of it all, politics, natural disasters and civil unrest keep on happening around the world – hearts keep on breaking.

Still, it’s not all doom and gloom. Necessity is the mother of invention. On the social and business front, the advent of zoom has opened up communications to the extent never realised before, bringing in much light-heartedness, entertainment and the ability to ‘attend’ remotely.

On the medical front, research in laboratories round the world keeps on gaining ground and much needed solutions are being developed, giving us hope of surviving even this catastrophe.

Another way of life is being paved ahead for our kids and grandkids. We know they will adapt and take to it like ducks to water, like we did when the age of technology engulfed us.

COVID will have its measure of sway in history.

Nevertheless, viruses, vaccines and variants are but mere ‘grasshoppers’ in the ultimate and giant sway of human and natural order of life, created by the mighty hand of God.

A Much-Longed-For Education

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

Juneteenth

89-year-old Opal Lee’s struggle for acknowledgement and education of the history of slavery, its scourges and eventual emancipation, was very real, as she walked from Texas to Washington DC in 2016, to petition for Juneteenth to be declared a Federal Holiday.

Gaining over 1.5 million signatures, Ms Lee was present when, finally in 2021, President Joe Biden signed on the dotted line to proclaim June 19th a National holiday in the United States of America.

The truth of history is an integral and important part of every country’s education system – and the triumphs are worthy of the trials and struggles endured in the making of that history.

Disruptions of Displacement

Wars, migration, natural disasters, and cultural/power (couched in religious) dictates bring in disruptive elements for the pursuit of education, from which a relatively small percentage of people gain real victory. And that small percentage quite often become trail blazers of change and possibilities for others.

Photo by Victor on Pexels.com

The events at the turn of this century brought forth many such victors. People like Malala who was shot for having dared to go to school, but survived and who now campaigns to have education made available for all young women everywhere.

Ugur Sahin, a Turkish migrant to Germany, also has a story of triumph. He was not held back by his status as a migrant but went on to excel as a German oncologist and CEO of BioNTech and helped develop one of the major vaccines against COVID-19, enabling millions to survive the present pandemic.

Another, not so well-known, is Alice Achan who endured violent disruptions to her much-longed-for education not once but several times because of the civil war in Uganda between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Ugandan government which lasted for nearly two decades. Going from village to village, the LRA notoriously abducted thousands of boys and girls in their early teens, as they waged their war all over the north of Uganda. The boys were trained to kill and girls used as sex slaves.

After escaping from the height of the warring conflict, Alice was burdened to work with these girls traumatised by sexual violence and with their babies, who would escape and find their way to the UN based Internally Displaced People’s camps.

Alice completed a diploma in counselling and social work which eventually led her to set up an Academy to house and nurture young women some of whom had missed years of education and who were devastated by the LRA’s campaign.

The Joy That Comes in the Morning

President Joe Biden echoed the feelings of the many people who have struggled everywhere against systemic racism, inequality and inhumanity and fought for the freedom of truth in education, when he penned these words in the Juneteenth Proclamation –

Psalm 30 proclaims that “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”  Juneteenth marks both the long, hard night of slavery and discrimination, and the promise of a brighter morning to come.

May we ever strive for and be emboldened by the truth of history in education – and never forget those who have been the trail blazers in this quest.