Friday, September 18, 2015

My sympathy for the Balkans

I am compulsively clicking on the BBC's website at all hours, noting with dismay that the Balkans have been left with the refugee problem on their hands without resources... forcing basically decent hospitable people to show their harsh side as they have to deal with a problem that Sweden and Germany has forced on them!
I was privileged to Interrail in a era when one could chuck a backpack in a locker at the Train Station and wander around a town while deciding whether it had enough attractions to warrant spending  further time.  In spite of the trains and services deteriorating as one moved further South, I enjoyed the then Yugoslavia the best and was charmed with the old cities of Sarajevo and Dubrovnik so when War broke out it was very saddening to me as I had met many poor but friendly people on my stay there. I remember we had strange connections to get back to Austria and wandering around Belgrade (grim + gloomy) and Zagreb at night with backpacks and meeting such friendly people, never once feeling worried about safety as I did in South of France with a creepy North African guy following us back from a restaurant one night.
So it is with regret to see the countries playing a form of Russian roulette -- pass the migrants/refugees along as soon as possible so as to not be burdened with the problem... tens of thousands is too much to handle! I have more sympathy for the Hungarian farmer whose greenhouses and crops were damaged and human excrement distributed in his fields and left to clear up the mess and annoyance for the UN secretary-general being critical of the Hungarians for putting up a fence-- hey it was effective-- look how quickly the message got around that that way was closed! Now it makes me sad to see that Croatia is bussing people to Hungary before another fence goes up and creating dissension between neighbouring countries: Austria may refuse further people and Germany stands to be overwhelmed-- if there is a harsh Winter as predicted even Teutonic efficiency may be overwhelmed.
Also I note that these refugees are not cowed people ----looking at right-wing clips on YouTube-- demonstrating in Greece and Hungary and quite vocal-- and this is BEFORE they have the right of abode in Europe-- good that they have a voice -- shame they could not find that voice in their countries... personally I think the countries in North America that started all these upheavals-- the elites and their 'agencies' in North America should be footing the bill and taking in all these people.
My understanding was..Western Europe was getting inundated with the Eastern Europeans.. now this... if I were one of these immigrants, my goals would be to learn the language and have a European child to strengthen my case, as soon as possible.  Realistically--- can they physically send back tens of thousands of people?  I think it is outrageous that those richer countries of the EU are now forcing countries who do not want people with different cultural values in their society to accept said migrants... for heaven's sake... AND the migrants do not want to go there either... how is that an acceptable solution when you made it Public that migrants are all welcome??
Check this out:

Thursday, September 17, 2015


In pursuit of Health Promotion, came across a brilliant book by a couple of Aussies: Promoting Health by L Talbot & G Verrinder, after seeing a YouTube video by the latter.   Unlikely to get my grubby paws on a copy easily, I was very grateful that they whetted a potential buyer's appetite by giving a random chapter for free (it's amazing what you can do with technology these days!) - I got Ch5: Community development action for social and environmental change where I was introduced to Arnstein's Ladder of Citizen Participation:

Of course their diagram was nicer -- this diagram was from Arnstein's original paper in 1971-- I thank the wonders of the internet that these things are accessible.
So in a nutshell,  the two forms of non-participation are where people are placed on committees to enlist their support (bingo! -Guyana) or people are involved in group activities to change their behaviour... but not in a nice way-- I think both smack of manipulation and neither gives the community any involvement in decision-making.  The next three steps- called tokenism - because people may be heard but there is no guarantee that their ideas will be acted upon because they have no power-- (this was the case of the IDB Landfill project behind my housing Scheme) -- also a bingo moment in illustrating Guyana to a T! unless of course .... said ideas are stolen and are repackaged as a brilliant idea by the lazy scunt carrying out the exercise!(not the IBD thing I hasten to clarify)  The higher three rungs are not applicable to Guyana, yet, sadly, in any public sphere.
So the Aussie authors go on to note that  those with little/no power are most likely to be suffering from ill health as a result of little access to, influence over structures impacting negatively on their health-- termed structural violence in my anthropology class. Then comes another bingo moment: 'If people are not skilled in articulating their needs, or believe they are unlikely to have them met, then they are not likely to express them.'  Mmm...  this could also be a huge contributory factor to Guyana's high suicide rate: notwithstanding people jumping on the bandwagon and forming numerous NGOs to hog up a bit of the action... all talkshop with no discernible positive results.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Syrian refugee crisis

So it's been a fairly emotive exchange between FB friends... now that I am studying 'the wider picture' of Public systems-- such as housing, schools/trained teachers and other social niceties just don't appear miraculously... it takes evaluating, projecting, budgeting and efficiently using scarce resources to provide even basic services.  Having just returned from to UK I was a bit dismayed to see most of the 50-yr olds are exhausted and heartily wishing for an early retirement as the workload has increased and the pay decreased.  A couple of friends had medical problems and were given routine appointments in a few MONTHS!  This is the system under stress that is being asked to absorb much more?

Yet ironically, things have got much harder for the young... entry requirements into established universities require As and it is not unusual for a first to be a requirement to further studies!  There is no guarantee of a job afterwards-- one that isn't wonder those 'locked-out' feel a sense of rage []. What and where will Europe do with and place all those hopeful displaced persons?  France isn't doing such a great job with ghettos of North Africans, and I wonder how many children of Turkish descent born in Germany are happy with their lot?

An interesting article surfaced that certain parts of Syria had been suffering from a severe drought the past 5yrs, forcing people to move to the urban areas which did not have the capacity to absorb and provide for the extra thousands..leading to social upheaval which the Assad regime responded to with brutality stirring up more problems and the mass exodus. I just saw an Afghan man complain about the brutal treatment by the Serbian police-- preventing him and his family from proceeding and wondered that the same treatment would be meted out if the boot was on the other foot..and in fact how responsible is it to leave the relative safety of Turkey to head to Greece in a dinghy with young children.  In fact, mind-boggling to me is that none of the wealthy Middle-Eastern countries who have ready funds to promote Islam have taken ANY refugees/migrants who are Muslim - even those who were providing arms to the countries experiencing these upheavals of people....such a strange justification of funding!

Interesting if the ultimate bottom-line was the basic human need to be near available water.