Wishing You Well

Archive for the ‘Dreams’ Category

“I have a plan to expand my business and buy more milking cows.”
– Tsetsegmaa, Mongolia


Tsetsegmaa is an ambitious 26-year-old mother who lives with her husband and infant son in a Mongolian yurt without electricity or piped water. She started her own business in May 2011 after buying 2 milk cows and sells milk and yogurt to the local high school.

She used her $500 Kiva loan to buy hay and grass for her cows. Since then, her cows have produced two new healthy calves, and have generated enough income for her to buy her husband a motorbike to transport her dairy products and help her business grow. Her family is thriving thanks to the help of lenders – not big banks, just regular people like you and me!

Kiva lenders have done so much to help Kiva borrowers in Asia like Tsetsegmaa – but there are even more who could use our help.

Check out dozens of other amazing business owners in MongoliaTajikistan, and the Philippines who are looking to grow their businesses and support their families.


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g4“Los Reciclados” — “The Recycled Orchestra” — is a youth orchestra in Cateura, Paraguay, whose instruments are made out of the very trash that the town is built on.

Due to the resourcefulness of these garbage pickers, an orchestra came together, and they play violins, cellos, and other instruments artfully put together from trash. A concert they put on for The Associated Press also featured Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” and some Paraguayan polkas. Los Reciclados de Cateura is now an independent orchestra and performed in Brazil and Colombia before planning a world tour with input from fans on a thriving Facebook page. The orchestra will play this year in Argentina, the US, Canada, Palestine, Norway and Japan. Chávez has also received an invitation to play at June’s Meltdown festival in London.

Rocio Riveros, 15, said it took her a year to learn how to play her flute, which was made from tin cans. “Now I can’t live without this orchestra,” she said.

Word is spreading about these kids from Cateura, a vast landfill outside Paraguay’s capital where some 25,000 families live alongside reeking garbage in abject poverty.

Ada Rios, a 14-year-old first violinist, greeted the AP with sleepy eyes and a wide smile at her family’s home on the banks of a sewage-filled creek that runs into the Paraguay River.

“The orchestra has given a new meaning to my life, because in Cateura, unfortunately, many young people don’t have opportunities to study, because they have to work or they’re addicted to alcohol and drugs,” she said.

Her little sister Noelia announced with the innocence of a 12-year-old that “I’m famous in my school thanks to being in the orchestra.”

Their 16-year-old aunt next door, Maria Rios, 16, also is a violinist.

“My mother signed me up in teacher Chavez’s school three years ago. I was really bothered that she hadn’t asked me first, but today I’m thankful because she put my name in as someone who wanted to learn violin,” Maria said.

Her mother, Miriam Rios, who has 14 children in all, said Maria was born when she was 45.

“My neighbors said she would be born with mental problems because I was so old, but an artist was born!” Rios said, her voice breaking with pride as she brushed away tears.

As you can imagine, hope for the future is hard to find when you’re growing up in a place where children have to work combing through mountains of trash each day. The young people of the community often become addicted to drugs and alcohol due to the insane conditions around them.

The project was born in 2006 when Favio Chávez, 37, began work at the landfill as a technician, helping recyclers to classify refuse. Over time he started to get to know many of the people that lived there. He looked around and saw the struggles that the people there were having to face day after day, especially the children. But his passion for music took him home each weekend to the small town of Carapeguá, 50 miles from Asunción, to conduct a youth orchestra.

After he brought the group to Cateura to perform, the gancheros asked Chávez if he could teach music to their children, many of whom would spend afternoons playing in the rubbish as they waited for their parents to finish work.

But as the months passed, Chávez – a longtime fan of Les Luthiers, an Argentinian band that uses homemade instruments – realised the ever-growing number of children under his tutelage needed to practise at home if they were to progress.

“A violin is worth more than a recycler’s house,” says Chávez. “We couldn’t give a child a formal instrument as it would have put him in a difficult position. The family may have looked to sell or trade it.

Enter Cola. That’s Nicolas Gomez, nicknamed Cola, and he has worked at the Cateura landfill for a long time. He picks through the trash items that have a bit of hope of becoming useful again and then gathers them up to take back to his workshop.

He had to drop out of school when he was younger to go to work breaking rocks at a quarry but over the years he developed a great skill on his own using the workshop at his home to make discarded items useful again.

Cola had never even heard of Mozart but when Favio brought him a normal wooden violin and asked him to make one out of trash that worked the same, he was up to the task.

He took measurements from the regular violin and studied it closely. He did his best crafting the landfill violin out of the most promising materials. Then he gave the violin to Favio to be played and… it sounded good! And through trial and error he made more adjustments and the sound got even better.

Cola hadn’t simply made something in the same shape of a violin, he had made a beautiful sounding instrument. Now any child in Cateura that wanted to play music could have their own instrument.

Favio’s music program grew from there, and it’s changed many of the kids’ lives. The music program gives them something positive in their lives and a way to work through the extreme issues they face living in such a place without needing to turn to drugs and alcohol.

Now with the aid of colleagues, Chávez – who has been teaching music since he was 13 – uses the instruments to give classes to around 70 children and also directs weekly orchestra practice.

But he has a goal that goes beyond music. Chávez believes the mentality required to learn an instrument can be applied more widely to lift his pupils out of poverty.


  • In: Dreams
  • Comments Off on The HemLoft – a secret treehouse, hiding in the woods of Whistler

[you tube http://www.youtube.com/v/6ONLyd2gmV8%5D

Image: Joel Allen / Daily Mail

It took months to find the right tree to build on, and when he did the spot was on public land looking down on a row of multi-million dollar homes.

But that didn’t stop Joel Allen – he just built this incredible egg-shaped treehouse in Canada anyway, without telling anyone.

The computer technician-turned-carpenter started off by creating a scale model of his design to test its strength and durability, before beginning the months-long quest to find the perfect tree.

‘Finding that perfect spot on Crown land wasn’t so easy,’ he said. ‘I had an informal check-list of requirements, the most important ones being that it within a reasonable distance to a road, yet out of sight and out of earshot of human traffic.

‘The other requirement was hard to qualify, but was of prime importance: the shape of the egg would need to suit the environment and be proportionate to the tree. I couldn’t explain exactly what that was but I figured I would know it when I saw it.’

Without the money to buy property, Joel decided to do it on Crown land in the forests of Whistler. Mr Allen found the perfect spot in a patch of old growth near a development of multi-million dollar homes, then began secretly constructing it. The process took years, thousands of dollars, and many free items found on Craigslist.

Finally, he created the HemLoft.

Asked by a friend why he did it, Mr Allen said: ‘I found myself grasping for some sort of rationalisation that would make me seem less crazy.

‘She said “no, why did you really build it?” For the first time in my life, I was forced to face the truth about it. I said “I guess… I just wanted to build something cool”.’

‘Since the treehouse was built on crown land, I don’t technically own it, and so its fate is uncertain.

It took Joel months to find the right tree to build on before he settled on the spot. The perfect egg-shaped treehouse was built on a tree over a slope on the mountain.

‘For three years I kept the HemLoft secret, but now that I’m finished, I’ve found myself wanting to share it…Coming out of the bush about the HemLoft is fun, however it poses a few problems; if people know about it, they might try to find it. And if the wrong people find it, they may make me take it down.

‘It took a lot of work to build it, and I’d rather not take it down, just yet. So I’ve been thinking of ways to expose the HemLoft, while somehow making it legal.

‘To the best of my knowledge, Squatting on Whistler Mountain, beneath some of Western Canada’s most luxurious mega-homes would not be looked favourably upon.’

YouTube & Daily Mail

Water-Fire-RainLike rain our friends have fallen, like the sun they will continue to shine, like wind their spirits surround us, this is the time.
Like thunder we warn, like lightning we strike, Like fire we burn, the end is in sight.
We are a mother’s strength, We are a child’s will, We are a family united, we will not be still.
The deception has been broadcast, the wickedness has been seen, the rape has been exposed by the Sea of Green.

Poem by Patty Blake from a recent dream

Azadi Monument, Tehran, IRAN

Azadi Monument, Tehran, IRAN

World Wide Window

One day I discovered I could see Iran through my window
An awesome sight, throngs of people
old and determined, young and defiant
So many, they dwarfed the capital’s grand monuments
Filling the streets, the squares, the parks
Jewel bright flashes of green everywhere

I had never really looked at Iran before
Now I found it mesmerising: I couldn’t look away
The scenes changed, peaceful green scorched by fiery orange,
stained with bloody red. Surrounded by dark shadows
Strong, noble green prevailed
Day by day it became the colour of Iran

Around the world, people were drawn to the window
Day after day we watched
We wrote tiny messages of support
Maybe they would realise they were not alone
We bore witness. We watched and waited

Life away from the window began to lose its colour
I sat in my grey world and stared at Iran,
hungry for any glimpse of green
Time goes by, still we watch and wait
Infinite confetti of hope and friendship, sympathy and love
rains onto Iran from a million windows

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Have you heard about Kiva.org? They are a non-profit doing something good by helping people who are struggling to make a life for themselves but need a loan – usually a pitifully small amount – to help them along. This is a superb idea and I heartily endorse the concept. I especially like that the charity passes on 100% of all donations to the people they are helping. It’s a nice touch that they offer the option of adding 10% to your donation amount (from $25) to help them with their running costs, but is it only an option, there’s no pressure.

Once you have made a donation, this is what happens:

  • 100% of your funds will be sent to Kiva’s local partner who will disburse your loan
  • You’ll receive periodic updates showing the impact of your loan
  • Once your loan is fully repaid, you may withdraw the funds or sponsor a new entrepreneur

See that last bit? A gift you can give over and over again. Nice!
Here’s to Kiva and their enterprising beneficiaries around the world, I want to see them all realise their hopes and dreams, and I wish them well.

Teenagers. Once you have experienced parenting a teen, you totally get the phrase ‘troubled youth’. What is it about becoming a teen that suddenly makes life suck big time? Is it that your hormones are raging and you don’t know what’s going to pop next: your face, your voice, or your temper? Is it that you suddenly see the attraction of consumerism on a Biblical scale, but don’t have an income to support your burning need for the latest footwear/hand held device/CD? Or maybe it’s that you have learned about all the stuff adults get to do, but are still a couple of years away from actually being able to do any of it legally. Ah, the lure of the ‘forbidden’!

Maybe you wake up one day with all the answers, all the opinions. But no-one will listen because you have none of the experience to validate them. It’s all pressure.

As parents, you want to reach out, to comfort and reassure the way you could when they were pre-pubescent. But somehow, you have lost your credibility; the sheer invulnerability that made you seem bigger than all the challenges that life could muster is rinsed away in a tidal wave of caffeine-laden soda and sarcasm. There may be a temptation to regain stature by sharing stories from your own youth. My advice is, don’t. If you really need to share, then perhaps now is the time to be the kind of parent you wanted in your youth.

Eventually, you will be able to relax again, and your teen will have shucked off the ugly, constricting chrysalis of youth to emerge as a vibrant young adult, ready to take their place in society. Just like you did.

So, please join me in sparing a sympathetic thought for all the troubled teens out there. And spare one for the even-more-troubled parents. I wish them well.

February 2019
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