Mallorca’s Avalanche of Love

Santiago Stankovic Photography;

Generosity at its best

I have been blessed to meet some incredible people in my life and none other than this past week.  The powerhouse and inspiration behind Mallorca’s recent avalanche of love is none other than local councillor for Inca, Antonia Triguero.

At a recent gathering of Mallorca based group, Kreakolektiva, Antonia was asked by the hosts to speak about her visit to the island of Kos and why she had decided to collect for the refugees upon her return to Mallorca.  That she did shows the big heart she has and that evening, she inspired the hundred or so people gathered to get involved and none other than photographer, Santiago Stankovic, who immediately set about creating a Facebook event which spiralled out of wonderful control.

With these two souls putting their hearts out there for people to follow, the incredible result was almost overwhelming at times, with people coming from all over the island, donating thousands upon thousands of items to be sent to the refugees in Lesvos.

At first Antonia had secured one 40ft container, but a week of Santi driving all over the island inspiring people out of their houses with donations meant that not just another, but up to six more containers were needed and with people power, they have nearly all been secured with the original plan to leave for Lesvos in the next week or so.  There is a bank account into which anyone can donate to help with the transport, see below, as each container cost 4,500€ to send.

Unfortunately the European Union have just signed a sad and sour deal with Turkey and in the last 24 hours the situation in Greece is unclear, with refugees being turned away from Lesvos as well as being being turfed out of the inhumane camps they have been held in.  What faces Antonia now is  where to send these next containers and as soon as NGOs and colleagues on the ground in Greece can tell her, we shall spread the news as to what is happening with everyone’s kind donations.

All this got me thinking about many things.  One is that this could easily be me or you.  From one day to the next, our brothers and sisters, who now find themselves as refugees, were living in their homes, with their jobs and daily tasks, with their loved ones and their pets.  In a heartbeat, they were on their way with just enough to fill a backpack on a journey where they had no map and who knows if they will get to where they don’t know they are going.  Especially now, with the new ruling, no-one knows what will happen to them.

What Mallorca’s good people have shown this week is that we, the ordinary and the extraordinary people everywhere, know what is good and what is right and that is where our energies have been spent this past week.  It is NOT right that we have a situation whereby thousands and thousands of our human family are fighting for their lives on a daily journey with no clear destination in sight.  It is NOT right that our elected officials sit in their fine offices and wine and dine on the misery of our human families affected by greed, violence and outrageous ego.  It is NOT right that we continue to elect these self-same officious men and women who deserve to come down from their ivory towers and ask themselves “what if that were me”?  It is NOT right that the refugees have no safe passage to escape war and misery.  It is especially NOT right the recent and atrocious deal made on our behalf to turn back the refugees that even dare to think of setting foot in Europe.

Antonia Triguero, Santiago Stankovic, people of Inca, women, men, young people and children of Mallorca you are a force to be reckoned with.  You are people with heart, with a conscience, with abundant love and compassion.  You are a people I take my hat off to and thank you for being who you are.

Visca Mallorca!

To donate to Proem-Aid to send the containers onwards, please use “Contenedor Mallorca” as reference and donate to this account: ES49 1491 0001 2021 7549 1022

 

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5 Rhythms revisited

 

Jessica Howie; 5 rhythms; Mallorca; Wild Honey Oxford; workshops

Jess

You may remember that I translated a 5 Rhythms workshop last autumn with the very fabulous Jessica Howie.  Well this past weekend, she was back in Mallorca and I once again was her translator of choice for the weekend 5 Rhythms workshop so beautifully organised by Tracy Courtney-Wills.

Twenty people, mainly women, gathered together to dance and move their way through the 5 rhythms and I was able to witness and partake at times in this most liberating of experiences.  My arrival on Saturday was a little bit hairy as I had had to bake two cakes first thing and I was a bit stressed getting to the venue.  No problem as it seemed that most of us there were bringing “stuff” to the session and Jessica quietly suggested that we just let it be and let it go.  I found the first hour or so challenging, in that the little voices in my head were telling me what a rubbish translator I was.  It’s not easy for me knowing that over half the room of English speakers have an excellent level of Spanish.  I felt invisible eyes on the back of me for a long while but then remembered comments from the last workshop from the Spanish participants who complimented me on my translating as they got exactly what they needed!  So from then on I enjoyed myself catering to their needs.

Jess and I have an amazing connection and this was proved at the last workshop and confirmed again this weekend.  She and I work well together and I really enjoy being by her side and being part of this incredible journey.  She manages to create a space for everyone to just be themselves and she allows absolutely everything to be what it is, just right.  As this is only my second 5 rhythms experience and along with the fact that I have not really participated due to having to translate, there was a moment when I truly got lost in movement.  Luckily Jessica noticed and catered for that by being aware that no words were needed just then.  As I came back to earth I noticed my hands as if for the very first time and wow, they were amazing!  Opening my eyes and looking through the window was like seeing the world for the first time.  The freedom to be myself in the 5 rhythms was truly liberating and I can’t wait to participate properly next time.

Jessica’s music is also excellent and the choices for us to move and dance to are truly an exciting mix.  The five rhythms are flow, staccato, chaos, lyrical and stillness so you can imagine what a mixture of music is presented.

Sadly on Monday I had the opposite of what I had experienced throughout the weekend and that was a massive downer!  I moped around most of the day, unable to get a handle on myself.  I had to force myself to go to improvisation in the evening and how glad I am that I went as that brought my spirit back to life!  A funny thing happened to me on Tuesday though and that was when I popped into the gas station.  Whilst waiting my turn in the queue, the radio was on and without prompting I began to move and sway to the music.  I realised that on Monday I hadn’t listened to any music and my body automatically went into rhythm whilst standing behind a gentleman who tried not to look at me as I began to move my arms and body in time to the beat.

5 rhythms is a must, for everybody and anybody!  I am going back for more so hurry back Jessica Howie, this woman needs you!

 

Visit Jessica’s web page                                                                        http://www.jessica5rhythms.com/

Us & Them

prostitution; brothels; European laws on prostitution

Anyone for shopping?

I caught an interesting documentary on television the other night, “Sex – Made in Germany”.  It seems that prostitution and all things related are legal in Germany and and the programme featured some very successful entrepreneurs and their businesses.  Apparently the state is bringing in some big bucks because of making the industry legal and along with them, private businesses are also raking it in.  However, as usual women don’t make as much money and some of the ways of earning a euro or two as a prostitute in Germany (or anywhere else in the world for that matter) are quite sad and shocking.

Prostitution is a big subject for me, much bigger than politics or religion about which you can hear me happily giving an opinion whenever you want!  For the record, I have voted and I have been to church so I have my opinion based on my experience.  I’ve not sold my sex for money and I’ve never been inside a brothel nor spoken to a prostitute so where does my in-built distrust and disgust come from regarding this age old industry?

I think this is where my matriarchal influenced life comes in, a place where women were their own bosses and no man told her what to do or how to do it.  My maternal grandmother stood her own ground against a patriarchal system and rose to the top of her profession in Jamaica back in the 30s and 40s, unheard of at the time.  My paternal grandmother was a busy mother of six, living on the breadline, but boss of her house and keeping everyone in check.  Has that influenced me?  For sure it has!  Men didn’t expect so little of women where I was growing up, they expected an awful lot.

I have had a blessed life in which education and values were bestowed upon me in all their glory.  As a girl growing up in the 60s and 70s, expectations were there, albeit it did seem limited at the time.  At 18yrs and leaving school the choices were university, teacher training, nursing or secretarial school – we were expected to do something with our lives.  I chose secretarial school as my cunning plan was to be CEO of a multi-national!  Unfortunately I read The Women’s Room by Marilyn French and things didn’t work out that way, but that’s another story!

The part of the documentary that really affected me was when the programme was interviewing the successful owner of one of the biggest chains of mega brothels in Germany.  Filmed at home with his four children who are privately educated in Waldorf and international schools, he is asked about them taking on the family business when they’re older.  His answer shows his pride of his children and he would be delighted if they took over the family business.  The interviewer then asks if he’d be happy with his daughters working as prostitutes and to see his face, appalled at the idea and then hear his answer jerked me back to reality!  Of course not was his answer!  What a brutal thought he shuddered!  Here is a man who would not want his own daughters to work as prostitutes yet his business celebrates prostitution!

Further disturbing facts about the documentary show how this type of establishment is considered the norm amongst men from all walks of life and they start going there when they legally can.  Here in Mallorca we have a lot of young Brits coming on holiday to Magalluf as a wierd rite of passage and in Germany, that rite of passage for boys is going to one of these mega brothels instead!  I can’t imagine my sons as clients in that sort of place.  First born never did a Magalluf rite of passage either!

How sad it is that the one of the most wonderful expressions of human love namely sexual expression can be turned into something so sordid.  Physical love, an opportunity to sexually connect and explore on another dimension but instead used as a service in which the man has the power and connecting to someone’s feelings don’t come into it.  I have nothing against prostitutes, facts show that many of them are there because of sexual abuse, poverty, violence or trafficking.  I simply do not understand how men can pay for sex.  There is nothing glamorous or sexy about it, there is nothing sweet or cute about it, there is nothing that I can see that makes it acceptable – nothing about exploiting women is right to me!

For the prostitute, things did get a little better with these new laws in Germany which allowed prostitution to become legal but it wasn’t enough.  As usual, elsewhere in the world, prostitution is alive and kicking and still benefitting men.

And for the father who expects so much from his daughters, how sad that underneath it all it’s about us and them at the end of the day.

 

Interesting reading:

http://s.telegraph.co.uk/graphics/projects/welcome-to-paradise/

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26261221

http://www.theguardian.com/world/shortcuts/2013/jun/12/germany-now-europes-biggest-brothel

http://prostitution.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000772

 

 

Je suis Ms. Nadia Lopez

Mott Hall Bridges Academy; Brownsville; HONY; Humans of New York; Brandon Stanton; education; scholorships; fund raising; inspiration; values

Principal Nadia Lopez, Mott Hall Bridges Academy (Photo Brandon Stanton)

Last week I was inspired by this woman!  Along with thousands of people around the world, I took note of her thanks to Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York blog.  If you have never heard of this blog, check it out now!  Brandon Stanton is living proof that we all have a purpose and he has found his purpose which is to allow people to be seen, heard, listened to and believed in!  It all started with him randomly stopping a young man, Vidal, last week and asking if he could take his picture.  What makes Brandon Stanton special is that he asks some quite meaningful questions to the subjects of his pictures and this day was no exception.  Vidal told the HONY world that his principal, Ms Nadia Lopez valued him, she has told him he matters.  Not only him but all the scholars at Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brownsville New York.

I want to be like Principal Nadia Lopez!  I want to be a woman who influences others, who believes in others, who guides others.  This is where I want my life energy directed, to positively influence those around me.  I believe I am Ms Lopez, we all are, no matter how small our contribution to our world, we all matter!

I know another Ms Lopez, another influential being who believed everyone mattered and he was called Gerry German.  He was an educator too and he was a man who influenced the thousands of children who had the good fortune to cross his path.  He taught in Jamaica, England, North Wales and Nigeria.  He was one of the founder members of STOPP (Society of Teachers Opposed to Physical Punishment) in the late 60s. He was Chief Education Officer at the Commission for Racial Equality back in the 80s.  He was involved with the Working Group Against Racism in Children’s Resources in the 90s after his retirement as an activist.  His proudest moment was founding the Communities Empowerment Network, CEN, in 1999 an advocacy and campaigning service, working for equality and justice in education particularly with African Caribbean parents whose children had been permanently excluded from mainstream education.  He was a daring and innovative man, a concientious objector, he was also my father.

I am blessed to have been his daughter, I had the good fortune to be born to him and my mother Patricia, two hugely influential people, two incredible beings who have loved and guided me at every step of the way.  I attended one of the schools where Gerry was the head, or principal as you say in America.  I saw the love the school kids had for him, never more strongly demonstrated than when he was sacked from the Mold Alun as being too “much” for the establishment!  I was stopped by school bullies and told to pull up my socks and make my dad proud of me because they were proud to consider themselves his children.  I picked up the phone many a time whilst living with mum and dad or visiting them and many an ex student would ring to share their good news – graduating from school or university or just wanting to share what a huge influence Gerry had had on their lives.

Gerry passed away in May 2012 at the ripe old age of 84.  He passed in the night after having spent the day before at the office in Brixton where he met with a young man, recently excluded from school.  That day, my father had brought the first smile to this young man since he had taken on his case.  My father believed in him and that day proved to the young man that he mattered.  He went to bed that night satisfied with another good day, expecting to get up the next day to go back to work.  He left a legacy, he left behind an organisation that is relentless in providing justice and equality for all in education in Britain.  He left a team committed to this ideal, working together and now guided by my brother Deuan and joined by advocates, volunteers, trustees and many, many children needing their services.  He left his mark.

Ms Lopez is the same.  She believes in her kids.  She knows that everyone of them matters and she has high expectations of them.  She leads her team like my father led his team by being the example.  She is a woman with her heart in education, she is the teacher, the real meaning of the teacher.  I salute Ms Lopez and I say “Je suis Principal Nadia Lopez” – je suis in the sense of improving the lives of all, not trashing the lives of any!

Mott Hall Bridges Academy has now had over 700,000 dollars raised in less than a week and these funds will be used to form the Vidal Scholarship Fund, named after this young man who one day was stopped in the streets of his neighbourhood and asked by a stranger if he could have his photograph taken.  Brandon Stanton, Nadia Lopez, Gerry German – these are people who are proof that when we find our purpose in life, we are where we are meant to be.

We all matter, let’s never forget that!

 

 

CEN (Please consider donating)                        http://www.cenlive.org/

Humans of New York                                           http://www.humansofnewyork.com/

Mott Hall Bridges Academy                                http://www.mhbabrooklyn.com/

To donate to Mott Hall Bridges Academy        http://bit.ly/1JmIB8u