Thursday, 17 November 2016

Alone We Can Do Only Little - But Together We Can Do So Much

On Sunday night I went down to my friend, Chantelle's church for what I was told was a "ladies' night". I arrived there and wow, her church (a school gym) was dressed up rather fancy for this ladies night. I soon found what it was about: a fundraiser for a charity called A21. I'd never heard of it before, however I didn't think much of it seeing as I'm not overly involved in the church so it could be any charity really.

The A21 Campaign is a charity involved in combating human trafficking and Petra Bagust was there as a guest speaker as she is highly involved in this line of work. She's well known, been on many TV programs and is the face for the likes of World Vision. I guess you could say she's one of the people who goes out into parts of the world, and comes back to spread the word - so to speak - of what is actually going on. Which is why she's so involved in the fight against human trafficking, a subject in all honesty, I knew hardly a thing about.

In countries such as Cambodia (for example) it is the responsibility of the eldest daughter to go out and get work to provide for the rest of her family, and in many places finding work is difficult. Families, especially those living in the more rural areas are exceptionally vulnerable and desperate. They say that human traffickers will, in more simple terms, keep their eyes peeled for families such as these and target them. They will arrive and offer the eldest girl a job in the city, and because they are so desperate they take the offer.
The girl, often as young as 12 is then taken and quickly realises the lie she was told. They take her passport and tell her she has to work to 'buy it back'. And more often than not, she is forced into prostitution and can have up to 40 clients per day. By now I was staring at Petra in horror, listening to her tell many of her different stories.

On average 457 women and girls are trafficked every hour, boys can also be taken. 99% of these people never escape and the 1% who do are rescued from organisations such as A21 and similar. The organisations have a vast number of people volunteering with their specific skill set - Lawyers, accountants, counselors and psychologists as well as many other people. It takes meticulous planning to rescue these people. You can't just walk into a brothel and take off with any girls without any paperwork.You can't get them out of the country without their passport, or back into their home country either (as they are often taken to another country to do the work). It can take months to plan the raid after a tip off and then once the girls are rescued it can take weeks for them to come to trust you. They don't know what's going on - for all they know, they're being moved to a new location to continue with the slavery. Many of them have had to turn to alcohol and drugs so that they become so "out of it" that they don't often realise what they are having to do.

It was awful and so eye opening, listening to Petra. She says that she herself, can't actually do anything. She just goes there and sees what's going on, interviews some of the girls who were rescued and brings back the stories for fundraising nights like the church had. She said she came back once and did two large fundraising dinners straight away - raising $507,000 over the two nights.
Petra explained how nowadays, humans are cheap - very cheap. Way back when slavery was normal, the people buying the slaves would pay top dollar and they would look after their slaves because when the slaves got married and had children - they too would become their slaves. However there are so many people in the world now, so if the slave happens to get sick and die, it's no big deal because there are plenty more people out there to take their place. Isn't it sick?

The slogan for the night: Alone we can do only little - but together we can do so much, is exceptionally true. Nice, unwanted clothing had been donated and was also being sold for $5 a piece on the night. So they got a large amount of money from the sale of all the tickets and clothing - I wish I knew how much had been raised. But there were more than 50 people there and tickets were $20 each. They at least raised $1000, which is something for sure.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Kayaking in Puhoi

Hello, and welcome to November; the second to last month of the year that only seems to last a few days in honest reality and yet again, Christmas will soon be upon us. It's a scary thought and I say it every year - although this time it'll prove to be a little more chaotic due to the fact that we're expecting a fair few people during the Christmas/New Year week. A joy to behold, I assure you.

I'm not writing too much at present which makes me feel a little on the guilty side. I always thought to myself that I wouldn't become one of those people who suddenly became too 'busy' to write and update my blog. However, at the same time I don't particularly want to update too often due to potentially saying the same things, over and over. For example, my life is busy - very busy. But for the most of it, I do the same things most weeks. Milk, fence, eat, sleep, see Taylor, you know?

Taylor and I finally had a joint day off on Labour Day, so we actually went out for it. We went out for a brunch sort of meal at a really cute local restaurant, where they have some very interesting food options; a twist of French and Kiwi cuisine. For example, when you order hot drinks they arrive with funny little cake-like things. I've not a clue what they are, and it's exceptionally difficult to describe the taste. They're a little oily, somewhat hard on the outside and sort of doughy on the inside. They're not hot or cold, sweet or savoury. They're rather strange, but so yum.
I guess they may be deep-fried, I just can't imagine how they'd create that sort of shape either. I guess that's why they're chefs, and uh, I'm not...!

A few weeks earlier we'd been discussing some ideas of things to do, and discovered that we both wanted to go kayaking at a particular place. So we planned to go on Monday afternoon. There's a small village called Puhoi, a little off the main drag when you're heading south, in that ghastly direction of Auckland. There's a river that snakes its way back up towards State Highway 1, and eventually seems to flow somewhat parallel to the road. For years we've been driving that road on our way south and we've noticed the kayakers, however we've just never been and done it. It's a tourist trap, but something that us more local people try out too. Anyhow, we drove down there and hired a kayak each, taking off at a leisurely pace down the river. It was about an 8 kilometre stretch, that would take about two hours. They say you end up at this place called Wenderholm Regional Park, where they meet us with a van and trailer to drive us back to Puhoi.

It was a rather new experience for both of us, as we'd never been kayaking before. After 10 minutes of paddling around a short section of the river - to be sure we were all good to go before leaving Puhoi and the hire centre, I quickly realised how difficult it actually was. I had a new appreciation for rowers, kayakers and the like who sit at Olympian level, as it took a fair amount of time learning how to steer the silly thing! You've also got to be careful not to put the paddle too deep into the water, as we were told - when you lift it up and put the other side down, you will more than likely scoop up and pour water into your lap. I learned that pretty quickly! We were also warned how easy it was to flip a kayak. I assume that the person who had used my kayak previously had either flipped it, or poured heaps of water into it as my little seat thing was soaked. It made for a rather uncomfortable journey! haha

We eventually made it to Wenderholm in just under two hours, were rather sore by the end of it and a little wet. The bonus was that neither of us fell out! Some people were riding horses in the river at one section, and we were almost taken out by a speed-boat at another. The latter annoyed us a fair bit, as by the sound of it the guy operating that is causing a bit of trouble around kayakers - he's not particularly careful, and the thing I find when you're on water is that sounds mean nothing. We thought we heard something but then guessed it may have been a truck on the road. However, suddenly a boat was racing up behind and swerved around us, leaving massive waves in its wake. Honestly, not cool. Otherwise the trip was uneventful.

When we're sent off, we sort of leave in groups, I guess the hire place send you out at specific times so then everyone can be picked up and dropped off at each end at the correct times too. A few Asians left just before us and they came across a "decoy" duck trapped among the branches of a fallen tree in the river. They were pointing excitedly at it, as if they haven't seen anything like it before! What is the bet that they picked it up and took it home as a souvenir? Anyhow, we passed them and later came across some real Paradise ducks on the edge of the water, the Asian women quickly made their way to them, pulling out their cameras. It really made me laugh, I can imagine what they were thinking, - Kiwi's shoot all their ducks so that all there is left are plastic ones...

This Saturday was Guy Fawkes night, so a few of us went out to one of the local, rural displays. I go to it every few years but this year was the best by far. It was odd though, as usually if I went with Mum and Dad, we'd head down there in time for the fireworks and then we'd leave again with the masses of people exiting the paddock.

A fair few hundred people go to it, so it's rather packed. This time we took some dinner down and ate it an hour or so earlier - nice, apart from all the bugs who had also turned up for the event. I finally got to see Chantelle again, it's been a month or so since I last saw her. We're trying to plan on catching up more often...and there's some ladies night at her church this weekend, so finally we might actually be getting somewhere!

I should also mention - from hanging out with Taylor, I've created myself the role of "stepmum". Thankfully I am no longer "evil stepmum", which I do believe I was at the beginning lol. This is the beautiful fleabag - Pawpaws. She's a rugrat, a crazy little critter and with a Dad like Taylor I'm not surprised, he stirs her up like nobody's business. Therefore I do believe she will be terrifying once she's bigger. When I first met her she would take a running leap and scale my legs to get up onto my shoulders, like no kidding, she's crazy. But she's so sweet too, her purr machine is permanently on 'max' volume!
He rescued her as a wild kitten off the farm his friend works at and she's ridiculously spoiled...I'm no help with that though, I've bought her some toys and treats to make her like me a bit more!

Tay has also been made guardian of Tilly, another foxy. She belonged the people who own the farm, however four years ago when we started rearing the calves there, Tilly decided that Mike, the new guy working there at the time, was a much better option to live with. And he spoiled her like crazy, he always told us how he cooked her eggs for breakfast - sunny side down...
Anyhow, Mike is a very good friend of Taylor's and has since moved onto a new career path with his fiancee, moving to a new town etc. His fiancee doesn't much like Tilly, so poor Tilly had to stay behind - much to Tay's dismay. I would guess that Mike is still providing all of her food and vet requirements, but the roof that she lives under is Taylor's house which is rather amusing to be quite honest! Until she walks herself inside with green feet, after being on the farm...

Oh yeah, and at some stage in October we finished feeding the calves there as they were getting weaned! This is me and number 5. The coolest calf on the farm - I do hope they keep her and don't sell her to China- although she's more of a cross than a full Friesian.