Tears for Syria

I have spent the day going through waves of intense sadness as I, like millions others, witnessed the atrocities playing out through the streets of eastern Aleppo become front page world news. We live in an era where media is fast paced, and a world where nothing goes undocumented. As a by-product of these times, we must now face harsh truths head on, and there is nowhere to hide when images of sheer devastation bombard our senses through our TV screens and our mobile devices, as the hairs on the back of our necks prick up and our tear ducts fill.

But none of this, not one single photograph of blood strewn corpses on the streets nor one solitary video plea from desperate civilians begging for support, can even bring us close to the harrowing scenes that the people of eastern Aleppo now call their reality.

Can you imagine for a second, what it must feel like to record a video of yourself and post it to the world, all the while being quite aware that it may very well be your last? In the last 24 hours there have been 82 innocent men, women and children, shot on sight by Assad’s soldiers, as they crash their way through bombed city streets, going door to door and all the while blockading those attempting to flee and essentially sealing their fate.

Just let that sink in for a moment.

The events that have unfolded over the past few days are not just a culmination of fighting in Aleppo, they are severe continuation of a stark crisis which has gripped Syria for the past five years. To our knowledge there are four main parties operating within Syria and they all aim to exact full control over the nation in whatever way possible. These four are the Syrian Rebels, Assad’s regime, ISIL and Rojava.

Rojava control most of the north, ISIL control large swathes of central and eastern Syria, the Government (Assad’s regime) control the far west and conveniently all of Syria’s coastal line and the rebels are predominantly scattered between Government controlled areas and ISIL’s strong holds. It’s worth pointing out at this juncture that Assad’s government is heavily backed by Russia who have systematically (and rather un-systematically) dropping bombs on Syria for the better part of a year now.

It’s also worth noting at this point that by default, despite the current emphasis on an approaching re-ignition of the Cold War between the US and Russia, the pair of nations are already waged in a massive proxy-war, with Syrian civilians playing the role of helpless pawns in an extremely volatile game of chess. With the United States’ CIA funding the rebels and the Kremlin backing Assad to the hilt, it’s difficult to see how Russia and the US aren’t indeed, de facto, fighting against one another.

So why is nothing being done to cease the killing of innocent civilians? Well that’s a question which I and many others have been crying out for most of today and also in the years leading up to this – including when Assad ordered that Chlorine Gas be dropped on his own people, killing at least three children in the process and admitting hundreds into hospital with seizures and frothing of the mouth. A fact which, by the way, was proven to be undeniably true by the UN earlier this year.

Here we have catastrophic evidence of war crimes being committed within the country of Syria and what happens? The answer you are looking for here is, nothing. In fact the only nations to fully support either side of the Syrian war were both Russia and Iran – who elected to fight alongside Assad and add to the misery of all those who were suffering enough to begin with.

I think what upsets me the most about what is taking place before our very eyes in Syria is that I personally feel utterly helpless. There is nothing which I can say or do which would have an impact, and this is a sentiment faced with just about every single person around the globe who is shaken to the core by scenes that are being brandished across the internet and on our news channels.

Without getting too embroiled in conspiracy theories, there is a strong undertone that presents itself, and this is whereby the Syrian conflict doesn’t pose enough of a threat to western interests to warrant any involvement, and so with that, collectively we turn a blind eye to what is happening. The very idea of this disgusts me and it can be seen mirrored also in countries such as The Philippines where their murderous president has executed over 5,100 individuals related to drug crimes – many of whom were deemed to actually be innocent. That same president has also wavered all murder charges which could otherwise be inflicted on Filipino police officers, whilst they are carrying out their execution duties. Much like the shocking scenes in Syria… nothing happens. At best, we hear that the UN is “deeply concerned”.

So as you lay in bed tonight just think about what’s going on in the world around you and know that all is not how it seems. It’s on us to put pressure on our respective governments to do more in order to help those who are currently helpless.

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Unlock your ideas with the Solvey Project

Unlock your ideas with the Solvey Project

Have you ever had an idea which you’ve wanted to share with the world? An idea which you felt would have an over-arching impact on society and the planet as a whole? Maybe you’ve identified a problem in society and have also figured out the solution that will remedy that problem? Ever wondered how to take the seeds of your idea and turn them into something that really flourishes? Well… here is your opportunity to have a voice; to receive the support that will help your idea grow and to have your vision well and truly heard.

Thanks to an incredibly inspiring duo named Dave Erasmus and Louis Cole you can now easily access that platform to shout out your world changing ideas in the loudest and most proudest way imaginable. Be creative, think outside the box and do something amazing today.

How does the Solvey Project work?

The Solvey Project is an exceptionally great way for all those who have an idea on how to positively impact the world, to finally let that idea be heard.

This is the second year in which the Solvey Project has ran, with last years event attracting worldwide submissions and generating heaps of interest. Last year the Australian based Non-profit organisation ‘One Wave’ were selected by Cole and Erasmus and their vision of use surfing in florescent to help tackle issues surrounding Mental Health, was thrust to the forefront of the whole Solvey Campaign.

This year the Solvey Project is even bigger, with seven ideas being selected and given financial backing and general support from the guys. Together both Erasmus and Cole have a social outreach extending into the millions and so this is a fantastic opportunity to give your idea that much needed exposure as well as expect help and advice to help turn it from a dream into a reality.

“We have all seen the reality shows pitching business ideas and performing pop artists but we wanted to create a show via YouTube that was community based, global and worth doing, so we are looking for small voices with big ideas, compassionate problem solvers who want to change the world. We want our kids to aspire to be brave, creative leaders not be limited to being just another pop artist or money maker.” – Dave Erasmus.

For more details, head over to the website: solvey.com

How I personally hope to get involved

As you, my dear readers, know – I am constantly travelling the world in my wheelchair, looking for cool and interesting ways in which I can challenge the stereotypes and preconceptions that come along when people view disability.

On my travels I have encountered many troubling things, from severely disabled individuals crawling around the dust and dirt of Cambodia because they lack the equipment they so desperately need, to hearing true stories of disabled babies being ‘given back to the river’ in a typical Ghanaian witch-doctor practice. I have also had the misfortune of dealing first hand with massive amount of prejudice and mistreatment in countries such as China and Russia.

I honestly want to do something about this. I would love to get to the heart of these prejudicial notions, to tackle them head on and to save the lives of millions of disabled people across the world – one small step at a time.

  • Education
  • Access to health care
  • Equipment and mobility aids for those who go without
  • Support for families with a disabled child
  • Protection
  • Improved social understanding and acceptance

It’s clear that this is an area which is close to my heart and I do need to formulate plans on how to effectively make this work. I’m a firm believer that multiple minds are better than just one – and so I would love to start a discussion about this vast extensive topic.

I will leave you with a sobering image that I took in Tainan, Taiwan; of a paralyzed man crawling on his stomach through the streets of a busy night market, as passers by hardly even notice.

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Fiji left devastated after Cyclone Winston

On Saturday the 20th of January the biggest Cyclone to ever be recorded in the Southern Hemisphere hit Fiji, leaving thousands without their homes and a death toll of at least 20 – which is expected to rise considerably once communication with the outlaying smaller islands have been re-established.

Sustained winds of almost 300 km battered the Fijian islands with waves also reaching up to 12 metres in height.

It’s unfortunate to see that not much coverage is being broadcast on the BBC website nor Sky News (albeit you can find limited information on Sky News when digging a little deeper).

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Grave concern continue to grow for all those on the smaller islands that make up Fiji with no contact unable to be reached since Saturday evening.

For all those you can and want to donate are advised to do so via any of the following links:

https://www.tearfund.org.nz/cyclone-winston

https://www.redcross.org.nz/

https://www.unicef.org.nz/fiji

http://www.salvationarmy.org.nz

http://www.rnzwcs.org/

By following any of these links, not only can you donate but you will also be able to find more information on Cyclone Winston. The Fijian government has called for a state of natural disaster for at least the next 30 days.

#PrayForFiji