A Sibyl Watches Over the Myanmar Elections 2015

by Sue Lees

Myanmar election quote

Myanmar Historic General Election November 8 2105

Travels with a Sybil: We don’t stay home and knit when we retire!!!

Democracy is such an ordinary concept to us. We argue about how well it functions in aspects of our politics but ultimately we expect a democratic society to operate. Myanmar (Burma) has had no such belief. Democracy in Myanmar has been a cherished but fragile idea.

P1020963

I was privileged to have the opportunity to be in Myanmar for the November 8 2015 election as an accredited international election observer under the auspices of APHEDA (Australian People for Health, Education and Development Abroad also called Union Aid Abroad, which is the overseas aid agency of the ACTU) and under the leadership of Professor Damien Kingsbury, Deakin University.

Our purpose was to observe the election process – pre-polling, Election Day, counting and report any inconsistencies and problems. Particularly any opportunities that became apparent for influencing the voting. As observers we were to be highly visible, non-partisan and not allowed to interfere.

P1020968

The most positive outcome available from the electoral process that had been instigated would be (and now is) ‘Guided Democracy’ with the military constitutionally maintaining 25% of parliament and three key ministries – interior, defence and border security. The NLD must now govern with some of the military influence intact, but in can be argued that, at this stage, a full democracy with a party that has no governing experience could be unwise.

P1020969

I say that I was privileged because I had the opportunity not only to participate in the election process but also to meet and hear the Burmese. To find out what was important to them:

“Our vote is our chance to fight back”.

P1030012

Voiceless politically for so long, they were determined to be heard.

…………………………………………………………………………..

Sue Lees, Venice, 2014

Sue Lees, Venice, 2014

Sue Lees, 56, is a retired teacher and apprentice Sibyl. Despite traveling from Australia to work as a volunteer in schols in Nepal and Timor and now observing electiona in Myanmar, she says she is quiet and quite insignificant!

…………………………………………………………………………………………

HOME

The Sibyls’ Salon

Sibylesque Sibyls Salon mayThanks to Sibyls Eva, Celia, Viv G., Cinzia, Viv S., Ann, Donna, Elizabeth and Margot, who came along to our MAY SALON and Celia for the Sibyl Cake.

This time we learned:

  1. We can have fun rewriting literary classics. Perhaps, today, Lady Chatterley would skip the flowers and sport a pubic hair style to match her lover’s hipster beard. If the cats took over George’ Orwell’s Animal farm, the mice and the dogs would be deemed expendible from a comfy couch somewhere. And if 007 was Jane, Jane Bond, one gadget she might invent for personal use only is a James Bondroid with attachments. 
  2.  The powerful impact of stories from each of our lives.

Sibylesque Salon cake3. In times of grief, letter writing gives shape and form to thoughts and feelings that can help others understand.

We also raised some funds for Sue’s Global Community work in Nepal, which is in even more need of our help right now.

Sibyl Doris & Sibyl Kerry.

Sibyls’ Salon

 

Sibylesque William James Quote
Sibyls Doris Brett and Kerry Cue, have inaugurated The Sibyls’ Salon to promote philosophical discussion about aging or, as The Sibyls are an opinionated lot, ageing.

The Salons provide a lively afternoon of feistiness, reflection and frivolity in a safe environment, which feeds ideas into Sibylesque.(See below) As the concept develops we will, eventually, open the salons to all.

Sibyls' Salon Philosophy

Teaching computers to Shree Durga teachers, September 2011

Sue Lees teaching computers to Shree Durga teachers, September 2011

 One aim of the Salon is to raise money for a charity linked to one of our sibyls. Sibyl Sue Lees has worked as a volunteer in Nepal.

Mahabir Pun

Mahabir Pun

The Challenges in Education in Nepal are huge. eg.

Many children are sent to school with little or no food. Where provided, Kajaa often consists of handfuls of beaten rice in a child’s pocket. It is hard for children, who are malnourished and hungry are less able to concentrate and learn.’  

Find further reading here: challenges-in-education-development-in-nepal

The Sibyls have raised funds to help connect remote schools to the internet. This not only allows students to continue their education beyond secondary level, it can also be a future source of income. Sue Lees began working directly with Mahabir Pun – the truly amazing Nepalese teacher who worked out how to connect remote villages and schools to the Internet.  Now Mahabir, has aurhorised two young Nepalese men – Nabin Parajuli (an engineer) and Phurba Lama (a former teacher) to work with Sue Lees as an independent team.  Donations can still be made to the Nepal Wireless Network Project, through thsibylesque.com (contact us by e-mail).  The donation will be directed to the Dolakha/Sangachok areas connections.

Here is his thank you letter from Nabin Parajuli for the donations:

:

Picture 2

Donations can be sent to Nepal Wireless. Anyone interested in working as a volunteer in education in Nepal will find helpful information here: volunteering Nepal

 

 

Last Child in the Woods

Sibylesque Last Child in the woods
REVIEW by Kerry Cue

last-child-cover-lrg1

Last Child in the Woods:

Saving our children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

Richard Louv

Atlantic Books, 2005

 ………………………………………………………………

………………………………………………………….

We are the generations, who roamed free. We rode our bikes unsupervised. Explored the neighbourhood. Played in the street. We poked around creeks, ditches, anthills and gum tree forests. We built tree houses and forts. Or, if we were city dwellers, we played on building sites, on vacant blocks and in playgrounds fitted with cold-steel swings and maypoles that could crack a head or take out a tooth.

Our grandchildren live indoors.

children_nature_3    yesilist websiteIn Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv meticulously records the relocation of children out of nature and into lounge rooms where they are exposed to the ‘one-way experience of television and other electronic media’.

………………………………………………………….

‘For some young people nature is so abstract – the ozone layer, a faraway rainforest- that it exists beyond the senses.’

‘Neither children nor wild life have been of much concern to urban planners in recent decades … public spaces have become increasingly domesticated, flat, lawyered, and boring’. In Pennsylvania three brothers, aged eight, ten and twelve, were forced to tear down their tree house in the backyard because they didn’t have a building permit!

According to Louv, it is not just the loss of interaction with nature that is of concern, but also the total loss of sensory experiences. At a time when child obesity, ADHD and other disorders are rife, we deprive children of the ‘physical exercise and emotional stretching that children enjoy in unorganized play’.

KidsNature_1  playlsi web‘The young don’t demand dramatic adventures or vacations in Africa. They need only a taste, a sight, a sound, a touch … to reconnect that receding world of the senses’.

Parents are often too busy to even think about nature. But we know what it is like to explore the neighbourhood. We can take our grandchildren into natural environments to pick up a rock, a stick or, simply, dig for earthworms in the garden. How Lilly Pilly Jam can save your life shows one way of involving grandchildren in both gardening and community activities.

There are many ways we can take them outdoors and show them the amazing reality beyond their digital screens.

Sibylesque Sibyl Approved Maroon

PHOTO SOURCE: yesilist and playlsi websites

HOME

 

There’s work to be done

by Sue Lees

Roman border green

dark green quote 1

 For everywhere we look, there is work to be done.dark green quote 2

………………Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address January 2009

Sibylesque Signature green

Roman border green

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Calling all Sibyls

Fellow Sibyls ‘gird your loins’. We haven’t finished yet!

In April 2008 I travelled with my husband, Andrew, to Nepal, to trek and briefly work at Shree Durga School. There I met Prashuram and other inspiring local teachers. Twenty months later I returned to Nepal as a presenter for a teaching conference, where I re-engaged with the teachers from Shree

Preshuram Shreshta

Preshuram Shreshta

Durga and had the great fortune to meet one of the true heroes of the world, Mahabir Pun, a former Nepalese teacher who has worked out how to connect remote areas of Nepal to the Internet. For more information see Nepal Wireless.

Prashuram and the teachers from Shree asked me to share their dream of helping Shree Durga Higher Secondary School get the Internet, to help digitise their world.

Shree Durga students

Shree Durga students

Together we spoke to Mahabir and ascertained that a connection was feasible. I returned to Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar and asked for support. The best Year 7 ever raised the money and on June 2010 both schools spoke and waved to each other across the digital sea.

Since then 8 other remote Nepalese schools have currently reaped the benefits of this initiative with connections to the internet, connections to an ’in house’ learning site for the schools, access to computers and teacher training. All this has been done by the small scale fundraising efforts of Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar students and private individuals who have hosted afternoon teas, asked for donations, washed cars, made cakes…

Teaching computers to Shree Durga teachers, September 2011

Teaching computers to Shree Durga teachers, September 2011

This morning (9/4/14) I opened Facebook (which I am still learning to use!! ) to see Prashuram the subject of a magazine interview about our work. Wow!!!!

“Wow!!” and “Help!!” Two more schools have formally requested an Internet connection. I need to raise $2000 and as I have just retired I must develop new sources and ideas for financing the connections.

Donations can be sent to Nepal Wireless

Sue Lees, Venice, 2014

Sue Lees, Venice, 2014

Sue Lees, 56, is a retired teacher and apprentice Sibyl. Despite traveling from Australia to work as a volunteer in a Nepalese school, she says she is quiet and quite insignificant!

…………………………………………………………………………………………

HOME

Welcome

Roman border  dark red

dark red quote 1

                                                     

We cannot let others define aging for us.

….We must, as we have done before,

dark red quote 2

…………….redefine this stage for ourselves.

Sibylesque Signature dark redRoman border  dark red

 …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

What the media doesn’t tell you!

Frankly, my dear, they’re over you!

the-tibertine-sibylIf you have found little of interest in the lifestyle pages across all media platforms, there is a reason. After 54-years of age we are of no interest to Marketing. Apparently, we are ‘too set in our ways’. So, apart from some tragic and cheap ads spruiking pre-paid funerals and incontinence pads, we do not attract the advertising dollar. Therefore editors of magazines, newspapers, websites and blogs aimed at women couldn’t care less about our issues.

There are lots of ads for dubious anti-aging and slimming products, much like the 1950s ads (below) but with their own Facebook Page. But the anti-wrinkle creams and slimming products do not target us. They are aimed at 40, 30 and even 20 year olds. They have more to fear from aging and being overweight than us.50s chin strap We’ve already had to face certain realities. Besides, we’ve been applying goops for 40+ years and we must have tried scores of diets with little success!!! We’ll look at the real science ( and not the ‘radiessence’ or ‘luminosity’) of face creams and rubbish diets later.

But there are many issues such as health, sex and self-perception that change after 54 years of age and that we want to discuss. If you are looking at retirement and your daughter wants the BIG wedding, do you have to pay for it? What if you are divorced? What if it’s her 2nd wedding?

How do you deal with a neurotic daughter-in-law? Or a control-freak son-in-law? Or vice-versa?

Cole Swimsuit Ad 1953 And we wanted those curves!

Cole Swimsuit Ad 1953
And we wanted those curves!

Are you prepared to look after grandchildren one day a week? Two days? How would you react if your daughter handed you a spread sheet scheduling every minute of that one day?

If you didn’t have children, are you now being swamped by the 2nd wave of child-centric conversations as your friends become grandparents?

Moreover, how did any of us even produce children with the hilariously vague ‘sex education‘ we received in the 60s or 70s?

We, The Sibyls, are smart, vibrant and interesting women. It is the intention of this blog to reinvent aging. We’re doing this for ourselves. Welcome.

Sibylesque Signature dark red

HOME