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

Chemo Journal I

by Sibyl Jules

Sibylesque Chemo Quote

How do you describe the old chemo trip which, incidentally, I finished 2 weeks ago after 6 months of 2 weekly cycles? This is only my experience- everyone has different sorts of chemo and some are much worse than others. My side effects were horrible on one drug, which I was spared after 4 cycles because of weird stuff happening. I never wanted to know what the side effects might be beforehand- then I’d only get them! A useful tip shared by an oncology nurse friend was to keep the literature they gave me as a reference if something did feel unusual or bad, and just read it as you need to. This helped me avoid worrying about things that might happen and to respond appropriately to them if they did.

chemo art

I can’t say chemo was easy, but when I meet with any of my ‘cancer club’ as my partner calls them, he always comments how happy we all are. We are, after all, alive, and eating, drinking (albeit a modified beverage of choice) and laughing with friends. I think that the last 6 months of chemo has taught me to enjoy and savour every tiny joy- cooking and sharing food and wine with good friends and family has always been an important part of our lives- so when chemo flattens me for a week, being able to eat and drink and meet friends again- or go to WOMAD, the happiest 4 days of the year as I know it- gives me much to be happy about. Every tiny joy helps…Look for them- they make you feel safe and help to stave off the anxiety and fear.

Sibylesque Apparition of the Visage of Aphrodite of Cnidos in a Landscape, 1981

Oddly, chemo has also reminded me how much I love my work. I’ve been able to work two or three days a week, throughout chemo. I found that focusing on thinking and working, surrounded by busy people doing interesting things has helped me to avoid the pitfalls of the ‘poor-me-illness-behaviour mode’, which I might be prone to without the focus! I’m lucky I can choose when I go to work and if I feel too bad I crash and burn, but usually I get some days in each week. I’m also fortunate I love my work. And having a supportive and loving family and partner has helped too of course. I’ve loved having old friends call up out of the blue, and have been overwhelmed by the incredible generosity and thoughtfulness of people around me. Totally unexpected and humbling.

On grumbling about chemo prior to treatment starting, a surgeon reminded me that I am very lucky to be offered chemo- a treatment that may help keep me alive. For some things there is no such treatment and for that reason I knew I’d just have to go with it, knowing that every 2 weeks, just as I’m beginning to feel a bit ‘normal’ again, another bus will run me over.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

 Picture 1Jules is a perceptive observer and an irrepressible, positive force as well as director and publisher for the Neuro Orthopaedic Institute, Adelaide, SA. And here is the Chemo Fashionista post of the fabulous Jules at WOMAD, Adelaide.