Tuesday, December 27, 2011

27 December 2011:

Aceh Province, Sumatra...

Girl Swept Away in 2004 Tsunami Finds Family

Thunderstorm Outlook
15-year-old Wati, second right, poses for a photograph with her father Yusuf at their home in Meulaboh, Aceh province, Indonesia, Friday. (Source: Associated Press)

Updated: Dec. 27, 2011 at 6:30 a.m. E/T

A girl who was swept away in the Indian Ocean tsunami seven years ago said Friday she broke down in tears this week after tracking down her parents, who had long lost hope of finding her alive.

The 15-year-old showed up in Aceh province's hard-hit town of Meulaboh earlier this week, saying that not long after the wave hit she was "adopted" by a woman who called her Wati and forced her to beg, sometimes beating her and keeping her in the streets until 1 a.m.

When the teen stopped bringing in money, she was told, "Go ahead, leave ... go find your parents then, they're in Meulaboh."

With only patchy memories about her past -- she was only 8 when the tsunami hit, an age where most children don't know their relatives' full names -- Wati began her search, telling people she thought her grandfather was "Ibrahim."

She met a pedicab driver in Meulaboh, who brought her to a man by that name. Though she didn't look familiar, he, in turn, quickly summoned her parents.

"When I saw my mother, I knew it was her," said the wide-eyed girl, her hair cropped close to her head. "I just knew."

The family, who say the girl's original name is Meri Yuranda, is also now convinced.

The Dec. 26, 2004, tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen nations hit Aceh -- closest to the epicenter of the magnitude-9.1 quake that spawned the towering waves -- the hardest.

Video: Raw Video of the Tsunami Devastation

With tens of thousands of bodies washed to sea in that province alone, many families continue to cling to hope of finding lost loved ones. Reunions, however, are rare. And all announced in the last five years have turned out to be untrue. Even so, some mothers continue to believe a child is theirs even after DNA tests prove otherwise.

Either way, without any challenges to the claims, Wati now has a family.

Yusniar binti Ibrahim Nur, the mother, told The Associated Press she had all the evidence she needed.

"She has her father's face," the 35-year-old woman said by telephone. "And when I saw the scar over her eye and mole on her hip, I was even more sure."

It doesn't worry her, she said, that the girl and her husband have different accounts of what happened on the day the tsunami hit their tiny village of Ujong Baroh just outside of Meulaboh.

Wati remembers her father putting her into a boat with her younger sister, long presumed dead as well, and then getting separated. She says she remembers being surrounded by water and crying.

Her father says he put both of his daughters on the roof of their house hoping they'd be safe.

"Maybe she fell into the boat, maybe someone helped her. I just don't know," said Yusniar.

"I just thank God my prayers have been answered," she said. "For years, I searched everywhere. I'd really given up."

Rural Paris...

Making friends with the French
Connexion edition: March 2011

SIMON JENKINS took a step back in time, along with a few more around the dance floor, as a way of making French friends and learning the language when he moved to a farming community in 2008.

The 57-year-old took up Occitan, a dance which is traditional to La Courtete, a village of 43 people in Aude, part of the Languedoc-Roussillon region.

Simon and his wife Maria, who speaks fluent French, are the only English dancers in a group that ranges from small children to retirees.

The move not only helped Simon to learn French, but immersed them into the community, which in turn boosted their social life. "It helps to practise French... even the little ones ask me things now, whereas before they would always go to Maria first," he said.

The Jenkinses also joined the local ramblers group, a hobby that again not only helped make French friends, but also got them through their first two harsh winters.

They also belong to the Acceuil de Villes Francaise (AVF), a national association that helps newcomers integrate, while Simon plays tennis at Limoux Tennis Club three times a week.

"You've got to make the effort to find out what's out there. It helps to get you accepted; even if your French isn't very good, the locals appreciate the effort.

KEVIN WILSON, 63, doesn't beat around the bush when speaking about the challenge of settling into rural France and learning the language, particularly when one reaches a certain age. But if you want to experience "real" France and avoid becoming entrapped in a ghetto with the English contingent, you have to make the effort, he says.

"It's a slow and painful process for people of a certain age and requires hard work," he adds.

Kevin and his wife, Enid, who is fluent in French, set up a gite in Lot-et-Garonne when they moved there eight years ago. But even though Kevin had taken a language course
beforehand, it did nothing to prepare him for rural life.

A villager convinced him to join Kiwanis, an international organisation that raises money for children. The local club has 36 members and holds several functions throughout the year.

"We agreed from the start that they wouldn't speak English, so I had to learn. You have to be prepared to trip up along the way." Still, it took 18 months before the Wilsons felt fully accepted by their community.

"Most people in the village mix with people they went to school with or are related to, so you are coming in like an alien from out of space; you can't expect them to accept you immediately," he said.

"It's a slog, but enjoyable. If you want to get beneath the surface of France and the culture, then you have to try; if you don't want to, then why are you here?"

AVRIL HAMLEY'S story of how she overcame the language barrier and made French friends is a tale of two halves. During her first stint in France, between 1989 and 2004, in a village called Montpon, she mainly stuck to a British colony, picking up the odd word of French with the help of a friendly neighbour and dictionary.

The 55-year-old went back to England for personal reasons, but returned in 2009 with renewed vigour, which is when she stumbled across the Mozaic Jazz Band in Pineuilh, Dordogne.

While Avril's French at the time of joining as a saxophonist was good, the experience has broadened her horizons socially.

"It was like learning a whole new vocabulary," she said. "Being a member has certainly boosted self-confidence and the motivation to work hard to achieve."

Joining the band, which includes 21 French people, one Japanese woman and six Brits, has also been poignant for Avril in terms of finding a loyal support group, something that was reinforced after a recent car accident: "The messages of support I got from the band were amazing."

HARVEY STROUD, 41, found the thick accents of rural France a struggle when he moved to St Germain du Salembre in the Dordogne two years ago with his wife, who is fluent in French, and family.

But this didn't stop him taking on the challenge of picking up not just one, but two, languages. In fact, classes in Esperanto, the proposed lingua franca, have helped him to see just how far his French has progressed.

For the past year, Harvey has travelled to nearby PĂ©rigueux for lessons, many of which have taken place in a bar.

"The idea of a single universal language has always interested me, but it's very important for Europe," said Harvey.

"It's only really now that I'm starting to converse in Esperanto. The teacher gives me a lift to lessons and we speak a curious mix of both, so if I struggle with Esperanto we fall back into French. It has made me appreciate how far my French has come along."

To further practice his French and mix with locals, Harvey joined a petanque club, where one of the joys is a get-together over a glass of pastis after a game on Saturdays.

"Older people go, so it's not really my own generation," he added. "But it has helped me to get to meet the villagers."

St. John's...

Free fares and free tours given out

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Passengers at the West Bus Station were surprised at having their bus fares paid by LIME.

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – For two days this week, dozens of commuters at the West Bus Station were treated to free bus rides, courtesy of LIME.

LIME staff showed up at the bus depot and brought cheer to dozens of commuters who were returning home after a full day’s work.

Keithroy Black, driver of C 366 on the Bendals Route, said, “I have been a customer of LIME for many years. LIME is a great company. It was very strange to see employees of an organisation simply show up and kindly request to pay the bus fare for commuters. I wondered if they were serious. They reassured us that it was for real and paid for everyone in cash. My passengers were so relieved. They gushed, clapped and replaced their money because LIME was paying for them. It was a nice gesture.”

Similar to its kindness to the commuters at West Bus Station, LIME paid the cost so that the residents of the Boys Training School could visit the Rainforest Canopy Tours ziplines.

Paula Lee, corporate communications manager said, “LIME has been associated with the Boys Training School for the past two years and we have completed several projects at the institution. Christmas is a special time of year and we wanted to create a lifetime experience for the young men. LIME has planned a number of activities whereby we will randomly surprise individuals with special gifts.”


Deborah hits the heights for charity
Pictured are Sarah Reid and Deborah Hair at the peak of Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak. The duo made their ascent up the mountain earlier this year in aid of Brain Tumour Research in memory of Sarah s mother who lost her battle with a brain tumour earlier this year. The sum of �8710 was raised.

Pictured are Sarah Reid and Deborah Hair at the peak of Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak. The duo made their ascent up the mountain earlier this year in aid of Brain Tumour Research in memory of Sarah s mother who lost her battle with a brain tumour earlier this year. The sum of �8710 was raised.

Sarah Reid, a physiotherapist at Perth Royal Infirmary, and Deborah Hair from near Brechin, who is currently doing a Masters at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee, successfully completed their ascent of Kilimanjaro, raising £8,710 for Brain Tumour Research.

This is a fitting tribute to Sarah’s mother who lost her battle with a brain tumour earlier this year.

On reaching the top of the highest mountain in Africa, Deborah commented: “The summit day was really tough – we started the final ascent at midnight during a thunder, lightning and snow storm with just our head torches to light the way, in between bolts of lightning. As you can imagine, it was all very dramatic and exciting!

“At that altitude the lack of oxygen meant we had less sleep and had lost our appetites, so we were really running on empty.

“We were lucky, however, not to have suffered any serious altitude sickness, which is all too common.”

Sarah continued the story: “The storm finally abated and we were above cloud level to enjoy a beautiful sunrise. Reaching the summit was an amazing experience, albeit an exhausting one.

“It was a fantastic moment that we will never forget and it was really down to all the support and generous sponsorship we have received that helped us to keep going.

“To date our sponsorship total has topped £8,700, an overwhelming total and we cannot express how grateful we are to everyone who has sponsored us”.

Brain tumours kill more children and people under the age of 40 than any other cancer, yet just 70p in every £100 of national cancer spending goes on brain tumour research.

It costs £2,740 to fund one day of research at a dedicated brain tumour centre of research, so Sarah and Deborah’s ascent of Kilimanjaro has already raised enough to fund three full days of research.

If you would like to help make the total four days of research, please go to www.justgiving.com/SarahDeborahKilimanjaroClimb

For more information on the work of Brain Tumour Research please go to www.braintumourresearch.org


Raising funds ahead of dream trip to USA

Brechin girl Imogen Sherrit, who is currently in the middle of a fundraising drive to realise her dream of a gap year in Michigan, USA.

Brechin girl Imogen Sherrit, who is currently in the middle of a fundraising drive to realise her dream of a gap year in Michigan, USA.

Brechin teenager Imogen Sherrit is in the middle of a fund-raising drive, in the hope of achieving her dream to go to the USA for a gap year next August.

The gap year programme she has applied for is run by an organisation called Foreign Links Around the Globe, a Michigan based non-profit organisation, authorised to place international high school students with American volunteer host families and schools for an academic year and/or semester programmes.

Before she can take part in this she needs approximately £5700, which she has acknowledged is going to be difficult to raise.

Imogen intends to organise several fund-raising events after the new year, such as a ceilidh, prize bingo night and also a whisky tasting night.

The Brechin High School pupil is currently doing all she can to raise money, most recently organising a raffle at the Brechin pantomime.

Over the course of the five shows she raised £253, a great start to her fund.

The prize for the raffle was a Christmas hamper, which went to Mrs Haggart of Park Road, Brechin. Imogen would like to thank everyone for her support.

The seventeen-year-old also has a Christmas quiz on sale for 50p, with a closing date of December 19.

These can be found in Brymer’s, Hendry’s newsagents, Sweets and Treats, Turriffs, Gardiners, Sydney David, Dennis’, Robson’s Opticians, Gourmet Grocery, Whittaker’s Opticians and Rosie’s Bakehouse.

The quizzes can also be found in the Tweed Warehouse and the Spar in Edzell.

The prize has been kindly donated by Gavin Brymer, which is a £20 voucher to be spent in Bruce Brymer Butchers.

Imogen would like to give a big thanks for all the support she has received so far.

PICTURED: Brechin girl Imogen Sherrit, - currently in the middle of a fund-raising drive to realise her dream of a gap year in Michigan, USA

Monday, December 19, 2011

20 DEC 2011:


Santa's visit to town the highlight of Christmas Fair


Tuesday December 06 2011

THE MALAHIDE Christmas Fair came to town last weekend and so did Santa as the town threw itself into the festive spirit. Organised by Malahide Chamber of Commerce, the Christmas Fair culminated with the arrival of the bearded man from the North Pole laden down with gifts. New Street was pedestrianised for the day and all the entertainment and music was provided by local community organisations. Some of the local business community used the opportunity to promote their goods and services by taking up stalls on the street to kick off what traders hope will be a busy and profitable Christmas for the town. This was a Malahide Chamber of Commerce event so the theme was very much about getting the message across to the good citizens of the town how important it is to shop local this Christmas. It all came to a head when at 6.15pm sharp, Santa arrived on cue by horse and carriage, giving the Reindeer a little rest for the day. He took to the stage in front of a crowd full of the spirit of the season and performed the honour of turning on Malahide's spectacular Christmas lights display. For the third year in a three year project, Gerry Walsh of the chamber has lead the Christmas lights project. Over these past three years the chamber has replaced all the lights with a low energy system and extended lighting to new areas. The cost has been over €35,000 paid for through the funding raising efforts of the chamber. The chamber has not asked businesses to contribute directly for these three years but rely on its members to support it in other ways by joining in January each year and participating in activities throughout the year. Malahide United and Malahide Forum have also made donations each year towards the lights in a gesture of great community spirit. The chamber also appreciate the continuing support of Fingal County Council who have provided €2,500 each year towards the lights display. While this is an expensive project, it could not have been completed without the voluntary work of Gerry and his team. In particular, Rodney Moore of IT Rollout (www.itrollout.ie) has contributed people, professional knowledge and endless encouragement to the project.



The Taylor University Silent Night Game — now with Justin Bieber flash mob (video)

Dec 15, 2011, 2:36 PM EST


If you’re a regular ESPN viewer or just a big fan of college basketball, most likely you’ve heard of Taylor University’s Silent Night Game — a relatively new, once-a-year tradition at the tiny NAIA school in Upland, Indiana. The gist of it is that the crowd remains completely silent in the early portion of the game, but when the 10th point is scored, they erupt in bedlam.

Also featured: the capacity crowd at 2,265-seat Odle Arena sings Silent Night, everyone is dressed in wacky costumes (seen this year: penguin, Cindy-Lou Who, Batman, several gorillas), and afterward there’s a university-sponsored “Habecker’s Holipalooza” Christmas party. Featured activity there: the school president reads A Christmas Story to students.

From CBS Sports:

The patient tradition isn’t even two decades old; it began in the early ‘90s when longtime Taylor coach Paul Patterson got the suggestion from an assistant on staff. It’s a blend of basketball and Christmas cheer, sort of an initiation into the holiday season that comes before cramming for the end-of-semester blitz.

“It’s so bizarre, that first 10 points. You can’t speak. You can encourage the guys, but you can’t do anything,” Patterson said Friday night, referring to typical coach gyrations and screams. “Then it (the 10th point) comes and the game gets to be a really high intensity.”


Halftime entertainment? Oh yes … this year about 100 girls stormed the court and danced to Justin Bieber’s Little Drummer Boy, prompting Bieber himself to forward a tweet about it. This is all just stupid enough to be completely awesome. We approve: Carry on, Taylor University.



HSBC Run raises P2 million for reading program
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  • Published : Sunday, December 18, 2011 00:00
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Driven by the desire to help build a nation of readers, close to 3,500 runners joined HSBC’s 136th Anniversary Fun Run that sought to raise funds for the Sa Aklat Sisikat (SAS) foundation.

The SAS is a non-profit professional Philippine organization that promotes the love and habit of reading in Filipino children. The foundation works with public schools all over the country, providing the resources for implementing a Reading Program designed to motivate Grade 4 students–many of whom are at risk of dropping out of school before high school–to make reading a part of their daily lives.

HSBC President and CEO Tony Cripps said they were extremely pleased with the turnout and proudly announced that the event has raised P2 million in funds. “We are extremely pleased with the turnout of this year’s Fun Run as we were able to reach our maximum capacity. It’s been a wonderful year for us here in the Philippines, and this event is our way to celebrate that, as well as to give back to the community which makes our success possible. All of the proceeds will go to SAS, because we believe that there is no better investment in the future than investing in the education of our children.”

Over the past eight years, HSBC and SAS initiatives have benefited over 650,000 students; 9,000 teachers; and 285 principals all over the country through their reading programs and pioneering workshops for principals and teachers.

The HSBC Fun Run featured 3k, 5k and 10k categories for adults, as well as sprint challenges for children 12 and below. “Seeing thousands of people first stretching and then running in those stunning Natori singlets was an unforgettable experience,” said Johanna Garcia, HSBC’s head of Communications and Corporate Sustainability. “It really brought home to us how powerful and meaningful a partnership could be that brings together Josie Natori’s creativity, SAS’s commitment, HSBC’s support and finally, the enthusiasm and passion of all our stakeholders.”

Top finishers in the 3k, 5k and 10k categories were awarded a non-transferable round-trip ticket to Hong Kong, while Erlina Gelaya bagged the grand raffle prize: round-trip tickets for two to London via Cathay Pacific.



Sisters in a tribute to their dear old grandad

FOUR sisters have fought back their tears to organise a fund-raising night in memory of their much-loved grandad.

Peter de Lacy, 81, of Norton Tower, Halifax, died in Overgate Hospice in August.

Now four of his grandaughters – Emma, Lucy, Katie and Sophie Wisniewski – are planning a race night to thank the nurses who looked after him in his last days.

The three oldest sisters all go to Crossley Heath and Sophie is a pupil at Sacred Heart Primary, Sowerby Bridge.

Emma, 16, said: “We just wanted to give something back. The nurses were so supportive and made grandad so comfortable.”

Katie, 14, said: “He was so caring, affectionate and did anything for us, even when he was poorly. We miss him being around.”

Youngest sister Sophie, 10, said: “Every time we saw him he always said ‘It makes my day when I see you’.” Lucy, 12, said: “This is a fitting way to remember him.”

Their mum. Julie, said: “When he went in they were just nurses – but now they’re more like friends.”

Peter was heavily involved with St Columba’s Church, Pellon and was treasurer of Halifax Catholic Club for more than 40 years. His wife Rita was also a patient at the Elland hospice before her death in 2001 and the girls’ paternal grandmother, Edna Wisnewska, died there in 1999.

The family took part in the Midnight Walk for the last two years, raising £250 for the hospice and are now appealing for raffle prizes for the race night at Halifax Catholic Club on January 7. It starts at 5.30pm and tickets cost £3 for adults, £2 for children.

They have already had donations from Combserve in Elland and prizes include Camelot tickets and a voucher from Anon Lingerie in Elland.

To donate prizes e-mail julie@student-properties.co.uk.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

14 December 2011:


Baby echidna Kai welcomed at Perth Zoo after latest breeding success


NEW ADDITONI: 'Kai' the 85 day old Echidna at the Perth Zoo. Source: PerthNow

A PRICKLY new arrival made its first public appearance at Perth Zoo today.

Kai the echidna is the latest breeding success at the zoo.

He was weighed and inspected by keepers this morning before being placed back in its nursery burrow where it will spend the next two to three months.

DNA tests will be carried out soon to determine the sex.

Weighing in this morning at 526 grams Kai, which is Nyoongar for surprise, will continue to grow over the next three to four years before reaching a normal weight of 4kg.

Kai weighed less than one gram when it hatched in September and spent the first two months of its life in its mother's pouch.

Perth Zoo Australian Fauna supervisor Arthur Ferguson said today Kai was progressing well under the care of experienced mother, Elyan.

"Once Kai leaves the nursery burrow we will take a couple of small hairs for DNA sexing," Mr Ferguson said

"The previous five echidnas born at Perth Zoo were all females so we are hoping that Kai is a male."

Only 17 echidnas have been born in captivity in Australia with Perth Zoo having produced six of them.


12/15/2011 1:05:00 AM
Stripes stores are now Safe Places

Stripes convenience stores are in the business to make money, but they also take their commitment to the welfare of local youth seriously.

Representatives from the company met Wednesday at the Marie Detty Youth Family and Services Center, 2501 SW E, for a morning of learning and giving as part of an effort to reinforce their relationship with the youth organization.

After a tour of the youth center, which Stripes Public Relations Manager Sharon Yon-Johansson said was "eye-opening," area manager Tom Hudson presented the shelter with boxes of winter coats, hats and gloves. The event officially marked the kickoff date of the company's community partnership with the Lawton Safe Place Program.

The Safe Place Program was created in 1983 to offer youths in crisis an immediate place to seek assistance. If a child runs away from home, is being abused, neglected or bullied, he or she can walk into any facility donning the Safe Place logo and the personnel there will provide a means of transportation to a shelter.


"The Connexion" edition: December 2011

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ADADA donkey charity has asked The Connexion to pass on its thanks to readers who kindly donated towards a recent urgent appeal in our online newsletter.

The organisation has received just over €600 in donations from generous readers, which will go towards buying hay and food to help the animals through the winter.

Charity spokeswoman Patricia Taylor said: “We are delighted and very grateful. Thank you again for your support.”

The charity is based in Ambert in the Auvergne. They have 270 donkeys in their care and constantly struggle to find funding and support. This year there is a great problem with a shortage of hay. The price has tripled compared to last year and there is very little for sale in the region because farmers need it for their own livestock.

Volunteers come from all over France to occasionally help but most local volunteers are British. Small groups of people visit the donkeys in the fields giving carrots, brushing and petting the donkeys to give regular human contact and they also do some fundraising.

They would like to appeal to any donkey-loving readers to help them through the Winter, either by donating money or hay, or becoming members (€45 a year).

Anyone interested should email President Marinette Panabiere at assoadada@orange.fr or visit www.adada-assos.org

Donkey charity says thank you


The soup kitchen

by Constantine Callaghan
26 Sep 2011

It is 10am on a small side-street in the Athens district of Omonia. Hundreds of people of Central Asian, Middle Eastern and African appearance are patiently queueing in the shade of a non-descript building. They are waiting their turn to receive a free meal from the charity Caritas, which feeds over 300 people every day.
The centre has become a lifeline for the many people living in squalid conditions in the surrounding areas. Open for a couple of hours every day, the soup kitchen offers a meal a day and a brief escape from a life of unemployment, destitution and boredom.
Academics in the field of geopolitics have coined the term “the arc of crisis” to refer to the many unstable states that occupy the land between northwest Africa and the Indian subcontinent. Many of these countries are synonymous with terrorism, political instability and conflict and these factors have triggered a wave of migration in the past decade.
Because of the country’s geographical position, Greece sits at the forefront of Europe’s immigration problem. Figures released on September 16 reveal that 57,000 people have been detained for illegally entering Greece this year alone; with the economic crisis in full swing the new arrivals come to a destination with little on offer.
President of the Caritas Athens Refuge Programme, Nikos Voutsinos, is a modest man and one would be surprised that he had once been the regional director of Xerox for East and Central Africa. Voutsinos has devoted his retirement to charity. He is a practising Catholic and has a picture of Pope Benedict hanging in his office.
As he explained to the Athens News, “the people we have here today will not be here in a month, as they carry on their journey to other destinations,” while at the same time some are taking voluntary deportation.
In the soup kitchen I get talking to an Afghan man named Husain. His story is representative of many Afghans residing in Greece. As Husain eats his spaghetti bolognese he tells that after leaving war-torn Afghanistan he initially made the perilous journey by land to Greece and then on to Austria. Husain stayed in Austria for six months before he got arrested. After having spent a month in prison, he was deported back to Greece - the first country he entered in the EU. Because of both the current difficulties facing Greece and suffering from an illness, Husain will be one of many taking advantage of the government’s scheme of voluntary return.
Voutsinos said that “for years now we haven’t received money from the government” and Caritas has survived on donations from companies and the public. As many migrants end up staying in Greece because they lack proper documents to go on to a third country or are awaiting decisions about their status, the soup kitchen has consistently remained busy.
Safety factors
Besides acting as a source of food and support, the soup kitchen is also a safe haven for many. In surrounding Omonia, violent crime, drug abuse and prostitution are commonplace. Within the centre, though, the number of violent incidents is low, despite the environment outside.
Voutsinos is obsessed with the safety of his guests. He instructs them to take main roads rather than side-streets to get to the centre, thus diminishing the chances of ending up as a crime victim. Another precaution taken is to close the building by 2pm, the time Voutsinos said the surrounding streets start turning hostile.
The Caritas president likes to point out that since he took over as director in 2006 there have only been “three or four violent incidents” at the centre. He said that inter-ethnic violence does occur, in particular between Arabs and Africans, but that, on the whole, these fights rarely make their way into the soup kitchen.
According to Voutsinos, most of the diners are unemployed and broke, and after their meal head for lodgings where they are often packed 20 or more to a room. They file out of the building as volunteers behind them clear up the tables and rush to make the 2pm deadline.

"Taiwan Today" Newspaper
Man circles Taiwan on old bike to commemorate late father

12/15/2011 (Liberty Times)

In April of this year, Chen Kun-jung of New Taipei City's Luzhou completed his circuit around Taiwan on his late father's bike in seven days, traveling some 180 kilometers a day. He later conducted the same trip at the end of September on another old bike in six days.

Chen says that his father was handicapped, with one foot that would not bend properly, but he was able to ride a bicycle to work. With six children to raise, his father was an amazing man. Unfortunately, before he died two years ago, he never had the chance to conduct a trip around Taiwan. To memorialize his father's life and spirit, Chen decided to ride his dad's 1951 Japanese bicycle around the island this year. He started out from home on April 26 , and passed through Danshui, Jinshan, Wanli, Toucheng, and Yilan before continuing around the island clockwise. He got up at 3 a.m. each day to ride and put in 15 hours in the saddle daily.

"I just wanted to finish the job!" says Chen. When he had just started, friends regarded his mission with doubt, wondering if he would be able to complete it. Some even tried to talk him out of it, or called him an idiot. But Chen stuck to his idea without wavering. He says that the toughest time of his trip was when he was heading down the Suao-Hualien highway. The old bike had worn parts, and the brakes wore out. Even worse, the bike shop said there were no parts available to fix such an old model, so he had to use his feet to brake the bicycle all the way around the island. Whenever he came to a slope, he would get off and push.

By the time he did his second circuit of the island, Chen had switched to a "younger" bicycle. This one was only 40 years old. The results were similar to his first trip, but with his previous experience, he was able to shave a day off his time, completing this trip in just six days. Chen has been collecting old stuff since childhood, including hand-cranked telephones, old scales, abacuses, and ice-shaving machines, and all of them are at least 40 years old, making his house a miniature museum nowadays.

Chen says that when he was a boy, he would go down to the water's edge to watch people wash clothes, or hang out by the irrigation channels, looking for lost coins in the water. At night, he would even dream of fishing for coins in this way. Later, he came to love anything that had the flavor of those days. He believes that antiques are a way to preserve and transmit culture from the past.

Chen plans to exhibit his collections for free from this Christmas Eve until the end of the year on the first floor of the Luzhou Government building.

(The Chinese version of this article was published on December 14, 2011.)

British Columbia...

Local parks offer a bit of adventure for free

By Jack Christie,
Louise Christie

Ranger Tyler Perrier-Ehrlick has walked across Lynn Canyon Park’s suspension bridge in North Vancouver more than a few times.

In Vancouver, parks are us, big-time. Unrivalled by any other Canadian jurisdiction, this city is blessed with an abundance of municipal, regional, and provincial parks, plus several wildlife sanctuaries. Thanks to tax dollars and private donations, admission to most of these green spaces comes free of charge—except for parking fees, of course, though those were thankfully rescinded in B.C. provincial parks earlier this year.

Thus, in the category of “best free features in local parks”, the restored free parking in West Vancouver’s Cypress and North Vancouver’s Mount Seymour provincial parks ranks those spots right behind the top three finalists.

Hands down, the winner in this category has to be Lynn Canyon Park’s suspension bridge, just east of Lynn Valley Road on Peters Road. Don’t confuse this with Vancouver’s top tourist attraction, the Capilano Suspension Bridge, located farther west on Capilano Road. Unlike its counterpart, Lynn Canyon’s swaying walkway allows access from both banks, between which Lynn Creek tumbles. Each year, between 750,000 and one million visitors cross the free bridge, which originally opened in 1912 in one of the North Shore’s first public green spaces.

Earlier this summer, the Georgia Straight met District of North Vancouver ranger Tyler Perrier-Ehrlick midway across Lynn Canyon’s 40-metre drooping span. The first-year Capilano University student said he had the best job in the world, one that dovetailed perfectly with his studies in outdoor-recreation management. “Four hundred people applied for this job,” the 19-year-old recounted. “I was lucky enough to be chosen. Now I’ve got summer employment for at least the next two years while I complete school.”

Perrier-Ehrlick’s boss, Andy Robinson, is North Vancouver’s head ranger and sole full-time park patroller. Born just up the road from Lynn Canyon Park, the 45-year-old gives credit to the half-dozen seasonal staff members who assist him in the “pretty vast” job of supervising the district’s 152 parks, beaches, and greenbelts. “We really focused on Lynn Canyon this year, offering public information and safety tips on what to see and where to go,” he said by phone, “especially as the suspension bridge is the best gateway in Metro for adventure tourists.”



Nuneaton fashion student flies flag for British style in Paris

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Readers' Africa: Lions and Devils


“Supermarket Sweep” winner gives groceries to Ringgold shelter
by Sherry Dee Allen
Dec 15, 2011 | 748 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Richmond Blackwell of Ringgold “sweeps” cans of beans into a cart at the Ringgold Shop-Rite. (Catoosa News photo/Sherry Dee Allen)
Richmond Blackwell of Ringgold “sweeps” cans of beans into a cart at the Ringgold Shop-Rite. (Catoosa News photo/Sherry Dee Allen)
Richmond Blackwell (tan jacket), winner of the Boynton Lion’s Club Supermarket Sweep, stands with Lion’s Club representatives. Blackwell donated all the winnings to a local mission. (Catoosa News photo/Sherry Dee Allen)
Richmond Blackwell (tan jacket), winner of the Boynton Lion’s Club Supermarket Sweep, stands with Lion’s Club representatives. Blackwell donated all the winnings to a local mission. (Catoosa News photo/Sherry Dee Allen)
Richmond Blackwell of Ringgold helped feed an entire community in only five minutes.

Upon hearing the news that he held the winning ticket to the Shop-Rite Supermarket Sweep contest sponsored by the Boynton Lion’s Club, he decided to stock the shelves of Christ’s Chapel Share and Care Mission in Ringgold, rather than keep the groceries for himself and his family.

The mission feeds hundreds of families each month, but had gotten somewhat depleted after a tornado devas-tated the Ringgold area in April.

“I was excited about winning,” said Blackwell, “but our pantries are pretty much full, so I thought it would be a good time to give to others. We called the mission and asked them what they needed the most, so that’s what I’m go-ing after.”

When the air horn blew Saturday morning, Dec. 10. at the Ringgold Shop-Rite, Blackwell made a mad dash for five full minutes, sweeping entire shelves of cans and boxes into carts. At one point, he picked up three giant ship-ping boxes full of cereal boxes then went back for several flats of canned baked beans. When the time was up, he had filled eight grocery carts full of non-perishables such as chili, tuna, crackers, rice, cereal and pasta, running up a tab of $1,308.68.

“It was little harder than I thought,” said a winded Blackwell afterwards. “I was looking for the easiest things to grab, but I think we got a lot of good stuff for them. I’m happy for them.”

Blackwell did receive a gift card from Outback Steakhouse in Dalton, presented by Donna Calhoun, president of the Chickamauga Lion’s club. She said the owner of Outback heard of Blackwell’s decision and wanted to reward his generosity.

Amy Collins, a cashier at the Ringgold Shop-Rite was also awarded with a gift card from the Lion’s Club for sell-ing the most tickets. She sold 45 tickets for the contest.

More than 300 tickets were sold. The tickets were $5 and all proceeds go to support the Lion’s club after the gro-ceries are purchased.

When the groceries were boxed and loaded, Blackwell and friends and Lion’s club representatives traveled a short piece down the road to the mission where they formed an assembly line from the truck to the storage room to unload the ample bounty of goods.

Linda Petty, secretary for the mission, seemed overwhelmed with gratitude. She reported the mission had al-ready helped 418 families in the month of November and another 78 families as of Dec. 10.

“We got really low after the tornado,” said Petty, “so this is such a blessing. We have learned no matter how much we give out here, God doubles and triples what comes back in. That’s just how it works.”

Read more: CatWalkChatt - “Supermarket Sweep” winner gives groceries to Ringgold shelter