Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Whiter Shade of Pale - Albino models take to the runways

As a more positive slant on my earlier post about the plight of those with Albinism, I thought I'd share some great photos of some striking albino models.

Through exposure, and unashamedly through glorifying the lack of melanin on a catwalk, these models will help to break down the misconceptions and the fear, and help people see albinos like anyone else. Beauty reigns in a whiter shade of pale. :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Pale Plight

Here are some faces of Albinism:

Albinism affects people from all races.

This inherited condition, characterized by the absence of melanin (which gives us our colouring), is known to affect mammals, fish, birds, reptiles, and amphibians.

Global statistics indicate that about 1 in 17,000 people has some form of albinism.

In Africa the statistics are much higher - about 1 in 4,000.

People with albinism can suffer a variety of physical ailments, from vision problems to photosensitivity and various skin cancers, but it is the discrimination and superstitions which make the lives of albinos around the world unbearable.

In Africa the problem is endemic. Due to lack of education, many fear how different an albino child looks - hence there are a variety of reactions - all are dehumanizing.

From the belief the child is cursed to having supernatural powers; some albinos are killed at birth, others are coveted for potions in spiritual medicines.

In Tanzania and Kenya, ritual murders of albinos made international news over the past few years, but sadly the problems have persisted for these people in their communities for centuries.

In Ghana, no international attention has been focused on the plight of the albino, but it doesn't mean they are not suffering. Every day.

Let's let go of these silly superstitions. Ignorance is it's breeding ground. For the kids - let go of fear and bigotry. Hug someone with albinism today!

Friday, October 15, 2010


Would you drink this? Would you allow your children to drink water like this? Can you imagine having no choice?

Today is Global Blog Action Day and the theme is water. It sounds like such a basic, simple thing. And it should be, but the reality is so different.

In July this year, the General Assembly announced that access to clean and safe drinking water is a basic human right.

Despite this, in Ghana today, (my own backyard), over 25% of deaths in children are caused by diarrhea from contaminated water. In these areas, "half the population get its water from wells, ponds and streams that often contain disease-causing microorganisms."

Here some boys collect drinking water from a rubbish dump - it leaves little question as to why illness and death statistics are so high:

The problem in Ghana is 'dire' according to UNICEF, and Wikipedia even features an article about the dismal water supply and sanitation issues in the country. They note that from data accumulated by the World Health Organization and the UN, only 4% of people in rural areas have access to a water supply to their houses, and only 2% have access to any form of sewage system.

The history of why and how it has been left to get to this state is long and ugly. It involves politicians and greed, disorganization and marginalization. Basically the needs of the rural poor have been on the bottom of every list.

But is anybody doing anything????? Well, yes. Luckily amidst the many ineffective NGOs, there are a few that make a difference, one community at a time.

Water for Ghana - helps villagers to come together and build their own tanks for a fresh supply of water.

PureHomeWater - an MIT initiative, run by American Susan Murdoch, distributes filters designed for small rural systems.

Green Cross Australia - has spearheaded a project to bring clean water to schools across Ghana.

Many other volunteers are raising funds to distribute filters on a micro level - after witnessing the conditions in Ghana's north.

But it's estimated that Ghana needs over $200million to kickstart the water and sanitation problems.

For the sake of the children, I hope some of the USD $13billion that Ghana has just been promised by China will go toward bringing fresh clean water like this (below) to every person in all of Ghana.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Colour my World... with food dyes?

While at work, and deeply concentrating on my official duties (not), I came across this gorgeous art, made with water and food colouring. I wanted to share so here you go!

This first one looks like a crimson fish, gushing bubbles into the deep blue sea... LOVE IT!

I can't find the original source, so I'll probably be arrested for copyright infringement or something - but wait, I'm in Ghana. So I'm probably safe.

If these are your work, or you know the artist, please let me know. Otherwise just enjoy, and please don't call Interpol.

Happy Thursday :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Eat your way across the sea - Cruising with MSC

Swept away / rainbow coloured cocktails with party umbrellas / sea mist / decadence / a pampered getaway….

All these images creep up into our imaginations when someone mentions ‘Mediterranean Cruise’… so exotic, so indulgent.

Cut to reality. Yes, it’s cheap at about $1000 per person. Yes the food is all inclusive – sort of.

We booked a Med Cruise, on the MSC Splendida last month, despite our sincere misgivings about this type of holiday. JW and I are partial to the kind of adventure that involves flying to a destination, renting a car, testing out our GPS and heading out blindly.

A cruise couldn’t be further from this. It’s a seabound luxury hotel, with planned activities and seating arrangements. It is a highly organized, grand scale production line of tourists, with chaperoned excursions and rigid timelines. People move in droves – like swarms of bees, on and off the massive vessel / into the dining rooms at the set times /and flock to the sunbeds around the extravagant pool area every afternoon.

And this being an Italian ship – there were ample opportunities to join the conga line or practice your tango with the grandmas and preschoolers, all to the multi-lingual incessant counting of the activities coordinator over the omipresent loudspeakers.

A cruise holiday means arriving in the largest ports – some of them highly industrial and not remotely scenic. It means you never spend more than 8 hours docked anywhere, and every evening you are at sea, moving from your assigned table in the ships’ massive restaurants, to the substandard entertainment in the gargantuan onboard theater. They have you trapped every night.

It means that you spend the same limited hours in Marseille – which is a dull, industrial port, as Barcelona – which was lively and promising (a place I’d definitely like to go back and actually visit!).

A cruise holiday means sailing for 24 hours straight to arrive on the north shores of Africa in Tunisia, only to have 3 hours to explore the place!!!

Don’t get me wrong – it’s not that the holiday wasn’t luxurious – the main lobby boasted Swarovski-esque crystals in the thousands, built right into each step of the spiraling staircases. And the center piano boasted it’s own tediously bejeweled diamond surface as well. It was a great hit with the under 10’s who all jumped on and around it, trying to scratch off the diamonds between jumping over sofas, while their parents tried to enjoy a drink amidst the dense crowds.

There were 5000 of us on board, so there was no area of peace or solace. The logistics on such a moving city must be mind boggling. No wonder they forced us to eat at the same time and place every night!

Speaking of eating… it’s pretty much the focus of a cruise trip. EAT. The food is free after all. The buffet for breakfast and lunch is served in the Bora Bora, a smorgasbord of gastronomy that spanned 4 football fields. And the plates were closer to troughs – huge oval depositories of glut.

Supper comprised of a 4 to 5 course meal every night – which was followed -by the truly insane – by a midnight buffet, complete with food art on display. From 3 foot tall butter mermaids to intricate eagles made from melons and pumpkins.

Drinks on the other hand were not free. By a long shot. A coke would run you about 3Euro or over $4. And the absolute tedium of it all. On embarkation, you are bombarded with ‘offers’ from the united nations of happy faced boat personnel. These range from ‘water package’ to ‘wine package’ and consist of an insulting little paper tear away booklet of coupons that you must use over the duration of your cruise. GRRRRR

So, would we do it again? Well yes. On a much smaller boat, somewhere like the Greek Isles, where the boat would stop for a day or two and allow you out to explore.

Cruising has it’s merits. It means being able to check off many countries as visited, in a short span of time. It is the perfect chance for the less adventurous to get out into the world,

AND it’s a great remedy if you’ve been feeling a bit on the thin side….
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