Sunday, 6 April 2008

optimism & resiliency

it's been a day full of rich experiences. this morning i went to an optimism and resiliency workshop organised for muslim women. i always wonder when i go to these things whether i'll learn things i didn't already know. i guess the value is in having those things spelled out, putting them in the front of your consciousness and making you actually spend time thinking about them in a way that you normally don't take the time to do.

the biggest lesson for me was a reminder of how much time we spend sending negative messages to ourselves, and how little time we tend to think about our strengths. at least, that's true for me. so i've made up my mind that i need to spend a little more time on self-appreciation, to ensure that i do keep a positive outlook on life. the other valuable aspect of the workshop was the shared experience and the shared stories. there's so much to be learnt from the experiences of others.

from there, i went on to community radio hamilton, who were having an open day especially for ethnic communities. it ended up being a pretty big celebration. their current tag line is "free speech in any language", which is recognition of the fact that ethnic minorities are free to broadcast things here that they might not be able to do in their countries of origin.

i've been a trustee of the trust that runs this station for over a year now. we've got an excellent manager in phil grey & a great range of programmes, hopefully to be expanded as a result of the open day. we've also been lucky to get funding for on-line streaming and podcasts, which you can find here. the internet makes our station accessible to the whole world, and it's an exciting development for us. even more exciting is that 3 of our radio shows have been selected as finalists for the nz radio awards to be held next month. watch this space.

this evening, i attended a farewell for the minister of st stephen's church in hamilton, rev hugh perry and his wife raewyn. they're leaving the city, and it really will be a great loss for the whole community.

i first met raewyn when she and joan morris contacted a friend back in 2003, asking her to organise a meeting between her women from her church and muslim women. they had just had joris de bres (did i say he's a wonderful man? well, i haven't said if often enough!) speaking at their church, encouraging them to be a good host community and reach out to welcome migrant communities. this spurned joan and raewyn to request a meeting with our community.

that request came to me, and i asked if i could include the quakers and jewish women as well. the result was a series of afternoon teas involving about 30 women, where we shared different aspects of our lives and generally got to know each other. what was most special about this though, was the timing. it was soon after the start of the iraq war, and it had been a difficult couple of years for the muslim community, espcially after the 9/11 and bali bombings. that effort of reaching out made by the women of st stephen's was extremely comforting in light of a hostile external environment, and is a precious memory for me.

raewyn and hugh have since been my partners in crime for several ventures, most notably working with me to organise the 4th national interfaith forum last year, and to organise a youth interfaith event. these people are heroes to me, and i will miss them dearly. parting, in this case, is not a sweet sorrow but a very difficult one. the only thing that makes it bearable is knowing that they will be enriching the lives of another community, in a different part of the country.

finally, we've had a tragic event in hamilton this afternoon, with an explosion at an icepak coolstore. seven firefighters have been injured, with 3 in critical condition and 2 with serious injuries. my thoughts go out to them and their families this evening, and i hope they all pull through. the plant is very close to my home, and we saw the black smoke curling up into the sky. there was so much of it. there were some loud bangs just a little while ago, i hope no-one else has been hurt.

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