Monday, 30 August 2010

day 20: mobility

twenty days gone! i can hardly believe the month has gone by so fast, with two-thirds now over. for muslims, the final 10 of days of ramadan have a higher spiritual significance which involves a greater emphasis on prayer. i'm hoping that i can manage to continue with my blogging, because there are still some important topics i'd like to cover.

just a quick community notice: some of you may have watched the "sunday" programme which covered the alleged selling of illegal drugs at the hamilton mosque. the programme itself was a fail for so many reasons, which i may cover another time. but in any case, the somali community in hamilton is organising a public meeting to respond to these allegations at 1.30pm on 3 sept, at the waikato migrant resource centre.

today's topic is mobility ie the ability to get from one place to another. it's something that we physically do ourselves or use other forms of transportation to achieve.

i really appreciate the ability to walk around myself, to be able to climb stairs, to be able jog and run. i've written several times, i'm sure, of having to deal with one of my daughters breaking a bone in her ankle a couple of years ago. it brought home to me the difficulties of life without mobility, and the inaccessibility of most nz homes.

mobility isn't just about going places, it's also about getting things done. while the internet has made life a lot easier for people who aren't able to be mobile - eg internet banking, shopping on line etc - there are still a lot of tasks that require mobility. simple things like cooking, cleaning, and bathing are made so much easier when you have full mobility.

driving is a key aspect of mobility. i'm really glad that my parents made sure i had my license by 17, and put the effort into ensuring i was a competent driver. being able to drive makes life so much easier, whether it's doing the shopping, getting the kids to school, visiting friends, going to the doctor, or any number of other things. at shama, we help women get their learner's license, and we know the isolation and difficulties caused by not being able to drive.

unfortunately, nz doesn't have wonderful public transport systems which makes it really difficult for those who can't drive. in fact, asia is much better in this regard, in the sense that you can generally get a rickshaw (aka tuktuk) at any street corner and hence get to the local markets or where ever you need to go locally. of course it means that you have to watch some poor soul lug you around, but on the other hand, if you don't use this mode of transport that same poor soul won't have money to feed his family (and no, i've never come across a female rickshaw driver, though i have come across some pitifully young boys). as i came up in the ethics post, moral judgements are rarely easy.

but back to public transport, because the system here is pretty poor, i'm really thankful that i have access to my own vehicle. it's a vehicle i don't have to share, so i can go where i want, when i want. i'm thankful that i can afford to maintain said vehicle, and can afford to fill it regularly with petrol. all of this represents a considerable amount of freedom and independence for me. i know i could and should make more of an effort with the public transport that is available, especially considering i have the personal mobility to do so. for me, time is the greatest barrier to taking advantage of public transport.

another aspect of mobility that is important to me is air travel. this is particularly a privilege, one that is entirely dependent on having the means to travel as well as the mobility. the countries that i have travelled to include australia (sydney, melbourne, adelaide, perth), malaysia (kuala lumpur, penang), singapore, thailand (bangkok), india (delhi, bombay, bangalore, jaipur, banaras & various villages), england (london, oxford, birmingham, canterbury), germany (braunschweig), france (paris, marseilles), turkey (istanbul), saudi arabia (mecca, medina, jeddah), united states (los angeles, honolulu), and canada (vancouver & saskatoon). i've also stopped over in transit (meaning i've never been beyond the airport) of tehran, brisbane & dubai.

that's quite a heap of places and a lot of wonderful experiences. i've seen the taj mahal, aya sofia & sultan ahmed mosque, the top kapi palace, the eiffel tower, the louvre, the opera house & darling harbour, freemantle, margaret river, the beautiful coral mosque at putra jaya & the shah alam mosque, the petronas towers, disney world in europe, buckingham palace, the tower of london, westminister abbey, and so much more. i was lucky to have parents that loved to travel, and i continued to travel after i left home. in my previous post about nature, i've mentioned the places i've visited in nz.

i think it's a huge privilege to have been to these places and experienced their culture, history, architecture, food and languages. there are still plenty of places i'd love to go, but i overseas travel of late has been to visit family rather than to visit places. and i know the former is much more important to me than the latter.

in terms of causes to support, there is the catwalk trust, and variety's mobility programme for kids. and of course there is ccs disability action.

for those who are hampered in their mobility in any way, and find this difficult to deal with, my thoughts and prayers are with you.

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