Saturday, November 3, 2012

To contribute to the campaign to Stamp Out Measles in Africa, I organised a community concert, drumming workshop, and had local artists engaged in making cards with lino printing or teabag folding or just plain cutting and pasting. That plus individual donors raised $2,882, which will be matched dollar for dollar by the Gates Foundation once I get the funds to them. The Gates Foundation empowers communities to establish the practice of vaccination, and it costs a mere $1 to vaccinate a child.

I joined this mission because I had personal experience of death-by-measles, or its complications, of infants when living in Zambia 1976 to 1978. At the concert, we had too many donated items to auction, so today I set up a stall at the local fortnightly market. Jenny, a musical friend, partnered me in clearing the goods and letting people know what we were up to. 

Behind us, young cricketers warmed up and played a rowdy match, visible in the background (right) in this photo. We had three books  about Cricket, which were snapped up with four miscellaneous other books, for a mere $7. The buyer was so thrilled at such an economical solution to Christmas presents for the men in her family, she donated another $3. Yes, we made it easy for people to be generous!

 At the beginning, we agreed we would at least get the funds to $3,000, which meant a target of $118. As we were selling secondhand books, African jewellery, scrapbooking oddments, and cards, we were not asking for much from each item. Predictably, sales were slow for the first 3 hours. Then, at midday, we achieved our target, and subsequently added to the takings sufficiently to bring the total now to $3,027.96. All I can see is 6,056 children vaccinated, and another nail in the coffin not of a child but of the virus itself. I see a day when measles follows polio and smallpox to extinction. Sometimes, extinction is a Really Welcome Occasion!

I packed up quickly and earlier than other stallholders as we had our second BaccChat event at the local library. Today, Tor Roxburgh read from her wonderful novel, The Light Heart of Stone, Uncle Brian, elder of Wathaurang people spoke about the culture then and now, and Dr. Christina Eira, from Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages spoke about the reclamation of language. The fundamental plot of Tor's novel involves Indigenes and the colonists, Companiaris, so the conversation was an exploration of what it means to a country to be post-colonist. We ended the session with the realisation that our country has 60,000 years of human history and we are all part of that history, together.

When I arrived home, I found the last rose bush had suddenly burst forth with blooms. It has looked so lonely, irritable, despondent for so long, I thought it was going to stay infertile this Spring. The way it has bloomed almost seems defiant. But there I am talking about a rose bush as if it's human, when in fact it has just done what a rose bush does.

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