ME and Ophelia

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Dedicated to the late Karen Southwick

Jim Moore never ceases to amaze me. Talk about serendipity. Hey Jim, guess what I found today, just after I started a new blog!? Bear with me on this post. I am still over tired and have to bash this out without thinking much or editing - it started out as an email to Jim but since I can't manage it, and publish here, I've turned the email into a post. I've been doing a lot of different things on the computer today, including leaving comments over at Robert's blog - and John's too in Australia where there is a bit of a discussion going on. (Check it out - and feel free to chip in a view - John's post is the first of its kind I've seen on the Sudan - and raises some interesting points).

Yesterday, I'd read Jim's sad post about the death of his close friend Karen Southwick. And I followed Jim's link to Karen's extraordinary last essay entitled "A Breath of Hope". Sorry I can't go into here why it is so beautiful. There is too much to say on it. Parts of it are timeless. A classic. And very original. (Here's pinging a message to say hi to Cass Brown who I know will be most interested in the essay).

It's been three months since my post put the spotlight on the UN, EU and aid agencies. My previous post (see below) says the aid agencies are now only meeting 40% of critical needs in Darfur. Of course I am aware of the difficulties and security issues etc. But even the UN aid agencies admitted three months ago they were too slow.

Now that the media are reporting on Sudan in earnest, the number of email alerts flying into my email inbox has quadrupled over the past week. Posts on aid agencies are piling up in my drafts folder and so I've come to realise I definitely need a place - a special category for them. This blog has no categories so I've decided to experiment with maintaining another blog. It's an idea I've wrestled with for the past 3 months and fear it may be too taxing and will halve my energy for each blog. One blog is more than enough for me to handle.

But because of all what's happening in the Sudan, I had a feeling I might need a second blog by Aug 1 anyway. So, today I took the plunge and made a start. And had to come up with a title. What immediately sprang to mind was the title of Karen's essay: "A Breath of Hope".

And so I've used the title and dedicated the blog to Jim's friend, Karen Southwick. I thought it was apt because humans suffer illnesses whether in USA, UK or Africa. And I wouldn't be doing any of this on the Sudan and aid agencies if it weren't for Jim. I picked up on genocide in Darfur at Jim's blog on April 24 at a time when reports on the Sudan were hard to find.

Here in England being chronically long term ill is a bureacratic nightmare. But for a refugee falling ill in the heat of Africa must be horrendous. The word "hope" in the title of my blog will be: that the whole multi billion dollar business of humanitarian aid - food, water, shelter and medical care - will get attention, shaken up and sorted. Refugees in Africa also contract cancer - so I hope Karen would not mind a stranger dedicating a blog to her last essay. Who knows, one day extracts from the essay could be translated into Arabic and Swahili and other languages.

A Breath of Hope only took two minutes to set up, but two hours to fiddle around getting used to it. Can't figure how to use sidebar properly. Sorry it's a bit scrappy and needs tidying. Right now the way I see the blog working is that it will act as a collection of news reports etc., to see at a glance, why the humanitarian aid business needs attention and sorting.

My previous post, here below, is a good example - along with yesterday's report quoting the head of Medecins Sans Frontieres as saying: "The scale of response is still not adequate ... there is still a massive need to help these people and it hasn't materialised yet - water was in critically short supply and food was equally scarce - "Malnutrition rates are high and they are going to get higher," he added.

So, I tested my new blog with a few posts and links. And visited Jim's blog to capture his link to Karen's essay (I can't direct link to pdf files). But the Harvard server was down. I was stuck. My new blog was sort of half alive with half a post published and dangling in the blogosphere.

So I went back into my copy of the pdf file to find a way to link it. And noticed a link at the top of Karen's essay - clicked into it - and what did I find?? The view of a person blog. I hadn't seen it before but knew right away Jim had something to do with it. Don't ask me how I know. I don't even know myself.

And then I read the post. Who else is in west Boston, in front of a Mac, blogging so thoughtfully?? It had to be Jim of course!! Hey what a surprise. Neat blog too.

But how sad too. Note the first entry was on July 17. My guess is that Jim's co-author was to be Karen - who died on, or shortly before, July 26, the date of Jim's post. Although the blog linked to me, I had no idea because it's not shown up in Technorati as linking to me (Technorati seems to be getting worse, not better).

So, that's what I mean about serendipity. Within a few thoughts, ideas and a few keystrokes I found - among the trillions of messages zipping around the net - stuff that spoke directly to me, simply because Jim cared to put a link to the new blog in Karen's essay. Who's a clever pussycat eh? Jim, that's who! How amazing the blogsphere is. Love from Ingrid and Ophelia xx Sorry Jim must be feeling so sad.

God bless and RIP Karen Southwick + + +

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Sudan President Omar al-Bashir

July 26: Q&A interview with Sudan President Omar al-Bashir.
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Arab press sharpens tone on Darfur

July 27: Another great news round up from BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages:

Several Arab newspapers have been unusually critical of the Sudanese government in commentaries on the continuing crisis in Darfur in western Sudan.

One daily takes the Khartoum government to task for its "constant stubbornness", another says Darfur has become a "brand of shame" on Sudan.

There is also a complaint that the international community wants to act quickly in Sudan, but is still dragging its feet in the Middle East.

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 7/27/2004
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