Thursday, November 23, 2006

Bushfire season

Yesterday we had temperatures around 40 degrees Celsius along with windy conditions. After the driest five years in recorded history, there is plenty of dry material to burn.

Pyrocumulus Cloud: Source: Sydney Morning Herald

There are massive fires burning in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. We can smell it in the air and the sunsets are spectacular. 20 kilometers of back burning is underway to save Blue Mountain towns like Blackheath.

Across the State 2,000 fire fighters are trying to manage 44 fires. Temperatures have dropped back to the mid-20s, so that may help a bit.

This seems to have been the common story most summers in recent years. We are getting MUCH better at learning how to protect life and property. NSW has come to have total faith in our Fire Commissioner, Phil Koperberg, happily known by some as 'Saint Phil'. He has announced that he will stand for State Parliament next year. We certainly could do with some competence there!

Meanwhile, in Tanzania!
  • A French development agency, Proparco, will invest $US5mill in "small and medium enterprises that promote a stable and efficient economy, invest in health and education, and protect the environment". It seems very little on a national scale, but every little helps. This is how very poor countries make progress – inch by inch.
  • BBC video diary on the Ituja family in Tanzania and thoughts on their life, the world and contemporary culture.
  • Each year more than one million babies in sub-Saharan Africa die before they are a month old because of a lack of essential health care, a U.N. report said on Wednesday (22 Nov).
    "Sub-Saharan Africa remains the most dangerous region in the world for a baby to be born -- with 1.16 million babies dying each year in the first 28 days of life," said the report.
    The document, drafted by nine agencies including the World Health Organisation, said Tanzania is one of six countries in the region to make progress in improving care – reducing neonatal deaths by about 30 percent in the past decade, thanks to increased government spending on basic health care.

The School of St Jude is open for business as usual. People who work there often comment on the joy and willingness of the children. From an early age they have a deep appreciation of the opportunity to learn. Maria Montessori, the great Italian educator, based her teaching system on the observation that children don't need to be forced to learn – they have a natural curiosity. "Follow the child", was her motto. At the School of St Jude, the joy and willingness of the children is an inspiration to all who visit or volunteer.

P.S. Fabulous new word: pyrocumulus....

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