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31 Days of Gratitude – this has been an interesting exercise so far. When I started this theme I thought for sure I’d be focusing on the material rather than the intangible….but it seems my mind had other ideas.

I started off with my creature comforts; then to my job, from there I swung over to another creature comfort, and then I hit the material stuff…and from there it’s gone in the direction of love, experiences and the intangible. So far I’ve been grateful for indoor heating, my job, being able to cook, my laptop, learning how to invest, parental love, walking the Camino, experiencing snow, the love of pets, experiencing enchantment, having opportunities, being able to read….

Today I find myself leaning towards being grateful for awareness. It’s a scary old world with all the new technology we are exposed to; mobile phones, the internet, AI developments, gestural interfaces and now crypto-currencies. Although the latter is not new, in comparison to the others it’s still wet behind the ears, as am I. Since joining up and buying Bitcon my mind (and nerves) have gone through a range of emotions the like of which I’ve never experienced before. This is the only time in my life that a graph has held such a fascination. I need one of those screens like they had in that film with Tom Cruise; the Minority report. LOL

Besides being aware of all the new technology, we have to be aware of the ‘dark web’ so to speak; the scams, and hacks, and viruses that abound along with all that’s marvellous about all these new aspects of life. Daily we read about a new bank scam, or a major hacking attack, or fraudsters making off with millions of dollars. The sheer number of scams that abound today are bewildering and frightening. You have to be super aware. In order to protect your internet browsing you have to pay out large sums of money to keep your equipment safe. You can no longer be polite to someone on the phone who calls purporting to be from your bank (or receiving an email). Someone I’m close to was recently scammed by a very slick operator who managed to deceive her into thinking she was actually dealing with her bank. He had all the right protocols, the right questions and details that only the bank should have known about…..and she was scammed out of £13k+. Thankfully due to a total cock-up by the relevant bank they had to reimburse her all the money, but a great number of other people were scammed in the same way and they haven’t been refunded.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/11/08/scam-victims-fail-take-reasonable-care-will-not-get-penny-ofcompensation/

Being aware and keeping abreast of news for anything to do with the internet or the latest scam is vital if we are to be safe in our adventures on the web.

Which brings me to a current bug-bear of mine…..plastic. I’ve become very much aware of the devastating effect plastic is having on our lives. Having access to the internet is brilliant at being able to keep up to date with what is happening with raising awareness of this pernicious product. I joined the Plastic Pollution Coalition facebook page last year and have kept myself aware of the latest news; both good and bad. If you watched Blue Planet 2 a couple of nights ago you cannot fail to see how devastating an effect our lifestyle is having on the world’s oceans and our future.

We, as humans, are already eating plastic in our fish. Those microscopic bits of plastic are going to be our undoing.

Although programmes like Blue Planet 2 and organisations like the Plastic Pollution Coalition are doing a terrific job in raising awareness, it is not enough. We have to educate ourselves. We have to become more aware of why so much plastic is ending up in the oceans and what we can do about it.

Disposable plastics are made to last forever. A plastic water bottle takes 450 years to break down. Where does it break down to?Boomerange Alliance - Plastic Doesn't Go Away resizedScreen Shot 2017-06-20 at 1 It goes into the oceans. It’s killing the sea-life that the health of our oceans depend upon…..and finally it is going to kill us.

plastic pollution. raising awareness, blue planet 2, plastic pollution, no straw november, raising awareness

Shared via @nomoresingleplastic #nomoreplastic #breakfreefromplastic #plasticpollutes #marinelitter It’s frightening the amount of single use plastic that we humans use that ends up in the ocean and rivers. What are your thoughts on single use plastic? And what do you do to avoid it? It’s incredibly difficult to find foodstuffs that don’t come in plastic.

plastic pollution. raising awareness, blue planet 2, plastic pollution, no straw november, raising awareness

I’m grateful for these types of organisations and programmes that are bringing the plastic pollution battle to the forefront of our awareness and especially to those companies/organisations that are actually doing something about it.

plastic pollution. raising awareness, blue planet 2, plastic pollution, no straw november, raising awareness

Edible Six Pack Rings

If only our Governments weren’t so fixated on making money, then they would do something rather more drastic about firstly raising awareness of the huge problem we face and secondly, actually doing something about it.

The most important thing to do now, is to ban the use of disposable plastics unconditionally. By doing this, the huge disposable market will disappear. But Governments are slow to act…..this has been a problem for well over 2 decades now and still they are acting sluggishly about actually doing something drastic to curb the growing problem. Organisations are hugely responsible for the production of single-use plastic; bottled water, fizzy drinks (no huge brand names are mentioned here….think!!), plastic straws (Over 500,000,000 plastic straws are used each day in the United States), plastic cups, plastic cutlery, plastic plates, plastic wrapping, plastic toothpicks, plastic ties, balloons, plastic toys (usually cheap rubbish from China that breaks within a day or so anyway), bubble wrap, plastic bags, plastic carrier bags, plastic milk bottles etc etc etc.

Once I became aware of the huge problem, I started looking at where I could cut plastic out of my ‘diet’. The first thing to go were bottles of water. Then I signed a pledge to never use straws again (last year), I joined the #nostrawNovember campaign,

I stopped buying take-away coffees, and take-away food that comes in polystyrene containers.  It is essential to me that I keep myself aware of these issues and hopefully share my findings with others in order to raise their awareness. The internet is brilliant for research and for raising awareness of the issues we face. Platforms like google, twitter, facebook, instagram and pinterest are excellent sources of information and for raising our awareness of the issues and some of the solutions.

Today I am grateful for awareness. I’m grateful for the technology that allows us to raise our own awareness of the issues that we face in the world today, and the awareness of others.

I’m also grateful to people like this wee lass who at the age of 9 is super aware of the problems that plastic products impose and is not only raising awareness of the issues but actually doing something about it http://www.onegreenplanet.org/news/nine-year-old-wants-to-end-plastic-pollution/

Be aware http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/42309891/six-simple-ways-to-cut-back-on-plastic

#nomoresingleplastic #nomoreplastic #breakfreefromplastic #plasticpollutes #marinelitter

31 Days of Gratitude – Day 12

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I recently came across this amazing adventure from an article shared on Facebook.

Hiking the longest trail in the world!!! Wow. What an extraordinary adventure

Here’s Mel’s website if you’d like to read more about this amazing adventure as she faces 2 Canadian winters and hikes through some of the most incredible scenery, from one side of Canada to the other.

http://www.betweensunsets.com/cross-canada-hike/

You can find her on instagram https://www.instagram.com/betweensunsets/

Now that is an adventure to inspire the inveterate explorer. 🙂

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We all know by now the damage being done to the planet with our perpetual use of plastic, seen the horror of a defenceless turtle with the plastic straw stuck up it’s nose, watched with shudders of horror as the blood poured while the rescuers tried to remove it, seen dead seabirds of all species lying on the rocky shores their guts filled with our plastic non-decomposing bits of waste while their chicks are starving to death, seen the whales and dolphins washed up on the beaches gasping their last breath as they lie there waiting to die from starvation caused by swallowing our plastic waste, and knowing that straws perforate the stomachs of penguins. Massive islands of plastic trash floating in the oceans, rivers and streams dead spaces clogged with plastic trash; our plastic trash.

We have to stop it somehow, but it seems insurmountable. Everything is either made with plastic in the process, contains plastic in the fabric or is simply a plastic container. Packaging manufacturers are slow to develop alternative materials that can genuinely compete with traditional plastics because there’s no real market for it. And there’s no market for it because there is not enough demand from consumers.

The supermarkets and production corporations don’t help with their perpetual insistence on using reams of plastic; vegetable wrapped in plastic, fish and meat wrapped in plastic. All because we are a throw-away species with only convenience on our minds.

Slowly but surely though, the message seems to be seeping into our brains and our consciousness; PLASTIC KILLS. And it’s not only killing off the planets wildlife and sea-life but it’s now in our food chain and in the fullness of time, we too will die of plastic related illness and cancers. Or starvation.

no straw november, ocean guardians, single use plasticBut there is so much we can do…..and #nostrawnovember is a very tiny action but it will save a massive amount of plastic from ending up in the oceans, rivers, streams and ultimately killing off the planet. And commit to avoiding single-use plastic water bottles

FYI: Just Americans ALONE use 500 million drinking straws EVERY DAY. To understand just how many straws 500 million really is, this would fill over 125 school buses with straws every day. That’s 46,400 school buses every year! Americans use these disposable utensils at an average rate of 1.6 straws per person per day.

After watching that awful video with the turtle I decided to not use plastic straws anymore. I saw a website where you sign a pledge to never use plastic straws ever again and signed immediately. My daughter bought me a packet of paper straws for Xmas.

So what you do to help reduce the number of plastic straws ending up killing off our wildlife and sea-life? #bestrawfree – join the campaign, be a super hero – and besides saving the planet, save yourself  https://www.ecocycle.org/bestrawfree Join the #nostrawnovember campaign and make it for life.

“In the UK alone, on average 3.5 million McDonalds customers per day buy a drink with a straw. That means 3.5 million straws a day are discarded” #strawwars

Of course it’s not just straws, it’s plastic bags, single use plastic bottles, cling-wrap, plastic ear-buds etc etc etc. The list just goes on. But, if we collectively just stop using those 5 items (amongst others), it will massively reduce the amount of plastic destroying the planet. We are meant to be the Guardians of Planet Earth, but sadly, on the contrary, we are the harbingers of it’s destruction. Our 20 minutes of convenience have major hidden consequences.

Other items you can stop using include: plastic cutlery, plastic plates, plastic cups, plastic coffee pods.

Landfill is not the answer, Recycling is not the absolute answer (you just make it someone else’s problem with that route). Most plastic packaging items are used only once before being discarded, and globally only 14% of plastic packaging is collected for recycling.

Instead we must stop using plastic wherever we can and urge our supermarkets and politicians to help us clean up our Earth.

Leaders in this field:

Wetherspoon to ban single-use plastic ones from its 900 pubs across Britain and Ireland in war on waste.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4919604/Wetherspoon-ban-single-use-plastic-straws.html#ixzz4yW7sJtqS
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Do you realise:

PLASTICS:

Number of years to decompose
PLASTICS:
-plastic bag: 10-500 years
-plastic straw: up to 200 years
-plastic water bottle: 450 years
-plastic beverage container: 500+ years
-plastic 6 pack holder: 450 years

Support Brita’s #SwapForGood campaign, commit to avoiding single-use plastic water bottles and carrying around a reusable bottle instead. It really is that easy. If you can carry a single-use plastic bottle; you can surely carry a reusable plastic bottle.

OTHER THROW-AWAY PRODUCTS WE USE ON A DAILY BASIS:

FOAMS/ECT.:
-styrofoam cup – will never decompose – NEVER!!!! Made from styrene; a known animal and probably human carcinogen. That is horrendous. Go #foamfree

foamfree, styrofoam, single use plastic, no straw november, no single use plastic
-wax milk carton- up to 50 years
-tinfoil- will never decompose – NEVER!!!! That is horrendous.
-cardboard- 2 months

Other articles to read:

https://www.plasticoceans.org/

https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/jul/30/retailers-manufacturers-reduce-plastic-use-waste-lily-cole-ellen-macarthur

https://www.cottonbudproject.org.uk/

We read so many articles about practising ‘mindfulness’ and yet we are the throw-away generation…..of all ages.

Make the straw you last used the last plastic straw you use  https://thelastplasticstraw.org/resources-2/

 

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One of the more unfortunate aspects of walking as a solo woman on the Camino is the perception that you’re easy game. I’ve read recently on the Facebook forums that I follow of women being harassed by men; naked men who chase after these women whilst masturbating, men waiting under secluded bridges till a woman comes along then yanks his pants down to expose himself. Men follow along behind the pilgrims and make lewd comments, or just hang around making a general pest of themselves.

Many of the women quite understandably get quite frightened, or as in one case was so badly upset by the whole thing that she packed up and went home. It’s a real issue and seems to be escalating somewhat. There are often discussions about how to deal with these incidents with some folks suggesting pepper spray which is banned in Spain, or whistles, and various other suggestions, none of which are really acceptable and could lead to further problems.

I recently read an interesting article about the escalating harassment of women in the Middle East regions, that although not specifically about the Camino, does talk about the harassment of women in middle east countries. Interesting, although unfortunately they don’t mention the biggest factor in these countries; women are viewed as 2nd class citizens…ergo men can do what they like coz they’re superior. Perhaps they should look at the cultural issues from the cradle up….men treat their wives in an appalling fashion, often abusive. Boys witness this and think its okay to be abusive towards women. Its pretty much the same in every patriarchal society. It won’t change till parents teach their kids about respect.  Reading this article I get the distinct impression that the author/researcher is making excuses for why boys harass girls. These young men “have high aspirations for themselves and aren’t able to meet them,” he says. “So they [harass women] to put them in their place. They feel like the world owes them.”

Harassing women is not a new phenomena in the Western world; its as bad and has been for decades in our society where morals are loose and again, men are disrespectful towards their wives. Frankly those men’s magazines and light pornographic magazines, sexually explicit films, advertisements with half naked women spread across cars et al, all play a part in the sexual harassment of women. I remember with clarity, as a young girl developing breasts and having to start wearing a bra, the boys, would come up behind me or my school mates and snap our bra-straps or try to undo the hooks – behaviour they STILL indulge in 50 years later. We were always, without fail told to ‘just ignore it’. In fact I recall very clearly telling my daughter much the same thing 25 years later….either that or wallop the boy in question….which of course would then lead to her being punished for ‘assaulting’ the little shit.

However, there has been as is a shift being made in this area. I recently read where a Mother was called into the Headmaster’s office because her daughter had punched the boy who snapped her bra-strap. The Headmaster and the parents of the boy tried to make an issue of it, but the Mother neatly turned the tables by reminding them that what he had done is actually sexual harassment and that she would be happy to call the Police and lay a charge. Problem solved. Frankly I wish I had done that for my daughter, how much more empowering it would have been.

But, and here’s the thing…..it is sexual harassment, and the problem begins at home. Until all of society begins to see women as equals and deserving of respect, until parents unanimously teach their sons about the boundaries and how to treat a woman with respect, women will continue to be harassed on the streets….no matter which country we live in. I, however, am not holding my breath.

And if any man, young or otherwise even attempts to give me grief while I’m walking the Camino, he will live to regret it.

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The Spirit of The Camino and the spirits on The Camino.

When I first contemplated walking The Camino my head was filled with inspiring thoughts of happy, adventurous people all walking along; a merry band of comrades, climbing mountains and being amazing in their aspirations to reach Santiago. I had a somewhat romantic view of cosy alburgues, relaxing snoozes in the sun and the cameradie we saw in the movie ‘The Way’ (which, by the way, I must watch again before I go).  I had this notion of admiring locals who opened their homes and hearts to the ‘pilgrims’ who walked their way up mountains and down, along paths and through villages and towns, strolling into their chosen alburgue in the evening to find a cosy bed and a hot shower, of meals shared with laughter and fun.

And yes, this does in fact happen; the Spirit of the Camino.

I’ve read some extraordinary stories of people ‘rescued’ by kind-hearted locals who seeing their distress take said distressed person under their wing and guide them to a hostelaria/alburgue, or give them a hot meal, a lift in their car/truck/lorry to a place of safety. How pilgrims help each other out, lending money, clean clothes, toiletries, guidance and very often a shoulder to cry on. The Spirit of the Camino.

The Camino is also, by all accounts, tough!! Some people die. The spirits on the Camino.

There is also the dark side, a little of which we saw in The Way. People die on the Camino. People start walking and never reach their goal; their journey cut short by the grim reaper. The reasons are many: heart failure, complications from surgery, falling off a mountain, falling off their bikes (those who cycle) and some die from traffic accidents; knocked over by trucks or cars. Some people start the walk in the hopes that they will reach Santiago, but knowing that they likely won’t. It’s their final walk. Some people have reached the steps of the cathedral only to drop down dead right there at the last step.

And then there those that are murdered. Wow, I can tell you when I discovered that last year…. it came as one hell of a shock to me. The prospect of dying on the Camino had never entered my head!! I learned about this quite by accident last year when I first joined the Camino forum on Facebook. It literally took the wind out of my sails. Just a simple post to say that she, the person who made the update, had laid a stone on the cairn for Denise Theim, an Arizona lass who had disappeared while walking.  If you have the stomach for it you can read about it here.

I immediately set about investigating the story and that lead me to the reports of her disappearance, death and the eventual discovery of her body. The perpetrator as per the above article has since been captured and tried, soon to be incarcerated.

But what startled me most of all was reading the many stories of people who have died on The Camino. I often see photos on the facebook groups of memorials to people from across the world, both young and old who never left The Way; the spirits on The Camino.

I often think about these people now as I prepare for my Camino in September and of course the thought crosses my mind. Will I die while walking? Of course I have no idea, that is, as they say, and depending on which religious or spiritual belief your follow, determined by fate or the book of life…..your death predetermined before you are even born. Not sure I believe that notion, but there it is.

I have to say that it does bother me a lot. The f.e.a.r. presents itself in many ways, and I am in constant conflict with the emotions that arise from these thoughts. My daughter is getting married next year and I will be walking her down the aisle, guiding her to the man she loves, watching as she and he join their hands and lives in marriage and walk into a new future. I would be devastated if by dying on the Camino I caused her any pain and spoiled her special day by not being there. Although I’m sure she would kick my ass for saying that!! 😉  Mind you, she’s already advised me that she would be seriously pissed off with me if I die while walking. LOL We have discussions about this from time to time. About the reality of death.

I’ve questioned myself over and over. Am I being selfish? Am I not putting her happiness first instead of my selfish desire for adventure? Should I have waited till after the wedding…? I did contemplate that.

See what I mean? FEAR – false evidence appearing real. It manifests on a daily basis and gives me palpitations – and I haven’t even started yet!!!

But after many talks and encouragement from her I went ahead and booked my ticket. Not because we are fatalistic in any way, not because we discussed it in depth and not because I have a flippant answer “it won’t happen to me” (I don’t believe in making promises like that!), but because life is life. I could just as easily step off a pavement in my day to day life and get run over by a car or bus…. I could get knocked over on the many walks I take in my day to day life, some of which are along narrow country roads where cars whizz by at 80 kms p.h. leaving dust and a shivering wreck of a walker in their wake. Or I could contract one of hundreds of diseases that abound and die anyway.

So should I not go on this walk? Should I allow the fears to win? Or should I grasp life and go anyway. Well since I’ve already booked my ticket, obviously so far, that is what I will be doing.

But it still doesn’t stop me from thinking about the people who do die. I’m sure it must be absolutely devastating for their families. I can’t imagine what it must be like for them to receive the news. I have read of one Mother whose daughter died before they started their Camino. She will be taking her daughter’s ashes along with her to distribute at special places along The Way. God, I can’t even imagine how hard that would be.

I was doing some research this morning and found this blog https://gabrielschirm.com/2016/08/22/deaths-on-the-camino-de-santiago/

Gabriel gives a number breakdown of the more recent deaths on the Camino. It’s not a macabre list, just a matter of fact observation that yes, people do die while walking the Camino.

I also found this amazing blog; a beautifully compiled memorial to Camino pilgrims who have died on the way – some on their first day, others as they completed their walk.

http://amawalker.blogspot.ie/2016/12/memorials-to-pilgrims-who-died-on-camino.html

It makes a sobering read. The spirits on the Camino.

So again it brings me back to the age-old question! Should I or should I not? F.E.A.R. But as mentioned earlier I’ve already booked my plane ticket for this year, booked and paid for some of the accommodation, bought the backpack, the badges, the clothes and equipment, the books…..and so on. And with my daughter’s blessing, I will walk the Portuguese Coastal Route in September.  I certainly plan to discover the Spirit of the Camino; but I have no plans to become a spirit on the Camino. And yes, despite the fear, I am excited 🙂

 

 

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Last year, a gentleman named Bill Howell eloquently wrote the below letter (as seen on Facebook). Feel free to share & exploit it by the millions.

“Dear Mr. Trump,

It’s taken me a while to realize this and to admit it, but I’m grateful to you.

For the past few months I’ve spent a good deal of time lamenting your campaign and the poison it has so effortlessly generated. I’ve watched our country imploding, our public discourse become polluted, our political climate grows ever more corrosive, and wrongly assumed you were to blame.

It’s only lately I’ve come to understand that you haven’t manufactured our current national ugliness—you’ve simply revealed it.

By saying the irresponsible, mean-spirited, ignorant things you say so freely and so frequently, you’ve given other like-minded people license to do the same. You’ve opened up the floodgates for our corporate sewage to flow fully. People no longer conceal their vile mess, they now revel in it, they broadcast it and retweet it.

You’ve made bigotry and racism socially acceptable again and that has been a kind of twisted gift because it’s allowed me to really see people; not as they pretend to be on the surface—but in the very depths of their wounded, weaponized hearts.

Over and over as your campaign has persisted, your supporters would tell me that they like you because you “speak your mind”. It wasn’t until recently that I’ve realized that you speak their minds. You’ve given credence to their prejudices and made those prejudices go mainstream.

Thanks to the terrible ground you’ve broken, politicians, pastors, friends, and strangers, both in person and on social media now regularly out themselves as hateful, intolerant, and malicious—and they remind me just how close they are to me, just how deep the sickness in us runs, and just how far we have to go together.

You’ve emboldened people to be open about things they used to conceal for the sake of decorum, and though it turns my stomach, I know that this is the only way we can move forward; to have that cancerous stuff exposed fully so that it can be dealt with. Our progress as a nation is predicated on authentic dialogue, no matter how brutal and disheartening that dialogue is.

In other words, you’ve let us know what we’re really dealing with here and while it’s been rightly disturbing, it’s also been revelatory. That’s the thing about that kind of harsh light: you’re forced to see everything. Beauty and monstrosity equally illuminated.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think you’re the least qualified, least knowledgeable Presidential candidate we may ever have had participate this far into the process, and if you somehow were elected I’d fear gravely for the world my children would inherit—should it survive your Presidency at all. I believe you’re reckless, bitter, and completely reprehensible; the very worst kind of bully.

But whether you win or lose, you’ve already allowed me the blessing of Truth; about me, about you, about other candidates, about our nation.

And in the process you’ve also shown me that I am not alone in resisting you and this ugly thing you’ve revealed about us.

You’ve generated an equally loud, equally passionate response to it and this is where I find my hope these days.

I find it in those for whom equality isn’t just a cheap buzzword, it’s the most precious of hills to die on.

I find it in those people who refuse to be silent in the face of our impending shared regression.

I find it in those willing to be bolder in defending the inherent value of all people.

I find it in the growing army of those who will not tolerate hatred as a core American value.

I find it in those who reject violence as our default response to dissension.

I find it in the ever rising voice of people who will not let malice and bitterness represent them in the world.

Today I find my hope in those who, like me, will not be complicit in allowing bigotry and intolerance to become a source of national pride, because we’ve seen where that leads.

Yes, Mr Trump, you’ve unearthed our hidden sickness and you’ve allowed it to go viral.

You brought every awful thing about us out into the open.”

end of letter.

And as of today 07/05/2017 we have seen just how low the current incumbent of the White House can go, how villainous his policies, how terrible his rhetoric; hate and spite. He’s revealed his lies and how false his promises. As the days go by he destroys more and more and makes the American people who voted for him, the fool for believing in him. He is the worst type of human being you could imagine. I don’t know him personally, but from what I have seen so far; I hate him. For his disgusting attitude to people who are not cut in his mould, for his bigotry, racism, misogyny, and for the hate speech that spews forth from his mouth every time he opens it. He represents everything that is wrong with America and the wider world.

People ask why I despite and yes, hate him? Especially they say in that it doesn’t affect us. But oh how wrong they are. If America sneezes, the rest of the world gets a cold. And at the moment we are spiralling down into a nasty fever of vileness, a messy vomit of all the evils of the world. The sooner he goes the better. Before he takes us slap bang into World War 3.

President? No!!! He is no president, he is just a bilious representation of the nasty, ugly, vile specimens that you see in the paintings of hell.

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When I read about the underground Metro bombing in Russia yesterday, my first thought was for Syria and the retribution Putin was likely to exact with the cooperation of Assad.

And so it has come to pass. I’m sharing this via a friends Facebook update. Someone who is intimately involved with trying to offer some help and hope to the many Syrians that she knows and is friends with – people who are on the ground in the battle zones, able to share the reality of life in Syria under this horrendous bombardment.

I don’t have words to express how I feel after yet another Russia/regime atrocity in Syria yesterday. Hundreds of people – including many children – injured and killed by barrel bomb attacks using Sarin nerve gas. So many horrific images and videos and I just cannot bring myself to share all of them.

6 years of this horror. 6 years of Syrian people – just like you and I – living under Assad’s bombs, chemical weapons attacks, illegal detentions, torture, forced displacement, siege, demographic change,… 6 years of begging, pleading, campaigning and hoping against hope that someone… anyone… will step in to stop these atrocities, so that Syrian people may live their lives in freedom and peace.

So many “red lines” breached… So many broken promises “If Assad uses chemical weapons, we will step in”, “If Assad doesn’t break the sieges, we will airdrop aid”,… All of it lies by international governments too wrapped up in their own alliances and vested interests to care for even one second about the millions of innocent people either forced from their homes or condemned to live in this hell-hole.

Can you imagine how it might feel to live that situation and to pray every day for someone… anyone… to stop your men, women and children dying under illegal bombs? To hope and wait for help to come, only to realise that it isn’t coming?

I don’t know what good writing this will serve. It kills me every day that I cannot do more… that we cannot stop this genocide and support Syrians in rebuilding a safe and free Syria for all Syrians, not just a select few.

To my brothers and sisters in Syria, I am sorry. So sorry. We have failed you. My heart is with you and I am so sorry.

I haven’t given up and I won’t stop trying.”

My heart breaks for her pain, and my heart bleeds for the people of Syria…and let’s remember Yemen too.

This is happening on our watch. When I wonder will it stop? 

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