Saturday, 27 December 2014

Invite Me Over For Christmas And I Will Bring You Chocolate Skulls


Max, Rocco and I spent it at Megans parents house for a beautiful brunch. I was put in charge of chocolate. They chose the right person to put in charge of chocolate OH YEAH THEY DID.

Lovingly chosen and carried on the plane all the way from Josophans Chocolates, Blue Mountains yes they ARE white skulls there thank you for noticing. There were more but I think Megan artfully displayed them them before I could take a photo of the fancy box. Megans mums christmas theme was the colour orange so I bought her an aqua bowl of oranges.

On Christmas Eve I went to mass with Megan and her family. I haven't been to a mass in a very long time - it was a Catholic service and I still know all the responses. At one point I had to excuse myself and walk right away from the lovely priests with the robes and crouch down in some bushes and keen for my brother because I don't know where he is and my faith is .... well, it's changing is all I can say. (That's a good thing.)

Five years ago at christmas I gave him my hat because he was getting burnt but then I got burnt. Didn't care. I love how our arms are so close together in this photo, all linked up and touching. Oh that face. I know it so well.

Then Megan basically made me come back to her house and made me into a slave to do the most stupid fiddly things. (Kidding - I felt pity upon her and offered.) This was after an afternoon when I opened Santas Wii game for Rocco AND THE DISC WASN'T IN THERE KATOOMBA BIG W AND YOU ALSO SOLD ME THE WRONG REMOTE. Nice one Santa. So I had to hightail it into town with two CRANKY boys, give them money to buy ME a present from them, and I ended up buying Rocco a whole new console - a Wii U or whatever. I can't keep up the 80's was so much easier with just Atari. 

$450 blown. SO ANNOYING I did NOT want to do big presents this year. But he absolutely LOVES IT.

Santa gave Max money, which he was very happy with. He's just generally happy, and chill, and gorgeous. All of Megans family told me so and I said "Honestly, it has nothing to do with me. It's just how he is."

Even ordering from the kids menu, I have officially banned room service - did a big grocery shop yesterday and oh my lord I am dreading the hotel room service bill. If we ever leave.

View from our balcony at night time. I have never been to Brisbane before I AM IN LOVE WITH YOU BRISBANE!! SO MUCH!! Fantasising that once Max finishes year 12 Rocco starts year 7 so we can move here seamlessly. It is a beautiful, colourful, vibrant, cultural friendly city. The public transport ROCKS and everybody is so nice!

My favourite so far was meeting Megans family - her parents, sister, and brother. She used to have two brothers. We are all burnt by the same fire. We compared war stories, talked of guilt and loss and pain and what-ifs and the endless, endless sea of grief. Such a privilege to meet them and I am so glad Megan emailed me, those years ago during an incredibly traumatic time for her. I wanted so badly to impress them all and I think I did.

My boys had a great christmas. Mission accomplished. (Megans really bossy and told me I HAVE to take them to the museum just up the road so I'll take them to see Night at the Museum instead and send her a photo eating popcorn.)

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Quite Taken.

 "Are we in America yet? Wait - is this Perth? MUM WE FORGOT OUR PASSPORTS!"


Rocco: "You've already had some of that it's my turn AND you ate my sushi." Me: (Cat-strangled voice) "Do. You. Want. Gelato. Afterwards. Or. Not."

The gigantic REAL gingerbread house in the lobby. God I want to smash it with a clawhammer and call it art.

Megan did you really Instagram this at 2.05am? Shocker! Hey let's just agree to stop kissing at this point. We both clearly don't enjoy it.

MUM TAKE A PHOTO OF MY HANDSTAND! (Dude, you're gonna need to improve on your technique.)

Actually, he doesn't need to improve on a goddamn thing. When he was little he told me that when he was with me "his heart was warm." Which to this day is the best description of love I have ever heard.

Ok so notice my glasses in the above picture? THEY ARE BRAND NEW FRAMES POSTED TO ME BY A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN CALLED NICOLE WHO GOT HER HANDS ON MY EXACT DISCONTINUED MODEL. Nicole, you saved me - wait until I show you the DISGUSTING new ones I chose in a rush last week before you contacted me. So bad. I cannot thank you enough, I am so so grateful. These are my favourite, and now they're all new. Freaked out a bit because those were the last glasses Cam ever saw me in - but, they're the same lenses.

They're the same lenses. And even further than that - they're the same eyes. My actual eyes saw Cam. I don't need glasses to remind me of that. I can close my eyes and picture my brother any time I need. Nobody can take that away from me.

This is what Nicole saved me from: a lost glasses arm and lost hope.

This is how I still feel, actually. I'm pretty down. A lot of my relationships have been destroyed this year, some still in the process. Death does that. Death blows everything wide open. I guess so does life.


This is the coffee you get when you order one by the pool. Sometimes they give it to you in take-away cups but I specifically ask for the board with the ceramic cup and sugar cubes now. "They just make me feel special." The bartender nods, understands.

We are off to some themes parks in the next few days. I need to go to the chemist for some emergency Nair - waxing is the devils work by the way does anyone know of a business that employs people to take your kids to theme parks? Even though this was ALL my idea I'm like, what have you promised, Eden!!!

I'm desperately trying to get my hands on Lion King tickets - it's playing just up the road. Sometimes there's cancellations but you have to snap them up really quickly. Am using the QPAC website but have even resorted to eBay and gumtree. I'd love the boys to see. I'm determined they'll see it.

Brisbane! Max finishes high school just as Rocco starts high school so maybe I can do the move then? I'm taken by you - you have quite taken me and I have needed to be taken, desperately. Thank you.

Friday, 19 December 2014


The best part of our holiday so far was sitting with my sons on a grassy riverbank yesterday plain I Spy for about an hour. Nothing to do. Nowhere to rush. Rocco kept saying things like "something starting with yellow." Or "something on that guys shirt." Me and Max got it, we speak pretty good Rocco.

I vomited the first night I was here, I think from utter exhaustion and stress and panic, I do find it hard to leave my house. Max put me to bed and tucked me in and my friend Megan took Rocco to the fake beach here in Brisbane and I slept for eleven hours straight. BRISBANE YOU ARE HOTTER THAN AFRICA. I'm staying at an incredibly opulent hotel and I keep wondering how Ryans mum is going and how the foreign aid cuts will affect the worlds poorest people. I feel conflicted, grateful, whelmed, and there is a deep undercurrent happening inside me concerning my brothers death. Something beyond the pain. It's hard, maybe too sacred to even try and explain right now. Something is evolving. It's taken me so much pain and effort to get here.

There seems to be death everywhere at the moment, so we need to live while we're alive. Bukowski says most peoples deaths are a sham because they're already dead. I'm having a big Bukowski year. Are you glad to see the end of this year? Surely the year can't have been bad for everyone. I'll be glad to see it go but it's also the very last few days that I'll be able to say "Cam was alive last year." Like, he was JUST HERE.

I forgot to post the last two letters I wrote to home while I was away with World Vision the other week:

Letters to Home (Written before I left)

So I’m back in the country by now and have probably already spoken to you on the phone! I’m having a few nights in a Sydney hotel and then going to a poetry workshop led by an amazing spoken-word artist. I needed to finish off my trip like this, to gather myself and my thoughts before I come home to you. It’s a little bit selfish I know but I have to take care of myself when I can otherwise I can’t take care of you and you guys KNOW how much I love poetry. I want you all to write me a poem right now, and read it out to me when I get back tomorrow. I’m not joking - we are all poets. Nothing has to rhyme or even make sense. Tell me some words. How do you feel? What do you ache for? Who’s being mean? What would you change? Anybody who writes me a poem gets twenty bucks cash. 

I WILL BE HOME TODAY! Hopefully I made it and the plane didn’t crash and I didn’t get ebola or beheaded or murdered or kidnapped or ANYTHING. Anything could have happened, you guys. My mission is complete. I went, now I’ve come back, and I hope that things turned out ok for all of us. I hope that I did the people I met justice. I strongly believe in justice, HATE seeing things that are unfair. I never went over there to save anybody - I can only ever save myself. I went because I got asked to go. And sometimes in life, we have to do the thing that scares us the most, shake ourselves up a little. I want you guys to always help other people when you can. It’s your duty. CAN’T WAIT TO HOLD YOU WITH MY ACTUAL HANDS. Love mum xxxxxxx

SUCH a bummer I missed that poetry workshop. Can you believe not ONE of the guys wrote me a poem?!! "Oh, we already got christmas money from nana in the mail." TURDS. They will write me poem, oh yes they will.

You can follow World Vision on:
And my favourite is following them on Instagram because you're scrolling along and something entirely different and worthwhile and inspiring comes up. It kind of jolts you.

You can sponsor a child HERE - it's a big commitment but you'd be helping so much. On the Jetstar flight here the other day a stewardess called Danielle announced over the loudspeaker that she was collecting money for World Vision and I got so excited I stopped her to talk. Gave her some money. Watched her walk down the plane, sad that I was the only one who gave her any money. I know it's a tight time of year. I know there's so many charities and compassion fatigue. But knowing what I know about the people I've just been privileged to visit and listen to, I just felt sad, watching Danielle walk the aisle of the plane without stopping.

The only reason I'm on this holiday is because of my brothers death superannuation/insurance. "Hi, your brother killed himself here's a chunk of coin." Doesn't make sense. What the hell does. But thank you, Uncle Cam. My boys are so happy. Happy like you used to be, a long time ago. Right now they're watching Ghostbusters circa 1984. I was proud - until they said it was boring.

They remind me of you, Cam. When I parent them, I'm parenting you. And me. Strange but true. 

So. I hope Christmas doesn't eat you up. I hope you're ok ... and lastly, you need to listen. To your heart, your intuition, your spirit, that truth, the birds, the clouds. Even the rocks they were here way before you.

And also this song, right now. It might make you feel a smidge better and sometimes a smidge is all you need. xx

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

We Just Left On A Whim.

I'm outta here. Gone. Up in the sky right now with my two boys, on our way to Queensland to stay in a hotel with a pool and do all of the worlds - Dreamworld, Movieworld, Wet'n'Wild World. Not Griefworld - they have seen me living there far too long and I will not spoil their holidays. I want them to be blissfully unaware of the worlds problems while they still can. I will not stay a minute longer in this house where all the sad memories are. I cry in the street about foreign aid cuts because babies will die of preventable diseases and vaccinations cost less than a dollar. That literally doesn't add up.

So I'm taking my boys for a huge holiday and we're going to order room service, watch in-house movies, read, talk, laugh, and be together. I love my two boys more than I love myself. That is why I stay. I will give them awesome memories and ice cream at 11pm and I'll listen to them when they speak.

The other day at the park? The most important thing in the world was waiting until this ladybug flew off his finger so he could make a wish. He kept accidentally dropping it in the lake about three times and fished it out while I scrunched his blue jumper and held on to him so he wouldn't fall in. I am his keeper, his minder, his carer. Finally the bug flew off and he asked me nicely to go away because he wanted to say his wish out loud.

I hope it comes true.

He received a christmas card today - the envelope absolutely slayed me.

As for this guy?

He knows too much - has overheard too much, seen too much in the past year. He is the only person who initiates conversations about Cam with me and I am so grateful for that. Stories I didn't know - he still plays a game that Cam introduced him to years ago as they both sat bored together on the couch at a family do. The last time we saw Cam I hired out Waynes World for Max to introduce him to some old-school humour because I knew my brother and I would talk for hours, outside on the back deck. We did. I wrote a blog post the next day about it and I purposely wrote "I hope to see Cam again soon" and I wrote it just for him to read because I knew his dark thoughts. I knew his dark thoughts.

I was totally just in Uganda for World Vision and have hardly begun to tell the stories that need to be told. About how inclusive a specialised school is that they incorporate teaching children with disabilities in their classrooms. And ALL the kids learn sign language to be able to communicate with their deaf friends. So beautiful.

I was really down yesterday and needed a chai so I went to see Owen from Fresh Katoomba and they were out of chai so I said ok better make it a double shot flat white. He reminded me that he hadn't done me a picture for a while, asked what I wanted.

"Please don't say the Mona Lisa. EVERYBODY asks for that."

I told him to surprise me. So he said he'd go old-school for me and do something he used to draw back in the day. I laughed so hard. Laughing is good.

(Hint - woof)

For the first time in my adult life I haven't put the christmas tree up. We have exactly one decoration in this house, bought from an over-priced gift shop near the River Nile.


Like everyone, I'm reeling from world events. Especially the Sydney siege. The children in Pakistan. I worry. I worry.


So it appears I kept going, after the most devastating year of my life. I'm still here. And so are you. Well done you. There's always hope.

It drives me spare that I appear to have inspired other people but couldn't inspire my own brother. I've started to collate all his stuff laying around the house and my bedroom - photocopies of his death certificate. His aftershave. Wallet. His actual real suicide notes not just photocopies - to me, to his friends, and the first responders. In one of them he wrote how disgusted he was of himself. The pain he was in pains me beyond belief. He is not in that pain now. I'm a bit jealous of that, but I got stuff to do. I always had a sense that me starting a family and having children made him feel a bit pushed out, like he didn't want to be part of us, didn't want to intrude. My friend Beth told me that maybe Cam taught me how to love my own children. I think she's right. But I never replaced him with my own. He will always be the first human I ever loved. I never knew exactly how sensitive his heart was until after he died. And until my dying day I will always just want one thing for Christmas which I will never get.

As they say in recovery, acceptance is key. Acceptance is also very very painful.

So me and the two boys that grew in my belly like miracles are off up in the clouds, visiting my friend Megan and I can't wait. They are SO EXCITED. I didn't get them that much for Christmas - some books, games. They already have everything. But I'm going to love them so furiously, I am going to give them the best holiday they've ever had and eat burgers and explore and the beds will be made by someone else EVERY day and I'll try not to feel too guilty. Eden Guilt Riley, that's my name, don't wear it out.

I've never cared much for myself, but if I don't have a proper holiday I will implode. So bring it, Queensland. There's a deck chair by the pool with my name on it. I will even eat all of your bananas in public with nary a care. NARY.

I hope you guys out there are ok. Have a warm shower. Eat icing. Walk. Keep moving. Keep moving.

If you tell yourself you'll be ok often enough ... you start to believe it. Pinky swear.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Peace On Earth (Warning - Graphic Images)

I'm tired. Are you tired? Wondering what it's all about?

Imagine if the world ends up ok in the end after all? Ever think of that? Imagine if the right people come into power and didn't take vaccinations out of the mouths of babies, that people stopped killing each other for no reason, that social justice became law. That we looked hard and long inside ourselves to find .... a different way.

I like to think we end up taking care of planet earth, and all of the people in it. All of those beautiful, beautiful people.

This is a pretty brutal clip to my very favourite christmas song. The reality is hard to watch .. but listen to the beautiful lyrics. Maybe if we start opening our eyes a little bit more, we can start to change things, change ourselves, change the world. We can. I'm not sure how but I know we can.

Friday, 12 December 2014

What The Water Gave Me.

Check it out.

I filmed this at the most FURIOUSLY ANGRY and raging part of the Nile River last week. It felt so good to stand there and watch it, FEEL it. Just so thunderous. You could see all the water coming slowly down, no idea what's in store. Suddenly it all gets caught up in this cluster of rocks and swirl and force and my god those water particles never knew what hit them.

It was blown apart, atoms to pieces, shredded, annihilated. That water was unprepared, innocent, just cruising along without a care in the world.


It's not how many times you get hit, but how many times you get back up again. We all got stories. We've all sat slumped in the boxing ring spitting out our bloody mouthguards vowing "No more. No more."

Not all of us get back up to face another round. But a lot of us do because from the instant that sperm shot from our fathers dick towards that egg it was on a frantic mission for life and it has been your bodies job to survive for as long as it possibly can. Despite and in spite of EVERYTHING the human spirit can survive the insurmountable, the unsurvivable. It's one of the last few mysteries on earth. But it can. I have seen it, watched it, felt it.

When the water finally came through the seething rage it was clearly shaken up, smashed up, changed forever. It swept on down the river, shocked and shaken.

Better prepared for the next time. There's always a next time.

That water knew something it didn't know before.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Home Is Where The Hard Is.

What happened was just this.

As our plane started the descent into Sydney airport from Africa the other night, there was turbulence so bad everybody screamed. Except me - and I am ALWAYS thinking I'm going to die in a plane crash but frankly I was too tired and cranky to be scared. The young French girl next to me was so freaked out she grabbed my hand tightly and I held it hard and looked her in the eyes and told her:

"This plane is not going to crash. We are not going to die. I have kids and I've been through too much shit to die right now. I promise you it'll be ok."

And it was. Did you know they have screens now where you can WATCH the plane cam? ("Watch the plane, Cam." "Can't Eed. Dead, remember?" "Oh that's right I keep forgetting.")

You can watch everything - takeoff, flying, landing. It's quite comforting. The French girl next to me couldn't use her phone so I gave her four dollars and when I finally made it through the airport the vending machine didn't take notes so I walked up to another vending machine but this woman SCREAMED at me to get back, that area was closed. "GET BACK THERE IS NO WATER HERE."


Then I got to my car and somebody has put a ding in it that I have to get fixed through insurance. I stayed in a hotel for two nights and man I think I'm getting too old to be globetrotting the world like some crusader. The whole time I was in Uganda I was looking forward to attending a workshop with acclaimed poet and performer Anthony Anaxagorou on the Saturday after I got back. SO EXCITED. But I got an email and the dates got mixed up so I came home on Saturday, saw all my boys - SO WHITE!

So, so weird to be home. Siri what is "dirty dishes?"

On Sunday I force myself out of bed, tread on and break my glasses that are now held together by sticky tape and drive all the way back down to Sydney for this workshop I've been HANGING for. Because I really gave so much of myself lately I had to fill myself up, you know? And this guy Anthony, he is extraordinary. But I got the dates wrong and it was the day before and man. So gutted I sat in the gutter outside the space he held his workshop in the day before and I just cried so hard. It was the one thing I knew would spark me up. So I'm sitting in my cowboy boots crying in the street but nobody was around because it was an industrial area.

So I just cried more - I cried all the cries about my brother that I didn't cry in Uganda because man it felt nice to not be in the country he killed himself in. BANG - Die Hard IV with a vengeance. I rarely ever say this - but it's not fair. It's not fair he died and left my heart shattered for as long as I live. It's not fair that I missed meeting and having a workshop with one of the most extraordinary poets I've ever heard of. It's not fair that all those kids are still back in the slums and young boys and girls are being forced into prostitution and slavery and marriage and World Vision have all these incredibly amazing hopeful projects in place but those hard things I saw? I cannot unsee. Stupid heart that cares too much. (I'll be receiving post-trip counselling and debrief from WV soon.) And I get back to Australia where there's an ad on the television for a supreme cheese-crust pizza with nachos around the outside? What the actual fuck?

I tell all my kids constantly that the news we are fed is only somebodies version of the news and it always usually comes with an agenda, that things are going on around the world every second and all we see are stupid bite-sized pieces to dumb our brains down.

It's not fair. The world's not fair. And when I drove the two hours back home I was a bit slow in a lane and really pissed a truck driver off so every time I went to switch lanes he swerved in front of me and it was just, really? And when I FINALLY had the chance to drive past him I sucked on my middle finger before I stuck it up at him just to confuse his pants. Ahhhh, Straya.

And so I got home again except, deflated, defeated, tired, not knowing what to do with myself. And my glasses are broken and I'm too tired or probably scared to get them fixed. Fly across the world to visit HIV tents and rehabilitated young sex workers? Sure thing. Drive to Katoomba Specsavers and get my glasses fixed? No fucking way. What is UP with that?

I can't get to sleep until 5am I'm so jetlagged - Max called me a zombie before school this morning and I was, so I'm really going to try hard to not nap at all today and crash early. I keep thinking I'm in a hotel and I think about all the sewerage puddles the babies were playing in and then I see stupid Christmas ads on TV for crap that we can't afford for people we don't even like. I used to love Christmas. Not so much these days. It really is hard to keep going when you're so defeated but these guys, I swear.

Top left - sticky tape. STYLIN! I feel as crap as I look.

I have to be ok for them. And I am. When they're near me my heart light is on, especially when this one wraps a purple slinky around his waist and gives birth to a soccer ball out of it and starts cradling it and singing lullabies saying he has a baby now.

And just a few days ago I was taking photos of hippos on the River Nile.

And I brought back a rock from the Nile to prove that I was there - the tour guide said it was fine to take a rock, no bad luck.

Oh, the places you go!

The first night back home I wept so hard for my brother in the middle of the night that I woke Dave up, so I moved to the couch. And I spoke to Cam, whispering in the darkness.

"Sweet guy if I was with you when you died I would have stroked your cheek and kissed you and told you how much you were loved. Nobody deserves to die alone and I miss you and I love and please be my ghost please."

Last night we had dinner alfresco and Rocco sat in the exact same spot Cam sat when I last talked to him, the last time I ever saw him. The memory of that day is fading around the edges now, and as we ate Rocco asked why my eyes were wet and I said it was because my spaghetti was too hot.

Dave has taken Phoebe Rose to SPAIN. I am so excited for her, begged her for a selfie before she left and she was straight out of the shower and would like people to know that she DID have a towel on. My relationship with her has shifted and grown. I love her. She has all this creativity and ideas and wonderfulness inside of her and I want her to grab life by the reigns and soar. I can't wait to hear what she experiences. God I hope she stays safe ... you just never stop worrying.

So I'm doing solo parenting for a while which I quite like. I'm chill, the boys get away with more with just me. I watched an interview with Steve Irwin one day about how if Bindi wants ice cream for breakfast he just gives it to her because who cares? And two weeks later he died from that stingray and I felt so, so sad that he wouldn't be able to give her ice cream for breakfast anymore.

This guy is with me all the time so don't even think of breaking into my house because he will rip your face off and I sleep with a machete.

I used to have a cowlick but then I learned how to kiss like everybody else.

So that's me. I just asked Siri "what will I do with the rest of my life" and she told me to search the web and I'm like Siri, I'm asking YOU.

As I was sobbing in that gutter on Sunday after driving to Sydney for no reason at all I messaged Anthony and asked if he was still in Sydney and he messaged me straight back, apologising and it wasn't even his fault it was a stupid email that gave me the wrong info. He said he was on his way to Canberra but Melbourne people - do yourself a favour and go see him this Thursday at Club Voltaire. You will be witnessing something incredible and if you go I'll be so jealous so you'll have to tell me all about it.

There is something about him that gives me something - hope, something other than the usual stuff we consume. Anthony, I am so sorry to have missed you and I am going to meet you one day.

Watch this - it's worth it I promise. Talk about being a prophet.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Is DFAT Slang For D-FATCAT White Racists In Charge Of Australia?

Last year I was invited to dinner with the then Prime Minister. There was some conversation - about keeping in shape, tough jobs, manicures. I was sitting right next to her and she looked at my tattoos and kind of wrinkled her face.

"But WHY would you do that to yourself?"

"Because it just feels so good."

The Prime Minister didn't understand. I was waiting for the appropriate time to talk to her about foreign aid and asylum seekers, decided I'd just have to butt right into the conversation between the main course and dessert. I did, loudly. As I spoke the Prime Minster sat up straight, back stiff, recalibrating her brain to talk about something "official."

"So, do you really know how many people in Australia care about asylum seekers? And how we're treating them in this country is inhumane? We have detention camps. What are you actually doing about it?"

The dessert was served - exceptional. The Prime Minister tried to explain to me how complicated it was and we ended up the conversation about how a lot of the people smugglers take desperate peoples money to step onto leaky and dangerous boats - even with their children. For a better life. Away from their unsafe countries. Her focus was on the people smugglers, not the people themselves.  Nice dodge.

Then there was the "funny story" she told us all during dinner about an asylum seeker "centre" (detention camp) where often, desperate people disguise themselves and lie about coming from other countries in the chance they will be allowed to stay in Australia.

She said that oftentimes, Pakistanis look a lot like Afghanis and it's hard to tell the difference so you know what they do? (This is so funny you guys ...)

The Prime Minster told us that in the middle of a hot sweltering day, one of the guards in the detention camp drop a huge cricket bag in the middle of the field while everybody is just standing there with nothing to do.

And then they wait. It's a generalisation that only Pakistanis love cricket because people from other countries love cricket too but MAN. Can you imagine being bored out of your brain, your wife and children back at home hopefully somewhere safe while you try to establish yourself in a new, safe country ... and you're standing in the heat so bored and could quite go a game of cricket?

By the end of the day, the guards can weed out the Pakistanis who have said they are Afghanis GOTCHA!

I told my therapist this story and he said that Afghanis do actually play cricket too and I said "I KNOW!"

At the end of the Prime Ministers story I didn't laugh, just kind of wrinkled my face.

I knew I was being used to get people on her side before the election and I did all I could for Abbott to not come into power because Abbott. Didn't work so well. She needed better advisors. The Labor party were actively working against her and everything she did was pulled apart and dissected. The treatment of her was disgusting - if she were a man she'd still be in power. But still, the mentality of what she was saying was way off.

And now there's talk of the current government cutting aid AGAIN so I'd just like to quickly illustrate  what the two words "cut aid" actually means ... here's some facts. I made sure to get them right.

I just got back from a gruelling week-long trip to Uganda where World Vision Australia partner with UYDEL, a local -based organisation who identify at-risk girls. These girls can hire a room in a brothel for $30,000 Ugandan Schillings per night which would require them to service six men just to recuperate this money.

They have a facility to rehabilitate and provide vocational training skills to 300 girls. The rehabilitation program goes for 6-9 months. They have seven centres in different districts. They get taught new skills, training, a better way to live their lives.

Photo: Suzy Sainovski/World Vision

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) also fund the UPLIFT Project,  Currently in its second year of implementation it will run for four years. Hopefully. Sexual and reproductive health outreach is key focus and the targets are 13-25 year olds residing in slums. You ever been to a slum? Has any politician travelled to these places deciding where and why to cut money? These places are filled to the brim with people who need big help. It's as simple as that. Before he killed himself my brother Cameron would ALWAYS go to see Henry Rollins when he was on tour in Australia. I wish I went with him, just once.

Henry said a quote once about the poorest people in the world. "These people are your peers."

And they are. This is Ryans mother. Ryan is two months old and his mum is 13 years old - no dad on the scene. Unless she gets help to go back to school - which she really wants to do - then I don't know what will happen to her. At the moment she sews clothes by hand and man I just wanted to pull out my wallet from the car and give her money for a sewing machine but I couldn't be sure the money would go to a sewing machine and being part of the World Vision team, you're not allowed to give money to the people we meet in programmes. (Which didn't stop me hanging out money to people who WEREN'T in the programmes.) These projects that World Vision work on SAVE LIVES and let's be clear that when you talk about "cutting aid" you're talking about killing desperate people because without such life-saving programmes they will go back to poverty and misery and no hope. And these programs? Bring a lot of hope. Lack of hope can kill a person.

Look at the world from a broader perspective. My whole twenties I was on and off government welfare payments because I was too messed up to get a job. In and out of rehabs, a no-hoper. But I received free healthcare and enough money to get by and I don't know where I would be if I didn't. 

Probably dead.

Photo: Suzy Sainovski/World Vision

I am so grateful for the help I received when I needed it the most. We can all be oak trees, if given the chance.

I am SO DISGUSTED by the Abbot government. Asked a taxi driver in Uganda if he'd heard of Tony Abbott and he smiled.

"Yes. I saw him on CNN making derogatory remarks about women."

Yep, that's Abbott. Shame. You know how Joe Hockey danced with his wife in his office after he delivered the budget? (Hi Joe remember me? Though you didn't really look me in the eyes back then because I was beneath you.)

You know how when you're playing a game of cards and nobody is getting everywhere and the game is just not working so you throw them all in, mix them up, and start again? That's what needs to be done with this government. Chuck 'em all out, start again, people with new faces and good hearts. Tanya Plibersek is pretty cool. So's Penny Wong. Bill Shorten puts me to sleep. We need politicians with the same values as the rest of us, a bit of fire and passion in their belly. Not over-ambitious people who tread all over people to get power.

It's ironic that I filmed that piece above from Uganda before I even knew about talk of new foreign aid cuts. And if you don't like World Vision there's plenty of other causes and organisations you can get involved in. The few coins you toss into a basket, the goat you give somebody for Christmas, the child you sponsor? I take my hat off to you because you give your money in the HOPE that your money is going to the right place. It is. I have seen it. You are saving lives.

In the words of World Vision CEO Tim Costello today: "Today we are staring down a third successive cut to our aid budget in 18 months. More than 20% of all savings from the Government’s budget came from aid, and we need to tell him that enough is enough – every cut to aid has a human cost. You can contact Prime Minister Abbott and Treasurer Joe Hockey and call on them to maintain Australia’s aid budget.

Contact the office of Tony Abbott MP. Telephone: (02) 9977 6411 Email him via the Contact your PM page Send him a message on Twitter or Facebook using the hashtag #dontcutaid. Contact the office of Joe Hockey MP. Telephone: (02) 9929 9822 Email him on Send him a message on Twitter or Facebook using the hashtag #dontcutaid. Thanks for your ongoing support -  Tim Costello

And Joe? If you can ever be bothered to stop crunching numbers for a second and actually go visit the slum funded by DFAT in Kampala, Uganda, make sure you tell your wife to bring more than one set of stilettos for the dancing because when it rains in a slum the water overflows and raw sewerage goes everywhere and children die and your wife may get her shoes dirty.

And hopefully Ryans mum could possibly have a sewing machine by then and won't be selling her thirteen year old body to men while Ryan sleeps in the corner of a filthy hotel room.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

I Just Want To Show You Something Before My Plane Crashes.

I fly out of Uganda today and my mind only just arrived here yesterday. Jeez I could stay. I could stay a lot longer, soak it in, understand it more, talk to more people. People LOVE to talk to you here. Even a whitey with bedraggled red wet hair in a rainy street looking a tad confused until a kind woman came out and asks me if I was ok, pointed me in the right direction.

Sometimes that's all we need, to be pointed in the right direction.

I just need to quickly show you some things.

An HIV sign outside a grade four classroom in a school. Photo: Suzy Sainovski/World Vision

Further up was another sign saying "Don't accept gifts" because child predators and sex-traffickers often groom children with money and food before they take them away, make them do things. Awful things. Unspeakable things that maybe we should talk about more because if our government cuts aid AGAIN I will fly to Canberra and stage a naked protest. You heard it here first.

         Photo: Suzy Sainovski/World Vision

This is a community centre for youth set up by World Vision right in the middle of a slum. Young people come here, learn vocational skills, read books in the reading room, have meetings, mingle. This beautiful girl next to me is 22 years old and has seen more things in life than anybody should. She told me, matter-of-factly, what she's been through. She's a peer leader now.

Also a peer leader is Ronald. We needed a translator but MAN WHAT A COOL GUY.

Photo: Suzy Sainovski/World Vision

Ronalds parents knew there was something wrong with his legs when he was four months old. He lives with his dad, and has a side job "tinkering" - fixing old bike parts, radios. He teaches the others how to do it to.

"I want to show them they can do things, too."

Photo: Suzy Sainovski/World Vision

Hands down the best classroom I have ever been to in my LIFE. All five of us girls said that, afterwards, some even teared up it was so beautiful. The teachers have incorporated children with disabilities into the whole school. We watched as ALL of the class were taught sign language to interact with their deaf friends.

A beautiful boy proudly showed me his braille machine. So proudly.

Photo: Suzy Sainovski/World Vision

I spoke a lot to the little poppet sitting to my right, who is also blind. She is nine. She is FAST and shy and beautiful and World Vision, man .. they do all of these things. And so much more.

I was completely terrified before I left Australia. "Talismans. I need talismans." My friend Pam read a book once about how we must give away the things we love so she sent me her dead fathers dog tags from the war. I've never worn them before but man they have helped me here. Thank my Pammy-la I love you and they soothed me when I freaked out. Which has been a lot. I've also worn a copper skull that a beautiful woman called Kairan from WA sent to me engraved with "Be real." I finally realised that's why I love skulls - they don't lie, or hide. They're real. Kairan I have met some incredible midwives over here ... you're going to do just fine. And Lila from Mama Nourish - I have been wearing the silver cloud ring on my pinky every single day. I like how the cloud doesn't just have a silver lining - THE WHOLE CLOUD IS SILVER. I got you the cross you wanted.

Goodbye Uganda my beautiful friend. I will be back. World Vision you blow me away. I've been trying to work out why I feel so much better during my time here and even though it has been SO hard sometimes, it's given me purpose and possibly helped save my life. Thank you for aligning yourself with somebody like me.


Letters to Home (written before I left)

So, a few more days and I’ll see your faces. I probably need a big bubble bath by now. This is just a reminder to change the damn toilet roll, unpack the dishwasher, and sweep the kitchen floor. All the boring stuff. Get the boring stuff out of the way first - it makes the fun stuff more enjoyable. Rocco, how many kicks are you up to? Max, you have nearly made it through your first year of high school! Dave, how’s that big bed all to yourself? I’m sorry I watched the rest of Sons of Anarchy without you hon - THE LAST FEW EPISODES WERE SO GOOD. You missed some corkers LOVE YOU GUYS xxxx 

DAY THIRTEEN When I was a little girl I used to sit on my bed at night and wonder what would happen when I grew up, who I would end up marrying, and if I’d have any children. And now I know. And it’s you guys. And you are my biggest treasures in the whole world - yes you Tim and Phoebe. And I cannot wait to see you again. I can’t believe I’m so far away from you right now … but soon I’ll be back, stomping around, being cranky but also awesome. I’m not a perfect mother - nobody is perfect. But I try really hard. Really hard. xxxx


Hey Cam. Did you see the Nile? Did you know there's only one equator? Just like there was only one of you. xxxxx Eden

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