The concept of giving is one that defines us. We give presents, we give advice, we give time and energy to friends and whānau, and we give love to those who matter most to us. That giving comes easily because we know the recipients. It is a rare form of generosity to give to those we don’t. This issue celebrates the individuals who reach past pay cheques, across borders, and over oceans to give to those who need it most. From Kiwi musicians paying tribute to Chris Knox, SurfAid saving lives in remote communities, to Tiny Toones and Eyes from Ethiopia giving children a reason to dance and create, every interview featured touches on the power of giving. Winston Churchill once famously said, ‘We make a living by what we do, but we make a life by what we give.’ The volunteers interviewed speak of a complex beauty and a lasting joy they were gifted by the communities they visited and the stories they were told. As Julia Croft points out in her interview, it is dangerous to romanticise and victimise the stories of the dispossessed and marginalised. Beneath the desperation there is deep belief in and hope for a better future. Money makes an enormous impact to communities in need but so too does dedicated time, energy and expertise. The Good Karma Project was an opportunity to do this and to be in the presence of the all but forgotten children of Burma, forced to flee their families and the violence of their homeland in search of survival. Josh Bahlman and I spent six weeks teaching these children that photography and art are powerful tools to share their stories and dreams with the world. It then becomes the job of all of us to make damn sure that people are listening. As the anthropologist Margaret Mead put it, ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’ PAT
Editor: Pat Shepherd Sub-editor and Copy Editor: Amie Mills Cover Illustration: DRYPNZ Typography Design: Claudia Riedel Contributing Photographers: Pat Shepherd, Josh Bahlman, Hiwat, Gethun, Surafel, Haymanot, Haleymarem, Tariku, Darota, Boofa, Kloh Moo, Nay Win Tun, Eh Lor Soe, Say Ki Paw Contributing Illustrators: Chris Knox, Andy Shaw, Zoe Weir Contributing Writers: Amie Mills, Nick Bollinger, Boofa Web Design: Stephen Horner Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Past Issues at: www.exposurelifestyles.com The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the publisher or editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of the publisher. Exposure Lifestyles is subject to copyright in its entirety. ©EXPOSURE LIFESTYLES 2010 All Rights Reserved.
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Photography by Pat Shepherd, Josh Bahlman, Kloh Moo, Nay Win Tun, Eh Lor Soe, Say Ki Paw Interview by Amie Mills
Last December, Pat Shepherd and Josh Bahlman jam-packed their bags with cameras and pastels, and set off to Mae Sot on the Thai/Burma border. In partnership with charity Children on the Edge (COTE), they embarked on an ambitious creative advocacy project teaching art and photography to refugee children from Burma. Access to education is a luxury for these children and The Good Karma Project inspired and taught them that creativity is a powerful survival mechanism. What was one of your lasting memories from the project? J: I can’t forget seeing Zaw Zaw Aung, a 12-year-old Burmese kid, chew through drawing after drawing, each totally different from the other – an elephant, a car, Elvis, and then the landscape scenes with SPDC troops terrorising Burmese villagers. Whilst waiting for pastels in the morning he would use his finger to pretend he was drawing, and when everyone else was packed up he was still going, drawing after drawing. He has a natural talent that should be nurtured, but his mother doesn’t allow him to go to school because he is the eldest son and needs to help his family. Our art tutor, Nyan Soe, translated a message from us to his mother saying that we wanted him to come around the schools with us so he could have an opportunity to learn more and do more drawing. Luckily his mother allowed him and he spent the whole week with us. Since leaving, we don’t know if he has been attending classes or school again, but we did leave him with a ton of drawing materials and a big notebook to fill with his imagination. 2
What were the biggest challenges you faced? P: The language barrier was one of the biggest challenges at first. There are so many different languages spoken in the area, including Thai, Burmese, Karen, Chin, Mon and many other regional dialects. We bought some phrasebooks but usually it was just too hard knowing which language to speak as the language spoken changed between most schools we worked at. While teaching photography at TMK, two of the older students in the group were our translators â€“ they were incredible. If they werenâ€™t there it would have been one huge game of charades. Over time though, we learnt to communicate well with the kids through this charades-style communication. J: It would have to be the reality versus our planning. We had things planned down to a tee but found out very quickly that things would change constantly and that we would have to adapt on the fly. We dealt with it well though and we really could not have planned for it any better than we did.
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What is the single most important factor when it comes to helping the children? P: There was a point in the trip when I was really thinking about the bigger picture of what we were doing there. Teaching art and photography was a hugely enriching life experience for the kids, but how was it going to help the ongoing situation they have to face? It was a hard thing to get my head around, until we interviewed Peacefully, who is in charge of TMK school, the COTE supported school we taught photography at. His interview made me realise how important the work of volunteers and international charities is to the welfare of these children. If these children have no education, then how will their situation and the political situation in Burma ever change? Knowledge is power. J: The kids need education. They love it and they strive for it. They come to school wanting to learn. The kids see knowledge as a way out of poverty and a means to be able to create their own lives and live out of harm’s way. Inside Burma, a rote learning education system teaches them not to question authority or critically think about the whole picture. What they are getting in migrant schools on the border, and from foreign teachers is helping create a new, more socially-aware people. Investing in education for the future generation of Burma is the only way the situation there will ever come to an end. What more can be done in the region? J: There are so many good projects going on; from legal systems in refugee camps to teaching critical-thinking to the young leaders in exile. There are amazing volunteers coming in and out of the region all the time, bringing new skills and a different perspective. But there is always a need for more volunteers who have a wide variety of skills. What were the kids’ reactions to the art and photography classes? P: It reminded me of the first time I saw a photographic print coming to life in the darkroom. When the class got their first set of images back, it was pure joy and happiness. They all ran around looking at each others’ images and picking out their favourites, which tended to be the shots with their friends and with Josh and I in them. The art classes were quite different – Nyan Soe, the art tutor had an incredible presence with the class. They listened so closely to his every word, and he even got them meditating to think about which subject they were going to draw. It was brilliant to see. They took to drawing so well and they really didn’t want us to leave.
Photos from Karen New Year at Mae La refugee camp
John Bolton and Julia Croft are passionate about theatre. Passionate about directing plays, acting in plays, and teaching plays. Their latest creative endeavour brought them to Mae Sot where they spent two weeks teaching children at the Mae La refugee camp to perform the play ‘Caucasian Chalk Circle’ by Bertolt Brecht. Students’ reactions to performing the play? JB: The students were incredibly excited using their imaginations, their voices and their bodies to create art that spoke to them at a deep level. JC: I wish all theatre could have that sense of abandon and joy. Most memorable Mae Sot moment? JB: A 4 kilometre, torch-lit, pre-dawn walk with Menme, a teacher, past lives and activities from another world. JC: Being included in their lives and their community with great openness in such a short space of time was incredibly humbling. Inspiration from the experience? JB: It inspires me to continue making theatre. JC: A great reminder of what we do as artists and the value of it. Feelings on refugee life? JB: The deep grief it causes and the extraordinary ability of those people to live meaningful and elegant lives within its confines. JC: The tendency to romanticise their existence as well as the tendency to victimise them. It is dangerous for us to make definitive statements about the reality of a life that despite seeing, we can scarcely imagine. My impressions were of a great deal of optimism given the circumstances. For the most part there is an incredible
amount of hope for the future. There is also a lot of boredom and frustration among these young people over the lack of opportunity. There is a strong sense of community and family, and a strong Karen identity. And faith, there is a strong sense of the need for faith.
Strangest fact learnt? JB: It is possible to eat deep-fried chicken’s knee caps. JC: That to be resettled in a third country as a refugee (e.g. NZ or Australia) one first needs a refugee number from the UN before one can apply. The UN went into Mae La refugee camp in 2005 and gave the population refugee numbers and for some reason no one could tell us if the UN had been back, even though over 15,000 more refugees had since arrived at Mae La. So these people can do nothing but wait. In between worlds, not really in Thailand itself, no longer able to go back to Burma, they exist in this strange in-between space with no option but to wait for the UN to return, although no one knew when that would be. If theatre was no more, what would you teach? JB: Creative writing. JC: Creative writing. I think the more means of creative expression these students have, the better. For their own healing as well as the hope that at some point in the future they will all be in a position to share their stories with a world that desperately needs to hear.
Eamonn Deverall is a lover of music and medicine. Last November, he found himself in Mae Sot, volunteering at the Mae Tao Clinic, which provides free health care for refugees, migrant workers, and individuals who cross the border from Burma to Thailand. When not studying medicine, Deverall has played in some of Wellington’s most-loved bands, including Taliband, Newtown Rocksteady and more. How did you hear about the Clinic? From my friend Iona Proebst, founder of the Branch Foundation who works with children up on the border.
Fav after work snack? Pad Thai, followed by a dessert roti dripping with condensed milk.
Why does the clinic exist? To provide comprehensive, free healthcare and support to Burmese refugees in northwest Thailand, as well as to the population inside Burma where the military regime does not come even remotely close to caring about health.
Thai music experience? It was amazing to hear the music at a muay thai boxing match, and watching the crowd get progressively worked up as the music sped up. Totally removed from anything I had heard before.
Most inspiring person you met? Honestly can’t narrow it down to one: Dr Cynthia, the Burmese medics, the patients who have lived through so much, the ex-pat staff giving up their time. Furthest any patient travelled? Some patients had come from Yangon, but the distance travelled isn’t necessarily proportionate to difficulty, as sick and injured refugees often have to cross the river to arrive in Thailand and the Clinic – no mean feat.
Best thing about Mae Sot? Even unfit medical students on girls’ bikes can outrun (most of) the packs of dogs at night. How can Kiwis support the clinic? Donate at maetaoclinic.org and keep yourself informed about the situation. Similarities between medicine and music? Practice, practice, practice. Unfortunately music involves late nights and medicine early mornings…
The children seem so joyful, despite their circumstances. Why do you think that is? J: Despite all the hardship going on in this region, these people smile more than anyone walking down Lambton Quay with their newly-acquired iPod or pair of shoes. They have nothing. They sleep on a rug on the ground, eat very little twice a day, and are separated from their families. But they still get up every day with a thirst for life I have not experienced. This is enlightening and also puts things in perspective. We are so lucky here in New Zealand and we can give so much without changing our lifestyles one little bit. But most of us don’t. We spend our money on new accessories, coffee, and bottled water, even though we have some of the best drinking water in the world, for free, straight out of the tap. P: This was a question I asked myself lots over there. Many of these kids have had to leave their parents so that they could chase a good education. I think it’s the unity of knowing that they are surrounded by such good friends who are in the same situation that keeps them strong. They feel so privileged to be getting an education. There is no competition for who has the best toys or the latest technology – it’s all about eating well, helping others, and getting an education that they cannot get in Burma. How hard did you find it seeking sponsorship during a credit crunch? J: It was harder than I expected but the people who came forward did so at their own expense and were more generous than usual. They heard the story and wanted to help out. They have been amazingly supportive throughout the whole project, bending over backwards to give us what we need. A big thanks to them all. P: It’s always a hard one finding sponsors and I guess during a tightening-belts time it was even more of a challenge. I think the fact that the project had a political element scared sponsors off a little. When they read that the kids had fled their homeland due to a military regime, many companies just didn’t want to hear more. We were so stoked that we found an incredible collection of sponsors who saw how important the art and creative advocacy element of the project was and that we were going out there to help and inspire the kids, not to try and overthrow a corrupt government.
How did the idea of the combined artwork of the Kiwi artists and the refugee children arise? P: Since starting Exposure Lifestyles, I have loved working with local artists to create its unique cover art. I’ve wanted to feature the work of artist, DRYPNZ, on the cover for ages and my original idea was to bring him on board as the project artist who would create artwork based on the kids’ art. It wasn’t until later that the idea came up of featuring a variety of local artists reinterpreting the kids’ pieces for the exhibition. It made so much more sense as collaborations with local creatives has always been a huge part of Exposure. There is endless talent on these shores. The Good Karma Project was a perfect way to not only collaborate with a magnificent lineup of Kiwi talent but to work with our international art superstars, the children from Burma. We were incredibly lucky that COTE were keen on the idea. They are constantly coming up with innovative fundraising concepts so when we approached them with this, they loved it and were fully on board from the word go. The local artists have found it a refreshing form of inspiration, as the children may live hundreds of miles away in often unimaginable situations, but these Kiwi artists show that there are no boundaries when it comes to creating and collaborating for a good cause. www.goodkarmaproject.org www.childrenontheedge.org.nz
Txt ‘exposure’ to 933 during April/May 2010 to donate $3 to Children on the Edge $3 provides clean drinking water for 40 kids for one week
0800 69 2772 www.apra-amcos.co.nz
Illustration by Chris Knox Written by Nick Bollinger
Roy Martyn does not seem like a person given to flights of spiritual fancy. Yet even he will admit that the project he dreamed up and spent a good chunk of last year bringing to fruition involved a lot of something you might call good karma. The project is Stroke: Songs For Chris Knox, a two-disc set of songs written over the past 30-odd years by a man who has been called, among other things, the godfather of New Zealand punk and the founder of lo-tech. Martyn has worked closely with Knox over the past six or so years: first as recording engineer and co-producer of Knox’s group The Nothing, then as a member of that band. But more recently, Martyn’s role in Knox’s life has taken on a different tone. On June 11 2009, Knox’s partner Barbara Ward returned to their Grey Lynn home after a morning walk to find Knox collapsed on the floor. He had suffered a serious stroke, and would spend the next few months in hospital, then in a rehabilitation unit where he would begin to regain such basic skills as standing and walking. Though it quickly became clear that his impulse to make music was intact, his means of communication was severely compromised. At the time of writing, he still suffers some confusion, has virtually no speech, and communicates mostly with gestures. It was in the days immediately following the stroke that Martyn came up with the notion of a fundraising album. “The trauma of what was happening and how upsetting that was, was sort of balanced against having another focal point where you knew you were doing something useful.” “I just started firing off emails, and emails started coming back saying ‘sure’. There were the Flying Nun people at the beginning, the obvious people to ask: David and Hamish Kilgour (of the Clean), Martin Phillipps (the Chills). And as it sort of spiralled out, more people got on board with it. “On one level it was incredibly easy to pull it all together. Without getting too hippy about it, there was just this big spiralling outward zone of goodwill.” As the spiral widened, Martyn began to receive recordings from some of the international artists he had contacted; mostly artists who Knox had toured
or worked with and, in all cases, admirers of his unflinching lyrics, melodic gifts and creative and influential lo-tech recording style. Among the overseas contributors were the Mountain Goats, Yo La Tengo, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Lou Barlow (of Sebadoh and Dinosaur Jr.) and Bill Callahan. “The nice thing is it was so un-businesslike. Tracks would just show up and you’d go, should we have something written down there in case something goes wrong? But all of the tracks were in before any of the contracts were sent out, so there were no legal implications anywhere. “In my experience with Chris things are often like this. Things that other people in the music business have found incredibly difficult or nigh on impossible, for some reason around Chris they are fairly easy.” As the project evolved, Martyn would often remind himself of two things. One was that the goodwill was of Knox’s making, not his own. The other was that it was his responsibility to maintain it. Where did all this goodwill stem from? There are many people in New Zealand’s music scene who feel they have something to thank Knox for. Though closely associated with the Flying Nun label (founded by Roger Shepherd in 1981), whose do-it-yourself approach changed the face of Kiwi music, Knox had already been challenging the musical status quo for years. With pioneering punk group the Enemy, followed by the cleansing garage-pop blast that was Toy Love, he showed how it could be done and just how good it could be. Musicians such as Phillipps, the Kilgours, Graeme Downes of the Verlaines and Shayne Carter (Bored Games, Double Happys, Straitjacket Fits, Dimmer) all testify to the encouragement Knox gave them at early and crucial moments in their musical lives. But while Knox could be a source of energy, encouragement and enthusiasm, he is also famed
for his acerbic one-liners and devastating put-downs. Martyn admits has been on the receiving end on more than one occasion. Paradoxically, this too seems to convert into goodwill. Perhaps it is that Knox’s fearless honesty is ultimately valued more than any feelings that might be bruised along the way. “He can be a difficult person to be friends with”, concedes Martyn. “He can be abrasive, and yet brutally accurate with it. Chris is an extremely gifted and intelligent man and perhaps some of the standards he sets for others are not achievable because they don’t have what he has. “Honesty and enthusiasm. He has never seemed ground down by life, which, as you get older many people around you seem to be. He is very much a ‘yes!’ person, the idea that you can do what you want. That’s inspiring.” Knox’s positivity is undoubtedly helping in his recovery. Though still struggling with speech, he has been adding vocals to a new album by Tall Dwarfs, his duo with Alec Bathgate; he has performed brief but intense live sets at Auckland’s Kings Arms (where Stroke: Songs For Chris Knox was launched) and the Laneways festival. And he is assisting with the compilation of a Chris Knox anthology, whittling down an astonishing 485 songs – his total recorded output – to a representative couple of discs-worth. Meanwhile as plans take shape to launch Stroke: Songs For Chris Knox in other parts of the world, Martyn continues to be amazed at the generosity that the project has generated. Perhaps the process is best summed up in a lyric by John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats, quoted on the disc’s sleeve. ‘Some things you do for money, some things you do for fun, but the things you do for love are gonna come back to you one by one’. www.chrisknox.co.nz
Interview by Amie Mills
Qiujing Wong is the Managing Director of Borderless Productions, a global communications company that specialises in ‘real world stories that create change’. Whether these are documentary tales of overcoming drug addiction, the plight of grandmothers in AIDSridden Africa, or Microfinance in Asia, Borderless is telling powerful stories and urging us to listen. What makes you passionate about the work you produce? GOALS. We created Borderless because we are committed to using our work to create positive change in the world. At the end of the day, that’s why we’re here. Running a profitable and creatively successful business are also equally important goals if we’re going to be here in 20+ years time. WHY? We feel strongly that social, environmental and economic success is crucial for any nation to thrive in today’s world. If the world is going to move towards a harmonious balance where peace and understanding are a way of life, we will need to start with a basic insight of each others’ cultures, traditions and values. Short of “walking in their shoes” the easiest way to do this is to immerse yourself in their world for a while. Film is one of the few ways that enables us to do this. That’s why we use film – to open these windows of opportunity for people to enter into another person’s life. What sets film apart as a storytelling device? Any film provides an emotional engagement with a person, story, location and experience that we cannot access entirely in other mediums. Sight, sound and motion are about as “close to the action” 14
as we can get without physically being there in person. In our documentary films in particular, we employ a technique which we refer to as “an unobstructed lens” approach to story-telling. This means that we allow the action to speak for itself rather than the filmmaker telling us what we’re watching, hearing or experiencing. We’re left to drive our own viewing experience, and as much as is possible with filmmaking we want our viewers to make their own choices, make up their own minds. Do your projects find you or do you find them? It’s a bit of both – sometimes friends and colleagues will have a brilliant idea and we’ll work with them to bring it to life. We also proactively seek stories/films that fit within the vision and values of Borderless. Where do you draw inspiration from? I draw inspiration from coffees with interesting people, observing the way people around me live, travel (a big one) and when all else fails, from quiet meditation. Tell us about The Jade Bell Story. We’ve been following the story of Jade Bell (a Canadian drug addiction story) for more than two years now. This feature-length documentary film is an extraordinary story of a young middle-class
man who got caught up in the “drug world” and who, since an overdose nearly killed him, has been redeeming himself by helping young kids get off drugs. His own healing has also involved a rather risky dose of Stem Cell Therapy in Mexico as well as developing a raft of creative pursuits. He has published extraordinary poems of his life and recorded a music album, which is due to be released with the documentary film. Our goal with this film is that we reach all youth in developed countries with this story of encouragement that drug use is a sad and slippery road that can be avoided. Tell us about the differences in the types of poverty you came across in your travels. Prior to the Jade Bell Story, we released a documentary film called ‘A Grandmother’s Tribe’. This is a story of grandmothers in sub-Saharan Africa raising their grandchildren, left orphaned after the spread of HIV/AIDS. The film was released with a campaign that got viewers to “take action” after viewing the film. We asked them to use the film in two ways: to educate others on the issue, and to raise funds for the grandmothers. Poverty is no doubt a significant contributor to these sorts of issues. For example, many of the women in this part of Africa cannot afford to buy food for their children. They visit the local fishermen 15
who offer them the trade-off of “fish for sex”. As a result, the lakeside villages have some of the highest rates of AIDS infection in Africa. Poverty is complex and differs between countries. Sometimes it is not as obvious in places like New Zealand that someone is living in relative poverty. Then there are the different kinds of poverty. In contrast to poverty where the basic food and health needs are not being met, there are people who suffer from poverty of the mind or spirit. These can be even more damaging to their well-being. We’re developing a new documentary film called ‘On my own two feet’, a documentary about Microfinance in Asia. Microfinance has proven itself to be a key contributor to helping those in extreme poverty by way of small, highly-managed business loans to very poor people. It works in many parts of Asia – not all – and could in fact be one of the most important ideas of this century in tackling the issue of poverty. How does Borderless Productions operate as a global business? We have a reasonably sizeable global strategy, which is still a work-in-progress and probably always will be. Borderless’ head office is in New Zealand and has/will have agents and offices around the world. We already have a Producer who works between San Francisco and Beijing – Kimberley Buchanan. Having her as a part of the team extends our reach into North America and Asia.
What is your vision for the future of Borderless Productions? A global film company that releases truly worldchanging films and campaigns for all to experience. How does “The Foundation” work within Borderless Productions? The Foundation is a separate entity altogether – a Trust with Charitable Purpose. The Foundation works “in kind” mostly supporting the work of the films through the efforts such as hosting fundraisers, public speaking engagements etc. 10% of Borderless Productions’ profits also go to the foundation and are invested or donated to the causes highlighted in the films we make. Eventually we want it to be a Charity but at the moment, we’re satisfied for it to continue to play a low-key supportive role in our ventures. For anyone wanting to get into this kind of work, where do you suggest they start? I’m not sure how to answer this in a way that’s any more unique than what any person in our industry would say. But I’d like to suggest something that I know is a bit difficult for many to accept – if you wait for someone to fund your film before you make it, you might be waiting a while. Be creative with how you get your film made and you’ll find many more opportunities are there waiting for you. www.borderlessproductions.com
To raise awareness of the threat Radio New Zealand faces from the National Government
Illustration by Andy Shaw Interview by Amie Mills
Dr Dave Jenkins walks the talk. For over a decade he’s taken SurfAid into some of the most remote locations in the world, identified behaviours that are hurting communities, and found ways to help. That help comes in the form of education, medical supplies, time, energy, tears, and a deep generosity of spirit. What roles do art and music play in the promotion of the SurfAid cause? We have worked with music many times, from PR on music radio stations supporting us, tours of the Big Day Out getting the word out, fundraising concerts both large and small, and now we have our own compilation album. We even have our own SurfAid Band that played at the Yallingup Surf Film Festival recently in Western Australia. Members are staff and supporters. What inspires you most about the communities you work in? The communities have a very communal life and almost no one feels lonely. I remember staying in a small hut once working on a big proposal on my laptop. It just happened that I was alone and the locals could not believe it, so they took it upon themselves to take turns to come and sit with me while I worked. Often little was said but things from their point of view were in balance and as they should be. I’m sure this helps create the ease of being that you feel when you’re there. This does not mean it’s utopia from a social point of view though, as there is still in-fighting and petty squabbles etc. How does SurfAid work with local health units to gain trust and get buy-in? This is a major challenge. I always try and think, ‘How would I have felt in my practice if an Indonesian doctor wandered in and started making suggestions on how I should change my priorities etc?’ The answer is I’d probably feel put out but partly it would be fear. We are the guests here so we need to remember that but it can be very challenging when you know that if they did a few things better, the kids would be much healthier and less would die.
Being one of the main Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) to help out during earthquakes has definitely helped us build trust at the top level of government in the islands. How do communities carry on SurfAid’s work when you leave? Our key focus is to help the people to shift their cultural norms so that once it sticks, it echoes on for generations to come. For example, it used to be that the Mentawai women never gave colostrum – up to four out of six children who die of infections in the first month of life would be saved by the colostrum in a mother’s milk. Now that is changing and the exclusive breastfeeding rates are up from 12 to 56 per cent and climbing and so we hope to create a tipping point. The same applies to the other key behaviours such as washing hands, giving the wild spinach that grows everywhere to the kids instead of to the pigs etc. We have nearly 800 volunteer mothers in the villages who we teach key health messages to and, on average, they go to 10 homes relaying the training on nutrition, hygiene and sanitation. We also seek out the natural leaders to carry on our work. How does SurfAid get its message into the public realm? We use the full realm, including YouTube, journals, radio, web, facebook, twitter, blogs, TV, DVDs and articles in various newspapers and magazines. Plus, we set up stalls at events around the world and hand out information brochures. SurfAid has been around for over a decade. Where do you see the next ten years taking you? We are unashamedly ambitious because the sense of “this is so wrong” still exists. It’s wrong the children die because their mother throws out her colostrum. Having built an effective organisation and successfully empowered communities to change in some of the most remote locations on this planet, we now wish to ensure we scale that success. Our strategy focuses on these high-impact behaviours that are not only the best for the people but also for the donors whose social return is greatest when a cultural norm is shifted, as their donation will still be having a positive impact long after they have died.
The challenge is to find sufficient donors who understand this fundamental aspect of our work and will support our scaling process to help thousands more kids not only survive, but thrive. What can people do to get involved in SurfAid and help the cause? Join and join with passion, log on, find out about us, download our volunteer fundraising info and organise a concert in your nearest venue or at home! How hard is it for you personally to dedicate your time and energy to this work? I have many dreams and things I’d love to do (for example, turn my average piano skills into great ones so my singing girlfriend will sing along – at the moment she tolerates the many mistakes). At times I think it would be good to explore other aspects of life but SurfAid is the best expression of not only how I feel about this mad, beautiful, unjust world but taking action ensures I walk my talk, and that for me fuels my happiness. So even in the most tired and frustrating of moments I know I’m on the right track. I will do this until my last breath and by then I hope to also play a mean rock piano too. www.surfaidinternational.org
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s back to nt US criminal record etc.) with subseque support no is ally from. There where they are origin rtees are po de the ), nd lends a ha network (KORSANG lands in, leaving city that their plane just dumped in the d. their families behin support, we have little financial When I read that TT could do. we t tha ing eth could be som thought that there ing/ ch tea ir p was the basis of the Especially as hip-ho NZ ere wh of fact, TT reminded us us. reaching method. In ed pir ins at wh is t rs ago, and tha Hip-Hop was 20 yea determination. Their stories, their
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thus far? ement with TT been What has your involv ail em n, tio phone conversa TR: One meeting, a ndshake to ha l tua vir ’s an d a gentlem correspondence an rs ssado for them. do and act as amba promote what they thus far? biggest challenges What have been the s far as, thi t ge to d ge We mana TR: Communication! at ng TT. So mbodian was worki freakishly, a Kiwi Ca m, she knew d conversing with the when we got starte me now, but ho ck ba tunately she is who we were. Unfor h them through her. we can still work wit had a postal service. We The other thing is the ly safe on the t d to send over bu laptop that we wante velling tra ar ge r you is to Cambodia way to get anything de them liver ow, and then having with someone you kn it personally.
into TT? racy incorporated How is computer lite set- up dio stu all sm y have a TR: We know that the d them a spare e were going to sen with a computer (w studio but were a for them to set up laptop that we had ough the post), thr ue anything of val advised not to send racy is part and know computer lite so I know that they ep up with the ility to learn and ke parcel of today’s ab ng. livi real relevance to technology that has twork. a crucial support ne TT offers children en you wh u yo in d ve lie d be Who supported an were growing up? age of 14. ed myself from the TR: For me, I support d me all d I had music aroun KING: My parents an t is what tha – had a family band the time. My uncle motivated me. creative ren involved in your How are your child pursuits? ree of our is now deejaying. Th TR: Our eldest boy r industry ou h wit ed olv en inv four children have be t through ge encourage them to consistently, but we at we do wh of give them a taste school first. We do t. comes firs but prefer that study us when we st to take them with KING: We try our be ough though! en en oft esn’t happen travel overseas. It do
ting as nce and music opera How do you see da educational tools? ps and lectures been doing worksho TR: Both of us have sic industry mu careers within the on hip-hop and our sense the in do see what we for over 15 years. I ation and uc ed of d tho haic me that the Western, arc ucation goes rk for all people. Ed learning doesn’t wo should! If you it mmunication OR hand in hand with co to teach, ing try te what you are cannot communica vement and mo dy Bo rn? rson lea how will the other pe ability the ve l language; both ha music is a universa lateral for lly cia hout words. Espe to communicate wit thinking learners. the years, in fact ing workshops over KING: I have been do ere they took wh ive e Institute initiat I was part of a Goeth through rap ch Germans English me to Germany to tea
Aotearoa? mmes being run in Are similar progra hops that there are a few works TR: Not really. I know is set up t tha ng thi country, but no happen around the hell of a a ve ha re he ren our child permanently. I think ird Th World than children from lot more advantages do with just r children here could countries. I think ou for starters! opening their eyes looking you give to people What advice would s? ative collaboration to build similar cre your end ectations – focus on exp h Do not have hig that is ing yth an le nd ready to ha goal, be strong, be thrown your way! www.tinytoones.org
Boofa, one of the founders of Kowtow clothing has just returned from a research trip to India (where Kowtow sources all of its cotton). He travelled with partner Gosia to meet the people involved in bringing their fair trade organic clothes to fruition. During some down-time in Varanasi, the ancient spiritual heart of India, Boofa per-chanced on some inspirational musicians making waves in schooling.
I read that Varanasi was â€˜the placeâ€™ to learn tabla, so the day we arrived I booked myself in for some tabla lessons at the Baba music school conveniently located in the same block as Gampati Guest House, the place we were staying. The music school was incense-laden, cosy and small with cushions scattered over a couple of thin mattresses on the floor, a shelf full of tabla and a couple of sitars hanging from the wall. This was a meeting place of Westerners trying to grab their piece of authentic Indian culture and escape the throng of an ever-westernising India. It was also to become the crossroads to some of my most enjoyable experiences in India, including my first tabla lesson with Vikas Tripathi. Vikas, an expat Indian living in Spain, regularly plays with world renowned musicians and was in Varanasi to put together a show featuring Indian classical music and dance to take back to Spain whilst also teaching at the family-run music school. I was in and out of the school for the next few days, having lessons, borrowing drums, drinking chai and buzzing out watching Vikas jamming with his brother Ravi on the tabla and sitar. Ravi mentioned to me that he was involved with a music and art school for underprivileged kids called Wichi Art School. I asked Ravi if it would be possible to come along with him to check out the school and take some pictures and footage. Ravi seemed really pleased to be able to show me what they were doing and so we arranged to meet early the next morning. We met at 5.30am and I jumped on the back of Raviâ€™s bike. We drove to the local veg market where Ravi does his twice-weekly grocery shop for the school meals. I stuck as much veg as I could in my backpack and we jumped on the bike for the (very bumpy) 40 minute ride to the outskirts of Varanasi. On arriving at Wichi Art School, I was immediately struck by the beauty of the kids. Coming from poverty and hardship yet full of energy and life. Once all the pupils arrived, the day began as they all went onto the roof to do their daily yoga and meditation practice with one of the older students impressively leading the yoga practice. I stood in awe not just at the agile young yogis but also at such an inspiring way to start the day for the
kids. I found it amazing that they were all completely immersed and present in what they were doing. There are 10 pupils enrolled at Wichi, aged between 5 and 12. Ravi explained that most of them come from very poor families who might only earn 3050RPS ($1-2 NZD) a day, and that they were selected from families most at need in the local community. The kids are well looked after with a full-time cook who makes fresh, nutritious meals every day and regular health check-ups. Not only does Wichi look after the kids but it is also committed to helping the families and wider community with initiatives to employ those who need it most in projects like recycling old bikes and chairs to make wheel chairs to sell to local hospitals. Wichi started in January 2009 and only had the money to accommodate 10 pupils for the first year. Their plan is to double this number every year. For funding they rely mostly on the generosity of their personal friends and acquaintances from all over the world who donate regularly. Ravi and Pablo (two of three founders who were at the school when I was there) both talked about their desire to be able to really make a difference in the community and to hopefully have hundreds of students at some point in the future. The founding members of Wichi all met whilst traveling to schools and orphanages around Varanasi. Pablo, a Spanish musician and puppet show performer, explained that what they saw made them realise how they were able to reach the kids through music, performance and art. The troupe decided it was time to do something more, and although none
had any direct experience in teaching of any kind, they had the idea of starting a school, using music, art and meditation as their main tools for turning around the lives of some of the most underprivileged kids in India. The curriculum includes all the subjects one would expect at any school: language, maths, science etc. but the focus is on music, art and meditation. They feel it is crucial for the growth and spirit of the kids that they are able to express themselves through music and the arts, and that the yoga and meditation instills in them a sense of calm and awareness. Both Ravi and Pablo also stressed a spiritual element in their teaching method. Not that there is any ‘religious’ module taught per se, but both explained how they believe art and music allow us all to connect to a higher state of consciousness. The kids are encouraged to use creativity as a means of tapping into this consciousness and as a way of channelling feelings that they might not be able to speak of. It is a holistic approach that seems to have benefitted the kids of Wichi. I did not have the context of seeing them before they started at the school but I know from experience the joy of making music and getting lost in the ‘flow’ of art. I can only wonder where the world could be if our mainstream schooling encompassed learning that taught us how to express ourselves and know ourselves through creativity and meditation as an integral part of education. If you would like to make a donation to help Wichi Art School get more students, please go to: www.givealittle.co.nz/cause/wichi
Melanie Tahata believes in using creative self-expression to overcome hardship. The Kaiti Arts Project brings together young people who have committed an offence, puts a pencil in their hands, asks them to create what they want, and teaches them about identity development and history while they’re making art. How did the idea for the Kaiti Arts Project come about? Manu Caddie initially had the idea so I’ll take no credit for that! He approached me in 2008 with a proposal about working with young people who have committed an offence. It was to be part of a programme that would include decolonisation and identity development goals. My response (from memory) was, “Hell yeah!” and then, “Perhaps I can get them to listen to Motorhead’s ‘Born to Lose, Live to Win!’” I wrote up a programme originally designed to run over a 6-week period, which we ended up stretching into a year. Some of the objectives were to learn real-life practical skills, to produce and display finished artworks, to encourage creative endeavours that may lead to employment opportunities, selfemployment and healthy self-expression, to inspire confidence (by getting them to talk about their art) and to explore the DIY approach to art-making. Illustrations by Kaiti Arts students What have been your biggest challenges with the project thus far? Interview by Amie Mills Keeping the students interested in the work we are doing. They have really enjoyed some of the less time-consuming activities we have done, so I have to accommodate a 14-year-old’s attention span. Quite a few of the boys last year were involved with local gangs to some degree, so there were quite a few bulldogs and fists coming out in their paintings. One challenge was to get them to slowly shift away from those representations. One day I was very happy to see a small bulldog overshadowed by some large koru. I thought it was a good start. The boys we are teaching are often in a limbo between school and work, so once they find work or a school accepts them, they move on and we don’t see them again unless it’s around the neighbourhood. 24
In what ways do you see this project (and art in general) affecting positive change? In the short-term, I like to think the students enjoy the benefits of sitting down as a group and being creative. We talk and joke; it is a very informal method of teaching, which makes it a lovely way to spend an afternoon. I don’t see or know a whole lot about the students’ lives outside of this course. I have met some of their parents but I think it would be naive of me to say that teaching one hour of art a week is going to change the world, let alone other people’s lives. I would rather wait and see how each student responds to these classes in time. I like to think that this is slowly broadening their horizons about the things around them, and that there are some really good qualities, not just in art, but also in this region as a whole. How do the students engage with their culture and whakapapa? All of these projects are written bearing the students’ culture and whakapapa in mind. The students are expected to express their whakapapa in their art in any way possible. I want to whakamana Te Reo Māori so they are only allowed to use kupu Māori in their artwork. They’re encouraged to copy kōwhaiwhai or carving styles, use simple shapes or use words; just so long as it pertains to Te Ao Māori, and therefore, themselves. Some of them find this difficult so either myself or one of the other tutors will translate Pākehā words into Māori ones. The decolonisation wānanga last year were very important as students learnt about local history pertaining to the particular marae we were staying at and they absolutely loved it. Anything to do with tikanga Māori they readily soak up and can easily recall months afterwards. While those wānanga focus on social issues and teach the students practical day-to-day skills (cooking, cleaning, self-care, communication etc.), I’d run a small art component where we’d take the students into the wharenui or the church and get them to copy their favourite designs from the whakairo, tukutuku or kōwhaiwhai. They really enjoyed this; it got them up close and personal with the carvings of Raharuhi Rukupo, one of the most important carvers of the 19th century. Our first class this year was to visit the Iwirakau exhibition at the local museum. They responded well to that, happily completing their task sheets and being able to go to a place they wouldn’t normally visit.
How do they articulate their learnings through visual communication? These boys communicate in an uncomplicated manner, so they will often draw straightforward ideas of their pepeha through the visual mediums they are creating. I can remember doing much the same when I was their age. What inspires you most about this work? I find it really inspiring when the boys will come up with something on their own – their own designs and their own way of doing things – instead of me having to slowly explain stuff to them. It’s better when they get in there and give it a go for themselves. I like being able to write up projects for all of us to enjoy. Making art with the boys is a lot of fun; we chat, joke around and draw or paint. At the decolonisation wānanga and in the art classes, we emphasised learning their own pepeha, so that they would be able to stand up at the end of the year and say it in front of their whānau and peers at their prize-giving, which they all did. I was very proud. www.toikaiti.wordpress.com
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Where did the inspiration for Eyes From Ethiopia come from? I’d always wanted to volunteer and I’d always wanted to go to Ethiopia. I discovered GVN, which is a local organisation that sends volunteers on short-term placements so I went to have a chat with them … it pretty much started from there. I liked the idea of teaching some photography ... something that the kids over there wouldn’t necessarily have had a chance to experience, and when I spoke to a few people about it, someone told me about the film ‘Born Into Brothels’. It’s a documentary about a woman who taught photography to some kids in the red-light district in India. It made me realise that we could make Eyes From Ethiopia something a bit more than just a couple of extra lessons for the kids. I hoped we’d be able to create something pretty cool that was a really enjoyable process as well as being a way for these kids to contribute to their futures. How did you discover the medium of photography? When I came back to NZ after travelling for a few years I thought, ‘Why not give it a go?’ I heard about a wee photo school on the Kapiti Coast that a guy called Mel Phillips was starting and when I met him I just thought, ‘Yeah ... this is what I should do.’ Best. Decision. Ever.
What aspect of the project was the most enriching? The kids. The kids. The kids. Their enthusiasm, their lovely smiles, their attention to detail, their attitude to life, their laughs, their voices, their kindness ... you get it I think. Did their personalities shine through the photos they took? Yes. Without a doubt. The careful, quiet and more diligent kids had very carefully constructed photos. The more outgoing, happy-go-lucky kids had more shoot-from-the-hip style pictures ... there were a few happy accidents that made it into the exhibition. Has Eyes from Ethiopia changed your perception of photography? To a degree it has. It was really cool seeing kids get excited about taking pictures ... and the whole process was a win-win for everyone it seemed. It’s amazing what can be done through creating. How can a camera operate as an educational device? I think almost anything can be used as an educational device ... it’s more about the participants in the process. I was extremely lucky that we were all on the same page and the kids wanted to learn
as much as I wanted to teach them ... the camera was just a tool in the process of seeing. Because there was a language barrier (the kids spoke no English until six weeks before I arrived) it meant that we used a lot of sign language. I’m sure lots of things got lost in translation but it was hugely surprising to me what they did pick up – and amazing how quickly you can get close to someone over a few photos... Were there any themes that came through repeatedly in their photos? I discovered each child had their own way of seeing things. We concentrated on different things each day so we sort of had loose ‘themes’ for each session. Within those ‘themes’ it was really great to see the variety. By default, I would say they tended to prefer photographing each other. What were the children’s responses to their images when they saw them produced? I’m not sure! I was there for only five weeks so we shot everything digitally and then I sent over prints when I returned. I hear they loved them. When you left Ethiopia, what was your greatest hope for the children? That they continue to get an education. That’s what all the money we/they raise will go towards. They only spend one year in the home to get a start in education and then they are back in the community again. The home has a programme whereby they continue to fund the kids’ education expenses and
some clothing. Without education, these kids have limited opportunities available to them. I also hope they might remember the excitement they felt at taking pictures – and that some of them may be able to enjoy that again in the future ... that’s a bit of a long shot right now ... basic education is a priority ... it’s survival really. How do you think the children stay joyful despite the abject poverty and conditions around them? Hmmm ... I think a basic joy from life. Despite all their sad and varied backgrounds, they were all really, really cool kids. They seemed to have inherent kindness and optimism and joy ... I think this is a part of the culture but also a part of the work that the home has done in making the environment strict but loving. They knew they were lucky I think ... perhaps they had hope? Hard to say for sure ... lovely to watch. For anyone wanting to undertake a similar project, what is your advice? Go with an open heart and an open mind and an idea of the common goal and big picture. Then you can be prepared for all the things that won’t go to plan … i.e. almost everything. What is the next project on your horizon? Good question ... been interested in moving images lately so maybe a bit of an experimental phase ... and then I’m sure the next thing will present itself. www.eyesfromethiopia.com
WILLIS YORK HaIRdReSSIng level 3 119 Taranaki sT wellingTon 803 3492