An Old Camera in the Park

This is a really old story, but it is clear in my mind. My brother, my grandma and I were in the park and we found a very old camera on a bank. We waited a little bit to see if someone is coming to look for it, but no one came. And we took it at home. It was so old and broken that we never used it. It stayed for years at home before we throw it away.

I become always quite sad when I remember this story. There was a film with sure some photos on it in the camera. I still imagine that these could have been very precious for the owner and that he was a poor guy because of this very old and almost broken camera. Or maybe it had a special meaning for him. I don’t know, but it is a fact that we didn’t act optimal. We could have left a note or somehow try to find the owner…

When we were kids we’ve used to forget a lot of thing in the park and most of them disappeared, but some of them just stayed where we forgot them and it was such a great feeling to find them again.

Speak with Old People, Kids and Disabled

It is quite important to speak with different people. Not only from different social and cultural background, but also from different ages and abilities. We can learn a lot from them. At most we can learn from groups of people who are quite different than we are. For example, we can learn from disabled or very old people who live and think entirely different. We all have some beliefs and conceptions of life, which often appear to create boundaries. Such boundaries are not good for our personal development, because they constrain our creativity and innovation potential. They often constraint us not only in mind, but also in our emotions, so we can’t fully unfold our capabilities and talents. And we start to think in categories like “normal” and “abnormal”. There are not such categories in the world. There are not normal and abnormal things. It’s only our perception that creates them.

What is even worse, we segregate people who are different, we don’t meet such people and we miss the opportunity to learn from them. We miss the opportunity to develop and we don’t let them improve as well. And when we meet some people, we automatically have some opinion. We are already biased in our opinion. But we can learn much more from them when we meet them as they are without opinion and absorb curiously what, how and why they are doing. There is one other very important aspect of meeting kids or disabled people. They are almost always ingenuous. They can definitely teach us how to be like this as well, to forget our place in the society and behave like we are.

When was the last time you’ve played with a child? When was the last time you’ve spoken with old people and let them tell you their unique stories? When was the last time you’ve met a disabled person? What have you learned from them? When was the last time you’ve talked to stranger on the street or at the train? I’m always inspired from projects like 6 million others and Interview Project. These are interviews with random people on the street.

I’ve just started to talk to people instead of reading or sleeping in the train and it is really amazing how many great and interesting people you can meet. For politicians it can be even more interesting and necessary to speak with random people. Such politicians are always much more successful. The best example is the major of Mississauga – Hazel McCallion. But also for business people it can be always enriching to speak with random customers and non-customers.

The Dangerous Pills and the Isolation of Disabled People Today

In Germany you can quite often notice some disabled people with really small arms. They seem completely healthy, but their arms are very small and seem quite atrophied. I was always wondering why there are so many such people. Recently I’ve understood that there was a pill against sleeplessness, that when taken from pregnant women, causes exactly this problem – many of the babies of these women have such atrophied arms. Can you imagine? You just take some pill against sleeplessness and then you have a baby with disability. It was a big problem some 40 years ago, because most of the women wasn’t informed about this side effect and the pill was really popular. So be careful when you take pills.

This was the first shock for the families with such children. The next shock was even bigger. The government made everything possible to conceal this problem and to make people forget about it. They even took some such children from their parents and put them in some special schools so no one can see these disabled kids. Thus these otherwise normal kids were completely isolated from the society. This is a typical example how the laws, the government and some other interested parties act. They are not doing the best for the society and the people, but the best for their policies.

The story goes further because these are not the only people being isolated since they are born. Almost all disabled people are being isolated, no matter what their disability is. Thus it is extremely difficult for them to get healthy. They just get used to be discriminated and to see only some other disabled people. Thus we don’t even give them the chance to get healthy. The labour policies for such people are in law very friendly, but actually they still don’t have the same chances to get a job. But that seems to be normal for a country where even the women have not the same chances as men. The problem lies of course not in the disabled people or in the women, but in the men, in us. We have to change this!

Let’s Clean the World as sLOVEnia Done

A great Slovenian friend of mine just send me this video:

I can say only one thing – great, great, great. I was in Slovenia exactly one month ago and can definitely tell you, that this is a clean country. What is here more exciting is that the people just gather together and cleaned big parts of their country. The scale is enormous! And we don’t have to stop with Slovenia, but go further and clean our own countries as well! Clean the whole world and don’t wait for the decisions of the policy makers. Just act. Let’s do it world!

And if you don’t act in such a big scale, it is still good to act. It is always good to clean some trash you see on the streets, in the nature and so on. Of course, it is much better to stop to create trash at all. It is possible! Since I’m not a big consumer and I’m buying almost nothing than food and clothes, when I’ve started to eat regional and organic food I managed to reduce my trash more than 90%! So it is easy and it is much more important not to create trash at all. If we don’t stop comsuming so much and creating so much trash, we will be never able to get rid of it, no matter what methods we use and how much we clean. So not creating rubbish is more important than cleaning trash, but there are at least two very important points about cleaning trash:

1. Even if we stop creating trash, there is already enough trash we have to clean.

2. The positive example of cleaning trash is really like flu and infects everyone who has seen it. Nowadays I’m taking sometimes (aim is to do it always and to infect more people is a dream) a bag with me and collecting some trash on the way. Or I’m doing this while waiting for a bus or train. But mostly when I’m outside in the nature and hike somewhere where no one is collecting trash and it stays there for years. But what’s more interesting is how I’ve started. I’ve used to live in Germany for a long time and here there are many old people collecting trash when they have nothing else to do. This hasn’t infected me for years, but after I’ve seen a 7 years old boy, who was waiting alone for a bus on the stop and was collecting the trash, something changed in me immediately. This small child does this without someone urging him to do it? So he was completely sure and enthusiastic in what he was doing. At this age? We are creating the trash and our children shall collect it? That’s not fair. I’m not going to spoil the world and let my kids collect trash because they have no other choice!

Potatoes from Bavaria to Romania

Last week I had a long conversation with a middle-aged couch surfer which lasted some five hours. It’s typical for CS to speak with the hosts or guest for hours. You find always some many interesting topics and you have so many CS and other stories to tell each other, that time pasts without noticing. So, this couch surfer is a CEO of a NPO (Non-Profit Organisation) and a farmer at the same time, so he had a lot of nice stories to tell. A very wise, clever and experience man, who does everything to help as many people as possible. And need to be of course pretty well informed about laws and current political and social developments. But in this story I’m not going to tell you about politics or some other boring topics, but about real life everyday happenings.

Some 15 years ago there was a trend in Bavaria to grow potatoes. Well, the price of the potatoes was quite high, so everyone decided to grow potatoes. You may already guess what happened. There were so many potatoes this year on the markets that the price went down and nobody wants any more potatoes. It was s big disaster for the small farmers, who decided to grow potatoes. Such trends are killing in farming. As a child my uncle decided to grow onions in my grandparents’ village. It was the “onion trend” year in Bulgaria. The whole family worked all summer long for the stupid onions and at the end no one wanted them at all. This year we used to eat not only everything else with onion, but we even specialised in preparing everything from onions, from the soup to the dessert. The menu was like this: onion soup, onion crowd with onion bread and baked onion with chocolate. How delicious. Since then my brother never eats onion. I still like onion actually. That’s almost unbelievable. Well, on the other side, we had onions for two years and all the neighbours were very happy because they received onions for free.

But let’s go back to the potatoes in Bavaria. There were too many potatoes there. You know, in Germany there are some regulations for everything. So, you can’t just throw away or dump such a big amount of potatoes. There is actually a good reason for this – at some point they really start to stink in an awful way. So they need to be stored somewhere. The normal way to story potatoes for a long period is to put them in a closed room without fresh air. Actually you have to put them in a hermetically closed storage. But first you have to be sure that there is no oxygen in the room. So there is a special way to burn it away. But this year the farmers had to put to many potatoes in the storages, so the oxygen didn’t burned well. So when they opened the halls some months later some of them were already bad and stinky.

The potatoes were in the storage room and the farmers were looking forward to finding a solution how to get rid of them. At the same time in Romania there was another problem – hunger. Some years after the fall of the communists the people were starving out. There was nothing to eat. The NPO of the CS I was with, decided to send all the potatoes to Romania in order to help the people there. They opened the halls with potatoes and these were really stinky, because some of the potatoes were already bad. And back to the German regulations. You can’t just give some food which is not according the norms to someone, no matter if he needs it or not. Even if you donate food it is not possible. So they had to sort out manually the bad stinky potatoes. This great job was done by some volunteers in two weeks. They’ve done nothing else whole two weeks. At the end they’ve managed to send a lot of potatoes to Romania, which was all the work worth.

As a small reward some of the volunteers went to Romania as well, together with the clean, but still stinky potatoes. The local people accepted them as heroes, because they finally had something to eat. And they even slaughtered their last chickens in order to be hospitable. That is hospitability – they gave everything they had.

The couch surfer told me some very interesting stories about Romania and the villages where they stayed. For an example how he climbed on the roof of the local church, which was very high in order to see the great view from above. And that he almost fell down from some 30 metres in doing so. And how they took some presents like chocolate and alcohol for the Romanian and how they needed to hide them on the boundary. And about an earlier village in Romania destroyed by a big wave of water formed from the break of a nearby damn. The village was on the top of a hill and surrounded from three sides from a small river coming from the damn. When the damn walls broke, the wave became so big that it hit the village. A horror, but there were some houses and its inhabitants who managed to survive – these were the first row of houses at the beginning of the village. The wave was so enormous and it hit the village with such energy that it jump over the first line of houses. You can imagine what this means for the people there. They were saved out of nothing. This people survived the big wave, but they almost died because they had nothing to eat at this time. Good that the bavarian farmers made this bad decision to grow potatoes and saved them. They were saved two times out of nothing. This row of houses and its people…

As a conclusion, I have to say that there is no food scarcity in the world, but there is only bad distribution. And only with some simple knowledge and will we can change this. We don’t even need the Bavarian potatoes. In the history there are many exemples that people from different countries helped each other. In the time of the communist revolution in Russia and Ukraine in 1917 there was nothing to eat and Bulgarian farmers send all their food to Ukraine and thus saved millions of people. And at this time it was not organized by some organisations or by the government. The people have done it.