The Cute, Happy Koala Post OR Why I don’t read every Greenpeace post

…or every post of any other save-the-planet organization that I follow and/or support.

I am not going to go into too much detail here, but when 2014 was still young and I spent a lot of time at my pc working through my “Gardening and Horticulture” assignments, I also spent a lot of time keeping up to date with what was happening in the world.

And boy, was there a lot happening at that time! And not a lot of good stuff at that. Looking back I can summarise my feelings by saying that I felt like I HAD to read about all the misery going on in the world and FEEL with every family broken by war or animal made homeless my deforestation, tortured and killed for our needs and pleasures, because what right had I to sit here and study while my husband was out earning good money at a job he loves and my kids were at a great, small preschool we had chosen for them? What right had I to be happy and spoilt while there was so much suffering in the world.

I basically tortured myself into so much misery by empathising with others and fearing for the future that I ended up in a psychologist’s (and psychiatrist’s) office with a full blown depression and no hope for the world.

Now, I have always been a very positive, excitable, enthusiastic, idealistic and generally very happy person and this was not like me. I didn’t even recognise myself anymore. Nevertheless, having children has changed me a lot. Since I had my little boy almost 7 years ago I have constantly had to keep my anxieties in check and I am raw and vulnerable to the brutality in our world. Many Moms can probably relate.

Still, the truth remains – does my constant worrying help anyone? Does it make things better or keep bad things from happening?

On the contrary. If I worry myself sick, then not only will I suffer, but so will my family. And I will not have the energy to make the changes in the world that I CAN make. And be the example to my children that I want and have to be to make this world a better place.

This is why I know better now and if I see a post like Greenpeace International’s the other day with the title “14 Devastating Photos of the World’s Deforestation” and I see a photo of a sad little koala sitting on a deforested hill, then the tightness in my chest tells me to scroll on.

Because if I look at photos of homeless koalas, orphaned children, de-finned sharks or starving polar bears too often, they will not only not show me anything I don’t already know, but they will make me feel depressed and hopeless and rob me of the energy to make the change I can make.

rainforest alliance

I also remind myself that we make a small monthly donation to a great organisation called Rainforest Alliance

who do fantastic work in preserving the forests of the world.

Instead of sitting at home and filling my head with more world suffering I now prefer to go out and volunteer in my community. That does not mean that I do not stay informed, but it means that I draw a line when it is enough. Think less, do more.

So for today I close with the photo of a very cute little koala which I found on . I know this little guy’s habitat is in danger and I will keep it in mind when making my daily life choices.


Have a great weekend, Everyone!

Posted in Environmental Awareness, Global news, Social Awareness & Responsibility | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Play and Clean

A post by “Cape Town Beach Cleanup” recently reminded me that our own initiative in this regard was long overdue.

So, this glorious Spring Saturday the kids and I drove through to Bloubergstrand and collected two bags of rubbish while enjoying the lovely air and scenery.



Although it can be hard to think positive while collecting bottle after bottle after shoe after hose pipe nozzle, it is definitely a good feeling to have done SOMETHING about it!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Let’s Take a Look at Rape Culture

rape1_350_122912110755– image source (7) –

23-year-old student Jyoti Singh Pandey gang raped to death in New Delhi, India;

17-year-old Anene Booysen gang raped to death in Bredasdorp, South Africa;

“For years, Egyptian women have put up with sexual harassment, simply for walking down the street. Now they are coming out into the open to say ‘enough is enough’. At a rally in Tahrir Square last month, female protestors came under attack. Water was thrown into the crowd in an attempt to repel the mob of men who were groping women and trying to remove their clothes. An anti-harassment demonstration became itself a target for harassment. What used to be a silent shame has now been thrust into the open, with exhibitions and events.(1)

These are just recent events of the past three months that have gone around the world; shocked the world; and made people wonder – what is it that drives men to behave like this? What makes them turn into molestors? Into monsters?

The first two horrific events cannot be viewed as single, extraordinary deeds of disturbed individuals. Just like mass happenings in Egypt they are symptoms of “rape culture”.

“Rape culture is a concept used to describe a culture in which rape and sexual violence are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media normalize, excuse, tolerate, or even condone rape.” (2)

But how does such culture develop? And, more importantly, how can it be changed?

Amaka Okafor-Vanni wrote an article for in which she calls Nigerian culture a “rape culture”. She sees the underlying problem in her country’s “modesty culture”:

“The modesty culture we preach is a rape culture because of our insistence on female purity and modesty. Why is it the sole responsibility of the female to remain chaste? Why isn’t the male tasked with chastity? By focusing on the female, we reduce the woman to mere flesh and place control over the female body and sexuality in male hands.” (3)

Jyoti’s and Anene’s murders triggered countless outcries in India and South Africa. Social networks were and are filled with people voicing their shock and outrage at the crimes; but will this make a difference? Will this change anything? South African constitutional law scholar Pierre De Vos doesn’t think so.

On the contrary – he even thinks it “might do more harm than good.

The expression of outrage is a distancing device and ultimately self-serving. I fear the smell of self-congratulatory self-indulgence clinging to the enterprise. Expressions of outrage position us in opposition to the evil that we rush to condemn. Rapists are evil but unknown people ‘out there’. They are not our friends, our brothers, our fathers, our teachers, our sporting heroes”.

When we express our outrage about the prevalence of rape in society, I fear that we seek to affirm that we are not complicit in the (often violent) subjugation of women. Our expressions of outrage – well-meaning as such expressions might be – absolve us of our responsibilities.” (4)

“This allows us to continue with our lives without having to change what we think and how we live. We can express sentimental support for the survivors of rape, without having to problematise masculinity. We do not need to confront sexism. We do not need to become feminists. We do not need to confront the destructive power and dominance of patriarchy and how we continue to benefit from it. We do not need to give up anything.” (4)

South African columnist Bruce Gorton takes a similar stand in his article “Rape Shows There Are No South African Men”. He writes: “We do not get to proclaim ourselves men because one third of our brothers rape. One third of our sons rape. One third of our fathers rape.

We do not get to proclaim ourselves men because the two thirds of us who do not do this, we have allowed that one third to continue. A man is an adult with a penis, an adult is someone who stands up and takes responsibility for their greater society and we have not acted as adults.” (6)

So, what needs to happen for rape cultures to change positively? Ultimately the answer will be different for every affected country.

Amaka Okafor-Vanni believes that “we need to do away with this system that espouses the idea of woman as a possession and develop instead a society that sees the woman as human with rights, consent and abilities. A society where ethical sexuality is promoted and supported. Instead of telling the woman she is at fault for getting raped, we should teach our sons the importance of consent, that no means no and a woman can withdrew this consent at any time. Instead of telling the victim of sexual assault not to speak up so as not the shame her family, we should create a society were victims are helped to overcome the trauma of the assault. Instead of telling the young girl she ‘asked’ for it because of the way she dressed, we should punish severely and publicly shame rapists. We should consciously make the effort as consumers not tolerate music videos and home movies that objectify the female body form in the name of art.” (3)

Anand Soondas, author of the blog The Times Of India agrees that “the change will have to come first at home, from the family. Boys, as they grow up, will have to be taught that their sisters are not there to get the leftovers – the one piece of chocolate that couldn’t be eaten, the tricycle with a broken wheel that couldn’t be driven, the school with expensive fees that couldn’t be afforded.” (5)

According to De Vos, “rape is ultimately about power and domination. Men who feel threatened by the changing world in which they cannot automatically assume that they will be respected merely because they are men, will often take steps to try and re-assert their dominance and power over women and over other threatening groups like gay men. Some will do so by raping a woman. Others will do so by assaulting a girlfriend or a wife. Others will do so by sexually harassing women or denigrating them.” (4)

Many factors in society will have to change. The problem will have to be addressed from the very core of society – the family; where parents instill the right values and a proper sense of gender equality into their children as well as where boys learn self-confidence that does not come from dominating over anybody else, but from within.

This solution is at the same time a problem, because how can children learn this from parents who don’t know any better themselves?

I suppose all we can do is our best within OUR own family, set a good example and do our best to raise awareness.

We can also take Anand Soonda’s anecdote (5) to heart and resolve to never stand by and watch and never accept any kind of discriminating comments or jokes.

Bruce Gorton (6) also reminds us that we must get informed and become aware of what actually ARE dangerous beliefs and actions, because many of them are so inbuilt and deeply rooted in our upbringing and society that we don’t even recognize them anymore.











Posted in Geography, Culture & Travel, Global news, Social Awareness & Responsibility | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Africa from Above

In 2006 I had the opportunity to experience two intense months in the most remote areas of Northern Namibia. During that time I was very lucky to have the opportunity to view the spectacular landscape from a microlight.

This unforgettable trip as well as the last six years that I have lived in Cape Town, South Africa make this photographer and his projects particularly interesting for me.


It is nevertheless worth checking out for anyone who appreciates photography and is interested in the African continent and its people as well as challenges.

“Flying in a motorized paraglider over one of the most diverse continents in the world, George Steinmetz captures the stunning beauty of Africa’s landscapes and people. His pictures show not only the spectacular patterns of the land, but also the potential and hope that the continent encompasses.”


Posted in Environmental Awareness, Geography, Culture & Travel | Leave a comment

The high cost of cheap meat

Nothing against eating meat, but many Western people really seem to not for one moment consider WHAT it is they are actually eating and where it comes from anymore. Ever heard of moderation?


Posted in Environmental Awareness, Geography, Culture & Travel, Global news | 2 Comments

I’ve taken the step – I’m a volunteer!

When I was working for an NGO a few years ago, one of my responsibilities was managing an English school for refugees.

The heart and soul of this school were the incredible people who committed to teaching one or sometimes more classes per week – the volunteers. They are the ones that make a non profit organisation work. Without them NPOs could pack their bags and give up on their mission.

When I was recruiting, organizing and working with volunteers I often felt like they were better people than I was. By that I mean that although I worked my butt off for a ridiculous salary it was still my JOB and I did at least get SOME material compensation for the work I was doing whereas the volunteers were so reliable and put so much effort into their task without getting anything in return.

Of course I did know that volunteering pays back in other ways and that in fact that kind of reward was obviously exactly the reason why I was doing the job myself instead of looking for a better position with more financial stability. Still, I was constantly in awe of these selfless people around me.

They became examples and role models for me and since my time at that NPO I’ve often thought about volunteering myself.

Today I actually believe that it is the duty of every privileged person in this world to donate time (or at least money) to help others who are less fortunate. Be that people or animals or our environment. By privileged I mean “better off than the majority of people on this planet”.

If each of us does their bit then we can make a difference!

Finally – after this long time of thinking about it I am now finally and officially a volunteer!

Last week I committed to help out with translations as well as with media design at an organisation that follows a similar principle/motto to what is also the central idea behind this blog – start with yourself and then spiral out to change the world.

“Responsible me – responsible home – responsible school – responsible community – responsible nation.”

Particularly their new, ambitious campaign caught my attention and convinced me that NOW is the time to finally become a volunteer myself.

This is what it is about:

“The Proud2b Me Foundation – an NGO whose mission it is to bring about positive social change in South Africa – has embarked on a unique nation-building campaign themed, “Responsibility, It Starts With Me”, which could see thousands of community members undergo intensive training in the fundamentals of family planning, family responsibility, their role as individuals and/or parents in society etc in an effort to create more loving, supportive and above all responsible families in our communities (…).”

I am happy and proud to be part of this now!

What about you? How would you like to help YOUR community? How would YOU like to make a change? Or – if you are already a volunteer – what do you do?


Posted in Social Awareness & Responsibility | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment


I actually had to chuckle earlier at something that’s really not at all funny. spread a short Facebook thread where a Muslim customer posted an inquiry to his local ice cream store and received an incredibly racist comment in return.

What made me laugh was the statement of the president of the store that they only deliver within Montana.

Montana used to be my dream destination when I was a teenager and still feel a longing when I think of the “Big Sky Country”. When you got there you have the choice – plains or mountains? Either is spectacular in its own way.

I watched “A River Runs Through It” in the cinema when I was 15 or so and fell in love with the natural beauty of the place.

I ended up watching the movie four times at the cinema alone – not to speak of the countless times on video. I started reading books about Montana – books with lots of photographs of mountains, forests, crystal clear lakes and rivers and of course abundant wildlife.

I must have talked my parents’ ears off about Montana until – when I was 17 – they unexpectedly suggested we plan a three-week road trip across the Western States of the US. So it happened that I actually got to visit “my” Montana. The place of my dreams.

No, it didn’t let me down! It really is a stunning piece of the world and I thoroughly enjoyed our week on a ranch there, riding horses and altogether simply enjoying our spectacular surroundings.

Besides nature there isn’t much else which is what (still) makes it so appealing to me.

When I read the above Facebook thread I couldn’t help but picture a person who has never left his own country – possibly not even his own state – and most likely not having any urge to do so either.

I haven’t been able to find out much about racism or xenophobia in Montana, but I did find that 90% of the population is white and 6,4% American Indian and Alaska Native. One could therefore think that xenophobia can easily develop in an area with so little cultural diversity.

Nevertheless at least “Montanans” should be used to meeting people from around the world since tourism is one of the main services that the state’s economy is based on (next to lumber and hard rock mining as well as ranching, wheat farming, oil and coal mining).

Also, as I witness daily, cultural diversity unfortunately does NOT protect from xenophobia. Cape Town is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world and besides the world famous tensions between blacks and whites we also find them between coloreds and whites, blacks and coloreds, whites among themselves, between all of the above and the Asians and finally between all of the above and all the different immigrants and refugees. And probably more.

So what is it then that causes xenophobia? That is a question takes more than one blog post to explore.

Certainly lack of education as well a deeply rooted belief systems that is very hard to change. Here an interesting article on that topic:

What made me laugh originally was a stereotype picture in my head of the “typical” small-minded small-town man not wanting to have anything to do with the world outside his home town. Nevertheless by having that thought I involuntarily become “racist” myself; allowing myself to judge people I don’t even know.

Didn’t I have only positive encounters with the locals when visiting Montana? And aren’t there negative exceptions and black sheep where ever we go?

Once again I must remind myself to start with myself – even when criticizing.

In fact the store’s president who wrote the comment really claims he never meant it as a racist comment, but just made a mistake. Who knows – maybe he really did.

Whatever the case – his comment gave me a good opportunity to dust off some old beliefs of my own that had been hanging around collecting cobwebs at the back of my head.

Posted in Geography, Culture & Travel | Tagged , , | Leave a comment