Postcards from the Edge: Aung Marma – ‘Meditation helps you stay calm”

Postcards from the Edge: Aung Marma – ‘Meditation helps you stay calm”

Postcards from the Edge: Aung Marma – ‘Meditation helps you stay calm’

Living in direct provision means Aung Marma is more vulnerable to infection from Covid-19. He worries, but also keeps calm by taking exercise, keeping busy and meditating

My name is Aung Marma. I was born in 1991. I’m originally from Bangladesh. My ethnicity is Marma, which is one of the 13 ethnic groups in Bangladesh. My religion by birth is Buddhism.

Bangladesh is predominantly Muslim, and for that reason most of our ethnic groups have to face fatality from Islamic extremists and we don’t get justice for what happened to us. Which is why we migrated to neighbouring countries, India and Burma.

As we are Buddhists, the impact of Islamist extremists came on us. Once we were attacked in 2003. Then I went to Sri Lanka for my safety and for further studies in 2008. And I started my studies at university level. In 2016, when I went back to see my mother who was sick, I was attacked by some Muslim settlers and I had flee to Burma for my life.

And from Burma I made a false passport and returned to Sri Lanka. From Sri Lanka I came to Ireland in June 2019 for my safety and to raise my voice for our people, who are suffering at the hands of extremists and are seeking refuge from the world. I hope my voice will be heard by the whole world someday.

So now I am here in Ireland, living as an asylum-seeker and living in the direct provision system.

Living in direct provision means you are more vulnerable to being infected by the Covid-19 virus, since we have to live with many people in the same building.

The Irish Government has taken the initial steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus, and the managers and workers in our centre have taken all the precautions to prevent infection from the virus. Honestly, I do not have any objections to the management and to the authorities.

I know this pandemic affects different people in different ways. I have seen that some of my friends seem very stressed worrying about their families and their

future. I do also worry, but I keep myself calm, knowing that the pandemic will be over sooner or later.

In Buddhism, the Buddha has taught us about Anicca (impermanence), Dukkha (suffering) and Anatta (constant change) – in this world every phenomenon is changeable and not permanent. If one comes to understand the truth as truth, so they can live in calm.

So my idea is to keep myself busy by doing activities. When you’re staying home, do some physical and mental exercise. Physical exercise can be done by yourself and mental exercise can be done by practising meditation. Meditation helps people to understand the reality of things by being attentive to what’s

going on around you. And meditation also helps you to see the impermanence of the Covid-19 pandemic.

I would like to ask people to be wiser and calmer to face this disaster and to take every precaution imposed by the authorities. I thank the Government of Ireland for taking the initial precautions for preventing the pandemic. And I would also like to see the laws and rules continue to be implemented until Covid-19 has been completely uprooted from Ireland.

I am well aware that people have reasons to break the rules of government, but if we break the rules we will have to face more fatalities from coronavirus, that is for sure. Therefore, we must be far-sighted and act wisely.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of all of the Clare PPN.

• We’d like to hear from you! Back to normal or time for radical change? We’re asking people for their views (in less than 350 words) on how to move forward together in Clare in the wake of Covid-19. You can win a €50 restaurant/take-away voucher. Details of how to submit here:
http://clareppn.ie/what-do-we-want/

 

Back to ‘normal’ or time for radical change? Send us your views and win a prize

Back to ‘normal’ or time for radical change? Send us your views and win a prize

Back to ‘normal’ or time for radical change? Send us your views and win a prize

What would you say to the parties forming the next government?

New deadline of Friday, May 29th at 5pm – see below

 

By William Hederman

As politicians from three parties sit down in a room in Dublin this week – socially distanced – to thrash out a programme for government, it’s likely there will be a big focus on getting things ‘back to normal’ as quickly as public health considerations will allow. But is a return to the old normal what we need? Or is this a once-in-a-generation opportunity to find new ways of organising our society and economy?

The Covid-19 crisis has been traumatic, bringing tragedy and distress to many people. But the crisis and the lockdown have also brought changes that may be worth holding on to. As Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party try to plan our collective futures, Clare PPN would like to hear your views on what they or any other grouping that emerges should be prioritising. We will publish submissions and there will be prizes of €50 vouchers for meals from local restaurants. Read on to find out more.

Covid-19 has transformed Ireland and Clare like nothing in living memory. The tourism and hospitality sectors, and much of retail, have shut down. Huge numbers of people in Clare have lost their jobs. This is a very stressful and difficult time for many, especially those who have lost loved ones, those who have lost their jobs or businesses and people living in isolation or in direct provision. There is huge uncertainty about what the future holds – for tourism, live music, sport. Some businesses may not reopen. Many of us will have to retrain.

Are there silver linings?
However, without in any way minimising the huge stresses, fears and grief this crisis has caused, there have been some silver linings around the dark cloud of Covid-19. The crisis has brought us together and has revealed the great strength in community. People are learning new technologies and finding new ways to do things. Many more people are growing their own food – organisations such as Irish Seed Savers in Scariff have been overwhelmed with orders.

The pandemic has also forced society to recognise the huge value of the work done by those in the health sector, carers, shop workers and others. It has also revealed that things we were told were impossible are possible after all – the use of private hospitals for public healthcare being just one example.

The global lockdown has also had huge environmental benefits. Cleaner air resulted in some 11,000 fewer deaths from pollution in Europe in April. Greenhouse gas emissions have fallen dramatically and wildlife is returning to areas they had fled long ago. The Government’s decisive response to Covid-19 has been contrasted to its years of foot-dragging on climate action. It turns out we can follow scientific warnings and take radical action to save lives, even if that means less economic output.

What the parties have proposed
Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael’s joint document published in mid-April commits to working “towards a consensus on a united island”; plans for affordable housing and a new deal for renters; expanded universal healthcare; no rises in income tax or USC and no cuts to core social welfare rates.

Among the Green Party’s ‘red lines’ for entering government talks is a yearly reduction of 7% in greenhouse gas emissions, which climate scientists have warned is needed to avoid catastrophic climate breakdown. The party has also demanded the scrapping of the Shannon LNG fracked gas terminal on the Shannon Estuary.

Sinn Féin’s general election manifesto proposed abolishing Universal Social Charge on the first €30,000 earned; building 100,000 council homes over five years; opening 1,500 hospital beds and providing free GP care; giving people the right to retire at 65; and cutting the cost of childcare.

Solidary-People Before Profit pledged to hold a referendum to make housing a constitutional right, to build 100,000 homes over five years and a rent freeze; to push for a health service that is free at the point of use; free public transport for all and to shift the carbon tax towards big polluters.

Labour’s manifesto proposed building 80,000 homes over five years, a rent cap and rent freeze; the roll-out of Sláintecare and free GP care for under-18s; introducing more protections for casual workers and converting the minimum wage to a living wage.

Sláintecare was also central to the Social Democrats’ manifesto, as well abolishing home care waiting lists; building 100,000 homes over five years; trialling a four-day working week; ending the State subsidy for fee-paying schools; and encouraging community energy schemes.

What would you do?
So, if you could sit down – socially distanced – with the negotiators from Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party, or the other parties if they end up around the table what would you say to them? What new measures would you like to see in response to the crisis? Should they be striving to return things as close to the old ‘normal’ as possible or is this the time for a major rethink? What are the positive aspects of the lockdown and of the response to the crisis you’d like to see maintained?

Hundreds of thousands of people have switched to remote working – should this be continued? Could a four-day week become the new normal? Should Shannon Airport be bailed out and supported or should Clare be preparing for a post-air travel world by diversifying into new industries? Is it time for a universal basic income? Should we get rid of the Leaving Cert for good?

Even before coronavirus, sectors such as farming were already in crisis. Can a new approach to agriculture give farmers a decent living, protect the environment and make Ireland more food secure?

What about Clare’s musicians and arts sector? They have already been organising events, exhibitions and workshops online – what does the future look like for them? Any ideas?

Please send us your views on what Clare – and Ireland – needs now. Tell us what you would like to say to the parties forming a government or what you think is worth keeping from our experiences during this crisis.

Please keep your submissions to less than 350 words. Alternatively, you can submit a video of no more than 2 minutes. We’ve extended the deadline – email us by 5pm on Friday, May 29th, at newsletter@clareppn.ie

We will publish submissions on our website and social media and they will go into a draw for prizes. For Clare PPN meetings, we usually pay for refreshments or room hire and we get to hear what people think of whats happening in the world. We‘re really missing those interactions and so on this occasion, for each of the four people drawn out of a hat, we’ll buy a €50 voucher at a local restaurant or takeaway of your choice – helping to support local business.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Report from Plenary Meeting on February 1st 2017

Report by secretariat member George Atijohn from Clare PPN’s first County Plenary Meeting of 2017.

The meeting started with a welcome message and a brief introduction of what Clare PPN worked on in 2016 which as well as all the routine work of running the PPN included The Green Shoots Gathering – an environmental conference which took place in the Glor Theatre Ennis and which was oversubscribed.

Green Shoots Facebook cover

The #ClareHowAreYa? well-being survey which attracted nearly 400 responses.

facebook event photo copy6 (2)

Clare PPN’s collaboration with the Clare People Newspaper in publishing a special issue of the paper at Christmas which contained Proclamations written by school children from all over Clare. Clare People

Clare PPN also hosted workshops and training for its representatives and secretariat in media skills and mediation and in social media and there are plenty more such events planned for members and representatives for the year ahead.

Questions were asked by the old and new members about the activities of the Clare PPN

The following questions were asked:

  • How much budget can PPN spend on training?  The PPN’s budget was explained with members being told of the amounts which go towards salary, rent and representatives expenses and the remainder being available to fund the PPNs training, promotion and events budget.
  • Is there any tangible outcome from the PPN’s reps participation in the various SPCs that have by now been running for about two years? This question provoked some discussion- with members of the LCDC explaining that many of the changes achieved were incremental and so were difficult to account for. Clare PPN’s resource worker explained that the previous year had mostly focussed on getting everything in place and in order and that 2017 would see the focus change towards making participation as effective as possible.
  • Who controls the marketing budget within the PPN?  The  Secretariat
  • Is there a difference between pillars and colleges? No
  • What does social inclusion mean? This was explained and it was agreed to revisit the definition to ensure that this college is comprised of groups working on poverty reduction, and the active inclusion of marginalised communities.
  • Can you be members of two different groups?  Yes, but you may only be a contact person for one.

 

The following appointments were ratified at the plenary

  • Graham Lightfoot’s appointment to Clare PPN secretariat
  • Mary O’ Donoghue’s appointment to Clare PPN secretariat
  • Oonagh O’ Dwyer’s election to the Fisheries Local action Group.
  • Eugene Crimmins’ election to the Leader Programme Community Development and Social Inclusion Advisory Committee
  • Ger O’ Halloran’s re-appointment to Clare Sports Partnership.

Members were informed about the vacant seat for the social inclusion on the secretariat, and for the new Rural Development Forum and the LTACC. It was explained that elections will be held to fill the vacant positions beginning in February.

Members of the Clare PPN present split into 3 colleges (Environment, Social Inclusion and Community and Voluntary) to deliberate on their work plan for the year ahead and the suggestions were all compiled for Clare PPN secretariat’s strategy day which takes place on Tuesday 28th Feb. It was agreed that both the environmental and social inclusion colleges would begin to meet as colleges more regularly with the environmental college’s first meeting due to take place on Feb 27th.

Finally two matters of Clare PPN’s policy were decided:

Firstly it was decided that Clare PPN would call for Ireland to ratify the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. Ireland is the only country in the EU which has not ratified this convention even though we signed up to it almost ten years ago and this is now an aim of Clare PPN.

Secondly a decision was taken that Clare PPN recognises Housing as a Human Right as defined in the UN Convention on Human Rights and The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and will carry out all its work on housing issues with that in mind.

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