Taking a Stand

I had to share this story with you, brought to my attention by my sister Grace.  But first some context …..

Austerity measures in Ireland since the collapse of the economy in 2008 have crippled the people of Ireland. The banks and a handful of businessmen who caused the financial crisis and the deflation of the Irish property bubble, have not taken responsibility nor have the authorities done anything to make these crooks pay for the damage caused.

Instead, it is the people of Ireland – the likes of you and me – who have suffered enormously – loss of jobs, loss of livelihood, loss of homes, cuts to healthcare, education and other rights of any citizens of the world.  Just think if it were you??

Many have lost their homes and whole families are out on the street, some even living in cars.  It’s a disgrace and boggles my mind while there are ~1/4 million properties lying vacant across Ireland, properties repossessed by the banks from those families that are now homeless.

An Irish housing advocacy group Home Sweet Home together with a bunch of artists (Glen Hansard being one of the leaders) have come together to find housing for these homeless before the year is out.  They have occupied one of the NAMA buildings and have started to move families into the property.  The authorities haven’t stepped in as yet … smart move given the people of Ireland are in overwhelming support of Home Sweet Home’s actions!

NAMA is the National Asset Management Agency whose primary role is to improve the availability of credit in the Irish economy by bailing out the banks.  That includes buying back properties from banks to remove them from their books, thus improving how the books look.  These are the very same banks who systematically built the property bubble in Ireland in the first place, only for it all to collapse with the global financial collapse in 2008.  This group of bankers and businessmen made a heck of a lot of money while the ordinary people of Ireland suffer. There’s a documentary in there for sure.

Anyway, 2016 is a significant year because it has been 100 years since the 1916 Easter Rising, when the Irish fought for our independence from British Rule.  The following clip is a reading of an essay penned by Film Director Terry McMahon, asking the people of Ireland to stand up and fight … not with bullets but with their humanity.  His piece brought tears to my eyes and pride for what Ireland and it’s people stand for.

I know this is not light Christmas fare but it’s too important not to highlight.  It’ll only take 7 minutes of your life to listen.

About Kate Coffey

After 30 or so years in the investment management industry, 2013 saw me turn my life up-side-down, making my way first to Nepal, then Bangladesh during that first ‘year away’. The year took me on a journey I did not expect, had me fall in love with Nepal and its people, and become inspired at the work of Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) located in Bhainsepati - 2 hours east of Kathmandu in the Saanga foothills. Since 2014, I have returned to SIRC numerous times, working closely with the folks there in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes. In the past two years, my work in Nepal has expanded to the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation www.bomkarlsson.com and the Spinal Cord Injured Network Nepal. In Bangladesh I marvelled at the strength and resilience of marginalized women who have the courage and audacity to break the rules and make a better life for themselves and their children through microfinance programs with BRAC. 2016-2017 saw me embark on a totally new experience in Sri Lanka, a place I never would have chosen to end up in. It’s the 40C+ heat, big humidity and tropical snakes & animals that scared me! But I ended up love love loving! my time there, working with predominantly Tamil small business owners in remote villages in the north and east of the country, trying their best to recover their businesses and the lives of their employees, after decades of a civil war. My time in Sri Lanka made me realize my hard-earned business skills and experience can really be put to good use! The work the BIZ+ team and I did there ended up earning me International Volunteer of the Year Award in December 2017, presented on Capitol Hill, Washington DC no less. I am currently home on Bowen Island, in the west coast of Canada, shoring up my finances before I head off to who knows where, for my next expert volunteer assignment. This blog initially started out as a travelogue of sorts to keep friends and family worldwide updated while I was off on my travels in 2013-2014. Since then it has morphed into a life story of the many places I have lived and worked and of the wonderful people I have met along the way. I hope you enjoy.
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