Friday, June 30, 2006

The Tree of Knowledge

The tree of knowledge
Marks the historic birthplace
Of the giants.

Behold the vanishing icon
Vague signs of life in winter’s garden
Swirling mists!

The sacred tree:
The pulling power of persistent image
Replenish the land Down Under

The tree of knowledge
In times of crisis and uncertainty!
But who sprayed the herbicides?

The dreamtime vandals
Desecrated the tree of knowledge;
Sparking the brain drain.

Tree of knowledge at Barcaldine
A potent symbol of love and hope
In a changing world.

Now, put on your
Thinking hat and help nurture
The tree of knowledge.

© Lawrence T. Udo-Ekpo

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Soup Kitchen and the Sharing Spirit

The phenomenon of soup kitchen is an innovative response to the problem of poverty and homelessness, in the Australian society today.

Clearly, things are not going well with those in need of immediate care, food, and shelter. In fact, the talk in the street is that there is a great deal of distress among the poor and the homeless, as the dreamtime winter shows its ugly face.

Consequently, soup kitchens are springing up in several locations to meet the needs of the disadvantage.

For example, the Adelaide Day Care Centre for the Homeless Persons operates mobile soup kitchens, 7 days per week, during the winter months. The organisation has become an extremely valuable resource for those in need, an embodiment of the humanitarian spirit at its best.

Elsewhere, under its Angel for a Day program, the Hutt Street Centre soup kitchen establishment provides breakfast, lunch, and morning and afternoon teas for over 200 homeless people in Adelaide City alone, according to The Advertiser newspaper report. But there is a growing demand for such services throughout the state.

Nor can we forget the significance of corporate response to the problem. At the time of writing, businesses (big and small) are playing their part; helping the homeless; and providing the resources for soup kitchens as the need arises.

A notable example is the humanitarian effort of the energy retailer, AGL, which has more than 30 soup kitchens nationally. Its work in this area has significantly helped to bring warmth and comfort to the poor.

The AGL works in partnership with Mission Australia to provide services to the disadvantaged groups in New South Wales and South Australia.

Thus, the soup kitchen, as an innovative response to poverty in Australian society, has attracted a significant support from businesses, families, schools, social groups, churches, and individuals throughout the land.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Winter without a Blanket

The winter without a blanket
For the homeless soul forsaken,
A shivering body, with an empty wallet,
Whose spirit has already been broken.

The winter without a blanket
The homeless man whispers,
As he disappears into the night like a ferret;
Oblivious of the hailstorm and its dangers.

Thus, in the wintry chill and gloom
Lonely stars fill his sleepless night,
In full view of the waxing moon;
The winter without a blanket in sight.

© Lawrence T. Udo-Ekpo

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Refugees Bring Freshness and Vitality

The Uniting Church in South Australia is helping the African refugees deal with the daily pressures of transition; focusing on the practical problems of adaptation and the issues of spiritual renewal in the new environment.

“We in the Uniting Church have become particularly aware of the plight of Sudanese refugees because so many of them have joined our congregation”, said Reverend Graham Vawser, the moderator of the Uniting Church in Adelaide city.

“One of the reasons we welcome them so enthusiastically is that they bring such a freshness, such a vitality of faith” to the Australian society.

The church has recently launched a refugee support fund to help African refugees come to Australia (where they can find a new world of faith and opportunity for learning), according to The Advertiser newspaper report.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Aid to Orphans

The Australian Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, has announced $12 million in funding over the next three years to improve the lives of children orphaned by AIDS in Africa, according to the Sunday Mail report.

The principal objective of this funding is to give the orphans a better access to education and health care in Tanzania, Malawi, and Mozambique.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Dreamtime Winter

When the dreamtime winter
Shows its cold and dangerous face,
The lost boy ducks for cover;
And the red kangaroo follows his trace.

© Lawrence T. Udo-Ekpo

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Christ Ambassadors Mission

African migrants and refugees in Australia are experiencing something of a religious revival, as their persistent search for meaning continues during the early years of arrival.

But, for the spiritually aware, it’s nothing short of an epiphany, the manifestation of a supernatural or divine reality, during this period of transition and great upheaval.

Most of the new arrivals have joined the existing mainstream churches; while others are constantly seeking spiritual paths of their own through individual efforts and private prayer meetings in small groups.

“Our mission is to spread the word of God and everyone is welcome to pray with us", so says Samuel Dirosimi William. “We are an inclusive community”.

Samuel is a refugee from the West African nation of Sierra Leone and the co-founder (with Dennis Ellie) of the Christ Ambassadors Mission (CAM).

He is a committed Christian with strong moral principles, a true believer in the divine intervention. For him, the formation of CAM is a significant development in more ways than one. A dream comes true!

In fact, Samuel strongly believes that the problems of survival in the new and emerging African communities in Australia can be solved through Christian teaching and the application of Biblical principles.

He often speaks, eloquently, of the need for the good old, Christian, values of love and compassion; focusing on the desire to help the poor and the homeless.

The newly established church, Christ Ambassadors Mission, holds its weekly service in a temporary location in down town Adelaide, South Australia.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Australian Winter

It’s winter time in Oz
A glorious season where beauty flowers
And birds flap their wings with glee.

The wrens are hard to find
But there’s an orgy of flowering gum trees
In the graceful landscape we love.

The eucalyptus in bloom
Red, yellow, orange, purple, and white flowers
The ascent of the rainbow nation.

Behold the season of plenty
A legion of frisky parrots in feeding frenzy;
While the homeless begs for mercy.

© Lawrence T. Udo-Ekpo

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Employment Program for Muslim Women

The low participation of Muslim women in the Australian economy is a challenging proposition even in the best of times. But that will soon change if the Centrelink, one of the largest service providers in the nation, has its way.

At the time of writing, the Centrelink’s Multicultural Services Branch has identified effective strategies of dealing with the socio-cultural and religious barriers facing Muslim women in the Australian labour market.

It should be stated that Centrelink is an agency of the Department of Human Services whose principal function is to deliver a range of services to the Australian community.

On an optimistic note, the organisation will work with the local “Job Network” establishments to identify suitable employment and training opportunities for Muslim women – a project that has received an overwhelming community support.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Young Eagle

The young eagle
Soars above the heavens
Catching the falling star.

The first flight
Of the brave young eagle impresses!
How majestic?

He rides confidently
On the powerful wings of the angels
Touching the rings of Saturn.

Now, the poor thing
Dreams of being a merchant banker
Trading up!

Yet, back on terra firma
A tragic twist of fate; war and famine
And the gruelling poverty!

But he holds his nerve;
Feeding on the tender birds of Oz;
Devouring the yummy lizards!

Beautiful is the nest
But there’s neither peace; nor rest
On the exotic route to Everest.

And yet, his quest
For selfless passion continues unabated;
Enchanted vision realised!

© Lawrence T. Udo-Ekpo