Thursday, February 10, 2011

The importance of having a roof over one's head

This is one of my favourite spots to sit in the sunshine as I ponder over this and that, lately I've been thinking about what to do with our roof.  We are going to do a major renovation in a few years (can't afford it just yet) and whilst we know we need a new roof, we are reluctant to spend that money now when the roof will have to be replaced when we renovate anyway.  During the recent storms we had a few leaks in our roof which led to dripping from our ceiling in numerous places.  Feeling discouraged at yet another set back to our savings plan for the renovation, I repeated my mantra - put it into perspective.  It has served me well over the years. 

I started thinking about our trip to Fiji last November and considering the locals there have to replace their entire roof at least every 3-5 years always helps to put things into perspective.  We are so lucky.

We are so lucky to live in affluent western sociery. When we find ourselves without electricity or facing huge clean up after a big storm, we are shocked by it. Yet there are people for whom rebuilding is a normal part of everyday life. For whom electricity is an idea but not a reality and where subsistence is based on how well your crops are doing and how healthy your livestock are - there is no importing food in from elsewhere or being able to afford tins of food or a refrigerator to put goods in. There isn't even running water.

We holidayed with a village like this for a short time last year - we went on holiday to the 'real' Fiji and met the most beautiful, warm, friendly people on earth but who had nothing - no electricity, no running water, who grow food and keep livestock for a living. The locals we lived amongst were so happy despite having limited access to medical care, the mainland being hours and hours away by boat if you can afford the fuel to get you there. I think of them when I start to complain about the constant fixing an old house needs and then I am just grateful for what I have.

I think back to the months I spent in Sapa in northern Vietnam, studying the microeconomies of hill tribe women like the Flower Hmong.  Many of them were generations of refugees from Burma who didn't have centuries of experience with farming. They walked hours each day to bring their wares to market to exchange or sell to tourists and then make the trek back home, many of them very very young and with babies on their backs. 
I think to an island in Ha Long bay where they also have a subsistence living and to the fishing villages - they spend their entire life on water.
Here I am in my little backyard in modern Australia becoming interested in permaculture, it's a hobby for me but for millions of others all over the world what they grow and nurture is essential to life.  We western consumers have to care for our earth as well. I hate myself when I lecture like this - but really I'm just affirming to myself and renewing my commitment to doing my best to look after our earth and to live with as small a carbon footprint as I can.

I fell into this rice paddy!  Was bleeding so much afterwards, it was just after they'd harvested so teh stalks were short and spiky!


We can do our bit for the earth here in our own backyards.  Be conscious of where our food comes from, support local farmers, reduce our consumption of non renewable and harmful goods, watch how we are polluting the earth.  I'm only just getting seriously started myself but I'm determined to change our lifestyle.  Just our one family doesn't seem like much but I'm determined to contribute.

We can even plant trees inside  :)


  1. Great post and beautiful pictures. Everything little bit helps. It does re-affirm your own ideas when you right them down and I think if it changes one persons way of thinking or just gets them to reconsider things for a second, well then it's worth it.
    Lovely blog.

  2. Great post. Doing the smallest thing is better than doing nothing at all. We recycle our plastics and tin cans. Just our one family has a lot of recycling that would otherwise be in a landfill. Love that last picture... too cute! :)

  3. Very well said! Great post and photos you have really gotten around the world. If everyone did their bit it would add up to a great whole!

  4. How exciting to be able to visit a place which is almost untouched with the modern gadgets we are used to. It makes us reflect about our life. Beautiful pictures and enjoyed reading your post.


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