Why I love libraries

Can you believe an economist penned an opinion piece on the website of business magazine Forbes entitled Amazon should replace local libraries to save taxpayers money?  The writer put forward his idea that libraries “don’t have the same value they used to”.  It caused a public outcry around the world and the post has now been deleted.

It’s hard to know where to start with what is wrong with this idea. One of my favourite memories as a child is of going to the library on Saturday mornings, checking out a huge stack of books, coming home and spreading them across the floor, deciding which one to read first and then digging in to those pages that would take me to another world to meet amazing characters.library2

I love visiting my library now to see pre-schoolers with mum or dad at rhyme time, school children doing research at the desks or older members of the community browsing the shelves or the newspaper stacks.

I often pop in and sit in a comfy chair to read for a little while.  Now of course there are e-books and audio books to download for my phone so I can take my favourite author walking with me each day.library1

There are so many activities on offer that my head spins: book clubs, historical society meetings, computer classes, community legal services, language classes, printing services and a wide variety of talks and presentations.

When my mum was battling cancer, the wonderful librarians at her suburban library chose a selection of books for her each week.  The driver of the bus that drove around to pick up and drop off seniors called in with her books, enabling mum to keep in touch with her reading community.

I have come to understand that a library is not just a place of books; it is a place of people and community.  Thankfully there are enough of us like-minded people to remind economists and others who would wish to close our libraries.

Aash Soup for Winter

My lovely friend Fauzia, who runs her own catering company, has recently given me a recipe for her favourite winter-warming soup. I can’t wait to try it.

You can find so many types of vegetable in your fridge and pantry in these days I thought we could make a wonderful Afghan winter soup called Aash soup. Here’s what I use and how I make mine.


  • a small onion chopped finely
  • tomato paste
  • fresh garlic, ginger and chilli
  • cumin, coriander and turmeric powder
  • a small potato
  • a medium carrot
  • half cooked chicken breast
  • a small white radish
  • can of any of the following beans: kidney beans, green beans or chickpeas
  • one bag of any pasta (size 3 will be better)

How to cook

Put a medium pot on the heat and put little olive oil

Add finely chopped onion, salt, garlic, ginger and chilli and fry for five minutes in medium heat

Add the tomato paste, when the onion and pieces looks yellow

Add some cumin, coriander and turmeric powder into the pot

Add cooked chicken breast torn into pieces

Add some water and let them boil lightly until you have chopped your vegetables

All vegetable should be chopped very small and add to the soup and let them boil for about 10 minutes

Add your can of beans in and test for salt

Separately, boil your pasta in a big pot in salty water for 5 mins

Wash it with warm water into a colander

Add the pasta into your soup and boil it for another 3 to five minutes depending on how you like your pasta

Turn of the stove and leave it for 5 minutes

Chop your fresh coriander and even some capsicum, if you like, to decorate. Serve it in individual bowls

Finding their voice

What a pleasure it was to be asked to be part of the public speaking program for young people from a refugee and migrant background with the Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network (MYAN) and the Youth Affairs Council of WA (YACWA).

MYAN WA has introduced a program called Shout Out which aims to promote the voices of young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds. The program offered a wonderful opportunity for people to boost their confidence and improve their skills. Shout Out was run over a number of weekends and involved a range of trainers and mentors lending their expertise. I spent half a day helping these fabulous young people develop their personal stories and public speaking skills.

Every participant has an amazing story that will inspire people. They all presented those stories in polished three minute presentations last week with the aid of Rostrum WA. I couldn’t believe how much they had all improved and grown in confidence as they shared special stories and experiences. It was such a wonderful program and I feel very privileged to have been involved.

MYAN is currently developing a list of available speakers who could be invited to your next event or forum. Isn’t that terrific?  I’ll let you know when it can be accessed.

There are more photos from the final event in the Gallery.

MYAN group 2016
Participants in the MYAN 2016 Shout Out program 

Young refugees being positive role models

The Makur Chuot family from South Sudan are an extraordinary success story when it comes to refugees making their way in a new country. The West Australian recently ran a feature article  where Akech and Mangar talked about their extraordinary sporting and community achievements. Mangar will head to the Rio Olympics in June as a champion sprinter and Akech is the first African woman to play for Western Australia’s State AFL team.

Both pay tribute to their mother who has guided and helped them through some of the darkest times in their life to a brighter future in Australia.

“The pain of unnecessary death is wielding great power in the young lives of people such as Akech Makur Chuot.

The 23-year-old’s father, a chief in the South Sudanese village of Pagarau, was killed by rebels in a hail of machinegun bullets barely a month after she was conceived. He died unaware his daughter was on her way.

Her mother managed to take her daughter and seven siblings across the border to a Kenyan refugee camp and eventually to their new life in WA. While her father’s leadership genes inspired a desire to make a difference, it was the rawness of a recent murder in Makur Chuot’s new hometown which accelerated that quest.

When her 17-year-old friend Kuol Akut was allegedly murdered during a brawl at a Girrawheen party in February, it was a violent incident like so many others blighting the lives of young African immigrants who should have been on their way to a more promising future.

But Makur Chuot and a pack of her Perth peers are compiling compelling resumes through sport and acts of social conscience, anxious to role model positive ways of life.”

You can read the full article here.

Akech and her family
Akech with her Mother and brother Mangar