A message from Angela Bamblett (Ex-Chair of NYLESA)

 

Photo credit ~ Lin Qi

Dear NYLESA members,

As I leave New York City for the second time, I wanted to express my gratitude and say thank you to my NYLESA family. And I also wanted to share my thoughts as to why we need NYLESA. It’s not just for the coffee and cocktails.

A part of the UN Dual Career and Staff Mobility Programme (UN DC&SM), NYLESA is an association run by spouses for spouses to support each other and our families and thus the mission of the UN.

I initially arrived in NYC in October 2011. By March 2012 I was chair of a fledgling organization and part of an incredible steering committee who worked hard to build the organization we all enjoy today. We were fortunate to be building on the vision and foundations laid by Mayank and his team. Their foresight created a legacy, ensuring the organization’s longevity and stability. It has been wonderful to observe NYLESA grow and thrive under subsequent chairs and committees. Each leaving their own legacy and a stronger better organization for all of us.

It has also been a privilege to witness NYLESA members helping each other through the toughest of experiences. In addition to the obvious and significant challenges associated with settling into a new duty station, there have been more extreme experiences including Hurricane Sandy, bereavements, illnesses, marriage breakdowns, accidents and various other trials that have befallen us.

NYLESA is more than a career support program and a social group, it is a community. It takes the place of family and friends for those of us who are far from home.

The career support, special events and social gatherings deeply enriched my life here in NYC and that of my family. The highlight was getting to meet so many talented and interesting people. I treasure the life-long friendships, solidarity and special memories that being a part of NYLESA has made possible.

We need NYLESA to continue to advocate for, and support UN spouses and their families. To that end I encourage each and every member to make the commitment to actively participate, contribute and wholeheartedly support fellow members and those who have generously taken on more formal roles.

It is your organization and it is what you make it. Keep going. It’s worth it.

It was you that made New York home.

Thank you.

Angela Bamblett

What does Cape Town and Darfur have in common? SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation by Antonio Garcia

As someone born and raised in Cape Town, the water crisis has me questioning the impact of global climate change and reaffirming the importance of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 which aims to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. Although Sudan and South Africa are in disparate parts of the world the Cape Town drought made me question the situation in Darfur. I served as a peacekeeper in Darfur in 2010-2011 and I remember people regularly queuing at boreholes for drinking water. I never imagined that I would see the same thing in Cape Town.  

If you had asked me about the similarities of these two places 10 years ago I would have said that they have little to nothing in common with one another. The one, an international tourist destination, with its iconic Table Mountain, the wine country and beautiful beaches although not without its problems; and the other a place recovering from genocide, famine and mass atrocity. Despite the differences in location, climate change has proven to be a phenomenon which occurs without discrimination.

Global climate change affected the rainfall patterns in Darfur which led to a protracted drought. The violence in Darfur was in large caused by conflict and tensions between herder and nomadic peoples, associated with African and Arab groups respectively, who competed for declining water resources in Western Sudan. In the early 2000s, a wider conflict broke out in Darfur, an insurgency, which had broad political causes. The lack of water resources remained a central theme in the conflict, one that has still not been resolved. In the post conflict stage, access to water will no doubt remain a critical discussion point on the agenda.

I was deployed as a blue helmet in Darfur as part of United Nations African Union Hybrid Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). I was the combat engineer platoon commander for the South African Battalion deployed there and one of my main responsibilities was to ensure the survivability of our forces- in simpler terms, the purification and provision of water for UN troops. We were based in three locations, Malha, Mellit and Kutum. We had to rely on helicopters for transport as the three geographically removed areas did not have easy road communication.

Mellit, Darfur (Photo Credit to Jason MacDonald)

There was little to no surface water in all three of these locations and as a result we had to largely depend on the water table for our water supply. At approximately 400m from our base we had a borehole and water pump which we used to supply water to our contingent in Kutum. The water went through a process of purification before it was consumed by the soldiers. We ensured regular testing through working with the military environmental health section.

We ran a range of tests to ensure that the water was potable. We tested for various contaminants including nitrites and nitrates which are common in rural areas, especially from wells and boreholes. Water with high concentrations of nitrates and nitrites can result in methemoglobinemia.

Water testing in Malha, Darfur (Lieutenant Colonel (Major at the time) Jason MacDonald on the left and myself (a Captain at the time) on the far right and three assault pioneers between us)

The purification and provision of water to peacekeepers in Darfur was an operational necessity. When comparing our limited work in this distant war-torn region of the world to what is happening in Cape Town, a world class city with all the resources of a modern society, I can’t help but wonder at the future international effects of climate change and the potential political consequences.

SDG 6, which is to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, was largely thought to be applicable to people in rural areas. The water crisis in Cape Town was a clear indication that even modern urban centres can be vulnerable to the effects of climate change. In both contexts, Darfur and Cape Town, the responsibility for addressing the challenges of sustainable water management lies within governments, NGOs, IGOs, citizens and local authorities.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) as the provincial leadership in the Western Cape South Africa, as well as us, the citizens of Cape Town, must find solutions to our problems. Where the world has rallied around Cape Town and further developed a water research industry, the solution is, was and will be a practical one, which to some extent involves the grassroots level while considering strategic and global concerns. The DA inherited the problem and the issue was resolved. Where South Africa has always been a country with limited rainfall, we must move forward with the added pressure of global climate change to find sustainable South African solutions. While complex plans were put in place to avoid ‘Day Zero’ in Cape Town aided considerably by a wet winter; Darfur remains in a challenging condition with increased water shortages. UNAMID has put in a concerted effort to meet the challenge of water scarcity however in order to ensure sustainable management of water resources, long term and sustainable planning and investment is required. In looking forward we must consider how global climate change and the availability of clean water and sanitation could influence the first and developing world.

“How was your summer” series ~ Amazing Apulia by Paola Triolo

    

 

Last Summer I was invited to a wedding in Apulia. Apulia is the region which forms the heel of the Italian peninsula. It has amazing coastline, beautiful hills and stunning villages and cities without even mentioning the variety of food and how good it is. This visit was for me the first time.

Apulia, apart from being famous for its breathtaking landscape, is also renowned for its trulli. Trulli are cone shaped dwellings which dot the Itria Valley. The trullo (singular) is a structure whose internal space is covered by a dry stone vault. Most of the time these buildings were constructed for rural purposes and they used to be built as temporary shelters or, as permanent dwellings for small landowners or rural workers. There is also evidence that Trulli were already popular in Prehistoric time and they may have been used to bury deceased.

The oldest Trulli which can be found today are from the 16th century. Again, it is not clear why these buildings became so popular. One theory says that it could have been because of heavy tax laws in the 17th century. In fact, any permanent structure incurred a significant levy. Therefore, being able to topple the trulli with the removal of a single keystone when tax inspectors were in the area came very handy.
Apart from the very interesting history this dwelling has had it is an iconic element of the Apulian landscape. Everybody in Italy knows about trulli but nothing prepares you for their magnificence. I was already super excited when spotting them around in the countryside but arriving to Alberobello leaves you speechless. It’s a blaze, an outburst, and an apotheosis of Trulli. That is why Alberobello’s Trulli, in 1996, were declared UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Recently, Trulli have been very popular. While a few decades ago they were left in ruins, now they are restored into beautiful dwellings. Many of them remain parts of private houses, farms and estates but many have become restaurants, hotels, shops, etc. so that tourists can enjoy both their view and experience them. Therefore, if you ask me, I would suggest staying overnight in one of these buildings. Although it is touristy in Alborebello, it is also amazingly beautiful and it is really astonishing meandering and wandering through the little streets among 1000 trulli. But you can still experience the quiet Italian way of sitting outside your trullo talking to people next door while inviting the tourist inside a shop, restaurant, and/or bar. For the tourist it also remains an opportunity to see how these buildings are structured inside.

How was your summer ~ Annual Potluck at Lora’s in Milford, PA by Zein Dudha; Photo credits: Alexandre Tolipan

Every Year Lora and her husband Bernhard host a picnic / potluck event at their home in Milford Pennsylvania. This special event is one that we always look forward to as it gives us an excuse to get out of the city and the Milford area is always so peaceful and tranquil.

We have been there on 2 occasions, and each time thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The first time we took a bus, and the second time we rented a car, and made a weekend out of it, by staying with some other friends who also had a weekend retreat in nearby. Either way it usually takes around a couple of hours to get there.

Potluck events with a culturally diverse group are always exciting and I always love trying out new dishes. Bernhard is a very experienced grill-master who makes sure no one leaves hungry.

After the lunch one can always go on a hike or there are operators that do kayaking trips down the Delaware River. We are usually too full to do either.

 

  

 

 

 

1 2 3 16