Dying for an education
By John Norgrove
Life gets more depressing sometimes.
Lorna has just passed me the news that a head teacher of the Parak girls’school in Lagar province of Afghanistan, Khan Mohammed, has been executed and his son wounded by Taliban gunmen. His crime had been that he had continued to teach girls after ignoring warnings to stop.
When the Taliban were in control there was a ban on education for women. Female literacy rates in Afghanistan are 12 per cent.
It’s guys such as Khan Mohammed who are the heroes of this story. Linda always said that aid workers such as herself were there because they wanted to be, they had regular R&R breaks and, if it all got too much, they could leave.
Khan Mohammed had none of these options, but he did have the option of stopping teaching girls. I take my hat off to him and to his colleagues who continue to take these risks. Do we really have an option of taking away our support?
Our youngest daughter Sofie and her husband Matt have been super-busy fundraising this last month in Kilchrenan, near Oban, where they are based. They held a very successful general auction of more than 80 donated pieces and then, a week later, a fantastic ceilidh dance in Kilchrenan village hall, which we travelled down for. Our grandchildren have taken part in a sponsored fancy dress walk and now even their labrador has been pressed into service, shagging for the Foundation, as a stud. In all, more than £5,500 was raised. A big thank you to them and to all of those who donated, auctioned, sang, played guitar, cooked burgers or swept up.
Last week, Lorna and I travelled to Berne in Switzerland, courtesy of the UN, to receive a Green Star Award given to Linda for her environmental work within conflict zones from a group headed by the UNEP who coordinate emergency responses to environmental disasters globally. There is only one award in the individual category every two years and this is the first time that a posthumous award has been made, so it was quite an honour.
Age - and loo roll - test
And finally, here’s a test to determine whether you’re under or over 45 - does the word ‘Izal’ mean anything to you?
If it doesn’t, you’re under 45.
It was man’s first attempt at designing a toilet paper and it proved mightily ineffective for decades. It was hopeless for the task in hand, being made from a slippery, waxed, hard, inflexible type of heavyweight tracing paper. You get the idea. I suppose that it was difficult to poke your finger through, which was a bonus but maybe the designer, who was later confirmed to be an elder in the Free Presbyterian Church, focused on this element to the exclusion of other, more important, parameters.
Then we had soft toilet tissue. A step forward for mankind. But hopeless for blowing your nose on and not so good at the finger poking test so, in later years, as we became soft and risk averse, we tended to using several sheets which was terrible for the environment.
Now we have Andrex Gorgeous Comfort Quilts. This product is fantastic and I’m totally sold on it. I see that the Swiss have had a hand in the manufacture of this product, which doesn’t surprise me.
Lorna is not willing to risk it but I can confirm, after a month’s testing in all conditions, that one can manage, using reasonable caution, with just one sheet. So it is not only more comfortable, it is more economical, it is better for the environment and you can blow your nose on it with impunity.
The future. Remember you saw it here first.
Now I’m off to see if we can get a donation to our Foundation from the PR department of Andrex for product placement.