The weatherman informs me we are in for a heat wave, which I don’t mind. It’s the humidity wave that kills me.

“Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.”
Sam Keen

As I get older my summer activies have become more and more respectful.

Another quote I really like is by Desmond Morris:

“Life is like a very short visit to a toyshop between birth and death.”

Being an Atheist I believe we only get one shot at life. We should try to wring as much joy out of it as we can.

1) Here are two vidoes that I hope will lift your spirits and make you laugh

a) Members of the Great Whale Conservancy find a humpback whale near death – entangled in fishing gear in the Sea of Cortez. They cut the whale free from the net, an act requiring great courage on the part of rescuers and great trust on the part of the whale. The result is spectacular – the whale clearly thanks its human benefactors.

b) A kitten testing its hunting skills against the wild Apple monsters.

2) Too many, for far too long, the circumstances of their lives don’t bring them much joy.

“An internally displaced Somali family are seen outside their makeshift shelter at the Hiran IDP settlement in Galkayo, northwest of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu. Galkayo hosts over 60,000 internally displaced Somalis in 21 settlements and there are always new arrivals due to the prolonged drought.”

Photo by Thomas Mukoya/Reuters

American has had, and still has, its share of homeless refugees, as Woody Guthrie reminds us.

3) We all need the hope that our world can be better. For people living in desperate conditions that usually means someone reaching out a caring hand. Conditions don’t get more desperate than the killing fields of 1970 Cambodia.

Muoy You was one of the lucky ones who did survive that hell. Now she is reaching out her hand to try to help her countrymen.

From an article in the Christian Science Monitor series, People Making A Differnce” http://tinyurl.com/3ckpeon

Muoy grew up poor in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, during the Vietnam War. “We lived in a squatters’ shack, but I loved learning and I did well in school,” she recalls.

In 1972 she won a scholarship to study in France. It would save her from Pol Pot’s killing fields, where her parents and siblings were among the 2 million dead. She spent the next two decades in exile, raising a family and working as a teacher in Africa and the Middle East.

Now Muoy wants to transform the prospects of other Cambodian families by giving children of low-income cleaners, laborers, farmers, and tuk-tuk (motorized rickshaw) drivers a high-quality education.

“I don’t just want to teach them to read and write,” she stresses. “I want them to become professionals, writers, thinkers, artists – to make their country proud.”

In Cambodia today, few students have that chance; most have access only to basic education. So upon returning home to Phnom Penh in 2003, Muoy set up the Seametrey Children’s Village, a private initiative. She mortgaged a property she owned abroad, bought a small plot of land, and converted a run-down hut on it into a classroom.

“A school is just a building,” she notes. “It’s the resources that matter.”

Courteous and fluent in English, Muoy modestly calls herself “an obscure woman with dreams bigger than herself.” She started with a handful of young children – those of neighbors and acquaintances.

She ditched the rote learning that is common at crowded government schools and instead set about helping children discover the joys of learning by themselves in a free-spirited environment. “You shouldn’t just stick children behind desks,” Muoy explains. “You need to help them retain their childlike curiosity and spontaneity.”

“Parents pay according to their means. The poorest pay nothing; some pay small sums they can afford. Expatriates and better-off locals pay the full monthly fee of $290.

“A school like this would have been beyond our dreams,” says Ang Kim, a tuk-tuk driver whose two young daughters study in Seametrey. He can’t pay, but he volunteers as a security guard on Sundays.

Currently, the school has 80 students, from toddlers to teens. They learn in small groups from nursery through primary school. Whether from dirt-poor villages, urban slums, or well-heeled Phnom Penh homes, they’re treated alike – and are expected to treat one another alike, too.”

“Seametrey is a visionary project [aimed at] regenerating Cambodians’ self-respect and integrity,” says Elia Van Tuyl, a retired businessman in Palo Alto, Calif, who runs the Friends of Cambodia charity. “It seeks to attack poverty by addressing its psychological, educational, and cultural roots.

After just two years at Seametrey, young Samreth now speaks fluent English. “He’s a bright boy with leadership and oratory skills remarkable for his age,” Muoy says.

“I’m very happy for my grandchildren,” says Tes Kamsan, the boy’s grandmother. “They’ll have a much better life than their mother and I had.”

Muoy is certain of that. She points to a flowery vine in her garden. From its pot the plant has climbed all the way up to her fourth-floor balcony.

“That is my analogy for education,” she explains. “Place children in fertile soil, and they’ll blossom and flourish!”

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