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Hunched over on the bench,
The old man sits.
His shoulders droopy
And those once toned legs,
Hang stringy and wrinkled.
Battered knees, hips replaced,
He’s in no hurry.

Peering out from
Beneath the silver fringe,
His eyes meet mine.
“Wanna swap places?”

Gasping for breath,
Almost choking on saliva,
My feet slam the ashpalt
And my lungs protest.

I hold his gaze.
“Sure!” I say. “Why not?”


It’s been a tough week in the USA. A series of “unrelenting” heatwaves rolled across the country, leading to widespread power outages, destroying crops, causing roads to buckle and drawing attention once again to the polarising topic of climate change. Health officials believe the oppressive heat has contributed to at least 36 deaths, and while everyone agrees that the situation is a cause for concern, the debate about whether or not this weather event is part of a broader, pernicious trend or simply a ‘natural’ phenomenon, is still raging.

Worlds away, in the mountainous land of Nepal, the problem seems to be much simpler. And perhaps even starker. This weekend, at the TEAR Australia national conference, I heard Ben, a former aid and development field worker in Nepal, give a short talk about climate change. In 2008, Ben went to live in the Himalayan nation with his wife and two children, making it their home for more than three years. During that time they worked with several local organisations that were assisting poor, rural communities to build dignified lives against the harsh backdrop of unrelenting poverty.
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I believe.
At least, think I believe,
I believe I believe
And I know I want to believe.

But sometimes the very thought
Of belief
Is unbelievable.
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Harbour Bridge.

Nice view: one of the advantages of being back in Sydney.

“It’s good to have you back.”

They’re nice words and I’ve been blessed to hear them a lot lately, as I’ve caught up with friends and family members at all sorts of social gatherings, parties and catch-ups.

“Yeah, it’s great to be back,” I always respond.

And I mean it. Every time. After a 12-month absence, there are few things better than seeing friendly smiles on familiar faces and hearing equally friendly and familiar voices, without the distortion of Skype or the delay of an international call. It’s also nice to see leafy neighbourhoods, filled with grassy parks and tall gum trees, and to hear cockatoos screeching and kookaburras cackling. And jogging along the Parramatta River is great way to end the dat. Yes, it’s great to be back.

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The backpack in happier times.

The taxi driver popped the boot open without moving from his seat and Leo and I shoved our backpacks in. After a 26-hour bus trip, we were finally back in Santiago. We had been on the road for almost three weeks and it was nice to be back among the city’s familiar landmarks. The statue of the Virgin Mary perched above the San Cristobal Hill glowed spotlight white against the dark outline of the Andes while the Mapocho River trickled a silent welcome.

But as well as being excited, we were also weary. It was approaching 1am and most of the city had already fallen asleep. We wanted to join them as soon as possible.

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Colourful character: The only time Marcelo wasn’t smiling was when I asked to take his photo.

Making my way along the path leading down from the lookout on Valparaíso’s Artillery Hill (Cerro Artilleria), I am stopped in my tracks by an unexpected question. With his eyes fixed on me, a small man in a large, beige jacket addresses me in stilted English.

“Where are you froh…?” he asks, a disarming smile spreading across his face. “Germany?”

“No,” I reply in Spanish. “Soy australiano.”

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Copiapó Airport

“Welcome to Copiapó,” said the flight service manager as the plane taxied towards the small terminal.

It’s always nice when the pilot manages to execute a safe landing but this time I wasn’t very impressed. In fact I was quite annoyed. The service had been fine, the in-flight entertainment was surprisingly funny and the biscuits we were given were rather tasty. But I didn’t want to be in Copiapó.

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