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This Woman Is A Living Example Of Being The Change You Wish To See In The World

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Zooming along the dusty red country lanes of Cambodia every morning on her little moped headed towards the children’s village that she founded and runs, retired school teacher Sue Wiggans cuts a formidable figure. “I’m a Hell’s Angel biker granny” she jokes, and yet as the children rush out to greet her with hugs, kisses and such palpably genuine love and excitement, she seems more like the warm loving matriarch of a big, beautiful family of children who, thanks entirely to her dedication, commitment and efforts, are being given a chance at a better childhood and a brighter future. Here Sue tells us in her own words how she came to swap her comfortable life on the Isle of Wight for the rural outskirts of Siem Reap.

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1014033_639803766044953_370948242_nWhen did you first visit Cambodia and what was it that inspired you to found Honour Village?

I first visited Cambodia in February 2009. I asked my guide to arrange a visit to a children’s project. Whilst there, a child tried to say something to me, but I was unable to understand him until my guide came over and told me the child wanted to say: “best wishes all the time.”

I returned the following winter to volunteer. I taught the children for seven weeks, and loved the experience. During the year, I had responded to a plea for funding to buy land for a permanent home for the children. Sadly, right at the end of my stay I discovered, quite by chance, that the project was being mismanaged.

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I returned after a month to try to sort out this sorry state of affairs and help the director to put his house in order. It soon emerged that he had no intention of doing anything to mend his ways. We discovered that the money I had sent had not been used to buy land. On closer investigation half of the children, turned out to be family members or friends of the director, and the others were brought in from the villages for the benefit of visiting tourists.Picture 040

At this point of despair a truly astonishing chain of coincidences happened. If any one of the links in the chain had not been there, then I would not now be living in Cambodia. As a Christian, I believe that coincidences are sometimes God-incidences, and I still stand in awe at what has happened in the last four years. I was invited to meet with H.E. Seang Nam, the Member of Parliament for Siem Reap. He listened to my story and offered to give land and that if I came and founded a project, he would put his name on the land. Within a couple of days, I knew I would come to live in Cambodia.

How many children do you look after, how do they come to you and what are your criteria for taking in a new child?

For the last year, we have had a residential family of 53 children. We have also been blessed with a highly experienced consultant social worker from the UK, who has been working with us for six months. A colleague joined her for two months, and they both plan to return on a regular basis, to help Honour Village and other NGOs in the vital work of reintegration. Some of the children may be able to return to their villages in the future, and others will live with us until they are ready for independence, having been supported through further education and a period of transition. During this time they will learn life skills and have regular visits from our social work team, which is set to expand very soon.

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Can you give us any case studies regarding some of the children that you have with you at present? (Names and ages have been altered to protect identity)

Q., 22 months, was brought to us by his father, who was at the time very ill with both HIV and TB. At the time he was the sole carer and the situation was very urgent. Q. settled happily with a dedicated housemother as his care-giver, and grew into a happy and highly intelligent little boy. His father recovered and found work and visited whenever he could. Each time his father visited it was clear that there was a strong and loving bond between them. Eventually, Q. was able to return home when an aunt offered to look after him while his father was at work.

J., 11 years, will continue to live as a member of our resident family because his only care-giver, unrelated, is not only unable to give care, but is also violent and addicted to rice wine. It would not be safe for J. to return back to his village, but he will visit a friend in the village in the company of one of our social workers three times a year, and spend the holidays with a staff family.

Can you talk us through an average day at Honour Village?

Picture 214Honour Village began as a residential home for children who were unable to remain in their villages because of extreme poverty together with family problems such as addiction and domestic violence. Our main project is now Honour Village School. We provide Khmer (Cambodian language), English, maths and computer classes freely to all local children in our commune. Our English (with maths) classes are taught by a Khmer teacher and a group of volunteers, both Khmer and western.

We have 350 children on roll, although irregular attendance is still a problem in a rural community where rice is planted and harvested and other chores and local ceremonies take place. We also serve a simple snack both morning and afternoon to the children.

On Sundays, boys and girls go into town if they wish to play or cheer on the football teams in inter-NGO matches arranged by Globalteer.

How do you ensure the growth, development and welfare of the resident children?

Our resident family is cared for by seven Khmer housemothers. There are currently three homes for boys and one for girls. Very soon we plan to partition one home so that siblings can live together as a family.

Every resident child eats three good meals a day, and their improved health and energy are a result. They receive free care at the Angkor Children’s Hospital and we take them to a private dentist once a year. Our social workers have now been trained in direct work with children – using a small playhouse and people, Khmer style furniture and accessories. This work is in its initial stages, but already the children are asking to have a turn with the house, and to come back for a further session. Direct work enables a child to look at previously hidden feelings and memories and to express emotions that have been repressed. It also enables the social worker to understand more about the child’s wishes and dreams of bonding and family relationships.

Cambodia is a largely Buddhist nation, what elements of the local and Buddhist culture do you encourage at Honour Village and how do you feel it benefits the children?

For almost three years we had meditation as a family every weekday, now I have introduced a one-minute meditation before each kindergarten class begins. It is amazing how these small children come into class and immediately sit with their hands upturned on their knees, waiting for our meditation bell to sound. All of our children are Buddhist, and meditation is part of the Buddhist tradition. Not only does meditation lead a child further into his/her birth tradition and philosophy; it also is good for self-discipline and can enable greater self-awareness.

Our resident children live in as similar a way as we can provide to match that of their home in the village. By keeping our life style as local as possible, we are looking to the future when our children will return to a local setting; so we guard against western influence as far as we can so that the transition will be easier. There would be no benefit, even if we had the funding, in providing facilities that only the best paid employees could ever attain to; the reality is that there are never enough highly paid jobs for those who would like them. For any of our children who do well in life, it will be a step up; for most of them, there will not be a step down if we do things the local way.

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What paths can the children take once they have reached the age where they should move on from Honour Village and how are you facilitating this transition?

During the next three or four years we plan to provide at least one opportunity for vocational training on site, and we are already liaising with other NGOs and the youth employment service so that we have other links ready for when our oldest children leave school. They may decide to study until they are older than normal school leaving age (18 years) as they are almost all behind with their studies, having had disrupted schooling, or having been promoted beyond their understanding in their former schools. Any student who passes Grade 12 and wants to go to university will be sponsored for a course of their choice.

Why did you choose the name Honour Village?

The name Honour Village seemed a good name for a project that had sprung out of corruption, because of the gift of land. This gift enables us to build permanent structures, which is not recommended on rented land. We are very blessed indeed to have it. Our motto is Truth – Transparency – Integrity. Our vision is to provide communities with opportunities for change through education. Our logo is an open lotus flower, which again symbolizes purity and truth, as well as being a symbol of Buddhism.

How can people get involved in the work you are doing at Honour Village Cambodia?

Picture 026People can help to spread awareness of our work. They can arrange donations which can be put through the Virgin Giving page on our website. www.honourvillage.org

We welcome volunteers for a minimum of two months, to work in our school either as assistant teachers or as play-leaders. We do not accept casual visitors, but if a sponsor or potential sponsor is in town, then we are very happy to welcome them for discussion and a brief look around the village. Visitors might consider bringing good used laptops, books, jigsaw puzzles, educational toys or cotton clothing in their luggage.

You mentioned corruption in small privately run orphanages or charities. How can people ensure their time or money is going to worthy, credible and trustworthy causes?

If you want to give either your time as a volunteer, or your money as a sponsor, I think you need to look for the following things:

  1. Transparency and a willingness to answer any questions you may have on any subject.
  2. A good Child Protection Policy that must be read, understood and signed by anyone who is on site for more than a short visit. Visitors must be accompanied at all times by a member of staff or volunteer.
  3. All volunteers should have had background checks, carry current police checks, and provide evidence of these.
  4. No volunteer should be doing work that could be done by a local employee. Do not agree to work in a residential project where you are asked to do child care work that should be given by local women employed and trained as housemothers. If you and others give children basic care on a short-term basis, this may affect the children’s abilities to make lasting relationships. The best volunteering positions are those in which the volunteer is enabling local staff to increase their skills and autonomy.
  5. There should be accounts that are available for you to look through without feeling rushed. Preferably accounts should be audited.
  6. Be wary if a project appears very poor and short of funding. Be very wary if a director tells you there is no money. Sadly, many small projects deliberately keep their children looking poor and badly dressed in order to win sympathy. It is tempting to choose a seemingly underfunded project over a better-presented one, thinking that your money will do more good. It is very unlikely that you will be the only person moved to help a poor project, and you need to ask yourself what benefits the children have been receiving from other peoples’ funding. If you become a regular sponsor, then expect to see the difference your funding has made on your next visit, or photographic evidence. Gifts such as school notebooks may be used for the children, or they may be returned to the market. This applies to any saleable items.
  7. Ask to see some old photos of the project’s children, and see how many you can identify – sometimes children are brought in from the villages especially for the tourists, and their stay is temporary, during the high season. However, if there is a no-photo policy, it is probably a good sign.
  8. Notice what sort of transport the director uses. If he drives a Lexus, ask yourself what salary he is paying himself! Is this reflected in the accounts?

What are your hopes and aspirations for the future of Honour Village Cambodia?

To increase the skills and abilities of the Khmer staff and assistants in teaching, child care, social work and a range of other areas; to encourage a sustainable model and provide excellent, safe and loving care in our homes and excellent education in our school; to enable as many children as possible to re-enter their families or home villages on a safe and successful basis; to ensure that the children continue their development, and have vocational training opportunities, or a university education, followed by employment; to provide adult education as local people desire, probably in sustainable agriculture and fish rearing.

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How does founding Honour Village and its subsequent growth make you feel?

Honored, privileged, awed, excited, tired, relieved, busy and quietly confident for the future.

As someone who is embodying the ‘Be the Change you Hope to See in the World’ motto, what advice would you give to others aspiring to live by this principle?

We cannot change the world, but we can change ourselves in many ways. Our strengths and weaknesses affect other people. I like to try to live with an open heart and mind, so that I am available to change even when it feels uncomfortable.

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Thank you so much for your time and for being an inspiration to others.

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Vancouver Council Votes Against Mandatory Mask Mandate: They’re Not Required

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Vancouver, Canada will not have a required mask policy in civic facilities, and instead will simply recommend that people wear them.

  • Reflect On:

    Should governments recommend what they feel we should do and present the science instead of forcing certain measures on the population that many people and health professionals clearly disagree with?

What Happened: The city of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada will not mandate masks inside city buildings and will “strongly encourage” people to wear them instead. This is a bold move as many cities across the globe have mandatory mask measures in place.

The proposal by Counc. Sarah Kirby-Yung, which would have required masks inside city buildings, was opposed by more than a dozen speakers who pleaded with the city council to vote against it.

“Please consider our forefathers fought for our freedom, and if we release that choice, it’s the first step towards a dictatorship,” said one speaker according to City News. “Masks are used as weapons and they have certainly been used as weapons against me and others to silence and marginalize us and it’s not fair.”

According to Coun. Christine Boyle, public health experts encourage wearing masks, but a mandatory policy is not needed.

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Positive Association Found Amongst COVID Deaths & Flu Shot Rates Worldwide In Elderly

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A recently published paper has found a positive association between COVID-19 deaths and influenza vaccination rates in elderly people worldwide.

  • Reflect On:

    Why does vaccine hesitancy continue to grow worldwide? What's going on? What information/factors are contributing to this hesitancy?

What Happened: A recently published study in PeerJ  by Christian Wehenkel, a Professor at Universidad Juárez del Estado de Durango in Mexico, has found a positive association between COVID-19 deaths and influenza vaccination rates in elderly people worldwide.

According to the study, “The results showed a positive association between COVID-19 deaths and IVR (influenza vaccination rate) of people ≥65 years-old. There is a significant increase in COVID-19 deaths from eastern to western regions in the world. Further exploration is needed to explain these findings, and additional work on this line of research may lead to prevention of deaths associated with COVID-19.”

To determine this association, data sets from 39 countries with more than half a million people were analyzed.

The study was published on October 1st, and two weeks later a note from the publisher appeared atop the paper emphasizing that correlation does not equal causation, and that this paper “should not be taken to suggest that receiving the influenza vaccination results in an increased risk of death for an individual with COVID-19 as there may be confounding factors at play.”

The paper provides evidence from others which have recently been published that ponder if the flu shot could increase ones chance of contracting and dying from COVID-19.

For example, this study published in April of 2020, reported a negative correlation between influenza vaccination rates (IVRs) and COVID-19 related mortality and morbidity. Marín-Hernández, Schwartz & Nixon (2020) also showed epidemiological evidence of an association between higher influenza vaccine uptake by elderly people and lower percentage of COVID-19 deaths in Italy, which directly contradicts the author’s own findings and suggests that the flu shot may help prevent COVID-19 related deaths.

He goes on to mention another study:

In a study analyzing 92,664 clinically and molecularly confirmed COVID-19 cases in Brazil, Fink et al. (2020) reported that patients who received a recent flu vaccine experienced on average 17% lower odds of death. Moreover, Pawlowski et al. (2020) analyzed the immunization records of 137,037 individuals who tested positive in a SARS-CoV-2 PCR. They found that polio, Hemophilus influenzae type-B, measles-mumps-rubella, varicella, pneumococcal conjugate (PCV13), geriatric flu, and hepatitis A/hepatitis B (HepA-HepB) vaccines, which had been administered in the past 1, 2, and 5 years, were associated with decreased SARS-CoV-2 infection rates.

So, its important to mention that correlations between the flu vaccine have also found that it may decrease ones chance of deaths from COVID-19.

But are there studies that have shown an increased chance of death or contracting other respiratory viruses as a result of getting the flu shot? Yes.

That’s also discussed in the paper. For example, he mentions a paper published in 2018:

In a study with 6,120 subjects, Wolff (2020) reported that influenza vaccination was significantly associated with a higher risk of some other respiratory diseases, due to virus interference. In a specific examination of non-influenza viruses, the odds of coronavirus infection (but not the COVID-19 virus) in vaccinated individuals were significantly higher, when compared to unvaccinated individuals (odds ratio = 1.36).

The study above found the flu shot to increase the risk of other coronaviruses among those who had been vaccinated for influenza by 36 percent. The study was conducted prior to COVID-19, so it’s not included and only applies to pre-existing coronaviruses. The study also found an even higher chance of contracting human metapneumovirus amongst those who had received the flu shot.

Below are some more studies regarding the flu shot and viral infections that hint to the same idea.

  • 2018 CDC study (Rikin et al 2018) found that flu shots increase the risk of non-flu acute respiratory illnesses (ARIs), including coronavirus, in children.
  • A 2011 Australian study (Kelly et al 2011) found that flu shots doubled the risk for non-flu viral lung infections.
  • 2012 Hong Kong study (Cowling et al 2012) found that flu shots increase the risk for non-flu respiratory infections by 4.4 times.
  • 2017 study (Mawson et al 2017) found vaccinated children were 5.9 times more likely to suffer pneumonia than their unvaccinated peers.

Why This Is Important: We live in an age where vaccinations are heavily marketed. We’ve seen this with the flu shot time and time again and we are also living in an age where a push for more mandated vaccines seems to be growing.

Dr. Peter Doshi is an associate editor at The BMJ (British Medical Journal) and also an assistant professor of pharmaceutical health services research at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. He published a paper in The BMJ titled “Influenza: Marketing Vaccines By Marketing Disease.”  In it,  he points out that the CDC pledges “to base all public health decisions on the highest quality of scientific data, openly and objectively derived,” and how this isn’t the case when it comes to the flu vaccine and its marketing. He stresses that “the vaccine may be less beneficial and less safe than has been claimed, and that “the threat of influenza seems to be overstated.”

This is a touchy subject that dives into medical ethics and the connections that big pharmaceutical companies have with our federal health regulatory agencies and health associations. Vaccines are a multi billion dollar industry.

At a recent World Health Organization conference on vaccine safety, it was expressed that vaccine hesitancy is growing at quite a fast pace, especially among doctors who are now becoming hesitant to recommend certain vaccines on the schedule. You can read more about that and find links to the conference here.

We have to ask ourselves, why is this happening? Is it because people and professionals are becoming aware of certain information that warrants the freedom of choice? Should freedom of choice with regards to what we put in our body always remain? Are we really protecting the “herd” by taking these actions?

In a 2014 analysis in the Oregon Law Review by New York University (NYU) legal scholars Mary Holland and Chase E. Zachary (who also has a Princeton-conferred doctorate in chemistry), the authors show that 60 years of compulsory vaccine policies “have not attained herd immunity for any childhood disease.” It is time, they suggest, to cast aside coercion in favor of voluntary choice.

When it comes to the flu shot, I put more information and science as to why so many people seem to refuse it, in this article if interested.

The University of California is currently being sued for mandating the flu shot for all staff, faculty and students. A judge has prevented them from doing so as a result until a decision has been made. You can read more about that here.

In South Korea, 48 people have now died after receiving the flu shot this season causing a lot of controversy. You can read more about that here.

The Takeaway: There are many concerns with vaccines, and vaccine injury is one of them. The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act has paid more than $4 billion to families of vaccine injured children. A 2010 HHS pilot study by the Federal Agency for Health Care Research (AHCR) found that 1 in every 39 vaccines causes injury, a shocking comparison to the claims from the CDC of 1 in every million.

Should these statistics alone warrant the freedom of choice? Should the government have the ability to force us into measures, or would it simply be better for them to present the science, make recommendations and urge people to follow them? When the citizenry is forced and coerced into certain actions, sometimes under the guise of good-will, there always seems to be a tremendous amount of uproar and people who disagree. Why are these people silenced? Why are they censored? Why are they ridiculed? Why don’t independent health organizations receive the same voice and reach that government and state “owned” or organizations do? What’s going on here? Do we really live in a free, open and transparent world or are we simply subjected to massive amounts of perception manipulation?

When it come to the flu shot there is plenty of information on both sides of the coin that point to its effectiveness, and on the other hand there is information that points to the complete opposite. When something is not 100 percent clear, freedom of choice in all places should always remain, in my opinion.

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Some South Korean Doctors & Politicians Call To Stop Flu Shots After 48 People Die

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The number of South Koreans who have died after getting flu shots has risen to 48, but health authorities in South Korea have found no link between the vaccine and the deaths.

  • Reflect On:

    Is the flu shot as safe as it's marketed to be?

What Happened: It’s that time of year and flu shot programs are rolling out across the globe. The number of South Koreans who have died after getting the flu shot has now risen to 48 and some South Korean doctors and politicians have called to stop flu shots as a result, according to Reuters. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) has decided not to stop the program, and that flu vaccines would continue to be given and will reduce the chance of having simultaneous epidemics in the era of COVID-19.

Health authorities in South Korea have explained that they’ve found no direct link between these deaths and the shots. KDCA Director Jeong Eun-kyung said, “After reviewing death cases so far, it is not the time to suspend a flu vaccination programme since vaccination is very crucial this year, considering…the COVID-19 outbreaks.”

According to Reuters, “Some initial autopsy results from the police and the National Forensic Service showed that 13 people died of cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and other disorders not caused by the vaccination.”

The South Korean government is hopeful to vaccinate approximately 30 million of the country’s 54 million people.

Concerns Some People Have With The Flu Shot: One concern many people seem to have is the worry of a severe adverse reaction.

Dr. Alvin Moss, MD and professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine emphasizes in this video:

The flu vaccine happens to be the vaccine that causes the most injury in this country. The vaccine injury compensation program, 40 percent of all vaccinations in this country are flu shots, but 60 percent of all the compensations are for the flu vaccine. So a disproportionate number of  vaccine related injuries are the flu shot.

Moss is one of many who believe that the flu vaccine is not as effective as it’s been marketed to be. For example,  A study recently published in Global Advances In Health & Medicine titled “Ascorbate as Prophylaxis and Therapy for COVID-19—Update From Shanghai and U.S. Medical Institutions outlines the following:

Recently outlined A recent consensus statement from a group of renowned infectious disease clinicians observed that vaccine programs have proven ill-suited to the fast-changing viruses underlying these illnesses, with efficacy ranging from 19% to 54% in the past few years.

Dr. Peter Doshi is an associate editor at The BMJ (British Medical Journal)  published a paper in The BMJ titled “Influenza: Marketing Vaccines By Marketing Disease.”  In it,  he points out that the CDC pledges “to base all public health decisions on the highest quality of scientific data, openly and objectively derived,” and how this isn’t the case when it comes to the flu vaccine and its marketing. He stresses that “the vaccine may be less beneficial and less safe than has been claimed, and that “the threat of influenza seems to be overstated.”

These are just a few examples out of many claiming that the flu shot has not really been effective, opposing others that claim it is.  Mercury that’s still present in some flu shots also seems to be a concern.

The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act has paid more than $4 billion to families of vaccine injured children. A 2010 HHS pilot study by the Federal Agency for Health Care Research (AHCR) found that 1 in every 39 vaccines causes injury, a shocking comparison to the claims from the CDC of 1 in every million.

Professor Heidi Larson, a Professor of Anthropology and the Risk and Decision Scientist Director at the Vaccine Confidence Project stated at a World Health Organization (WHO) conference that more doctors are starting to be hesitant when it comes to recommending vaccines.

The other thing that’s a trend, and an issue, is not just confidence in providers but confidence of health care providers, we have a very wobbly health professional frontline that is starting to question vaccines and the safety of vaccines. That’s a huge problem, because to this day any study I’ve seen… still, the most trusted person on any study I’ve seen globally is the health care provider…

This is no secret, and actions against mandates are being taken. The University of California was recently sued for making the flu shot mandatory. That trial will begin soon, and you can read more about it here, and find information regarding the claim that the flu shot can help in the times of COVID-19.

The Takeaway: We are living in an age of extreme censorship of information, no matter how credible or how much evidence is provided, information that goes against the grain always seems to receive a harsh backlash from mainstream media as well as social media outlets. Why is there a digital fact checker patrolling the internet? Should people not have the right to examine information openly and freely and determine for themselves what is and what isn’t?

As far as vaccines are concerned, despite the fact that there are many safety issues the scientific community  is bringing up, a push for vaccine mandates continues and the idea that we are protecting other people is usually the narrative that’s pushed hard. Vaccine skepticism is growing at a fast pace among people of all professions, and people aren’t stupid. There’s a reason why more and more people are starting to question what we’ve been told for years, and those reasons should be acknowledged and openly discussed amongst people on both sides of the coin.

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