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Restoring Devastated Landscapes and therefore Hope and Survival!

Being an alumna of Sydney University, I regularly receive the university’s alumni magazine and found recently the following article, which really inspired me!
Working to avoid looming hunger
21 September 2018
The humanitarian crises that most of us only read about are often witnessed firsthand by alumna Rosemary Morrow, as she travels the world to help refugees and displaced people grow food.
Rosemary Morrow
Alumna Rosemary Morrow.

In June this year, the Iraqi government banned the country’s farmers from planting their summer crops due to a disastrous water shortage. While the blame game played out in that damaged country, Rosemary Morrow (BSciAgri ’69) spent two weeks “on a vinyl sofa in sweaty Hanoi”, waiting for a visa to allow her to get over there and help.

It wouldn’t be her first visit to Iraq. But this time she had business near Mosul, the northern city so recently the scene of ISIL atrocities and of a merciless battle that had rendered it a virtual dust pile. Morrow had been asked to come and teach skills to a group of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) who were being sent back to their leveled neighbourhood.

“These are ordinary people just like us,” she explains. “Ordinary, good citizens now living with their families under canvas in a place that can be minus-15 degrees in winter and 50 degrees in summer.”

The skills that Morrow teaches are in permaculture, a term coined in Australia in the 1970s to describe a set of design principles for creating permanent, self-sustaining food production systems by mimicking nature’s ecosystems. The principles also apply to water, shelter, education and technology. It is, in effect, ecosystem rehabilitation with a social dimension.

This means Morrow could help the Iraqi farmers squeeze more out of their water-starved land, regenerating it in the process. “In Mosul, we’ll discuss food, water, housing, solar energy and feeling safe,” she says, with the assurance of someone who has confronted many similar situations. In fact, her dedication won her a 2017 Advance Global Award that recognises exceptional Australians working internationally.

Morrow started this work in Vietnam in the mid-1990s, when the Vietnamese government was establishing a program called Doi Moi, meaning ‘Reconstruction’. She was approached to make that trip by Quaker Service Australia, later becoming a Quaker herself, moved by the religion’s humanity, service and dedication to peace.

You must know that what you teach works. You can’t play with peoples’ lives when they’re hungry.

Rosemary Morrow

Thinking back to that first trip to Vietnam, Morrow realises what an ordeal it was. “It was as if the people were transitioning from one century to another,” she says. “We were in an old jeep with canvas seats, and the roads were terrible. Today the trip would take about three hours, but then it took us three days.”

She remembers always being sick with infections – stomach, eyes, ears – but says it was the same for the locals. She felt privileged to be among a people working for enduring peace, and remembers moments of transcendent beauty.

“There were no bridges, and so our jeep had just been pulled across a river on a raft,” she recalls. “Suddenly a bridal party arrived, all on bikes – the bride in white, sitting on the handlebars. They invited us to join them, and share their rice.”

Since those early trips, including one to Cambodia where she was caught up in a Khmer Rouge road ambush and someone in the vehicle ahead of her was killed, Morrow has crisscrossed the world at the invitation of humanitarian organisations and governments.

“Recently I’ve moved to the gift economy,” she notes. “I don’t accept money anymore. They pay accommodation, airfares and transport.”

Women in Kurdistan
No water, no toilets. Morrow says this Internally Displaced Persons’ camp in the middle of Kabul could offer much more to the people who have to live here.

Morrow has worked all over Africa, in Albania when its dictator fell, in Kashmir, and many times in Afghanistan, where she says the soil of the capital, Kabul, is yellow and lifeless. “You’d be shocked at how few plant species, including trees, there are in the cities of these countries and provinces,” she says with a note of despair.

Morrow recently worked in the Solomon Islands, invited there by the Solwata (Saltwater) people who live on the lagoons and have always fed themselves from the ocean. Now they are learning to farm instead of fish, because rising sea levels mean they must soon leave their lagoon homes.

“Everywhere I’ve been invited, the land and the people have been on the edge of immense changes,” she says.

Now Morrow herself is determined to create change. She is deeply distressed by the plight of refugees and IDPs – people who struggle with loss, violence and rejection by the international community – and she wants to do something about it.

“We can transform refugee camps from places of misery, enforced suffering, idleness and degradation of land and spirit into humane, integrated settlements for refugees, run by refugees,” she says.

Morrow knows this is possible. She is also aware there are plenty of government and other agencies that will throw up obstacles.

With characteristic frankness, Morrow tells SAM that she didn’t really like the agriculture degree she completed at the University in the late 1960s. It treated land as a commodity to be exploited, she says, rather than as a resource to be cherished. She was particularly horrified by classes in which students were taught the easiest ways to bring down the greatest number of trees.

As she planned a career working on cattle stations for the Department of Agriculture, she knew she wanted a very different relationship with the land, but she wasn’t aware of any alternatives. Then a friend suggested she look into this new thing called permaculture.

It was a turning point – and it also made Morrow look at her agriculture degree differently. “It gave me the biology, chemistry and physics evidence I needed,” she says. “And people took me seriously because I could talk about them and integrate them. Permaculture is really applying these sciences through design principles.”

Talking to Morrow on the phone, she has the voice of a teacher: modulated and precise. In person, her face gives away more of the joy of what she does, but also the frustrations and the disbelief of desperate situations that she knows need not exist.

She lives simply in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, and has transformed what were once the front and back lawns into a productive and wildlife-friendly permaculture garden, doing most of the work herself using mostly recycled materials. She plans to use the same approach in Mosul: teaching people how to treat the wreckage of their city as the building material for what will come next.

“You must know that what you teach works,” she says. “You can’t play with peoples’ lives when they’re hungry.”

After two weeks of waiting in Hanoi, Morrow had to get back to Australia to teach another course. On the way she attended a training course in France, visited some former students in the French Alps who are learning to be permaculture teachers, and took a side trip to work with a small but dynamic team from Greece, Italy, Spain and the Philippines who have started a program called Permaculture for Refugees.

At the time of writing, due to changes to Iraqi visa rules, Morrow still doesn’t have the visa she needs to get to Mosul. “I’m going back,” she says with a twinkle in her eye. “I’m not giving up.”

Written by George Dodd
Photography by Louise Cooper

Man’s continuous fateful choice!

Since the dawn of time, man has been at loggerhead with God’s appointed plan for mankind; namely to have a close relationship of dependence and obedience with Him. A choice was given, with clear warning as to the consequence of one of those two options; man chose to ignore that warning and to listen to another, who harboured sinister motives. Misrepresentations were made, deception used; all for the sake of takeover.

We have remained vulnerable to deception and stubbornly continue in our insistence of living independently, relying on our own ability to discern right from wrong and for making life choices.

Blessed are all who wait for Him! Waiting is in opposition to our own independent striving! The trouble with waiting on God is that to what is termed “natural man”, our unredeemed self, waiting on God equals “doing nothing”, “living in lala land”! So we stubbernly continue in our often self-created messes and, like the fly caught in the spider’s web and get more entangled as we do! I know, I have been there too!

Jesus said in John 3, verse 3: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born a]again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 

We have all heard the saying, some have even joked about it and turned it into a meaningless cliche. Nevertheless, if we are not willing to be “remade”, we will never be able to understand God’s spiritual language, which brings true life to us and which enables us to live life successfully, with the help of His infinite wisdom, readily available to us, as we learn TO WAIT ON HIM, learning to trust Him and knowing true peace, no matter what our circumstances look like!

Can’t you hear His tender compassion for you in the above verse? He cares deeply for you and me!


As unbelievable as it seems, today will determine whether we as a country, are facing another leadership spill! Sadly, it’s becoming a pattern in Australia! All for the sake of preserving party supremacy, by electing a candidate most likely to win the next election! As Turnbull’s increasing “liberal” (read “leftist”) policies have caused a rift in his party (therefore the powerful, increasing rise of conservatism), Dutton is becoming a viable alternative in some people’s minds, due to his uncompromising conservative stand.

My own thoughts are that a country will never prosper for long, no matter who may be in charge, whether liberal, conservative, labour, leftist or whatever. A country that increasingly abandons God (read Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords), is doomed to gradually disintegrate on all levels of governance and industry!

The leader that needs to be reinstated in Australia is God, through Jesus Christ, and heartfelt prayer needs to occur accordingly! This is a call to all believing Christians but also a warning based on biblibal “deja vu”!

Promises for Refugees and those who cannot find any human source of help

Psalm 107 New King James Version (NKJV)


Psalms 107–150

Thanksgiving to the Lord for His Great Works of Deliverance

107 Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His [a]mercy endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy,
And gathered out of the lands,
From the east and from the west,
From the north and from the south.

They wandered in the wilderness in a desolate way;
They found no city to dwell in.
Hungry and thirsty,
Their soul fainted in them.
6Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,                                                              And He delivered them out of their distresses.
And He led them forth by the right way,
That they might go to a city for a dwelling place.
Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
For He satisfies the longing soul,
And fills the hungry soul with goodness.


10 Those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death,
Bound[b] in affliction and irons—
11 Because they rebelled against the words of God,
And [c]despised the counsel of the Most High,
12 Therefore He brought down their heart with labor;
They fell down, and there was none to help.
13 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
And He saved them out of their distresses.
14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death,
And broke their chains in pieces.
15 Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
16 For He has broken the gates of bronze,
And cut the bars of iron in two.


17 Fools, because of their transgression,
And because of their iniquities, were afflicted.
18 Their soul abhorred all manner of food,
And they drew near to the gates of death.
19 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
And He saved them out of their distresses.
20 He sent His word and healed them,
And delivered them from their destructions.
21 Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
22 Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving,
And declare His works with rejoicing.


23 Those who go down to the sea in ships,
Who do business on great waters,
24 They see the works of the Lord,
And His wonders in the deep.
25 For He commands and raises the stormy wind,
Which lifts up the waves of the sea.
26 They mount up to the heavens,
They go down again to the depths;
Their soul melts because of trouble.
27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man,
And are at their wits’ end.
28 Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble,
And He brings them out of their distresses.
29 He calms the storm,
So that its waves are still.
30 Then they are glad because they are quiet;
So He guides them to their desired haven.
31 Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
32 Let them exalt Him also in the assembly of the people,
And praise Him in the company of the elders.


33 He turns rivers into a wilderness,
And the watersprings into dry ground;
34 A fruitful land into [f]barrenness,
For the wickedness of those who dwell in it.
35 He turns a wilderness into pools of water,
And dry land into watersprings.
36 There He makes the hungry dwell,
That they may establish a city for a dwelling place,
37 And sow fields and plant vineyards,
That they may yield a fruitful harvest.
38 He also blesses them, and they multiply greatly;
And He does not let their cattle decrease.

39 When they are diminished and brought low
Through oppression, affliction, and sorrow,
40 He pours contempt on princes,
And causes them to wander in the wilderness where there is no way;
41 Yet He sets the poor on high, far from affliction,
And makes their families like a flock.
42 The righteous see it and rejoice,
And all iniquity stops its mouth.

43 Whoever is wise will observe these things,
And they will understand the lovingkindness of the Lord.

My comment: I notice three main instructions here (I have emphasised them in the text);
1) We need to cry out to God, when in distress, recognising that he is our only hope. Usually we will try all other sources first.
2) Unlike the nine blind men who were healed, while on their way to present themselves to the priests, except for one who went back and thanked the Lord for his healing, we need to practice an attitude of gratitude, in general but especially towards our God.
3) Wisdom observes and recognises the lovingkindness of the Lord throughout the earth.
The enemy of our souls will get us to focus on the opposite; all the cruelty and evil of mankind, until we loose sight of God and his ongoing goodness!

Reminder: Nauru! Keep praying for peace and goodwill towards stranded refugees on Nauru

Without a shift in attitude, both from the people and authorities on Nauru and from Australian authorities, the fate of released refugees seems grim. They find themselves in a place with few opportunities, usually surrounded by a hostile community and deprived of their hopes and dreams. They need help, inspired and ordained by the God of the impossible! Let those of us who have experienced just such help in our own lives uphold these refugees, along the promises in Ps.9, verse 7-10.

Let’s Do Something About Human Trafficking in Australia!

The worldwide issue of human trafficking is very much at the forefront of my prayers and awareness. That it is also happening in Australia is all the more reason to take every action to eliminate it within our borders! Thank God for people like Paul Green, a Christian Democrat and Senator, and Caroly Houmes, the chief executive of International Justice Mission in Australia, who are dedicating their lives to do just that! They and others, are answers to many of our prayers!

Here is the article I found today:


You’d be shocked to learn how much modern-day slavery is going on in Australia. A NSW government report has revealed that in the 2016 financial year, the Australian Federal Police investigated 169 cases of modern slavery including forced marriage, sexual exploitation and child trafficking. Sadly many of these crimes weren’t prosecuted; witnesses often fear violence and refuse to give evidence. The NSW Police say there’s links between outlaw bikie gangs and trafficked sex workers, and every month the Department of Family and Community Services hears of at least two or three new cases of children at risk of underage forced marriage in NSW.

And, tragically, charities working at the coalface like the Salvation Army say the issue is under-investigated, in other words, things are even worse than the figures show. All of this is why Paul Green, a Christian Democrat and member of the upper house in NSW, introduced the Modern Slavery Bill on behalf of a team of campaigners called the Modern Slavery Working Group. If passed by the Parliament, the bill will make existing laws even stronger, and an anti-slavery Commissioner will be appointed to clamp down on forced labour and human trafficking in NSW.

Businesses will also be required to ‘slave-proof’ their supply chains to ensure ethical work practices in overseas manufacturing. In his speech while tabling the bill, Mr Green described human trafficking as a “transnational crime that preys on society’s most vulnerable.” He called on the NSW parliament to lead the way for Australia in eradicating slavery, and echoed the words of William Wilberforce, the 18th century hero of abolition, with the statement, ‘You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know’.

Speaking to Stephen O’Doherty on Hope 103.2s Open House, Mr Green said ‘modern slavery’ covers a wide gamut of crimes, including forced labour, servitude forced marriage, debt bondage, deceptive recruiting, and even organ trafficking. As if that list weren’t shocking enough, the newest crime to be added is cybersex trafficking. That’s the sexual abuse of children, live-streamed over the web for people to watch in Western countries, including Australia. Mr Green, who chaired a year-long enquiry into the issue, said he was surprised just how much trafficking happens under our noses.

“One of the reasons we called the enquiry was that we know human trafficking happens around the world to about 45.8 million people, and 4000 cases in Australia have been identified (emphasis mine), so it was very important to ask what’s happening in our state,” he said. “It opens your eyes.
I travelled to the USA and spoke with the FBI, the LAPD, Homeland Security and a lot of agencies, and it starts to open your eyes to what massage parlours are doing, what the nail salons are doing. You wonder about the workers in there. The hospitality area is not short of having people in slave-like conditions, they have to work all day, they’re not allowed to leave the shop.”

An anti-slavery commissioner would have the full-time job of helping stamp out the work of traffickers, and see vulnerable people not only rescued, but rehabilitated. The legislation calls for a compassionate approach to victims. The community also has a role to play in spotting the signs of human trafficking. “The commissioner would be in charge of education programs, teaching young people about the warning signs of human trafficking,” Mr Green said. “They would work co-operatively with potential suspected human trafficking issues, and prepare and publish an annual report to the parliament,” Mr Green said.

The bill has support from both the NSW government and the Opposition, and Mr Green hopes it will be passed by mid-2018. “If it stalls, it will be for political reasons, and I don’t think politics should interfere with trying to do this particular legislation,” he said. “This is above politics, it’s about helping people without a voice to be rescued and restored.” While Mr Green chaired the government committee for modern slavery, it is an issue being tackled by many passionate organisations and individuals, he said. “A lot of good people did a lot of good work on this and I’ve had the privilege to be the vessel to carry it. It is one of my passions.”

One of the many working hard behind the scenes on the issue is Caroly Houmes, the chief executive of International Justice Mission in Australia. She was at Parliament House to see the bill being tabled, and said she felt history was being made. “It was quite a moment how he addressed the issue, and there was a lot of support in the room,” she said. “So it felt like we were part of something that will change the course of history, because five or ten years ago this was a topic lots of people didn’t think about or didn’t know about.

“He just put the issue on the forefront of the NSW political agenda. He has made everyone very aware of what modern-day slavery is. What is significant for us at International Justice Mission is that it recognises cybersex trafficking as a form of modern-day slavery, making it the serious crime that it actually is, and how we in Australia contribute to the demand side of that. She said society cannot turn a blind eye to the evils of slavery. Slavery exists because we let it exist,” she said. “This bill introduces various solutions to how we can combat it together.”

Source: Hope 103.2