Monika Zak

first_imgThe Puma’s Daughter was finally published in 1986. The book was well-received in Sweden and abroad, wining several prizes for its commitment to a humanitarian cause. In 1991, Zak returned to Central America to help have her book made into a film. As the war in Guatemala was ongoing, filming had to be done in Mexico. Even so, Monica tells me it was a highly dangerous project. “We expected sabotage from the military in Guatemala because they didn’t want the story to be told. The military had come into Mexico from Guatemala to murder Guatemalan refugees before, so that was a danger. The project was kept very secret and every time a scene was completed, the roll of film was immediately sent away to Denmark.” Since then, the incredible risks taken by Monica and many others in completing the novel and film seem to have paid off. In response to the novel, an organisation called Colchaj Nac Luum (A rough translation from the Mayan language would be ‘Saved by land and freedom’) was set up in Sweden to raise money for the Mayan community Zak had written about. Almost all the money collected by the charity has been raised by Swedish school children, and has been spent on new homes, a secondary school and land for the Mayan community. The profits of every copy of The Puma’s Daughter sold in Guatemala also go towards the organisation. The novel has now become part of the Swedish syllabus and secondary school students across the country study both the novel and the film adaptation. In fact, though her works are read by children and adults alike, the majority of Zak’s novels are aimed more specifically at children and young adults. She explains that she likes to write for younger age groups because they have been so passionate in getting involved in the causes her work deals with. “If you write for grown-ups, it just doesn’t have the same impact,” she argues.Zak is also convinced of the enduring power of novels to effect change. And as far as her own work is concerned, she seems to have a strong case for her argument. In response to her novels, a student organisation called Elevorganisationen (Organisation of the Pupils) was established, which on the 6th of May each year organises Operation Dagsverke (Operation Day-Work). Pupils take the day off school to work, and the money raised is donated to a charity in a different country each year. Zak tells me that with the money they raised for El Salvador, three dozen new schools were built.Zak is keen to emphasise that despite the often very bleak issues she tackles in her writing, she and her works ultimately remain positive. She recalls in particular the hope she found in the children and young adults she met during her visit to El Salvador, some of whom were child soldiers, others political prisoners at just 11 years old, others orphaned by the war. “I was struck by their tragic and unbelievable lives, but also by their spark, their strength, their humour, their intelligence and their desire to live. They will never leave my memory,” she tells me. “I met a boy of fourteen who’d just been let out of prison. He told me about the terrible torture he’d suffered there, and then of his dreams of a future of peace, without torture, or children in prison. “I’ve written about war and torture, but it will always have some positive twist – it’s not completely black. I’ve found a lot of fantastic people and hope in the world, and I remain an optimistic person.” With authors like Monica Zak working to make a difference it seems that this hope is gradually being made reality. The Swedish journalist who exposed human rights atrocities to the world talks to Iona Bergius about torture, terrorism and life undercover Monica Zak first travelled to Latin America in 1965 on an old fishing boat. Since then she has travelled extensively across the continent, reporting, writing novels, and producing films about the child soldiers, genocide, drugs cartels, and racism which have blighted much of Latin America’s history. She has risked her life on more than one occasion while researching for her work, convinced of the power the pen can have in making a positive difference in the world. Of the fifty novels Zak has written to date, one of the best-known deals with the 36-year Guatemalan civil war. The novel centres around the true story of a young girl’s search to find her brother, who was kidnapped by government soldiers for supporting the guerrilla movement. Zak tells me about the long and dangerous journey which led her to write The Puma’s Daughter. In the early 1980s she met Marianela García Villas, a lawyer from El Salvador forced into exile after her defence for human rights had led to her attempted murder. Zak befriended Villas and the two decided to travel to El Salvador – then in the midst of a bitter twelve year civil war – to write a book about the government’s abuse of human rights. Zak is reluctant to talk about exactly what happened when she first arrived in El Salvador, and skims over the details. “I arrived in the capital and then Marianela and I met up in the countryside. But there was an army invasion and we lost contact. She was captured and tortured to death. I was never able to write the book because all the material was stolen – I returned only with my life.” She was forced to flee the country because when the military had captured Villas, she had had a photo and a taped interview with Zak on her person. “I was accused of being an international terrorist with plans to destroy the country. It took me several months to get out of El Salvador under false papers.” Eventually Zak succeeded in escaping from El Salvador and crossed the border into Guatemala. Fearing for her life, she was forced to hide out in the Swedish Embassy. It was there that she learnt about the repression of the indigenous population taking place in the countryside. She tells me her greatest motivation for writing about Guatemala was the dearth of coverage of the people’s plight. “The world had no interest in Guatemala. No one wanted to go there. So I felt I had to write about it. I wanted to write this book because no one cared about the horrible things that were happening there. I wanted to tell people what it was like. The purpose of my writing is to try and make a difference,” she explains. Zak returned to Guatemala on two more occasions to research her novel, spending much of her time interviewing survivors of the government-led repression. She explains that some of the things they described were so terrible that she felt they could not be included in the novel, because no one would want to read about such atrocities. “The violence described in my book is all true. For example, the massacre of the villagers of San Francisco took place on 17 July 1982 and is told just as I heard it from the mouths of the survivors, except that I had to leave out some things, because if I had explicitly described the way in which many children were murdered, I think most people would have stopped reading the book.”Her research was fraught with difficulties and dangers. “I wanted to get to the Mayan village of Yalam, but the military forbade anyone from going in. Two American journalists had tried and then they had disappeared. A few years later their bodies were found – they’d been beheaded. I could get in thanks to a letter from my editor in Sweden which claimed I was writing a book on Mayan culture and wanted to look at the Mayan ruins of Yalam. At that time, there were no roads to the village so I had to walk for three days to get there, and to the neighbouring village of San Francisco, where the massacre had taken place.” On another occasion, she befriended some Guatemalan nuns who lent her a habit so that she could enter a Mayan village occupied by the military, in order to gather testimonies from the indigenous people. Zak denies that she acted bravely, simply stating, “There’s a magic to not being afraid. I never imagine the bad things that could happen to me.”last_img read more

Queensland renovation boom as spending hits just under $1.5 billion

first_imgAFTER: Morningside residence designed by Kieron Gait Architects took out the 2018 Houses Award for House Alteration & Addition over 200 sqm. Picture: Christopher Frederick Jones.“At a time when Brisbane is losing significant numbers of its historic housing stock to demolition or unsympathetic makeovers, the Morningside Residence provides an enduring alternative that is more true to culture and place,” the judges’ citation said.Zuzana Kovar, who along with partner Nicholas Skepper, saw their firm become Australia’s best emerging architecture practice, said it was not hard to believe that Queensland had reached almost $1.5b in renovation spending annually. BEFORE: The space underneath the cottage was virtually dead space before renovation. Architects Zuzana Kovar and Nicholas Skepper at their home business where 95 per cent of their work was renovations now. Picture: Mark Cranitch.The most popular renovations Queenslanders wanted, she said, were adding space, opening up homes for indoor-outdoor living or reworking internal space to suit growing families. “People want more space than when these houses were built 100 years ago.” [email protected] Follow Sophie Foster on Facebook AFTER: Terrarium house by architecture firm John Ellway reimagined the undercroft in an award-winning fashion. Picture: Toby ScottJudges commended John Ellway for exploiting the natural fall in the site to insert living spaces into the once unused undercroft of the home.“The compactness of the house is its triumph; circulation flows seamlessly from one space to another and not one inch is wasted, with notable Japanese influences.”Morningside Residence by Kieron Gait Architects in Brisbane’s inner-city suburb of Morningside was Australia’s best house alteration and addition over 200 sqm, with the judges calling the renovation “a quiet, respectful and poetic addition to a 1920s Queenslander”. Monash Road House in Tarragindi by Zuzana and Nicholas was highly commended by judges in the House Alteration & Addition under 200 sqm category. Picture: Toby Scott.”In inner-city areas where you don’t have the option to demolish the house, you have to keep it and work with it, then the only option is to invest in renovation or extension. A lot of people are interested in retaining the character as well. It becomes sentimental to them.”Ms Kovar expected spending on upgrades to continue to rise — pushed along by older building stock hitting a century and strict limits on demolition in character areas. BEFORE: The worker’s cottage before John Ellway redesigned it into Australia’s best renovation under 200sq m. Picture: BEFORE: The veranda area came straight off the pavement on the right before John Ellway’s redesign. AFTER: The veranda area was converted into an open air green space with stairs leading down into the undercroft living space. Picture: Toby ScottAustralia’s best house alteration and addition under 200sq m was a worker’s cottage, Terrarium House in Highgate Hill designed by John Ellway, which was transformed “into a luscious, planted oasis”.More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus17 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market17 hours ago AFTER: The back of the cottage now: Terrarium House in Highgate Hill, architect John Ellway. Picture: Toby ScottThis as Queenslanders celebrated scooping national renovation gongs on Friday at the 2018 Houses Awards — with a worker’s cottage and a Queenslander emerging as the top renovated properties in Australia.Add to that a small Brisbane firm, Red Hill-based Zuzana and Nicholas, was named the country’s best emerging architecture practice, with 95 per cent of their work now focused on renovations and one of their renovation projects Monash Road House in Tarragindi highly commended by judges. Architects Zuzana Kovar and Nicholas Skepper ’s home-based business, Zuzana and Nicholas, has been named Australia’s best emerging architecture practice. Picture: Mark Cranitch.QUEENSLANDERS are officially the best renovators in the country, scooping top national awards as latest data showed spending on upgrades has hit record levels here.Just shy of $1.5 billion ($1.435b) was spent tweaking Queensland homes via alterations, additions and conversions in latest annual figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.The renovation spend was a rise of just over $13.4 million in the four quarters to March compared to the same period the previous year. ABS figures released this month said. AFTER: Morningside Residence designed by Kieron Gait Architects was praised for its “respectful” redesign. Picture: Christopher Frederick JonesShe said there were some homeowners in Brisbane spending half a million dollars on renovation work, with much of the spending involving building underneath a home, sometimes on sloping sites, with significant excavation, restumping and structural work.”Average spend varies depending on how much they want to add and depending on the state of the existing house. Sometimes they could be not adding much but the house is in such a bad state it goes to that. Sometimes it’s minor things and repainting then most of the budget is given to adding new spaces. It can vary from $100-150,000 all the way up to $500,000,” she told The Courier-Mail. BEFORE: This is how the back of the Morningside property looked before it underwent renovations. BEFORE: The Morningside property was solid but needed updating for modern family life.last_img read more

Senior swimmers jump in one last time this weekend

first_imgLate January isn’t typically thought of as the ideal time for a swim — current water temperatures in Santa Monica are hovering around 60 degrees, but that isn’t keeping a certain group of elite swimmers out of the pool this weekend. Over the next two days, the USC women’s swimming team will compete against No. 2 Stanford and No. 7 California for the right to be called the best in the Golden State.The No. 5 Women of Troy (6-1, 4-0 Pac-12) are looking to sweep this weekend heading into their final regular season meet against No. 19 UCLA (6-1, 3-1 Pac-12), who will also face Stanford and Cal this weekend. This season, the USC team has been led by co-captains Kendyl Stewart and Lucy Worrall, both seniors who will be competing in their final career home meets.Saturday’s meet against No. 2 Stanford (4-0, 4-0) will be preceded by a ceremony honoring 10 USC seniors, including Stewart and Worrall. Kasia Wilk, Brianna Weinstein, Joanna Stenkvist and Nikki Chang are the other seniors competing for the last time at home, while Sam Adams, Natalie Kalibat, Jacqui Suitt and Katherine Van Winkle will be honored as senior divers.Tonight’s matchup against No. 7 California (5-0, 4-0) will feature some of the top athletes in the Pac-12, including Bears senior, Rachel Bootsma, who is a two-time champion in the 100y backstroke and ranks fifth in the nation this year for it. Senior co-captain Elizabeth Pelton is a star in her own right, currently ranked in the top 10 in five different events.The Cardinal are currently undefeated, and the Women of Troy haven’t beaten them in a meet since 1996. The Cardinal swimmers are versatile and dominant; sophomore Janet Hu, junior Lia Neal, senior Sarah Haase and freshman Ella Eastin all own more than one national top 15 ranking. Haase and Eastin each have the top national ranking in the 100y breast and the 400y individual medley respectively .The team currently boasts eight different swimmers in the national top 20, with some of them holding top 20 rankings in more than one event. Juniors Anika Apostalon, Chelsea Chenault and sophomore Hannah Weiss each have two top 20 rankings, while freshman Kirsten Vose currently claims a top 20 spot in three different events: the 200y breast, the 100y breast and the 200y individual medley. As a team, the Women of Troy are ranked third in the 400y free relay and medley relay, fourth in the 800y free relay, seventh in the 200y free relay, eleventh in the 200y medley relay.The meet against Cal will begin at 6 p.m. on Friday at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center and Senior Day will begin at noon on Saturday.last_img read more

Sumner Newscow brings 3 new people on board as website continues to grow

first_imgby Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — In an age where newspapers are shrinking and folding, Sumner Newscow continues to expand and flourish.This month, Sumner Newscow is bringing on two more writing correspondents and an advertising representative to the staff. Our goal is to bring you the reader more local news while helping Sumner County businesses market its products to consumers in the digital age.We are also looking forward to implementing new programs and options in the future as the site continues to grow.Pam StraderPam Strader of Wellington has joined Bobby Wilson as part of the Sumner Newscow advertising sales team.Strader is recently retired after over 34 years of employment with The Boeing Company in Wichita; Everett, Wash.; Renton, Wash.; and Houston, Texas. She completed her Boeing career on the Joint Boeing NASA International Space Station Program. While employed at Boeing, she worked in the Engineering Department performing tasks such as transfer documents development, Engineering Data Work Statements, Drawing Quality Assurance, Organization Audit Team and Engineering Release.Bobby WilsonShe will join Bobby Wilson, who has been an advertising representative for Sumner Newscow since its inception in 2011. Wilson currently is a full-time detective on the Wellington Police force. He has been an instrumental civic leader, most recently serving as officer of the Wellington and Sumner County DARE Program, including eight memorable DARE graduations at the Wellington High School.James JordanOn the news side, James Jordan has left the Wellington Daily News to become a correspondent for Sumner Newscow. He is a native of east Tennessee, and has worked in Arkansas as a sports writer before moving to South Carolina in 1989 where he worked on Hilton Head Island as a sports editor, and then Columbia as a news editor. He moved to Kansas in 2002, where he was a news editor at the Ark City Traveler. The past four years he has worked for Gatehouse Publishing in Newton; Ardmore, Okla.;  and the past two years at the Wellington Daily News.He received a Masters Degree in Christian Education in 1995.Jordan will be writing Wellington City Council stories and working with news features.Amber (Countryman) SchmitzAmber (Countryman) Schmitz will be our second correspondent and will be writing feature and covering community events for Sumner Newscow.Schmitz graduated from Caldwell High School in 1996. She earned her Associate of Arts degree in journalism from Cowley County Community College in 1998. In the past, she worked as a news reporter and ad designer for the Anthony Republican, and also was lifestyles editor, office assistant and a stringer for the Wellington Daily News. She also works as a server at Rocco’s Little Italy. •••••In the coming months, Sumner Newscow will be introducing a restaurant guide on Tuesday mornings.Due to the tremendous number of eating establishments in the Wellington area, we are going to feature a weekly interactive column of the specials of various participating restaurants to give you the consumer an opportunity to know what is out there.Eventually, our goal is to tweak the website in hopes of providing more interactive opportunities for the area businesses and our readers.One of our future goals is to implement a website registration system for our readers that will allow more comment section accountability, allow e-mail marketing, and provide various charitable community fund raising opportunities using this site.It is also our goal that once we reach a revenue threshold, that we will establish a community foundation to contribute to charitable economic development causes — much like assisting with recent efforts of the lighting of downtown Wellington and a community Christmas tree, or building an electronic sign which will complement the new visitors center at Memorial Auditorium.••••• The goal of Sumner Newscow from the onset was to provide local news much like the WDN glory days of Harry L. Woods, Eddie Shaw, and the Jack Mitchell family in the modern day digital age where news has become almost instantaneous. Sumner Newscow’s mantra from the start has been “local news for local people.”Obviously, the readers have bought into this concept. Since its inception, Sumner Newscow has had 2.7 million visits, 420,000 unique visitors, and over 8 million hits! In just this past month, we have had 21,506 unique visitors visit this site. If hits remain steady in June, Sumner Newscow will break yet another all-time visitor and hit record in a month that didn’t involve a specific tragedy.•••••As always this site is for you, Sumner County. If there is a news item that needs to be written or a sports team that hasn’t been covered, take it upon yourself to provide a report or at least some information to us. E-mail us at [email protected] For example, Bliss Baird, a young woman born and raised in Wellington, has been doing some outstanding articles for the Wellington Swim Team this summer. It is these kind of contributors that brings diversification to the website.As always, don’t forget to “Tip the Cow,” if you see news happening.•••••Sumner Newscow will be celebrating its four year anniversary on August 28. We cannot have done it without the loyalty and commitment of our local advertisers and sponsors. Please take the time to click through the ads to your left and right which most will link to their business websites.And, most of all, thank you readers, for making Sumner Newscow a part of your life. We just hope we can continue to bring a website worthy of the Sumner County community.Follow us on Twitter. Close Forgot password? Please put in your email: Send me my password! Close message Login This blog post All blog posts Subscribe to this blog post’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Subscribe to this blog’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Follow the discussion Comments (7) Logging you in… Close Login to IntenseDebate Or create an account Username or Email: Password: Forgot login? Cancel Login Close Username or Email: Password: Lost your password? Cancel Login Dashboard | Edit profile | Logout Logged in as Admin Options Disable comments for this page Save Settings Sort by: Date Rating Last Activity Loading comments… You are about to flag this comment as being inappropriate. Please explain why you are flagging this comment in the text box below and submit your report. The blog admin will be notified. Thank you for your input. +7 Vote up Vote down John · 268 weeks ago Congrats to all that are involved with this project. Keep up the excellent coverage and job. Report Reply 0 replies · active 268 weeks ago +8 Vote up Vote down Kimberly Langforf · 268 weeks ago Thank you, Tracy. This is always where I check first when I need to know what is going on in Wellington. Report Reply 0 replies · active 268 weeks ago +6 Vote up Vote down christie · 268 weeks ago I love the Newscow, thanks Cueball Report Reply 0 replies · active 268 weeks ago +1 Vote up Vote down JustMe · 268 weeks ago You should have let me know you were hiring. I would have been an invaluable addition. 😉 Congrats to all those that you are bringing aboard! Report Reply 1 reply · active 268 weeks ago +3 Vote up Vote down Wes Smith · 268 weeks ago One instance when a Sarcasm font would have been most useful….chuckle. Report Reply +2 Vote up Vote down ftwriter 58p · 268 weeks ago Cool!!! Report Reply 0 replies · active 268 weeks ago 0 Vote up Vote down Eric Pierce · 268 weeks ago I would be more than happy to be your restaurant critic Cue!!! I have a unique advantage over most people in this realm as I get to help restaurants all over the country and many times am the first to try them out while they are menu testing etc. Report Reply 0 replies · active 268 weeks ago Post a new comment Enter text right here! Comment as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new comments Comments by IntenseDebate Enter text right here! Reply as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Cancel Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new commentslast_img read more


first_imgThis fourth and concluding article of the series on the effectual power of the perennial virtue and value of persistence focuses on the how of persistence. How does one develop one’s capacity for perseverance? How does one increase one’s capacity to endure in pursuing one’s goals and aspirations? Let us explore below. The last article (the third) on some of the benefits of persistence observed the following:One of the main benefits of persistence is character formation. Endurance makes one strong in character. As Paul writes in Romans 5:3-5 “… but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope that does not disappoint us.” Patience and persistence are the fruits of self-discipline and discipline is a good thing. A disciplined person stands a better chance of succeeding in life in general more than an undisciplined person.The other advantage of the virtue of persistence is looking ahead. A persistent person does not just look at the immediate result but takes a long term perspective of things and situations. He/she does not allow short term interests and pleasures to override lasting achievements and values. In the long term he/she gets more of out of life than one who is always seeking immediate and short term results. The persistent person knows how to get the best out of the opportunities and challenges that life brings his/her way. He/she knows how to work and wait till something good comes out for him/her and others.Still another benefit of being a persistent person is to help those whom one has influence over. The persevering person sets good examples for others to follow. He/she teaches others the virtue of persistence by example. One’s own children and dependants learn from observing what one does in dealing with delays, denials and other stumbling blocks in the way of achieving one’s goals and objectives in life. Educational specialists observe that teaching and learning take place best by showing and letting students themselves discover answers and solutions. So those who are persistent in the pursuit and attainment of their aspirations against all kinds of odds inspire others, especially the young to follow their good examples.Those who persevere in their struggles to succeed stand to win in the long run, inspire others, and bring honor and glory to their Creator by doing what is right and proper at God’s appointed time. They also get the admiration and commendation of others. How may one get more persistence and inspire others by one’s demonstration of endurance?One of the basic steps or ways to get more of anything is desire. Desire is simply to want to have something very strongly. Desire leads to a drive and a drive becomes a passion to want to achieve something. A drive is required for commitment and the attainment of many goals and objectives in life. To have something one must first want to have it. But desire by itself, no matter how strong it may be, is often not sufficient for achieving goals in life. It must be followed by concrete plans and hard work in implementing them. Many of us are good at having dreams and big plans but very bad at implementation.An essential ingredient of capacity building in any area of life is learning by doing. We can do all the talk but a talk is only good when turned into action. It is one thing to learn fine theories and principles and quite another thing to put into practice. As the British say, “The test of the pudding is in the eating”. So, one way to have persistence and to increase in persistence is by persisting, persevering. It is a general fact and principle that the more we do something the better we are likely to become at it. The surest way to know we have persistence and have more of it is to keep holding in, remain in, remaining at it till the desired result is achieved.And, for believers in God, prayer is the basis, the means and end of having and growing in persistence. Prayer is not an excuse for laziness or slothful thinking.  It gives energy and motivation for persevering. One can persist in the assurance that God Almighty is with him/her and will allow the best outcome for him/her and others. Persistence is a virtue that gets things done and therefore must be coveted and maintained by all who desire success.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more