Your Dispatches: May 2011 Archives

Radio's eyes, The Human Kind Of Eye

Ewa Scheer of Montreal writes:

Dear Mr. MacInnes-Rae,

Recently, my husband and my son heard a very moving story on CBC radio. As they were relating the story to me, I saw tears in their eyes.  I am referring to the story of Rosa Gomez and Antonio Savone aired on Dispatches March 10, 2011.  As I then also listened to the program, I could not help but feel despair and a sense of how cruel humans can be. There are so many stories of suffering. I've never experienced such cruelty but I grew up watching my mother struggle to free herself from memories of WWII in Warsaw.  But seeing how the suffering of others touched my 13-years-old son brought relief.  I wanted to thank you for bringing to light people's struggles. It is so important to us to know regardless how painful it is. 

I also wanted to ask if you might be able to help me in a project I am undertaking. I am an artist and for last few years I've been working on series of pencil drawings devoted to the human eye.  The series is titled The Human Kind of Eye.   Ewa's website

Ewa Sheer's The First Eye, pencil drawing. 

 It was inspired by the experience of witnessing ophthalmological examinations of the eyes. While looking into the patients' eyes with a slit lamp, I found the iris magnificent and the pupil, dark and pulsating, almost frightening. In the series, I draw the eyes of the young and old, of women and men, of those recognized for their achievements and those just beginning life. In a world preoccupied with consumption, novelty and fame for fame's sake, the eyes in the drawings speak of humility, humanity and beauty. 

A year ago Anton Kuerti agreed to allow me to draw his eye as the first of the series.  I am very impressed by Anton Kuerti not only by his incredible achievements but also by his humility.  It takes humility for a man of his stature to agree to collaborate with an unknown artist on a project in which the portrait is only of his eye.   I am also now in contact with Elizabeth and Romeo Dallaire and in process of acquiring permission to draw their eyes.

I thought that the heart wrenching story of Rosa and Antonio's torture and how the eye contact was what sustained them had an incredibly powerful message. I would love to include drawings of Antonio's and Rosa's eyes in my series. 

Sincere regards, Ewa Scheer 

Curently exhibiting Beautiful Organ at Studio 22 Open Gallery in Kingston, Ontario 

West Kootenay, B.C....workers of the world here

Mike Chapman of Nelson BC wants you to listen to a radio piece he produced:

Dear Rick:

The world you take us to is fascinating, but sometimes it comes to us at home as well, and the encounter is not necessarily pretty.

For a little over a month I've been working on a radio documentary on temporary foreign workers in Canada, with a focus on Mexican farm workers.

It began with my learning of a group of such workers in a West Kootenay sawmill in BC, 600 km away from the Fraser Valley farm where they were supposedly contracted. No official knew they were there. Nor did they know about the flagrant abuse of work safety measures in the sawmill and the kinds of accidents going on there.

With some research, a disturbing picture began to emerge -- a government program run amok, wide-open to rule bending and exploitation. The resulting piece features three interviews --  I speak with a migrant advocate organization, a senior Mexican consulate official, and finally, with people in Ottawa to look at the political decision-making behind it all.

In late April the show came to air on Nelson Kootenay Coop Radio (CJLY). I think it's important stuff and merits wider exposure. If you can use it in some way, great.

The podcast link

A not so gay memory

Mary Heaton from Lunenburg, Nova Scotia heard Dennis Porter's dispatch from a gay bar in Uganda, and recalled this incident:

In 1981 I was working in Hawaii with students dealing with substance abuse. One student was doing so well in reducing her drug usage and getting wonderful grades too. The guidance counselor and I decided to take her to Pizza Hut for lunch.

Back in 1981 this was a huge deal: leaving school and having free pizza and being picked from so many students. Walking from the car we were all laughing and discussing what to order when all of a sudden a car load of girls screeched around the corner screaming obscenities about her being gay.

All of us were shocked at the words they used. I ordered the pizza in silence feeling nauseated. The student, whose name I have long forgotten, sat with her head down, tears streaming from her eyes and puddling on the table in front of us.

The guidance counselor and I sat there and cried too, our hearts broken in pieces. What was supposed to be a celebratory lunch turned into a silent painful experience. I never forgot the puddle of tears on the table and how silently the student wept. And how I still weep over the meanness and ugliness in our world.

Notes on homophobia in Uganda

Rick Armstrong of Hinton, Alberta heard Dennis Porter's piece from a gay bar in Kampala and writes...

Having spent the better part of the last 5 years in Uganda I have read the press, heard the radio, and viewed the television; all of which drip with negative propaganda on this topic. 

Basically, the citizens of the country don't understand it!!  Bishops expound from the pulpit on Sunday feeding the minds of the congregation with conflicting information which paints homosexuals in the same category as pedophiles.

These are the educated who are charged with enlightening the masses and they do so with falsehoods and lies; partly out of ignorance and partly out of the need to enforce and support church doctrines.  When one sits and discusses it with friends and acquaintances, they begin to understand and move towards acceptance and tolerance as they realize how they have been "ignorantized" by those in power and persuasive positions.

This is a private members bill and many world leaders whose countries donate big money to Uganda have warned President Museveni (M7) that it best not see the light of day.  Time will tell if it is introduced again in the next parliament.  The country, which at best has a blurred line between church and state, is in big need of sensitization starting at the top and working down to the working poor who fill the collection plates on Sunday.


Over the past several weeks we've had problems with our email inputs.  We're sorry for that. If you had trouble reaching us, kindly resend your messages.  They mean a lot to us.

Response re: Zimbabwe

Alan Templeton of Cobourg, Ontario heard our interview with author  Peter Godwin on our April 28 program and writes:

In 1980 I was in Lesotho, in southern Africa,  teaching science at a rural boarding school.  Everyone, both staff and students were following the events unfolding in Zimbabwe that April.  On the 18th, Transkei's Capital Radio announced  Rhodesia was no more.   It was Zimbabwe now, the worlds newest nation.   We thought it meant an end to oppression, an end to war.  We rejoiced.

There was a Shona girl in my O level biology class.    She was very tall, muscular with crooked teeth and a brooding air of competence about her.   After school that day she told me she was leaving to go back to Zimbabwe.   I was happy for her and  I asked what she'd do when she got home.   "Kill some Ndebele," she said.     I saw the country's future in her eyes.   Hatred, tribalism, blood hunger.  And so it came to be.

I don't know what happened to her after she left Lesotho, but I'm sure of one thing:  She killed some Ndebele.


Mike Fearon of Annapolis Royal NS comments as well:

Dear Rick:

You, like the rest of CBC, swallow Mugabe's propaganda to the effect that he led the resistance to Ian Smith's racist regime in Zimbabwe.  The resistance was in fact led by Joshua N'Komo, a man with a presence like that of Nelson Mandela.  At the time Mugabe was just a thug, as he still is.  He used the same techniques as he does now to rid himself of Joshua N'Komo.   I suggest that you ask Nelson Mandela to tell you what he Knows about Joshua N'Komo.


 Michel Mondou of Ste--Claire, Quebec adds his experience

Back in 1985, 5 years after independance, I was a French Canadian teacher, teaching economics in Masvingo (Fort Victoria) in the southern part of Zimbabwe.

It was still very difficult for people living in Ndebeleland. Many times, I wanted to go to Bulawayo but most convoys were blown up midway and it was too dangerous to go. But, in 1985, it was not easier even for people living in Mashonaland.

It was during the propaganda for the one party state and threats and killings were common for any Shona who was too soft to join the Zanu PF party, including expatriates. I have been at gunpoint a few times during my stay because I proclaimed that I am Canadian and not involved in local politics. Shonas were not as lucky as I was. Even for Shonas, it was a difficult time.