Jon Philipson RIP

On 1st April I received a phone call from Angela (Jon's wife) to tell me that my good old mate had sadly passed away peacefully on 31st March 2009 following his lengthy battle with cancer. Jon fought the disease right to the end with tremendous spirit and resolve. See Jon's Obituary under Service Records.

Bush Fires in Australia  

Jim Waddington forwarded the message (below) that he received from Ken & Ngaire Butcher, post the Aussie fires in the Spring of 2009.  

Dear Jim & Sylvie,  How nice to hear from you and thanks for your concern for us. 

It was a very tense time although we were not physically affected. We had fires over much of the state, although most did limited property damage. However with over 2000 homes destroyed and upwards of 175 deaths (total was revised downwards the other day from 220-odd) it has been the worst tragedy to hit Australia (well - since Pom settlers / sailors introduced measles to the native population).  

The closest grass fires to us (discarded cigarette butt apparently) were about 500 metres away.  Seven houses were destroyed about 4 km away (started by sparks from an angle grinder - an item banned on total fire ban days!!!!).  Then of course the tragic events you will have seen reported.   It was really not the sort of birthday Ngaire (and daughter Lisa) expected on 7 Feb!

Fortunately son Murray who lives in a tree clad suburb was unaffected although they had their people mover packed with family treasures, etc. ready to roll at a moment’s notice.  

Just today a woman who set 20-odd fires 2 years ago was sentenced to 13 years jail with a 9 -year non-parole period - her fires caused only limited property damage & no loss of life. Police have evidence that the Marysville fires (which wiped out a complete tourist town with around 50 fatalities), were deliberately lit - they claim to be closing in on the perp - dunno what sentence he / she will get.  Whatever it is I doubt they'll live to serve it out - not much public sympathy for that sort of crime either side of the wall.  

 Loved the picture - though I must say that it looks like the conditions of which I've been known to say "Terrible weather - not worth getting out of bed except to go skiing". You hadn't thought of Portugal or the south of France had you? Though I must say that on 7 Feb when temps exceeded 46 degC, I would have reconsidered.  

We are off to NZ on 24 April. Time I caught up with sisters in Auckland & Napier so we will stay 2 nights in AKL, drive down to Cambridge where we will overnight with Athol & Lois Kitchingman and then to Napier for 2 nights. On Wed 29th we will head to Wellington where youngest son Graeme & family live.  It will be their son Patrick's (is there room for 2 x Pat Butchers?????) 1st birthday on 3 May.  We will return to Oz on 4th and back to work.  

We had contemplated retiring around mid-year and taking off with some members of our Nissan 4WD Club on a 2 month expedition to Cape York at the northern tip of Qld, then across to Kakadu & Darwin.  However, one of my retirement funds suffered seriously due to the economic downturn (economic plummet in this case).  It now looks like we will pull the plug on full time work about my 70th in Jan next - we'll have to wait / see if our new strategy is working.  

It sounds great that you will be closer to the offspring, though at least you did not have to change countries to see some of them. Do you still have your caravan and will this move have any impact on your use of it?  We changed to a newer one Oct / Nov last year (45th wedding anniversary present to us!) but have only done about 4 trips away so far.  We will take off on Friday this week (Good Friday) for the long weekend.  We are going to Lake Eildon about 3 1/2-4 hrs north of here (and right through some of the fire affected areas).  We will stay in a caravan park and do a couple of off-road day trips into the high country, unless it looks really wet & slippery.  The weather looks promising though it has rained off & on for the last few days.  

OOPs! Fingers tired   Stay safe - stay warm! Hugs, Ken & Ngaire

The Trials and Triumphs of Timkatec Schools, Haiti, 2009  

A message from Pat O'Shea;

When I wrote to you last Christmas, economic conditions were critical as Haiti tried to recover from the horrendous flooding. Food prices sharply escalated for the Timkatec schools and their students.

As the poorest country in this hemisphere, Haiti suffered the most as four catastrophic 2008 hurricanes hit Haiti causing almost 1000 deaths, making thousands homeless and losing 70% of their food harvest. They are still suffering. Haitians always live day to day, but now it is much harder.

With difficult conditions in the USA, many Haitian Americans cannot send remittances home, a major source of Haiti’s income. Father Simon says that food prices remain at 20% over 2008 and $7000 over our original 2009 budget. In the USA we feel the pinch, but our Haitian friends fight for survival every day.

There is positive news. I attended “our” June 2009 Timkatec 2 graduation at the school we built.

Through this difficult period 57 kids completed 2 years’ State training as Plumbers, Electricians, Shoemakers and Tailors. An emotional moment for me and a great achievement for them. This came from the dedicated staff and your generous donations-changing lives forever.

As Good Samaritans, you “crossed the road” to help street kids, the” homeless and hopeless”. Timkatec1 has 100 kids; Timkatec 2 has 214 and Timkatec 3, the Girls school opened with 114 girls in Primary and Trade training. This month Timkatec 3 will also operate as a shelter. 100 homeless youths get safety at night, a meal and a little education. The 3 Timkatec schools had 90 kids in 2004. With the 3 schools and the shelter the count exceeds 500 in 2009. The Friends plan to raise $65,000 to operate Timkatec 2 this year. $285 per student a year changes their lives forever.

Please help.   The Friends of Timkatec in America, my family and supporters and their friends and families, charge no expenses. 100% of donations go to Father, through our link with Catholic Relief Services. Please go to linked to the CRS site, for more information and to make a tax-deductible donation.


Patrick and the Graduates of Timkatec 2, June 29, 2009

October 2009 - 114 girls open Timkatec 3 - also a shelter opening December 2009

 Your support is the essence of the Christmas spirit, giving to help those who have nothing themselves. 

Our Family wishes yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year

Patrick O’Shea December 2009

John Burt