Thursday, September 3, 2009

WABA’s GBPM Farewell Party 2008

By Lakshmi Menon
WABA organised a farewell party for all GBPM participants on the last day of the meeting at WABA office. Participants were ferried by bus to WABA office in torrential rain, which had erupted suddenly. Fortunately the strongly erected shamiana in the house compound, provided a good shield against the rain. Guests, including friends and well wishers of WABA, were shown around the office and invited to have the delicious Penang food. We were also treated to Penang’s famous hawker food, prepared by efficient chefs while we waited; some worth mentioning included, unforgettable Laksa (a rather strong noodle soup with fish and prawn paste, onions and pineapple pieces), Char Koey Teao (flat rice noodles fried with shrimps, chicken, eggs, greens and cockles), Ice Kachang (a fabulous dessert with a mix of ice shavings, syrups, beans, nuts, jelly topped with ice cream).
A huge cake in the shape of number 80 to mark Michael Latham’s 80th birthday was brought out to be cut by him. The felicitation of Michael for his contribution to WABA and to the breastfeeding movement touched us all, and quite a few of us were also in awe of Michael’s achievements. And so there was more food, rich food!!! The celebrations continued at another level – the cultural level, even as people could not resist the irresistible food.
Earlier in the day, Audrey Naylor had called for a cultural event “WABA has Talent”.
None of us could have imagined during the past few hectic days of fierce discussions, that there was so much hidden talent amongst us. What we witnessed made us wonder at the creativity and talent which was displayed, which also had us laughing, with many of us in splits.
Clowning around: Two clowns emerged on the scene complete with painted smiles and red noses. Audrey and Sarah hopped about and frisked around making people laugh (and also cry, when tears poured out during hysterical laughter). They handed out colourful waving hands (made of cardboard) so we could “aye” or “nay” when called upon for our opinion of a particular performance.
Judging talent: Judges were appointed to judge the talented. Felicity, Mahmuda Fazal, Nand and Nozipo were nominated judges. Each one gave her/his opinion after each presentation and asked the opinion of the audience. The audience was not in the least reticent. They lustily cheered every actor and waved the colourful hands heartily after every performance.
Songs by little ones and oldies: First, Julianna’s children -10-year-old Shanelle and 7-year-old Shane sang a charming duet. Dr Raj Anand shared his experience with his young patients in his clinic and how he sang to them to dispel their fears and doubts.
The Gender-sensitive Play: Amal and Lakshmi organised a 3-act play on gender sensitiveness. The first scene was at the gynecologist’s when the loving husband and timid wife (played by Marcos Arana and Sita Letchumi) visited a gynecologist (played by Patti Rundal -) for a routine check up. The Dr spoke to the husband about his wife’s condition as if she did not exist. The wife’s attempts to clarify her doubts were brushed away by the solicitous husband who felt she would not understand what the doctor said. The second scene was in the home of a dominating man (played by Dr Prashant Gangal) and his not so timid wife (played by Ali McLaine). The husband was telling his pregnant wife to stop working and take care of their little son and the home, and of course the new born when it arrived. The woman refused to quit her job and said she would be able to cope if he gave up hanging out with his friends or playing cricket on weekends and spent more time in the house, sharing housework and childcare. The third scene was in the factory, where a worker was telling her boss that she was pregnant and wanted information about her maternity entitlements. The boss pointed out that at the time of hiring; she had said she would not be having children. When the worker demanded her rights, the boss offered her two months leave as a favour and instructed her not to inform other workers. The role play was unusual because of reverse roles assumed - Ines Fernandes played the bully boss and James Achanyi took the role of the pregnant female worker (I specify female as even males get pregnant these days). The performance by all actors was simply brilliant.
The Great Canadian Ice Hockey: The Canadian GBPM participants (Betty, Carole, Elaine, Johanna, Lucie & Lucie and Penny) presented us with a game of ice hockey. The two teams were the Canadians representing the Code, WBW and partners such as ILCA, WABA, IBFAN, the Global Strategy against the team representing Multinational companies (MNCs) - Nestle, Gerber, Avent etc. Each player on the MNCs team represented one of these companies. The strategy was to use the key players of those fighting for implementation of the Code and the different WHA resolutions on the side of Canada and the MNCs were all those violating the Code. The referee was meant to be the neutral “United Nations” but there were comments about whether they had been influenced by the multinationals, and finally the refree was selected from a “neutral” country, Egypt. The team used hockey sticks and a puck (a metal disc). The group used hockey terms such as NestlĂ© getting the first penalty for high sticking and giving the Canadians a penalty shot.  The key player for the penalty shot was the IYCF resolution WHA 61.20 and they scored just before the end of the first half.  At the beginning of the second half, the MNCs brought in their big guys and we saw "follow-up milks" and "RUTF's" on the ice.  The Canadians used their best player "INFACT CANADA" and got a break away to score again and give Canada the win over the multinationals. The game moved at such terrific speed that the spectators were at their wits ended not being able to follow the game. It hardly mattered because it was such fun that we all laughed till we developed a stitch in our sides. It was much later when I tried to find out more about show that I found many of the players themselves had little inkling. Finally managed to get the full details from Carole. How about a WABA Ice Hockey League for the 3rd Global Forum?? Those interested should sign up for the teams and start practising before the final game at Quebec in 2010.
The Drums of Africa: the grand finale was of course the drummers from Africa. James and Nomajoni drummed in accompaniment to the throbbing African music. Fellow Africans, Veronica, Lourdes, Amanda, Joyce and Margaret swung their massive hips to the music and swayed rhythmically. The music was so mesmerizing that it brought everyone to their floor as they all fell under the spell of the music. Who after all could resist such fabulous rhythmic music? Michael Latham, who has his roots in Tanzania, was the first to spring to his feet and he too swayed his slight hips while Felicity joined in the dance. Susan, Ali, and others who were energetically inclined too entered into the fray - by now the dance floor resembled and sounded more like a war zone as the dancers scampered about with whoops of joy. As the night advanced the tempo of the drums increased, so also probably the neighbours’ temper.
We may have been to many such parties in the past, but this one will surely linger in our minds for monthsand years on end. It was so memorable that this time, the GBPM Farewell party had to be documented.