International Day of the Disappeared 30th August - Cherishing Memories

30th August is the day when loved ones get to commemorate and pay respect to those who vanished for various and always unknown reasons.

Recognition for the day by the United Nations was inspired by the activities of the Latin American Federation of Associations for Relatives of Detained-Disappeared.

This organisation founded in 1981 has been working for the rights of those secretly imprisoned or abducted.    Family, friends and loved ones get closure in the case of death, but with disappearances, the wound of separation of the missing piece in the family jigsaw remains fresh even after years.

Currently, thousands of people are missing across the world due to war, conflict, natural disasters, secret government operations and abductions.  

Why is the day important? 

By marking the United Nations International Day of the Disappeared, governments, organisations and local communities get to participate in activities that support the families of the affected.

Disappearances are a humanitarian situation that needs addressing. The subject is usually complicated, challenging and rarely on the top agenda – but on 30th August, attention gets drawn to the direness.

Forced disappearances  

In 2017, Malaysians were chilled by what they guessed to be religious vigilantism. These were planned kidnappings that occurred more randomly than in isolated cases. It was said that Malaysian Islamic Societies feared the threatening spread of Christianity, so they targeted Christian leaders. 

In the same year, Egypt had 378 cases of government-related forced disappearances. These are just examples of forced disappearances due to complicated and somewhat inexplicable reason.

There are worse and similar cases happening in Uganda, Syria, Pakistan, Venezuela and many other places.  Human Rights Activists and Journalists  Human rights activists have gone missing.

Both dictatorships and democracies have enacted forced disappearance as a way to silence critics on the opposition and the media. Journalists have been imprisoned in foreign countries with no communication to their families or mother countries.

Today we have the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.  Countries bound under this treaty have agreed to stop forced disappearances as government operations, to make forced disappearances illegal and punishable and to halt secret detentions.

It is eight years and counting since the enforcement of the convention. But reality and signatures on paper don’t often rhyme. 

What you can do?

 30th August is a call to action not just to remember the missing persons, but also to work actively to rectify the situation. Organisations like Amnesty International, the Red Cross or the UNHCR take that opportunity to highlight the steps they have made in securing justice for the secretly imprisoned.

You can take part in the fight against secret imprisonment by donating to these bodies or volunteering. Activities might involve visiting specific groups of prisoners, taking care of them and transmitting messages back and forth with time families... 

Activities on the International Day of the Disappeared go beyond the secretly detained to include those in exile because of conflicts or those separated because of natural disasters.

You can be part of groups that assist affected families to calm them psychologically and take care of their humanitarian needs. Tracing the disappeared is also an essential highlight of the day -30th August.

The missing might be in detention camps, marooned in foreign countries, hospitalised or dead. As a volunteer on the International Day of the Disappeared, you can participate in finding out information about these cases to bring connection or closure to affected families. Like with all other humanitarian situations, no one is immune.

Today it is them, and tomorrow it could be us. Topic; International Day of the Disappeared 30th August- Cherishing Memories and Seeking Answers.

Mayfair, we care.


Vaping - force for good, or some hidden evils?


British lawmakers are pushing to moderate the strict vaping laws to encourage people to quit smoking.

Vaping, or using e-cigarettes, is estimated to be about 95% less toxic than smoking conventional cigarettes, and according to the British parliament, the science behind vaping shows great health benefits if regular smokers can be encouraged to switch.    

But this is happening in the backdrop of a fierce debate as to whether e-cigarettes present any long-term health risks. There have been several studies that suggest that e-cigarettes deliver some toxic chemicals on their own, though the toxicity levels are much lower than in cigarette smoke.      

For the most part, e-cigarette enthusiasts believe that the ban on smoking in public places should only apply to conventional cigarettes. And some people are acting on that belief - it's not unusual to see people lighting up their e-cigarette devices at train stations, restaurants, and other public places.      

And why not?

The argument that e-cigarettes are harmless is based on the fact that there is no combustion, and therefore no smoke. If there's no smoke, it means there's no second-hand smoke. Without the second-hand smoke, the non-smoking public who are in the vicinity can't be affected; right?    

For the longest time regular smokers have been relegated to standing outside in the cold or blistering heat to get their fix; but now as e-cigarettes continue to permeate conventional society, many more smokers will consider making the switch.     

But is there really no risk?    

There are a lot of conflicting studies about vaping and its long-term effects but real data is limited because the entire e-cig business is relatively new and a lot of studies are still ongoing. With that said, there are still genuine concerns about vaping and how increasing nicotine concentration in the air might generate compounds that have been linked to lung cancer and cardiovascular disease.      

One study published in the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health found that vaping pouted air quality and released harmful compounds like formaldehyde, nitrosamines, and lead. Further studies in Singapore have led them to ban vaping so there are obviously issues.       

But even with this kind of data, there's still a general argument that vaping is much safer than smoking actual cigarettes, and most health experts seem to agree. Much of what causes health damage in cigarettes occurs through combustion and since vaping eliminates smoke, then most of those carcinogens are avoided.    

At a time when smoking kills more people than any other preventable cause of death, it makes sense why lawmakers in Britain are in favour of amending legislation to make it easier for smokers to use e-cigarettes. Even though the long-term effects are still being investigated, most people agree that eliminating conventional cigarettes is better for everyone.    

Legislators have called for incentives to promote vaping; in the form of reduced taxation and a possible review of the approval system to prescribe them as valid quit-smoking products.

So, as the UK government finds ways to reduce smoking related deaths, for the moment non-smokers seem not to be the priority in this discussion. Also, we simply don't know enough about how vaping affects the non-smokers (who are the majority).  

For smokers who soon may be allowed to vape at public places, restaurants, and train stations, the effect on non-smokers is a lot like finding feet on seats. It’s just not pleasant for other people.      

Mayfair, we care


Sources:  2012-050859.abstract


The Threat of Disease X


For the people who study disease outbreaks, there's always a fear that a new infection or outbreak that nobody knows about will catch us unaware.

There are literally thousands of unknown viruses circulating around the globe, and dozens of incurable diseases for the CDC (Centre for Disease Control) to worry about. As if this weren't enough, we have labs around the world that experiment on biological agents to make them more deadly – all it takes is for one of these pathogens to find a human host and we have a real situation in our hands.   

The World Health Organisation recently put out a blueprint highlighting their research on priority diseases, and as you might expect there were a lot of known threats like Ebola; but they also added what they see as a new global threat: Disease X.       

What is disease X?    

It is the unknown.

All the other diseases on the list are known conditions like the haemorrhagic fever Ebola, or other recent cases like SARS or Zika, but the WHO has reason to be worried.

Bacteria and viruses often mutate and become deadlier and more infectious, and there's always a risk that new diseases could jump from their host to humans.

If a new pathogen appears and causes a pandemic, it’s likely that we won't know how to react to it.      Like we've seen with other pathogens such as the Zika virus, we're not prepared to handle a global pandemic, and if such a disease struck today the effects would be catastrophic.

What can we expect from disease X?  

According to the WHO, disease X could turn out to be a mutation of a disease we don't yet consider serious. It's not unusual for a non-threatening disease to mutate.

As we saw with coronaviruses like SARS and MERS, even the most innocuous virus can evolve into a serious pandemic that kills thousands. Just like the Zika virus, these were considered relatively safe until they mutated and killed people.     

A Mutated Flu    

Virologists and other experts warn of a looming global pandemic that could possibly come from a mutated version of a known pathogen.

One of the most genuine threats we face is that of a mutated flu, and as we count a hundred years since the 1918 influenza pandemic, some people believe the next pandemic is overdue.

According to George Poste, a member of the Blue Ribbon Study Panel that focuses on Biodefense, and a fellow of the Harvard Medical School, a pandemic is inevitable in our generation.      

Our factory farm system might turn out to be the perfect breeding ground for renegade bacteria and viruses. We have so many birds and pigs being reared in the same space, and its possible that a bird flu can acquire genes that allow it to infect mammals like pigs - and humans.

The viruses that come out of that could one day infect humans on a pandemic scale.   To keep these kinds of threats manageable, we probably need a number of disease-monitoring organizations that focus on emerging threats and bioterrorism.

Remember, a new outbreak is going to happen at some point; it’s how we respond to it that matters. For now, disease X is still a talking point, but the World Health Organisation is warning us to stay alert and informed, just in case a pandemic hits.

Mayfair, we care

What is Procrastination, and the dangers that accompany it?

Procrastination is a trap a lot of people find themselves in. Research suggests that 95% of us  procrastinate to different degrees. Often confused with laziness, procrastination is an active process.

Unlike laziness that incorporates inactivity, apathy, and unwillingness to do anything, procrastination is when you choose to do something other than the essential tasks you should be doing.

It is usually at deadline time that you start rushing to do those tasks, and more often than not, you will wonder why you left it so late and made things more problematical for yourself..

Procrastination involves avoiding unpleasant, but important tasks in favour of those more enjoyable, easier and maybe not important at all. These impulses, if not controlled, can have serious consequences.

Extreme Dangers of Procrastination

  • ·       Guilt
  • ·       Loss of precious time
  • ·       Reduced productivity
  • ·       Fatigue
  • ·       Anxiety
  • ·       Career setbacks
  • ·       Low self-esteem
  • ·       Low self-confidence
  • ·       A damaged reputation if you miss deadlines
  • ·       Additional stress with the pressure of last minute working
  • ·       Rushed decisions that might not be the best

The Most Effective Way to Overcome Procrastination

Yes, it is possible to overcome procrastination, but you have to take steps and ensure you turn them into habits.

Recognise That You Have a Problem That Needs to Be Addressed

If you realise that you are always in the habit of postponing things until the last minute, then you are procrastinating.

Track how long it takes you to do your work or the most important, albeit boring tasks. If you keep avoiding them, take longer than necessary to make decisions, do low-priority tasks, start the important task, but stop to get a drink, or even constantly wait for the “right time,” then you are a procrastinator.

Ask Yourself Why You Do It

Are you avoiding important tasks because they are boring?

In that case, do them fast and get them out of the way. This way, you will have time to do other tasks that you enjoy. The poor organisation could also be the reason behind your procrastination, so organise your work by priority or importance, create a to-do-list, make your schedule effective, then stick to it.

You might be procrastinating because you have doubts about your abilities, or even one of the most common reasons – a fear of success. Are you putting off following up a sales lead because of a fear of rejection? If this is the case, what’s the worst that can happen? If they say ‘no’, at least you know where you stand and can move on.

Use Anti-procrastination Strategies

Being a habit, you cannot overcome procrastination in a day. This means you need to adapt to strategies that will help you change those habits and create new ones. Some of them include:

  • ·       Committing to tasks
  • ·       Asking a co-worker to keep checking on you
  • ·       Acting as you go
  • ·       Rephrasing internal dialogs
  • ·       Minimizing distractions
  • ·       Start with the most unpleasant tasks
  • ·       Promise yourself a reward
  • ·       Keep a to-do-list
  • ·       Set reasonable, but time-bound goals

Use time management and task management applications

If your problem is finding your work overwhelming, then you can overcome it by breaking it down into more manageable chunks. The most important thing is that you start tackling those tasks, so don’t concentrate on finishing them. In case you think the reason why you keep putting things off is because making decisions is hard, surely not making decisions is worse?

Mayfair, we care.