Thursday, January 22, 2009
I have always had mild asthma symptoms which have come and gone over the years but it has never been a major issue for me, until last year. As soon as I moved into the flat I began coughing at night and wheezing a lot during the day. This was largely controllable by inhalers until early in the winter when I got the flu which was going around Christchurch at the time. Every night for nearly two months I struggled to sleep because I couldn't stop coughing at night and I coughed during much of the day as well. It was only when I went to stay at my parents that I got a decent night's sleep. It took me nearly four months to fully recover from it. In the meantime it took its toll on me physically and mentally. I was tired and run down all the time and I struggled to keep up with assignments at uni.
It is no coincidence that when I moved into my flat my asthma symptoms flared up or that I coughed every night. The house that made me sick had no insulation and no heating and what was worse was that when I moved out and pulled the bed right out I found mould growing along the wall - it was that damp in my bedroom. It is because of my experience that I feel so strongly about this issue. It is also an issue that affects the population disproportionately, creating distinct inequalities between groups of people. The people that are forced to live in houses such as this are unable to afford an alternative. There are also many children suffering ill health as a result of poor quality housing. Is it any wonder that New Zealand has one of the highest child asthma rates in the world?
Insulating and heating homes are such simple solutions to a whole range of health issues. It also makes life that little bit better for people if they know that they are going home to a warm house that isn't going to make them sick. National's proposal to bring forward their $15million spending project just doesn't go far enough and will barely scratch the surface of the housing issues we have in New Zealand.
I was one of many New Zealanders who got up early Wednesday morning to watch Barack Obama being sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. To me Obama's inauguration speech can be compared to Martin Luther King Jr.'s I have a dream speech. While many journalists have analysed what his speech means in terms of policy, I thought a good idea would be to get everyone to leave a comment on what Obama's election means to them. To get the ball rolling I have included a paragraph on my thoughts on Obama's speech.
Firstly what his speech signalled was the end of an era and a new beginning. We all know what the US has been in the past, but I can't see how it can possibly carry on down that path, and fortunately this was a key theme of Obama's speech. I was impressed by his commitments to the environment, reforming the education system, and of course making progress towards a universal health care system. These of course are policies that America has long needed but what excited me the most was his commitment to being a responsible world leader by dealing with poverty issues in the world, and also his wish for peace in the Middle East. I'm excited about Obama's election and I can't wait to see what his next move is and how he will go about achieving these amazing goals.